My best friend was a failed experiment…

This is actually NOT a game review, that too of any game that has been out for ages. Lol, I noticed too. [All the following definitions are sourced from http://www.bartleby.com]

Among the growing list of words that are constantly misused and overused indiscriminately, to the point of the word having its original potent meaning eroded into a nominal excuse, is the word friend. Ami, pal, chum, buddy or all of the above.

[These are strictly MY opinions…] Personally, I have always sought to draw a line [albeit blurry] between friend, acquaintance and brudder/comrade [which do you prefer?]. Too many people seem to think that the moment you know a person’s name and have exchanged the briefest of greetings while glancing at something else behind that person while taking a coffee break, you’re automatically entitled to refer to them as friend. Well, there’s nothing wrong see? Except for the teeny weeny fact that friendship should be mutual. You may assume that just because you consider someone a friend, they are obligated to return the “favor”. It’d probably make you feel good on Friendster, adding just about anybody and referring to your account/s by the number of “friends” you have in your list. Bitter truth is like medicine, occasionally necessary.

Yes, I understand fully that if a friend status is to be awarded with mutual consent, then there won’t very many friends running around. How would you know what the other party is thinking? Exactly, you may never know unless you’re willing to pop the socially awkward question “Are we really friends?” If you’re feeling secure enough to pop the question, well and good; you can sit easy. Most won’t [I wouldn’t!]; so isn’t it better to be safe than sorry?

Not everyone is a friend. No one is automatically guaranteed a “friendship membership” by virtue of their own personality or the preferences of the other party.

WORD HISTORY: A friend is a lover, literally. The relationship between Latin amcus “friend” and am “I love” is clear, as is the relationship between Greek philos “friend” and phile “I love.” In English, though, we have to go back a millennium before we see the verb related to friend. At that time, frond, the Old English word for “friend,” was simply the present participle of the verb fron, “to love.” The Germanic root behind this verb is *fr–, which meant “to like, love, be friendly to.” Closely linked to these concepts is that of “peace,” and in fact Germanic made a noun from this root, *frithu–, meaning exactly that. Ultimately descended from this noun are the personal names Frederick, “peaceful ruler,” and Siegfried, ”victory peace.” The root also shows up in the name of the Germanic deity Frigg, the goddess of love, who lives on today in the word Friday, “day of Frigg,” from an ancient translation of Latin Veneris dis, “day of Venus.”

The infusion of the word love into “friend” would suggest that a friend might be somene you actually care about. That is an illusion. The only person you ever care about in your entire life is yourself. [lol] Seriously though, are you people willing to swear earnestly that you would sacrifice your dearest possession [possibly even your life] for any person you’ve ever referred to as a friend? One? Ok plausible. Two? I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt. Ten? Don’t push it. The 493 friends on Friendster/MySpace/Orkut? Puhleeese..

This may seem like nit-picking. Perhaps the word friend has been misused in many circumstances, for convenience’s sake. Does that mean the word’s meaning is lost? The word “friendship” is still considered with reverence as one of the intangible gifts that you may enjoy in any given lifetime, if you’re lucky enough. My point exactly. You call it a heavenly gift one second and the next, you refer to some bloke at work you don’t even give a damn about as a friend. It’s like singing praises about some person and then claiming you hate him/her. It’s inconsistent, illogical, and very deceiving. Aren’t you guilty of this grave crime?

I encourage the free use of the word acquaintance. It’s a beautiful word, lukewarm in its potency. “Hello, this is my acquaintance. I know him, just barely.” Perfect. This just about describes most of our transient relationships with people we’re not directly related to. Yes, I mentioned the word transient.

Acquaintance : Knowledge of a person acquired by a relationship less intimate than friendship. b. A relationship based on such knowledge: struck up an acquaintance with our new neighbor. 2. A person whom one knows. 3. Knowledge or information about something or someone: has a passing acquaintance with Chinese history.

I’m not being cynical about this whole issue, I’m being forthright; basing my conclusions on my personal experience. I tried being a good friend before. It lasted little more than 6 years [that’s a personal record], and I am pretty dissatisfied with how it went right now. Not the person himself, but the nature of the whole relationship. If platonic relationships are given the career advancement track that resembles acquiantance –> friend –> brudder, then I feel friend is a bit too much on the fence. I don’t think it’s a good idea to have friends for too long. Either you show them the door to acquaintance or invite them in like siblings.

The reason for this is simple. Familiarity breeds contempt. Especially more so if you’re not willing to accept the person for what he/she is. And of course, it should be a mutual thing.

First come the favours [countless mutual favours cos we all know, favours are the currency of relationships]. Then the introduction to FOAFs [friend of a friend]. Then the obligatory activity involvement [whether or not you’re interested]. At this point, possible friend slowly gets to understand your background, your motivations, your strengths [quickly forgotten yet possibly the glue holding the relationship on his side], your weaknesses [which will become the cause for your insecurities] and vice versa.

Then the banter, exploiting your weaknesses, making fun of your possibly unrealistic ambitions/goals. Then the sarcastic banter and emotional blackmail [done with the express knowledge that since we are “friends”, the other person probably knows that it’s just an endless series of evil jokes, but jokes nonetheless]. Very soon, the warmth of camraderie is underwhelmed by the sting of seemingly harmless statements hurled by both sides at each other at an alarming frequency, causing wear in the entire relationship. Perhaps not all friendships proceed like this, maybe that’s partly my fault [the evil jokes part]. But the truth is, a friend’s greatest enemy is time and insecurity.

Fotunately the acquaintance suffers from few of these problems because of the distance in the relationship. It’s comfortable for both sides to withhold what is anyway irrelevant information for the relationship. Does an acquaintance really need to know about your family and background? Is it any of his business? Only with acquaintances, you don’t have to compromise any personal details that you don’t wish to. And that’s probably for the good of the relationsip in the long term.

Time? Hell yeah. I ask you, how many peple are going to share similar experiences even if they tried. Life IS a journey, and if you’re not moving in space, you still are in time. So, change comes and sometimes change is good, and ultimately, the only thing that doesn’t change is change. We change [our preferences, our mindsets, our ambitions and goals…] and so will the other party. So making “good” friends when you’re still young is fallacy, like child marriage. It’s never going to last unless you actually try very hard to get along as time goes on. And this is actually if you two end up staying at the same location or make superhuman efforts to keep in touch.

And assuming you do make such efforts but still get separated by the mists of time and space, if and when you do meet again, there’s bound to be this awkward gap in the relationship and any conversations. “Did the other person try hard enough?”

Long lost friend? That’s not a friend. Yes, it’s not wrong to lose contact. We’re all such busy people, and it’s really a “out of sight, out of mind” kinda foreign affairs policy if you’re intending to stay vigilant in the navigation of life. What IS wrong is continuing to refer to these lost buddies as friends. If he were a friend STILL, he wouldn’t be a long-lost one. At least not by any fault of yours.

I seek to adopt the Steppenwolfe way of looking at things. I’m not quite as depressed as Hesse’s titular character, but he shares my desire for solitude. The kind of solitude that extends to even small actions of everyday living. Buying headphones instead of earphones so you don’t have to share, owning a bike and only one helmet, things like that. It’s not the world’s fault, it’s my preference. It’s introverted, selfish. So? Sue me.

Relationships are responsibilities. And I don’t want any more than I can handle.

Comrade. Brudder/sista. I’d hate to sound ghetto, but I’m trying to illustrate the beauty and ideal nature of this tier in a platonic relationship. Unconditional acceptance of self and the other [sometimes that’s more valuable than anything else], the feeling of security about the whole relationship [that scores major points as well; you don’t have to continually try to impress to earn influence points or be bogged down by countless doubts about whether the other party is dissatisfied with anything that you are or have been doing]…
The more I talk about it, the more it doesn’t sound like a loving warm relationship. That’s exactly it. The cold hard truth that no matter what, you will be there for each other and all other emotional transactions are over-the-counter. This closely resembles a open marriage or co-habitation model.

And so, I recognise time as my enemy. I recognise my lack of commitment as a weakness. And I recognise that aspiring for long-term stable friendships is like hoping for a mirage. Acquaintance is good enough. Change is constant. So let’s not push it.

Enjoy it while it lasts. Part on a good note, and if you meet again, lucky you.

edit: as of early 2008, I reiterate this stand.

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