Human life is challenging, yes? It always has been, right? Let's operate for the rest of this post on that assumption.
People used to spend a lot of time worrying about how they were going to hunt/gather things for their next meal ("What if I can't kill a squirrel or harvest roots in the next few hours? Will l have enough energy to spear something if I need to? Is this sore on my leg going to heal or will I have to hack off my leg with a sharp rock?").
Now a lot of us worry about how we're going to spend time with other humans and what food we're going to pick up at the grocery store ("Should I bring 7-layer dip and tortilla chips or hummus and pita chips? Will there be time for me to get my steps in so I can justify eating the snack I bring? Also, do I have time to go stand in that pharmacy line to pick up my Doxycycline for my zip-lining trip to South America?").
We have it a lot easier than people used to. But we also face a completely different set of challenges. Technology makes some things really easy and other things exponentially more challenging. I know that even a few years ago I didn't get cold feet before someone's party and change my "maybe" RSVP to "not going" five minutes before the event. I also know that before my smartphone I didn't really feel the feeling of FOMO because I didn't know or care what other people were doing if they weren't with me. Now I get pretty bummed out and sad because no one nominated me for an Emmy and my girlfriends didn't think to invite me to the baby show that I didn't want to go to anyway.
I think that even in this bizarre time we live in where we're all oversaturated with viral videos and comments and likes we can preserve some of our nice-ness. We can live good lives that aren't filled with anxiety and isolation.
When I was a kid I remember my first or second grade teacher reading my class a book called "What if Everybody Did That?" It was mostly about considering the repercussions of doing unwise things. The only example from the book I remember said something to the effect of "what if everybody leaned to the left on the school bus?" It implied that the bus would tip over and everyone would be in a terrible spot. There may have even been a picture of a bus tipping over. Elementary school is pretty hazy for me these days.
My point? Our lives are arguably simpler than the lives of people in the past because of our technology. But our ability to live quality lives is still being challenged by our technological advances. Life is still hard in its own way.
Choose to see your barista or cashier as a human. It's a discipline, a muscle that has become weak for me. Choose to see Clinton and Trump and your mother and the lady who bumped into you in Target and Kid Rock and Colbert and Kim and Kanye and your neighbor and the guy who's shouting at you for dinging his car as HUMAN. We are all people with families and opinions and emotions. We all matter.
Be nice. Hear people. Hope that they hear you, but remember that you can only be responsible for your own decisions.
OH-- one more thing. Last thing. Nice-ness doesn't mean doormat-ness. It doesn't mean you can't have an opinion. It means you know you have one and you assume that any given person you interact with has a different set of experiences and opinions. I truly believe that having different opinions and beliefs and acknowledging them is what makes us American and also gives us the capability to exist together. Agreement isn't what we should be seeking. Nice-ness? Let's shoot for that.