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November 08, 2016

Should You Re-Friend the People You have De-Friended Over This Election?

I wish I was the kind of guy who would say something human and warm like "Of course you shouldn't let politics affect personal relationships," but I'm not.

In fact, I earlier told someone to that effect, when he tossed some bonhomie my way. I basically said "Thanks, but it's not reciprocated, so I'm sparing you further efforts in this vein."

This New York Post article discusses it.

Here's my actual belief: Yes, if you have a genuine personal attachment to someone, then of course you should not only be open to, but actually make efforts towards, the prospect of reconciliation.

On the other hand, we all know collectively "know" a great many more people than we used to know. Before social media, we actually knew people. We'd know, say, 5 people dearly, 10 people closely, 50 people warmly, and 100 more people indifferently.

And that was about it for people you knew.

Now we "know" a lot of people we don't really know at all. We merely see them on the internet. Some of these Fake Internet friends are real friends (given time, or frequency of contact).

Most of them aren't, and it's a bit silly to pretend these Fake Internet Friends are anything other than they actually are, which are people whose paths you just happened to not-really-cross-at-all by dint of having a (weak) mutual interest in wasting time on the Internet.

So yes, real friends should be re-affiliated. The rest of them are just so much detritus that floated past your transom.

I was talking to another person who seemed upset that those who once called her friend were now treating her viciously.

Who are these people to you?, I asked her. Are they really anyone at all? Are they people you see on Twitter and maybe have brief, inconsequential and rote conversations with at CPAC once a damn year?

If they're the latter -- who cares?

I guess I'm kind of saying apply Konami or whatever it's called to relationships -- keep what you love, discard the clutter. Or, as it's already been discarded -- allow this to be a Hoarder Happy Ending and leave things well-discarded discarded.

Note this advice does not apply to anyone you actually like or respect or have broken bread with, though of course it's a sliding scale. Some relationships are, by their nature, very superficial and in fact very circumstantial. As Tim observed on the British "The Office," most people you see at work -- or on Twitter -- are merely people you "share a patch of carpet with for 8 hours a day." If you leave your job tomorrow, how many people would you actually make any effort to keep up with?

As far as the internet, most people only know each other by one way: By their thoughts. That's good and bad. Some people like the internet because the physical and pheremonal aspects of affiliation are removed from the equation.

But as the only thing connecting you to most Fake Internet Friends are in fact their thoughts, and not any sort of deep kinship or long history that would make those relationships more real and permanent -- if you've decided you don't care for their thoughts, what remains to bind you?

Eh. As some comedian observed, social media -- email, he meant, but now texting and Twitter -- keeps a lot of "zombie relationships" alive -- barely -- when maybe the cycle of life would suggest that what is of the earth should be returned to the earth.

This may sound a bit severe, but the sort of "difficult, complicated relationships" we used to have were with people we had a deep natural affiliation to -- a sister. A mother. A father. A spouse or a lover. Maybe a friend one's had since youth.

But those are deep relationships; difficulties are to be tolerated.

I can't help but think the breezy, superficial light relationships we have are supposed to be rather easy. They are, after all, for purposes of mutual enjoyment, and i'm not sure enjoyment should take a lot of work.


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posted by Ace at 04:35 PM

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