Sunday, September 26, 2010

A new guide on how to be f**king nice to each other

Danes have a harder time opening up to others, according to Lars AP, who has started a nationwide niceness campaign 
Only in Denmark can you get away with using the F-word in your book’s title and cause absolutely no uproar over it.
But the title of the new book from Lars Andreas Pedersen – who goes by the moniker Lars AP – isn’t meant to offend. ‘F**king Flink’ is aimed at giving Pedersen’s fellow countrymen tips on how to be more open and polite to strangers.
‘Flink’ is the Danish word for ‘nice’, and as the son of an American father and Danish mother, Pedersen thinks he understands what the concept is all about.
‘Year after year Danes are rated as the happiest people in the world,’ he writes in the book. ‘But try standing in the supermarket queue on a Monday afternoon or driving during rush hour traffic. Danes can be some of the least tolerant people around.’
As part of promoting the book and what he calls ‘a movement’, Pedersen dressed up as a traffic warden and issued ‘tickets’ to people who were extra nice.
And Pedersen points out that Danes are generally nice – to each other. A survey in the book indicated that 42 out of 100 Danes said the reason they were not more open to others was out of respect for the person’s private life.
‘But that’s the catch,’ he told The Copenhagen Post. ‘Based on the Danish norms for politeness, what we’re doing is polite. According to linguists and scholars, our rituals for politeness were formed when we still lived in predominantly rural settings. But as our everyday culture has become more urban our cultural situation has changed. It’s just that our politeness rituals haven’t.’
‘People say that once you get to know a Dane, you have a friend for life,’ said Pedersen. ‘I don’t know if that’s really true, but I do know that Danes treat their friends well. The problem is when we don’t know each other. In public, a friendly chit-chat or chance meeting between two strangers is much rarer here than in many other cultures.’
Pedersen claims he realised just how unwilling Danes are to open up to others after he’d started living abroad. In addition to having lived in the US, he has also resided in Canada and Central America.

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