Being a Nice Person Is Exhausting

“Nice guys finish last and not because they’re always holding elevator doors.”

“I can’t tell why I love you, but I do” (1900) Anonymous (modified by author)

Don’t you ever feel like you need a whole scoop of pre-workout just to deal with people? Crawling on your eyebrows after a day of being on your best self, begging for a Gatorade transfusion that could snap your circadian rhythm back on beat? I’m not trying to discourage you from the do-gooder lifestyle here — those grannies aren’t gonna cross the street themselves after all — but beware: it does cost you to be kind.

1. How May I Help the World Revolve Around You Today?

There’s truly nothing like a customer service job in the midst of a Karen uprising to make you wanna develop a close relationship with a Diazepam prescription. The emotional labour required for some jobs is more stressful than full-timing as Tom Cruise’s insurance agent, and it doesn’t matter if you’re having one of those days where you feel like life is soup and you’re fork — you gotta go out there and act like you’re trying to win an Emmy. And if we learned anything from the great Heath Ledger is that going full method on your acting can indeed land you in the obituary section of your local news.

Jump to this conclusion: I’m sure you’ve seen those viral videos of people stuffing recordings of their deceased relatives into a build-a-bear, right? Now imagine you are the 24-year-old employee that was cornered into performing impromptu grief counselling to try to make a sale while keeping the poker face of a Mark Zuckerberg holding a wet fart. Hell of a $13.60/hour wage.

2. No More Shits to Give

It pays to be generous — especially when you’re a billionaire browsing charities to decide who you wanna evade taxes with — but generosity is a dangerous slippery slope. Get too charitable for long enough and it’s a matter of time before your friends start looking at you like a newborn staring at a lactating nipple. Stick to 20% tips if you want, but if you have the tendency to be an over-giver, at least make a point of never letting someone borrow one of your kidneys — people are known to never return them.

Fair to say: 300,000 years ago every resource on Earth was overstocked. No such thing as toilet paper shortages back then, not a single drop of oil had been used (you would’ve rejoiced at the rock-bottom gas prices of the Neolithic) so we evolved to share and work together cause being selfish made no sense. But those times are gone. Now it’s a short road between “Can you help me move?” and “Can I borrow your clean piss for a drug test?” and it’s paved with good intentions.

3. Keep Your Shoes — I’d Rather Walk Barefoot

I bet you’ve noticed an uptick in dollar-store forms of empathy in the last few years. Clapping first responders from our windows, Ukraine flags on Twitter handles, butchering Imagine with your celebrity friends… either society has finally turned into an episode of Black Mirror, or we just can’t afford better gestures cause we’re fed up with feeling sorry for everything. And let’s not forget Ellen DeGeneres reached the endgame of kindness only to be forced into early retirement before Michael Moore showed up with a camera crew. Meanwhile, Jackass Forever enjoys a 91% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes. We are horrible people.

Hard to argue with this: how do you think doctors make it through a Tuesday fully knowing that some of the people they’ll meet that day will end up displayed in an open casket soon? Either they treat people with the emotional dispatch of a clipped toenail or pack their bags and check in to a psychiatric facility. There’s really no middle point here.

4. You Didn’t Hear This From Me

For all the societal condemnation of gossip, it’s actually not that bad. It didn’t even make it into the seven Deadly Sins, and perhaps the worst thing about it is that TMZ made a whole content strategy out of it. At its core, gossip is not the Machiavellian ploy we think it is but a way of conveying social information and keeping everyone in check. Don’t underestimate this power. The Harvey Weinsteins of the world know that you can be a despicable fuckwad so long as rumours about you don’t turn into a hashtag.

In the know: scientists compare gossip to grooming in primates. It’s a way of bonding. The difference is that other primates pick fleas off of each other cause they haven’t reached the personal hygiene enlightenment yet. I’m sure if we gave bathtubs to bonobos they’ll start taking water cooler breaks and making phone calls in no time.

5. B-B-B-B-Bad to the Bone

You might look at trousers, bank lines and Ben Shapiro compilations and think we’re way past our primitive selves, all evolved and ready to resolve our feuds with dialogue and reason — to which I’d respond by asking if you accidentally lobotomized yourself by falling head-first into a drill, cause you’d be wrong. Gestures like road rage might not accomplish much but they prove we’re still feral enough to merit a David Attenborough voiceover, and there are too many bosses and ex-spouses out there to give up on the lust for revenge anyway.

In the know: people can get a rush off of rage, kind of like a drug. And when you can’t afford more expensive highs but still need something more potent than a pack of Newport cigarettes, you understand why people go ballistic on Twitter arguments. Next time ask your dealer for a dose of schadenfreude.

So Being a Nice Person Is Exhausting

I don’t know about you but after a whole workday of trying to be a functional, well-adjusted member of society, the only reason I’d turn the other cheek is to find a better sleeping position. Nice guys finish last and not because they’re always holding elevator doors; it’s because they need a power nap from all that pretend politeness. The rest of us just let our inner dickheads out for a stroll from time to time, and that’s apparently enough.

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Loudt Darrow

Loudt Darrow

Informed. Opinionated. I might be wrong but never boring.