Like so many things in life, there are rules to making friends.
Generally, we learn the rules of social interaction in preschool (those of us whose parents had the wherewithal to enroll us), because that environment is designed to be a microcosm of the adult world. There, we learn to play, share, eat amongst one another, conduct ourselves like “regular” human beings, etc. Most importantly, we learn how to interact with other people. By the time of graduation, we have adapted to & adopted the habits of society, good or bad, like it or not.
These skills are then transferred to kindergarten, where they are honed & sharpened. Kindergarten is where I meet one of my two lifelong friends (the other one being in preschool), so I can vouch for the importance of kids learning how to cohabitate & thrive. & in theory, learning how to make friends is the most important skill one can acquire. Not only does “friendship” transcend boundaries (cultural, economic, religious, gang-infested, etc.), but the building block for any friendship is communication. Communication is the hemoglobin of dystopian balance. It’s safe to assume that, loosely, a person who never learns how to appropriately make friends will never truly find success &/or happiness. Of course this is far from factual data, but I’m pretty good at calling things how I see them.
Long ago, my dad taught me to pick my friends, don’t let friends pick me. It’s a rendition of being the team captain versus the kid hoping not to get picked last. Of course I would have been a first pick in that scenario, but I definitely understood what he was saying. I lived by that rule, even down to the women I’ve chosen to share my life with over the years. Do not be fooled; the ability to befriend is as essential to survival as finding shelter.
In 2012, though, the rules have changed a tad bit. Now, it’s all about the Internet. Let’s call it Facebookitis; the act of friendship through non-interaction.
Anybody old enough to remember having a pen pal can see the similarities in writing letters to some kid or soldier you’ve never met, & posting randomness on websites for the world to see. However, yesteryear’s snail mail provided a great buffer zone. After a few letters, you went on about your merry way. Now, you make friends in other countries daily, & interact with dozens of people at a time, as often as possible. That accessibility, combined with a degree of anonymity has transformed today’s rules of engagement. Friendship has undergone a partial face lift, & if one doesn’t know the new rules & regulations, the future stands to be a lonely place.
In order to make friends on the Internet, one must hate everything. There is no room for love, admiration, or compassion. If you can’t crack jokes about dead celebrities (freshly dead), tell lesser humans that they should kill themselves, or totally degrade anything other people care about, your online conversations will be brief & few & far between. The mob mentality runs rampant in these chatrooms & message boards, & this is how you will bond with them. As a bonus, if you learn nothing else, you’ll learn to keep legitimate, heartfelt conversations limited to people you know personally.
& while you’re hating everything, don’t forget to lie at every opportunity. In fact, for most people, the lying begins when they pick a ridiculous screen-name to hide their true identity. From there, it’s relatively easy to be whoever one chooses to be. If “lying” is too harsh a term, substitute that word for “exaggerate,” “embellish,” “color,” whatever lexicon makes you feel closer to truth-telling. Bear in mind, though, that in your most honest & reflective moments online, you’re still surrounded by a bunch of strangers.
When in a den of strangers, whether in real life or in the digital realm, all one truly has is their integrity. Said integrity is displayed on the Internet by defending the honor of famous people who don’t know you & couldn’t care less about you. It’s true. Go to any comment section & mention a blanket hate for the subject at hand. Immediately your inbox will fill with replies – many misspelled & confusing – defending the individual, as if the commentors troll for them as a career. Do you have a favorite artist? Well, you’d better be prepared to die for them every time you log on, or keep your opinions to yourself.
This brings me to our next point, being close-minded. Stubbornness is a gift, a skill, a talent so intense that it literally can’t be taught because the teacher will probably refuse to show you how to do it. Let that bullheaded morality be the security blanket that keeps you warm in this cold matrix. You are an expert, & don’t let people convince you otherwise. & in the off chance that you are wrong, insult the hell out of everybody who doesn’t agree with you. Not only will this mask your incompetence, but stars are discovered online everyday. You could be one lesbian grandmother’s vagina lips joke away from a job at ESPN.com.
Even as humanity advances into the future, we will always need friends. By that token, I hope I helped. & if not, I suggest some literature on cyberbullying, because you will probably need it eventually. •