Famous for its shrewdness and rather questionable ways of getting around things, the Lebanese population is one of very few modern societies to openly appraise حربقة (craftiness) and شطارة (slyness) as actual psycho-social virtues. And while a striking majority of Lebanese perfectly fit this description, the few remaining genuinely nice people are often bound to suffer improbable consequences.


1. People tend to frequently ask you if you’re okay…



Buddy, you alright? [I am a perfectly functioning human being who unfortunately happens to excessively considerate of other people’s feelings and I will abstain from saying it to your face because you know, I’m quite nice.]


2. Or just assume that you’re plain stupid and proceed to treat you accordingly.



SERIOUSLY WHY ARE YOU NOT A PERPETUALLY GRUMPY BALL OF FIRE READY TO BE UNLEASHED AT THE SLIGHTEST MISUNDERSTANDING LIKE ALL OF US? SUCH ODD SOCIAL BEHAVIOR IS STRICTLY UNACCEPTABLE IN THE LAND OF THE CEDARS. YOU SHALL BE DISOWNED RIGHT AWAY.


3. Your nonexistent gossiping skills make it hard for you to engage in conversations during social events.



Gossip is naturally your major nonexistent talent, which also happens to be the ultimate prerequisite to all kinds of social events in Lebanon, from small family gatherings to pretentious gala dinners. Bottom line, you either have to seek the help of a professional gossiper for you to acquire the necessary training or wave farewell to your social life once and for all.


4. This in turn leads to people erroneously labeling you as shy/reserved.



Simply because placing you in the ‘vulnerable’ category is an easier way for them to make sense of your otherwise unfamiliar display of niceness.


5. Your friends and relatives often feel compelled to ‘defend’ you in risky social situations.



Building on the above misconception, people in your surrounding often assume you’re not strong enough to stand up for yourself in times of trouble and therefore take it upon themselves to ‘handle it’ and speak on your behalf. [I appreciate your support but I am totally equipped to defend myself when needed and I will now proceed to find a nice way to brush you off without you noticing.]


6. People get pretty mixed up when you do not react to their repeated offenses.



Which leads us back to #2 all over again…


7. Your overtly friendly behavior is also alarming to strangers.



Sometimes your niceness rush gets too intense to tame and you can’t help but interfere to help a random stranger on the street or sort out something that’s not exactly your business out of sheer goodwill. And while many Lebanese will eventually grow to appreciate your help, you’re gonna have to endure quite a few frowns first (the good old ‘Do Not Take Candy From Strangers Effect’ in action).


8. Which results in people often questioning your intentions.



Another staple of living in a country with too many denominations, endless political affiliations and even more sub-cultures. [Which also does not bother you because you’re intrinsically nice, duh.]


9. If, for some oddly pressing reason once in a lifetime, you go on to display a barely detectable manifestation of anger/meanness, then it’s bound to stick with you for the rest of your existence.



This is probably the most annoying part (of this list AND of being a human with actual psycho-emotional limits). So basically mean behavior is only considered a big deal in Lebanese society when coming from a nice person (i.e. you) but is otherwise praised for being a manifestation of self-confidence when coming from the average Lebanese (or your average social media influencer/celebrity/politician).


10. But despite all the hardships, you ultimately get to a stage where people feel compelled to be nice to you in return.



With some, it might take a few days. With others, an entire lifetime. Yet the fact that your kindness is not dependent upon/dictated by external factors but rather stemming from your nature itself will keep you going strong and ultimately enable you to make a difference, sometimes without you being directly aware of it, in the lives and attitudes of people around you.

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