Stand For Something or You'll Fall for Anything
I don't know if it's the unfortunate presence of Myspace in my life (yes, Myspace, the bizarre internet ecosystem where millions of meaningless "friendships" are forged every day between bored, opportunistic and/or desperate humans sitting at home behind their computers), but lately I've been thinking alot about Friendship -- yes, Friendship with a capital F, which is to say, meaningful relationships with high quality people that stand up to the rigorous Test of Time.
This may sound awful but most people just bore the hell out of me. Sometimes when I'm out amongst the animals it's all I can do to keep a game face on. I can't pretend to be interested in the living cliches, the militantly average, the pretenders, the attention-seekers, the hardcore conformists, the delusional ones who have no sense of themselves or anyone else, the careless, the easily-led, the disrespectful, the arrogant. The bored and the boring, those with nothing original to say because they can't or won't think for themselves.
There are too many sad souls out there who just want "friends" because they can't bear to be alone, because being alone might give them an opportunity to catch a glimpse into the howling void of themselves. I'd be scared, too, if I were them.
You know those people who always seem to have loads of "best friends"? If you watch them for long, you start noticing that their group of "friends" is an always-revolving lot of acquaintances which turns over quicker than the staff of your local Popeye's Chicken. Alot of people don't forge Friendships, so much as temporary flings with transient characters who must have seemed cool for some reason, at some point in time, before their True Colors came to the fore.
Friendships take time. Friendship is not some magical thing that springs to life fully formed after one night of tequila shots and misty-eyed bonding at the bar. Friendship is an investment and its worth cannot be properly ascertained before putting some considerable miles on it. If you're gullible enough to immediately latch onto new people over and over again, then you deserve to get burned as many times as you will get burned.
Alot of people aren't nearly selective enough when it comes to picking their comrades. There are plenty of nice folks out there, sure. But being "nice" isn't enough -- hell, it's not even a prerequisite, if you ask me. You may be fun and friendly and good for a laugh, but if you are flaky and unreliable, then you will probably create more disappointment and aggravation for me than you are worth, I don't care how "nice" you are. If your word isn't good for anything than you're probably not going to make a very good friend.
It's unfortunate, too, that "nice" doesn't necessarily mean "smart." Stupidity, what a turn-off -- what a mood killer! Sure, we all start out stupid in life; when we're kids and our minds are mush and we haven't seen the world yet, we do dumb stuff and say awful things but hopefully at some point we all Grow Up. By that I don't mean getting stodgy and boring and losing your imagination and sense of adventure, I mean getting over your idiotic prejudices and broadening your mind, at least enough to realize that you don't know everything.
I know some people who maintain really useless friendships with shitty people for reasons I can't understand. Alot of the friends you wind up with in your early years are, to paraphrase Bart Simpson, "a matter of geographical convenience." Which is to say, they live down your block or go to your school or church. They're your friends because there's no one better around. As you get older, you're bound to outgrow many of these people. And some friends simply should be outgrown.
People that refuse to get wise and evolve and expand themselves are boring and repulsive to me. If you can't let go of your ignorance, why should I make time for you in my life? I'd rather hang out with someone who might teach me something. I don't care how long I've known you -- if you insist on being small-minded then I will cut you loose. I've got better things to do than goof around with dumb-as-dirt troglodytes.
Plus, hanging around with morons doesn't say alot about you, does it? If your cronies are misogynistic, violent, racist, homophobic -- or any of that other good stuff -- and you're standing idly by, not doing anything about it, then you are aiding and abetting the proliferation of ignorance and intolerance, full stop. Indeed, your choice of associates speaks volumes about who you are; no matter how well-intentioned you may be, if you're letting your friends get away with shit that you know is wrong, then you are Part of the Problem.
A real friend is strong. It's not always easy to be a good person, because that requires strength. Even the seemingly benign and harmless are entirely capable of betraying you. Weakness poisons friendships. The naive and easily manipulated will most probably sell you out. Those not strong enough to stand up for their convictions (or, worse, don't have convictions) probably aren't capable of loyalty. Beware -- spineless people will most likely let you down.
I am lucky to have such an incredible array of friends -- I get to spend time with people as luminous, colorful, fearless, talented, intelligent and sturdy as anyone you can find anywhere. I say "lucky" because I feel fortunate to have run up against these people in my travels but it's not just luck that got me the friends I have; it's choices I've made. There's a certain amount of discrimination involved; it's quality control. I'm open to being friends with all kinds of folks, and I always give the benefit of the doubt. But if you disrespect me, chances are I won't give you the opportunity to do it again. Why should I?
It's easy to have alot of "friends;" flimsy, temporary characters who keep you amused, keep you company, keep you from being alone and facing yourself. If you're not too selective, you can have a posse around you all the time. But I'm only interested in Friends. I don't make room for anyone else. Thankfully, I can afford to be picky.