It’s common knowledge that Canadians are thought to be the nicest people on the planet. If you punch one, they’ll probably apologise for hurting your fist. And most of them work out so much they’ll actually hurt your fist if you do happen to punch them. But what happens when one nice person meets another nice person?
There have been very few studies on this, but from what data I’ve managed to gather through careful observation, I can tell you that a very curious phenomenon takes place. It occurs when there are two nice people, it doesn’t last very long, and to be honest, it’s kind of unimportant, but it’s still interesting to notice. I call it the ‘2-Nice Effect‘.
But before I fully explain the 2-Nice Effect, let us first take a step back and define what it means to be nice. There are different interpretations of the word nice. Regardless of all these interpretation, one point is clear: We need more nice people in the world.
Being nice is a beautiful thing. We should appreciate it for what it is. Most of the time, we don’t. We are often surprised when someone is nice because it’s such an uncommon thing these days.
“It’s a very sad world in
which common courtesy
and niceness is seen
as being strange.”
Niceness is a State of Being
So what is niceness? I might be completely wrong about this, but I think it’s a state of being. A temporary state of being, to be exact. When you do a nice action, purely for its own sake, with no ulterior motive, and you expect nothing and want nothing in return, then in that moment, you are a nice person.
Being nice is largely dependent on your sincere intentions and how often you do nice things. Imagine you’re the sort of person who pushes kids out of towers. That’s not nice. Saving someone’s life, however, is a nice action. Awful people are capable of nice actions and they often do nice things. No argument there.
What I am arguing is that just doing nice things isn’t enough to make you a nice person. It depends on your intentions. Being nice depends on why you are doing those nice things and how often you do them.
And another thing about nice people is that whenever they’re around you, they amplify and shine a light on your own niceness, even if you don’t think you have any. Seeing a nice person do a nice thing makes you want to be a better person.
Sadly, we can’t always be nice people. After all, we’re simply human. We fluctuate. Sometimes we’re nice. Sometimes we’re not. And there are varying degrees of niceness. We’re all different shades on the same spectrum of niceness. And it is simply a fact of life that some of us shine brighter than others.
Modifying a quote from my mate Dumbledore, I’d say that niceness can be found in even the darkest of hearts, so long as you remember to turn on the light. And then I’d probably burn myself trying to put out a candle, which wouldn’t really make sense since I’m supposed to light the candle with my hand instead of putting it out, but I haven’t figured out how to do that yet.
With all that being said, let’s have a look at two of the most common types of nice people which aren’t that nice at all. Then we’ll have a look at the 2-Nice Effect.
Type 1 – The ‘Nice Guy’
The first type of niceness is the most common. It’s when people use niceness as a means to an end. They will be friendly and helpful and lovely, just to get something from you. Maybe they want you to help them with their homework or maybe they want to borrow something from you. Either way, they think that a bit of flattery and superficial respect will take them a long way. And most of the time, it does.
This type of niceness is found most commonly in people who think they’re in the friendzone. And although I hate to generalize, most of these people turn out to be males. They have a really strange mentality where they think women have to reward niceness with sex or some form of a ‘next-level relationship’.
It’s a simple idea. When the male gets tired of being nice because he isn’t being rewarded for his efforts, he constructs the notion of a ‘friendzone’. He convinces himself that he was the ideal man for the female, and that there must be something wrong with the female which causes her to see him only as a friend. She wrongfully must have placed him in this imaginary place where all the ‘nice guys’ end up because she’s a bad person and should have rewarded him. For these people, friendship is failure.
Let’s turn now to Karl Pilkington and get his opinion on the matter. Karl, I know you’re busy what with being on the train and all, but if I could have a second of your time, what would you say this whole ‘friendzone’ idea is?
Well said, Mr. Pilkington. You’re right. It is complete and utter rubbish. If someone does a nice thing and expects to be rewarded for it, they’re not a nice person.
Technically, yes, they are doing nice things. The actions themselves are nice. No argument there. What I don’t like is the fact that they’re just using niceness as a means to an end. They’re doing nice things to get something else. And for that reason, they’re not a nice person (in that particular moment).
As corny and clichéd as it sounds, being nice is its own reward. Nice people do nice things because they’re nice. Or are nice people nice because they do nice things? I’ve no idea. Even Socrates couldn’t figure out his whole Euthyphro problem of piety and goodness.
Let’s have a look at the other type, the people-pleasers.
Type 2 – The ‘People Pleasers’
I’m sure you’ve all met people who are super-nice because they need validation and approval. The ‘People-Pleasers’ of the world. They do nice things because they want other people to like them. This need of approval is a result of low self-esteem.
They think they’re worthless, so they help as much as they can so people compliment them and make them feel better about themselves. Sadly, this doesn’t work. They sometimes feel empty inside because they place the well-being and happiness of others in front of their own. You feel bad for them because you know they are awesome people; they just can’t see it themselves.
All you can do is hope they one day realise that they are all kinds of awesome, that they are truly beautiful and valuable human beings, that they don’t need other people’s approval to understand how significant they are, and that they learn to appreciate and love themselves. Because these people are awesome.
Again, their actions are nice. I mean incredibly nice. Way too nice. But the intentions behind the actions aren’t really right because they’re simply using niceness to temporarily fix their self-esteem issues.
Stop Rambling. What Is The 2-Nice Effect?
OK. I’ve rambled on long enough. What is the 2-Nice Effect? It takes place when there are two nice people in direct contact with one another. The 2-Nice Effect only lasts for a few seconds. In a perfect world, it’d last for hours and we’d all stand there and watch. But this isn’t a perfect world.
Let’s use a real life example.
I first experienced the 2-Nice Effect a few weeks ago when I was waiting at the bus stop. A couple of people, let’s call them Person A and Person B, wanted to get on one of the buses at the stop.
Person A asked Person B to go on first. Person B refused and said “No, no. You first,” with a big friendly smile on his face. Person A smiled back, shaking his head and saying “Please, after you! I insist!”
For a few seconds, people looked on happily at this display of pubic politeness. It’s so rare to see people being nice that we actually stop what we’re doing to have a look at this cultural phenomenon like we’ve never seen it before.
So people stood there, smiling for a few seconds.
And while it’s refreshing to see people being nice, there is a limit to what the average human being can endure. We can only endure about 15 seconds of niceness before we find it annoying. We can endure niceness for a longer time but only if it’s directed at us. The 2-Nice effect amplifies Person A and Person B’s niceness to such an extent that it extends the bounds of human capacity
We stop thinking ‘Oh, that’s nice!’ and begin to hate the 2-Nice Effect and the people who started it and pretty much everything else ever.
In the case of the bus example, people just wanted the two people to shut up and get on the stupid bus. A line formed behind these two people. So the bus driver beckoned Person A onto the bus, but Person A motioned for Person B to go on first. The driver turned to Person B but Person B refused and pointed to Person A.
Annoyed at everything in the world, the people in the line walked around the two people and got on. The two people still stood there, each asking the other to get on first. The bus driver got really annoyed, and drove off, leaving the two standing there apologising to the other for causing a scene.
At this point, my bus arrived and I left. I imagine the two people are still standing there to this day apologizing.
Similarly, you can find cases of the 2-Nice Effect in regular everyday life. Imagine the last pizza slice. A person gets up to get pizza and notices there’s only one slice left. He asks the room, ‘Anyone want the last slice of pizza?’
Nobody will say yes. It’s called being polite. But if there are 2 Nice people in that area and one of them (Person A) is the pizza person, he’ll ask the other one (Person B) if he wants pizza. Person B will say, “No, you have it.”
Person A will respond, “No, you take it. You want the pizza.”
Person B will respond, “No, it’s fine. You have it.”
And the cycle can go on and on and on. Eventually, they just stop talking and just shake their heads until someone else walks in and either tells them both to shut up or just takes the last slice of pizza.
The 2-Nice Effect also takes place when someone holds the door open for another person or when they become simple yes-men because they don’t want to disagree with the other person etc.
I’m sure there are a lot more examples of the 2-Nice Effect in real life, but these are the two I’ve personally experienced and I can’t think of any more right now.
Let me know if you’ve ever seen the 2-Nice Effect in real life, or if you think I’m just talking complete and utter rubbish.