Wednesday, 29 November 2006

Nice London?! Niceties project

Call me cynical, but the BBC report last week, about Liz Akers' Niceties project and Team Nice's efforts to institute a scheme passing "Niceties Tokens" round to people who have been nice, in order encourage Londoners to be nice to others, just had me raising an eyebrow and shrugging.

It's a nice idea, indeed. But - but - I can't see how it'll work. Their website lets people log tokens they've received, but to me it's too much trouble because if you received a token and want to check it out you have to fill in a form about its colour, number of grooves etc (and about yourself); and it's not at all obvious that you don't have to have received a token in order to view the "log" tracking a particular token. The novelty of viewing logs kinda wore out for me after I looked at just two!

To me, the best way of getting people to be nice is to be nice yourself. Good manners, common courtesy and civility are all too rare, especially in big cities (and that's another rant in itself!), but hopefully kindness engenders kindness, or at least you're setting a good example for others. And recognition and gratitude are good, but I don't really think that's why most people who try to be nice are nice. I've done "nice" things which others haven't known about, just because I think it's the right thing - like silently holding the lift door open at a Tube station for a blind person who won't of course have seen or known that I was doing it.

At best, the Niceties project is a nice gimmick. I suppose it's served to draw some attention to the issue, but then we all know anyway that people in many big cities tend not to be that nice anyway, for all sorts of reasons. Saying that niceness ought to be recognised isn't going to make people nicer. But maybe that's just me...

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