“If you can’t say something nice…”

15 Mar

In the wake of the mean vs nice discussion regarding people in financial hot waters through no fault of their own vs moochers  or wanting a free ride…

… there was some squeaking over the agents twitter conversation known by now as “queryfail.” There is applause, there is heckling, there is mocking, there is cheering, there is… well, the usual. (You can follow some of the noise here and, of course, here)

But that is not quite what I want to address here.

My issue is with the tired old cliché, brought up this time by Roberta Hawell, that goes:

“… if you can’t say something nice don’t say anything at all. Why do we have to beat someone else up to make our selves feel important. If you have a problem with someone, take it behind closed doors. Not some place where the whole world can see. People need to remember when you are saying something hurtful to one person it could come back to bit you in the a-. We as humans need to start being nicer to each person we meet and not be so critical of each other. None of us are perfect. I’ll get off my soap box now. Have a great day.”

With apologies to Ms Hawell, there’s a lot of irony in calling for others to shut up unless they have something nice to say-it implies that the people one is admonishing to be quiet are *not* nice, which isn’t, in turn, nice. Plus, isn’t there a bit of “look at how much better a person I am!” from the people dispensing that particular pearl of wisdom?

And I say, if one wants to live one’s life by that maxim, please and by all means, have at it! But as part of it, could you try to refrain from criticize people who believe otherwise?

Oh and winning comment this week, by Kimber Chin:

I don’t want a ‘pleasant’ relationship with my agent or editor. I want someone I’ll cuss about because he or she is pushing me so hard. I want someone who will say ‘Kimber, this story bites’ so I don’t waste my readers’ time and money. I want someone who cares enough to be nasty.


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