why you should sometimes be mean

Most people only make comments selectively. If they think something is really funny, they will say it, if they think it’s less so, they might hold it back or say it depending on the company. When one is with friends, there is little hesistation and everything comes out, and when with strangers, one may censor oneself fairly closely, not knowing the humor of the others or the response one will receive.

So, on the one hand, it’s good to be engaging and positive when one is dealing with new people; such people will feel like they can speak their mind. However, different people respond to social circumstances differently. I know some friends who always make great comments when they censor themselves to a fairly high degree. If they feel like they can say whatever they want, they start to say a bunch of ridiculous stuff. This I think is one reason for why good friends make fun of each other more than strangers or acquaintances make fun of each other. Friends know when their friend is at their social peak. So they feel free to censor the friend more. When one of my good friend makes a bad comment, I feel free to mock them over it. Likewise when I say something silly. This mutual censorship keeps each person at their peak, where only the good comments come out.

This results in a kind of self reinforcement in good friendships in which each interaction is of a high quality since both parties are wary of saying trivial things and aim to say funny things.

Being too nice results in a flood of bad comments, and most of all, you don’t help keep other members of the conversation at their best and as a result, participants who feel they can anything they want and be met with approval begin to feel that their comments have no import and that the conversation is superficial and not demanding.


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