When did “nice” become a 4 letter word?

Be nice. Play nicely. If you don’t have anything NICE to say, don’t say anything.

These are things I say to my children, both in my home and in my classroom. But more and more, I am seeing a trend away from nice.

Then there are the sayings of “THATS nice…..”  “Nicely done…..”   These turn nice around and use it in a negative way. I realize that this is often the case with language. “That’s SICK” has now become an expression of something being amazing.  But Nice, well, it should be nice!

The event that prompted this article came at the same time as the start of the Olympic games. This is a time when countries pull together and cheer on their athletes who have worked SO hard to get there. It was at this time that I saw the commercial Coke had put together (albeit for the Superbowl) celebrating America’s diversity in singing America the Beautiful in many different languages. It is more than nice, it is beautiful, as are the people in it. I’m sure when Coke designed the ad, they had nothing but niceness as their intention. But the reaction from many people, especially on Twitter, were anything BUT nice!  And this REALLY set me off.

The NOT NICE reactions of people on Twitter were what sensationalized the ad, not the beauty and inclusiveness of the message.  And so often, this is the case. When you turn on the news, open the paper, scroll through your twitter feed, we are bombarded with news that is not nice. Is this why, we as a culture, cannot seem to embrace positivity and niceness?

I even see it as I am raising my children. They have now both got to an age where Treehouse shows don’t cut it, they find them a bit babyish – and fair enough – but the alternatives, for the most part, are awful!  Especially as role models and examples for girls. Time and time again, the young teenage/preteen girls on many of todays shows are just straight up horrid to each other. Sure, at the end of the show all differences are resolved and everyone is happy, but that is not reality.

Reality is that words DO hurt, and even if an apology is given afterwards, the mean words linger and fester in your mind. Ask any child who has ever experienced any kind of bullying or meanness at the hands of others, in school.  It can take YEARS for those emotional scars to heal.   And so, the talk that I hear coming from my daughter, who is only 5, and her friends, mimics what they are hearing on T.V.  And yes, I discuss these issues with her. I point out when people in these shows are being unkind and how we can deal with it and make better choices, but these are the examples that are being set. And its not nice, not nice at all.

So, how do we turn it around?  Firstly, we can continue to send the message to our children that niceness is the way to make friends. And we have to ensure that we are not allowing ourselves to get caught up in negativity and blindly follow the crowd. As a mentor of mine once told me, “Beware the Turkey Talkers”. And, more than anything, we have to go back to that age old saying “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all!!”  

Haven’t seen the Coke ad? Here it is: and remember that age old saying……. BE NICE!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *