Christmas is meant to be the season of goodwill, so why do I feel like
everywhere I look, people are being really nasty to one another?
These days, people can have full-on slanging matches on Facebook and Twitter
(yes you, Denise Van Outen and Natalie Cassidy). It seems being a bitch is
the way to get ahead.
No surprise, when you consider the mainstay of people’s TV viewing is talent
shows where the judges pour scorn upon those poor saps brave enough to have
a bash. Grown men cry and wise women wilt as the tongue-lashing begins.
And don’t get me started on Lord Sugar and that waggling finger as he barks:
“You’re fired” at business professionals who’ve been reduced to quivering,
stuttering wrecks when faced with a man happy to be described as Britain’s
“most belligerent boss”.
But the worst part is that we actually love a bit of nastiness. Bitching and
back-stabbing make for prime-time ratings.
There was a time when it used to be cool to be nice. We were capable of all
sorts of malicious feelings, but kept them under wraps. We didn’t post
bitchy comments on Facebook. And we didn’t go in for road rage, trolley
rage, or she’s-got-better-boots-than-me rage.
Politicians were gentlemanly. They avoided flinging gratuitously cruel insults
across the House of Commons. You’d never have had someone as senior as
Labour deputy leader Harriet Harman describing Liberal Democrat MP Danny
Alexander as a “ginger rodent”.
As little as 10 years ago, even celebrities were professionally civil. If you
asked one star about another they’d never have dreamed of being cruel or
Fellow famous people were always dubbed ‘a rare talent’ or ‘a pleasure to work
with.’ It was boring, but there were no B-list slanging matches and it
wasn’t considered a delightful national sport for the world to wade in and
take pop after pop at someone vulnerable, such as Kerry Katona.
Even comedy used to be kinder. Instead of Frankie Boyle firing jibes at Amy
Winehouse and making Josef Fritzl jokes, we had jolly Eric and Ernie, kindly
Tommy Cooper and hilarious Les Dawson. The tone was light banter, not
venomous personal assassination.
The problem with nastiness is that it’s infectious. It’s seeped out of celeb
land through our TV screens and gossip pages, and now we don’t even bat an
eyelid at it.
We love to read about yet another celebrity marriage hitting the rocks, we lap
it up when Dancing On Ice’s Jason Gardiner compares athlete Sharron Davies
to ‘faecal matter’ (how has that got anything to do with ice skating?) and
laugh when celebrities – desperate to win our approval – wolf down kangaroo
penis until they vomit.
So comfortable are we with nastiness that we start believing nice people are
pushovers and being unpleasant is the way forward.
Let’s bin the bitching. I’m all for a niceness revival – it’s perfectly
possible to be cool, sassy and even sexy without being offensive. Go on,
dare to be decent!
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