Every child has their heroes – pop stars, actors, footballers and athletes, but these idols invariably possess a darker side.
One trait which doesn’t seem to prove popular or trendy is kindness.
Although the vast majority of us don’t doubt that it is a virtue, being kind isn’t cool, very rarely funny and is not a good look for tough guys.
‘Nice’ worked in the era of our grandparents, when a trilby-wearing gent, who always held the door open was never short of female attention.
All that changed when the likes of James Dean and Marlon Brando snarled their way on to the silver screen.
Nice became boring and was reserved for nerdy sidekicks and big-hearted comedy characters. Hollywood, and subsequently society in general, consigned the nice guy to a supporting role.
American academics are working on a theory that kindness can extend one’s life expectancy. There is an ongoing project looking at the effects of kindness both on the bearer of goodwill and the lucky recipients.
The theory goes that positive sentiments have a welcome effect on everybody involved in that particular transaction, especially when it comes to alleviating stress.
Despite this growing body of evidence we are yet to all be convinced that a smile and a compliment always trumps a frown and a snide quip.
It was World Kindness Day last week but, were you to mention it, it was likely you were met with a rather suspicious look. Sadly, the most acerbic comments on social media are rewarded with a tsunami of likes while displays of positivity are dismissed as virtue-signalling.
Trolls have always existed, except they used to breathe heavily down the telephone and cut out words from newspapers and shove their messages of hate into the post.
Today, a combination of technology and the apathetic acceptance of society means that bad vibes and negativity flourish. It is our choice to snap at a stranger behind a till or the equally stressed person in the car in front.
Life is undoubtedly hard at times but it can be made a lot easier if we all smile a bit more. Maybe if we all did, kindness would be cool again.