On mutual understanding among friends

Usually, what I write tends to be casual commentary on my rather ho-hum daily goings-on.  I tend to avoid deeper topics of discussion because I am plagued with fears of inadequacy when it comes to my writing on serious matters.  But, unless I want to live a life of solitary confinement (though that still leaves me to my own absurd personal criticisms–worse because they’re never based on reality but my imagination) I’ll need to fight my demons, as the saying goes.  I like the idea of fighting real demons.  Preferably with magic.  Just to be clear, not the wand-waving Harry Potter brand of magic, but more like the alchemic sorcery of Full Metal Alchemist.

But I digress.  What I really mean to be talking about is in reference to my previous post wherein I directed links to an internet repartee between two friends.  Though I am not so thoroughly invested in having an incontrovertible position on the matter, it has been an interesting topic on which to ponder.  It has inadvertently caused me to think about my personal motivations when it comes to friendships, and generally how I view people.

“If you care, you can’t do it.”

This is akin to the “if you don’t give a shit, you can’t give a shit” story from the friend who authored the initial argument.  “If you care, you can’t do it” comes from a previous generation of wisdom on my father’s side.  To best understand it, imagine yourself the driver traveling along a highway with a full car of passengers.  As you’re progressing, some certifiable jerks decide to maintain an uncomfortably close distance behind you.  First, you attempt to slow down as to encourage these obviously busy people to pass and leave you to enjoy the pleasures of driving.  Unfortunately, they don’t take the bait and insist on riding you even more closely than before, so you take the next most obvious course of action: inform your fellow passengers to hold onto something and brake check these assclowns.  Consequently, their car goes careening off the road, momentarily taking flight before crashing down and coasting to a stop in a large field, not without incurring substantial damage to their vehicle and pride.  Meanwhile, the people in your car are simultaneously incredulous and furious, hotly demanding, “What if they hadn’t stopped?!” to which you coolly reply, “If you care, you can’t do it.”

Now, depending on the sort of person you are, you either read this as the terrifying outlook of a borderline sociopath, or you think it’s completely badass and want to emulate this devil-may-care attitude.  Personally (and I think I would be in the majority), I want to appear like the second yet really hold to the first.  It’s been my experience that people ultimately want to seem cool, not only to others but to themselves.  And it’s fairly obvious which of these two mindsets puts you into the “cool” category.  Of course there’s a whole bunch of subjectivity that goes into deciding cool/uncool, but I think there is a universal human impulse that when something new enters into our field of experience we immediately deem it with approval or repulsion.  It may be partly biological, or maybe it’s just completely arbitrary, but people love to judge.  It’s a power trip, even when you’re judging quietly to yourself that the person who just cut you in line is a jerkface.  But this brings up another intriguing notion:

People hate indifference.

Not giving a shit, or treating everything with a casual indifference, is not the way to make friends.  I’ve observed, in fact, that excessive indifference to most things just makes other people assume you’re horrible.  I’m not sure I agree with this assessment, although I think I understand where these people are coming from: being uninterested translates to dislike, specifically dislike of those around you.  People make the assumption that if you aren’t actively liking them you’re probably quietly hating them.  To be fair, I’m making several assumptions about people right now, and it would be more accurate to say my argument pertains to the early 20s set of liberal arts college students.  If you’re not being liked, you’re most certainly being hated; or worse, you’re not being thought of at all.  And being insignificant, unworthy of thought, that’s what gets to people.

So, what I can deduce from my observations is this: Caring appeals to people’s sentimentality, but it probably won’t make you the envy of your peers because it’s a cool thing to do.  I see it as a Superman/Batman situation–Superman obviously gets kudos for his self-sacrificing attitude and tireless efforts to do good, but Batman, who operates primarily from self-interest, will always win in a competition of ‘Who Would You Rather Invite for Drinks?’  (For a Marvel equivalent, perhaps Captain America/Iron Man, or Cyclops/Wolverine.  Again, I believe the choice is pretty obvious.)

Well, so much for “writing on serious matters.”  Maybe next time.