In today’s world, it is not a secret that people are not nice to each other.
I mean, sure, there are so many good people out there who show kindness and go out of their way to help other people.
But you have to admit that there is a growing trend towards negativity and being mean nowadays.
So, why are we not nice?
Well, there may be many reasons for this. It could be because of people’s rebellious nature, a tough childhood, hypersensitivity, tribalism, social conditioning, entitlement, the belief that only tough and mean people can be successful, and so on. We will cover each reason.
In this article, I am going to explore these reasons and more in detail and we’ll try to understand why people are increasingly becoming nastier.
Religion is a huge part of people’s lives.
Usually, religious beliefs are instilled in people right from a really young age.
Concepts like love, harmony, peace, kindness, etc. are all taught to people so that they go on to become good human beings. But if you take a look around you, this is not reflected in reality.
You see, there are many rebellious people out there who do exactly the opposite of what they are told.
These people are not necessarily bad or evil, but it’s in their nature to be defiant.
So, when religion tells them, “You must be nice,” they do the exact opposite. It’s strange how the human mind works, isn’t it?
Also, many religions have spread the belief that being nice could mean that you will have to give up on success.
Religious dogma often states that the quality of niceness is in contrast to worldly ambitions. So, even those who believe their religious teachings tend to choose not to be nice because they don’t want to be called losers!
In the past couple of centuries, there has been a popular movement in the world of art and literature called “Romanticism.”
For the average Romantic, only those people are admirable who are intense, spontaneous, passionate, unpredictable, creative, and exciting.
This cultural movement highly idealizes a person who can dare to go against the established order and the norms associated with it.
Such a person is expected to follow the callings of their heart even if it comes at the expense of being rude and forceful. I guess, you can justify everything if you put a cultural and literary spin on it!
Regardless, a nice person is considered the stark opposite of the ideal person by the Romantics.
A nice person is someone who is predictable, ordered, quiet, unflashy, and honorable.
All these qualities are obviously good, but for the Romantics, they are “boring.”
In today’s world, where people highly value what others think of them, they would rather be considered exciting and spontaneous than a boring, nice person!
Perhaps the most defining feature of modern-day civilization is capitalism.
In fact, it was the first industrial revolution that laid the foundation of the modern-day lives we all live. But as we all know, capitalism didn’t only give us the good things.
It also equally gave us bad things.
I am not talking about pollution, climate change, global warming, the increase in consumerism, and other bad effects of capitalism.
I am talking about the more fundamental effect it has had on our psyche.
The corporate world taught us in an almost subliminal way that being nice stands opposite to the competitive environment of today. It taught us that being nice only gets a person eaten up by larger fish.
If you think about it, that’s kind of true.
You have to have a certain level of ruthlessness and cunning to be successful in the world of business.
You have to be willing to do things that you would typically not do in your personal life. And you have to take advantage of the slightest bit of opportunity even at the expense of other people (or at least that’s what history has taught us!).
In such an environment, it is easy to see why people don’t want to be nice.
I am sure you already know what I’m going to say here.
After all, the last couple of decades have seen countless movies, tv shows, and novels that have portrayed the “bad boy” as the sexy, desirable man who is irresistible to women. Yeah, it doesn’t make logical sense, but that’s just how it is!
Believe it or not, this happens even in the real world. For some reason, people are more attracted to other people who seem to be mysterious, unruly, confident, and even dangerous at times. There is something about the dark and mysterious that attracts people.
Contrast this to the image of a nice person who does everything right and is harmless.
Such a person is an immediate turn-off for a whole lot of people.
Again, logically, this doesn’t make any sense.
After all, you need a nice person to establish a strong romantic relationship. But eroticism has had such a deep influence on people that they have abandoned rational thinking.
And so, many have ventured to the dark side leaving behind the niceness.
There is no doubt that the experiences you go through during your childhood have a huge impact on the type of person you grow up to be.
These experiences can shape your personality, attitude, beliefs, values, and behaviors as an adult. And they can even determine whether or not you are nice to others.
Usually, children who grow up in environments where they experience kindness and empathy tend to grow up to be nice people. This is because they simply learn to replicate the same traits. So, if you saw your parents being kind to other people while growing up, it is highly likely that you will model the same behavior as an adult.
However, if you were raised in an environment where you went through a lot of hardships and faced parents that were critical, judgmental, uncooperative, or unloving, you can grow up to be a mean person.
Again, as an adult, you are just modeling the behavior of your adults and most of the time, you don’t even realize it.
There are all types of people in the world.
Some tend to be tender, while others tend to be harsh.
Some tend to be emotional, while others tend to hide their emotions.
Now, these personality traits can influence whether you are nice or not. They can also determine how nice or mean you are.
You see, if you are emotionally hypersensitive, it is a no-brainer that you might not always be nice to people. This is because your reactions to any external stimuli will be highly exaggerated. For example, if someone says something to you that you perceive as criticism, you may react with anger or frustration. You might say something bad about the other person in the process.
So, in a way, heightened emotional sensitivity may lead you to react in ways that aren’t warranted for the given situation.
But since all of this happens in an unconscious manner, this is not really your fault.
It’s just your mind perceiving things as emotional threats and reacting impulsively.
This is probably one of the most common reasons why people are not nice to others.
In this case, people make a conscious choice to not be nice because they fear being used.
Unfortunately, in the world that we live in, nice people are seen as harmless souls who just can’t say no to you. For a lot of nice people, this is even true.
I mean, you can do an experiment and see this for yourself.
If you are nice to people all the time, they might eventually start asking for favors from you. Slowly, the frequency of these favors might increase. After some time, things might become so dire that if you say no to them, they will actually get offended!
It’s almost as if people want to own you if you are a nice person these days!
Thankfully, people have caught on to this. And so, they usually have their guards up around people they don’t know. They do this even with colleagues and people they are friends with.
This is related to the above point, but it gets even darker.
You might have seen this in your life too!
Nice people often get treated poorly by others. I am not saying that this happens literally all the time. In fact, there are people out there who appreciate nice people and actually treat them like they deserve to be treated.
But you and I both know that the world is filled with all sorts of people.
For example, there are some people who like to exert dominance over kind people because they think they won’t stand up to them.
In fact, many nice people stop being nice because of their past experiences where they were taken advantage of, abused, and mistreated. They think that it simply isn’t worth it in the world that we live in.
In some cases, things become so dark for kind people that they withdraw from social interactions to a great extent.
They can also act aggressively toward others in order to protect themselves from potential mistreatment.
As you can imagine, their relationships take a huge toll because of this fear of theirs.
This is a no-brainer and I don’t think I need to say much about this.
Empathy is the natural ability of human beings to understand and relate to other people’s emotions and feelings. This ability might differ in degree from one person to the next, but most people have it to a certain extent.
But there are people who completely lack empathy.
Obviously, these people cannot understand or realize when they cause pain to others. As such, they have no problem being rude to others without any reason. To them, other people are emotionless robots who can be treated as they please.
However, even if you are an empathetic person, it can be easy sometimes to forget that other people have feelings too.
This typically happens when you are too focused on your thoughts and emotions or when you are too concerned about your own needs and desires, without considering how your behavior can impact them.
Your emotional and mental states have a huge impact on how you deal with other people.
We have all experienced this, haven’t we?
When you are happy and joyful, you are all bubbly and you greet people with enthusiasm. You might even smile kindly at strangers when you pass them by on the street.
But when you are stressed out or anxious about something, you just can’t bring yourself to treat others with kindness. I mean, you don’t suddenly become a rude person in this case… but it’s just that you have so much going on in your mind that you might forget to treat people nicely.
In fact, there is a biological explanation for why this happens.
When your body and mind are under stress, your brain releases hormones like cortisol and adrenaline.
Cortisol is a stress hormone and adrenaline is part of your body’s “fight or flight” response.
So, when you are juiced up with these hormones, you become more reactive in nature and your ability to regulate your emotions gets compromised.
I am sure you already know what I’m going to say, don’t you?
Entitlement is a serious problem in modern-day societies.
There are so many people who feel like they are inherently deserving of privileges and benefits. And the worst part? They feel they are owed these privileges without any effort from their side. They also feel like they are above the rules or other people’s needs.
I know… it’s frustrating, isn’t it?
But that’s how it is with a lot of people.
And often, these people become highly rude and argumentative when you don’t give them what they are supposedly “owed.”
For example, if you are on a camping trip with your buddies, an entitled friend might refuse to cooperate while setting up the tents. And when you ask them to contribute their fair share, they might get angry and hurl abuses.
I mean, the important question here is… why are you even on a camping trip with an entitled friend? Jokes apart, it’s obvious that a sense of entitlement can lead people to ditch their kindness rather quickly.
Sometimes, you are just running from one place to another or from one task to another and you simply don’t have time to stand and chat with someone.
Sometimes, you have so much to do and so little time to do it in, that your mind becomes like a pressure cooker.
In such situations, it is understandable if you don’t treat people with kindness. I am not encouraging such behavior… but I am saying that it happens. During such times, your body is filled with a lot of stress hormones and you are basically firing on all cylinders.
As such, it is quite difficult to bring out your kind self and treat people with respect and dignity.
Also, even if you don’t mean to be rude, you avoiding them for genuine reasons might come across as being rude.
Role models play an important role in our lives.
Especially when we meet them at a younger age.
As I mentioned above, when you have a parental figure in your life, you simply start modeling their behavior from a young age.
So, having a good role model like a sports coach, godfather, teacher, etc., can teach you to become a nice human being.
On the other hand, if you never had a good role model or had a bad influence around you, you might become rude as an adult. That’s because you were simply not taught how to be a better person. You were not taught about the value of respect or human emotions.
I think this happens with a lot of people today since people are more focused on their own lives.
As such, they don’t have enough time to mentor other people (especially children).
This is another contributing factor that explains why some people are not nice to others.
You see, when you perceive a threat, your entire body and mind go into a “fight or flight” mode. At that moment, all you are thinking about is self-preservation. You may become defensive, aggressive, or even hostile toward the perceived threat.
As such, being kind to the other person/s doesn’t even occur to you.
For example, if someone perceives that their colleagues are plotting something against them at the workplace, they might become defensive and argumentative. Since they see their colleagues as the perpetrators of a conspiracy, they start treating them rudely.
If this happens to you, you must remember that not all perceived threats are based on reality.
Sometimes, our perception plays tricks on our minds and makes us see things that are not really there.
This is perhaps one of the most ancient reasons why people are not nice to each other.
You see, at the beginning of our civilization, different tribes started forming based on similar values, identities, preferences, perceptions, and so on. And there used to be constant conflict between rival or opposing tribes.
This happens even today.
No, we are no longer divided into tribes, but we still belong to groups of people.
For example, you might have a close group of friends based on certain factors. If you meet someone from a different group, you might see them with a “us vs. them” mentality. And when you see them as different from you, you might not be motivated to be kind toward them.
This is often what we see in schools, universities…..