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how the demand for benevolence poisons social relations

During the last ten months, a Marseille company has obtained the “benevolence prize” during the presentation of the Trophies for positive entrepreneurs; a leisure center in Loire-Atlantique organized a mini “Koh-Lanta” on “The island of benevolence”; Pôle Emploi claimed with ” kindness “ overpayments paid to precarious workers; the Tinder application asked its members to cuddle in all ” kindness ” ; a comedian has “Treated and mistreated the news with malice and benevolence” at the microphone of Europe 1; Roselyne Bachelot broke up with Léa Salamé on France 2 – “Do you think you are the holder of benevolence and empathy?” ” – and Emmanuel Macron kept his electoral promise – “I have a rule of life for women and men as well as for structures, it is benevolence” spawning on YouTube with the harmless McFly and Carlito. Finally, this summer, singer Angèle apologized for having only this “Buzzword” to describe his filming experience with the intense Leos Carax, during the screening ofAnnette at the Cannes Film Festival. ” But it was really… benevolent, extremely benevolent ”, she capitulated.

Escaped from the bombastic formulas of administrative letters – “I ask for your benevolence” – to be elected word of the year in 2018 by Le Robert, this sweet and chivalrous sounding “nf” has vampirized fields as varied as education, management, communication, ecology, social networks, family, cuisine, culture, health… The Covid-19 health crisis has increased its popularity.

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As commendable as it is Instagrammable, never guilty, how did benevolence for all end up poisoning our lives? “We are becoming completely nunuche, sighs Matthias Debureaux, 51, author of the essay The Noble Art of the Fallout [Editions Allary, 2018]. In the 1980s, we told each other horrors with friends, we sent each other insults, it was not mean and it made people laugh. The winnower was popular and appealed to girls. Today I find myself having to say XOXO to everybody. Otherwise, I look like a monster. ”

Toxic positivity

A victim of its own success, benevolence has lost its quality (“Favorable disposition towards someone, kindness, indulgence”, says the dictionary) just to smooth things over, sanitize our exchanges and bean under all circumstances. The American writer Bret Easton Ellis is convinced of this: the gnan-gnantisation of the world emanates from the millennials (20 years old in the year 2000) whom he calls “Chochotte generation . Raised by overprotective parents, these fussy almonds fed on almond milk would tend to sink into sentimentality and, without a reliable business model, would seek to be loved if not to prosper. This is why, today, the Chochotte generation asks only one thing: please, please, please, send me a positive feedback, please ”, writes Ellis, with a certain tenderness for his boyfriend twenty years younger than him who, after all, has never known ” that after September 11, two wars and a brutal recession “(Vanity Fair, September 2014).

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