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a nice set of questions

From the altfriday5:

1. If someone described a person as "nice", what mental picture would that give you? Would their gender make a difference (i.e., is the mental picture of a "nice" woman different from that of a "nice" man)?

It doesn't give me a picture per se, but I assume the person makes an effort to be polite and respectful to people they encounter and generally to treat people they encounter as people and not strictly as cogs or roles, insofar as the the encounter allows. I also assume the person doesn't use directly confrontational language even in arguments or disagreements.

2. Is it important to you that people be "nice"? Why or why not?

It's deeply important to me that people treat each other with respect and see each other as fellow human beings and as worthy beings in general. As for "why," on a selfish level it's because I get upset when I'm around people who are treating each other like dirt. On a more intellectual level, it's because I have seen people blossom when they are noticed as people even in very minor ways, and I think the world is generally a better place the more this occurs. I think that people who consider other people worthy of respect are less likely to be abusive and thoughtless in many of the ways that make life unpleasant.

It's not deeply important to me that everyone use nonconfrontational language. There are ways of being confrontational that are also respectful.

3. How "nice" are you?

It's easy for me to think of other people as human beings when I'm alone and not stressed. When I am stressed or socially anxious, it's hard, and I sometimes act not-nice (mainly by ignoring people or treating them like cogs). I also sometimes use confrontational language, although I'm aware of being more skilled than some people at being able to use nonconfrontational language.

4. Who is the "nicest" person in your life?

Gosh. I know a number of people who make lots of efforts to be nice in the ways I describe above, but none of them are always nice, and some of them, when they are not-nice, are not-nice in pretty intense ways.

5. What is the "nicest" thing in your life?

Well, gee, the way this set of questions was set up above, I defined nice strictly in terms of people's behavior, and now that I'm asked to describe a nice THING, I'm kind of at a loss. I guess I have to describe it in terms of the place I interact with people who act the nicest as a whole. That would be the animal shelter I volunteer for. You know, I should go back there, I haven't been in a couple of months because of writing this book and a foot injury I have.

The Questioner says: Don't forget your links!

Comments

( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
pir_anha
Jun. 16th, 2006 08:59 pm (UTC)
interesting. i have a much less positive feeling about "nice"; i perceive it not as respectful, but as pleasing/agreeable (which all too often hides true feelings that aren't as agreeable).

*gah*, thinking about this reminds me of the olden days of soc.singles and the self-described "nice guys" who were almost always passive-aggressive to the hilt.

i don't trust nice.

sorry to hear about your foot injury -- hope it gets better soon!
firecat
Jun. 17th, 2006 12:23 am (UTC)
Some other alt friday five folks agreed with you. I'm more likely to call what you mention "saccharine." I don't know if there is a cultural bias at work here but my observation is that other people who came from Northern Midwest states seem to claim nice as a label more than some other folks.

Thanks, me too.
pir_anha
Jun. 17th, 2006 03:36 am (UTC)
saccharine would be over the top in my book, so sweetly submissive that it really raises my hackles. with nice i am just suspicious, with saccharine i am out the door; it feels that fake.

and yeah, i think i agree with you on the northern midwest. minnesotans, to be specific, seemed to me not averse to considering themselves nice, and to find nice a desirable quality to have. in the less pejorative sense of nice, that is. :)
firecat
Jun. 17th, 2006 07:53 am (UTC)
I guess I don't have a word for the kind of superficial pleasantness that I feel suspicious about. The closest word is "patronizing," but of course that only covers one type.

If it's someone I don't interact with often then I probably don't feel suspicious because I don't spend a lot of time wondering what's going on in strangers' or acquaintances' heads.

If it's someone I do interact with, then I often get a pretty strong sense of what the underlying feelings are (or I think I do, and I have a bunch of datapoints that I am sometimes right), in which case I'm not suspicious because I think I know.
abostick59
Jun. 16th, 2006 11:44 pm (UTC)
"'Nice' is different from 'good'" -- Stephen Sondheim
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )

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