I am generally friendly. As long as I am treated right, I can be anyone’s friend. It’s my Basic Disposition, and it takes a lot for me to reject anyone. Does that sound familiar to you? I bet it does, and I’m pretty sure to win this bet. Not absolutely, but sure enough. People want to regard themselves as friendly, and it seems to be a lot easier to put the blame for disfunctional or non-functional relationships on someone else. Well, duh, you’re going to say: in pretty much any circumstance it’s easier to cast blame on someone or something for the shit spatters from the fan. I would argue that it is easier to accept blame for anything else than a failed or bad relationship, because nothing hurts our self-esteem more than the feeling of being unlovable. Now the exception, the sociopath, won’t care about being loved. If you’re one of those, than I just lost my bet. If you’re lucky enough, you’ll have realized a long time ago what you are. Being one of your kind isn’t necessarily a bad thing. You just won’t ever know what it means to really have a friend, because you don’t foster meaningful relationships with anyone. At least not meaningful in my sense of talking. Your relations are binary – useful and useless. You foster the ones useful to you, and disregard the useless ones, an ability that I honestly admire. Alas, I cannot; since a good portion of my self-esteem is derived from who likes and supports me, friends are emotionally useful to me, if not for any other reason.
There are some friends more useful than others. The most useful are usually my family. Familial bonds are of a similar nature as the bonds of friendship, but they are a lot more durable. I have not reached the limits of what my family are willing to do for me, or what I would do for my family, but I suspect it would include or even go beyond forgetting our pacifistic principles for a while, and we will go out of our way to help each other. In social economics, I guess this is referred to as the innermost circle of reciprocity. There are few people outside of my blood relatives and/or their spouses or relatives of my fiancé whom I would also include in this circle, my absolutely very best friends. Those are people who I can be really nasty with from time to time, but I would forgive them just as much nastieness; not because we didn’t ‘mean it’, we meant it full and well, but because we understand each other and we are willing to put in the work to remove the cause of our nastieness. Usefulness in this case is a function of trust, which is bilateral, or multilateral, not unilateral as it were for the sociopath.
Then there are just friends. They’ll generally give you the benefit of the doubt, and some leeway, and if it doesn’t hurt them, they’ll help out. I have plenty of those, and probably most of my work buddies are in this category, too. As long as you follow the social code, you won’t alienate them, and everyone will get along just fine. Whether you really want to call them friends is a matter of perspective. To my mind, they are friends, because the social contact with them is generally friendly. Others would argue that friendship needs to be earned, and I find it a valid Point. There are closer and less close friends in this general group, but we all have at least one thing more in common than being human, and anyone here has the potential to enter my innermost circle of reciprocity, eventually (this is what needs to be earned).
All of this seems somewhat tribalistic, and to be honest, it totally is. As humans, we have not outgrown tribalism. I don’t know if we even can. Maybe many more Generations of humanity will have to be born and die to adapt to a System that doesn’t support tribalistic tendencies, where everyone will go out of their way to help anyone (eusociality) or everyone will live for themselves in a framework that allows everyone to live (engineered peaceful antisociality). I couldn’t begin to tell you which of these versions is more likely to happen, or if either is even remotely realistic, though I would probably prefer eusociality over antisociality.
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