Today I’m thinking about… good, nice, bad, mean

May 2, 2011 § Leave a comment

I have a friend, let’s call him TJ, who once laid it all out on the table for me. “You aren’t a nice person, Kara,” he said with deftly focussed eyes nudging at my soul. “You’re a good person, but not a nice person.”

While I watched TJ dodge my quick fire slap, I felt oddly compelled to restrain my go to violent streak. I wanted to know what insights this guy could grant me before I strung him up by his little finger. ‘I’m nice, you arsehole!’ was the only argument I could muster. I paused for a moment, dropped my forehead down onto the salt-stained MacDonald’s tabletop and muttered something about him explaining what the fuck he meant by it.

“You see,” he began, “people can be good, decent and try do right by their bros, but not be nice about it. They tell it like it is. If you look like crap, they tell you, not cause it’s the nice thing to do, but because it’s the right thing to do. And then you get some people who are really nice, go out of their way for people, buy people shit and shit, but they do it for their own agenda, because they want to be popular or to be given something in return, like affection or whatever. They’re bad people.”

I blinked a little, took a good long sip of my large diet coke and nodded in direct appreciation of this notion. Later that day my tummy rumbled in an attempt at digesting the two large fries I’d consumed earlier, and I began lumping the people I knew into four categories;

Good & Nice

Good & Mean

Bad & Nice

Bad & Mean

Fortunately the bad & mean people in my life are all but non-existent. Maybe it’s because I am that awesome a person that I attract only the good and/or the nice. Or, more likely, it’s simply a real accomplishment for anyone who is both bad & mean to build any kind of interactive social life beyond the confines of internet message boards and prison. I assume a lot of these people troll the boards of 4chan and don’t much care for sunlight, happiness or a good lunch of french fries and tomato sauce with a mate.

Unfortunately I did find I knew a few who might fall into the bad & nice category. People who’ve, in the past, tried to buy off my friendship with promises, car rides, favours and actual money. I couldn’t say what their agendas were really, but I am certain it wasn’t simply my company. Much of it could have been as complex as seeking adoration, respect and/or the thrill of pulling off a facade or as simple as getting into my pants. The idea behind the bad & nice concept, I suppose, is that it is all about manipulating people to serve one’s own agenda; those sickly sweet people pleasers who you find you want to slap but you aren’t entirely sure why.

Of course, categorising people became problematic when I entered the good side of things. Good is something I think the vast majority of us aspire to be.  I know that if I were to generalise, I would know quite a few good & nice people. But I found that this was the most subversive of categories. I would expect the people that would fall into this group to be somewhat innocent, if not naive. But actually, it would be the wisest of people who can get through life selfless and kind, with no agenda to their niceties; no facade.

Being lumped into the good and mean category did sting, admittedly. But not because I’m silly enough to think I’m incapable of being mean. Sometimes I pride myself on my own ferocity and sporadically sharp tongue (when it isn’t flopping around like a decked fish). But when it comes down to it, I do try very hard sometimes not only to be a good person, but to be very nice.

It’s easy to categorise people on a very shallow level. It’s the foundation behind astrology. It’s been proven time and time again in various scientific studies that there is zero correlation between a person’s personality and their sign, but because of random happenstance and shallow self-analysis people seem to be able to validate their own personal star sign. This is even easier when there is an absence of extremes.

So if I were to tell you that all people born on the 27th of August have blonde hair and blue eyes, you of course could prove me wrong directly with 90% of August 27th births that walk by. If I were to give you an abstract concept, such as all people born on the 27th of August are quite emotional, then that would of course be harder to prove. ‘Well…I mean, Gary is born on the 27th and he cries like a little weakling baby girl.’ I hear you say. ‘Are… are you a wizard?’

Well no, kind reader, I am not a wizard. Unfortunately. I was however quite aware, after the chips had quit damaging my internal organs, of how impressively wrong* TJ was. While his insights did stagger me, (I had never before found discord between the concept of ‘good’ and ‘nice’ or ‘bad’ and ‘mean’, I’d simply assumed they were synonymous with each other) I did also find that people seem to be almost always a decent but grossly unstable mixture of all four of these things.

Like the banana, soy, beef and puffer fish bladder** smoothie of  deliciousness I am, I could relate myself at any given time to all four of these states of being. Is this a normal thing? I’m not sure. But it is an interesting thing.

* Don’t hurt me, TJ.

** Do puffer fish have bladders?

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