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What Are Nice People Up To?


What Are Nice People Up To?

Bea Beste explores the sad fact that kindness is often met with skepticism in today’s Western society.

Most of us get along better with kind and warm people. But what if they are “too” nice? So is caution required? What does it say about our society that some view kindness with skepticism?

We all know the saying ” Too good to be true”.  When something is close to perfect, we can hardly enjoy it because we immediately ask ourselves: “Really? Is that it? Or is the truth lurking around the corner, ready to bring us down to earth?”

Extreme friendliness = alarm bells?

If someone is extremely friendly towards me and I hardly know the person, alarm bells go off in my head immediately.

I then ask myself: is the person really nice? Does she expect something in return?

Or is she up to something?

All these questions came up to me recently during my last vacation. I was in Greece, where last time I met the people I met seemed incredibly nice. This time, however, a shovel was added to the niceness. Not only did our Airbnb host help us rent cars and bikes (which involved quite a lot of phone calls back and forth), she also offered to drive us straight to the supermarket if we didn’t already have a car.

So, sitting in her Nissan, barely having known her for three minutes, I couldn’t help but feel uneasy. Could it really be that she was so hospitable? Or was she up to something? Was the guy she called really trying to rip us off? Would the bill come at the end? I found my friend extremely naïve who didn’t care at all.

And then he said something that went pretty deep into my heart?

“What does it actually say about you that you’re so skeptical about hospitality?”


That hurt.

But he was right. The fact that I was so skeptical had nothing to do with the environment, but with me. And after a week I was able to stick together that although there are good and bad people everywhere in the world, the host culture in Greece is completely different from that in Germany. And I’m not used to that. That explains my skepticism.

Internalized racism?

Maybe a few of you will click away immediately at the R-word – but to all those who are still here: I have realized that my skepticism also has a lot to do with internalized racism. Greece may not be the Orient directly, but travel culture has proclaimed for centuries that the Orient is wonderfully “exotic”, the food is delicious and the people are friendly – but there is also something dodgy about them. We mustn’t trust them blindly, because they could rip us off .

And yes – of course many make a lucrative business out of ripping off naive German tourists . Of course, it’s important to maintain a degree of skepticism. But to relate this thought to all the people I meet in a friendly manner abroad is the purest generalization . And I realized that towards the end of the holiday. I was ashamed of these thoughts, because I find it very bad myself when I meet people with prejudices. At the same time, I was happy because I now saw the problem and could change it.


Key points include:

  • Seeing like an adult with one eye
  • Cultural differences
  • Trusting strangers


Read the full article, Nice people up to something? What does it say about our society that kindness is met with skepticism?, on