What Everybody Ought to Know About Friendship

Before I Get the Ball Rolling

As always I like to give shout outs to everyone out there in the world wide African web doing great things. (Btw why are some of you African webmasters and bloggers so insular?) With that in mind, let me show some quick love to two people who have shown me an excess of affection:

Nigerian Entrepreneur

I asked him to write a tutorial on how people with lousy Internet connection can use Windows Live Writer to become more efficient bloggers and he complied. I haven’t read the article yet, but if it’s anything like his other work, it’ll be useful.

Windows Live Writer Tutorial

If you are reading this in a country or region where the net is slow check that link out.

Pam from SARFM Radio

If you check out the Displaced African’s media and press appearance’s page, you will realize that this week I added one new media appearance to the flock. It was a fun interview I conducted with Pam from SARFM Radio. Much more straight up fun than it was serious and insightful, feel free to check it out.

Anyway, Pam sent me this email after the interview requesting that I put the word out:

If you are an East African writer or artist or doing anything good and you need some free publicity, Pam from SARFM radio would love to hear from you. Either find them by checking out the SARFM radio website or by leaving a comment below or getting in contact with me.

On to the Main Business

The ideas behind this post are still quite fresh and have not fully marinated in my head: if you find the post, too abstract, leave a comment below and let me know.

I am not going to say anything particularly revolutionary or brand new in this post, because this post was caused by my being forced to remember something quite fundamental about frienships that even I sometimes forget:

There is a reason that someone is your friend. Take away that reason and unless there is/are another reason(s) that you are friends, they will cease to be your friend.

A Problem

A problem I often hear expressed when people make a life long change like converting religions or changing their lifestyle or changing anything dramatic or at the core of being a person is that they “realize that”:

People who they thought were their friends turned out to be “fake friends”.

Because this person ceases to be a friend the way they once were, it is taken as a betrayal of a friendship that one thought was eternal and immutable.

The Flaw in this Type of Thinking

I think the deepest flaw in this type of thinking is that its a very narcissistic way of viewing the world where you don’t take the moment to consider that perhaps other people may be just like you.

Isn’t there a reason that everyone who is your friend is your friend?

The Different Types of Friends We Have

Don’t you have friends for at least one of the following reasons:

1) Friends of circumstance: People who you see so often whether at school, work, church or anywhere you frequent regularly. You just have to figure out how to get along whether you like the other person initially or not.

2) Friends of events: Friends who you do certain things with: this is especially true for people who have friends for worshiping and others for partying. And then there are others for all sorts of hobbies or miscellaneous activities.

3) Friends who are like you: Immigrants get pulled to their own countrymen because they share a nation. Immigrants are pulled to each other because they are all foreign nationals. People think like you do, like what you like and have similar interests and since you like the same things, by extension you like each other.

4) Friends who make you feel good: This one is a huge category that encompasses so many things such as friends who make you feel good because they make you feel superior, friends who excite you with their humour and outlook on life and all sorts of things about them just make you happy.

I am sure I have missed a couple, so please leave a comment and add to the list.

This Element is What Pulls you Together

There are 6 billion people in the world. We are not all friends with each other. We tend to be pulled into relationship and community with people for one of the preceeding four reasons (and any others you may add below).

That element is what binds you together. It’s not that he’s human and your human and so you’ll just naturally get along.

Take away that string that holds the two of you together, and unless you have other things that connect you, your friendship will end.

Why I Wrote this Post

I wrote this post for a couple of reasons:

One Like the Sun

Firstly, to speak to those people who have the problem above. Take a moment and reflect. When you changed, did that affect the very thing that connects you to each other? If that is the case, then does it surprise you that your friendship ended?

Let’s turn the tables: If you had never changed and your friend had changed the way you had, don’t you think YOU would have found it a bit difficult to remain friends with that person?

Two Like a Shoe

Secondly, I wrote this to encourage you to reflect on the bonds that lock you and your current friends together. What are they? Are they strong? Are they weak? Are they multiple? This simple act of reflection can go a long way towards helping you strengthen whatever friendships you may have by working on strengthening the connections that bring you together day after day. It may also help you figure out why you drift apart should you do so.

Three Like a Tree

Finally, I wrote it to encourage you to go out there and form more bonds with the friends you currently have. To illustrate this point I will use an absolutely terrible example from my teenage years (hopefully you’ll do better :) )

The Story: the Last Time I Ever Shoplifted

I had this very good friend in high school. One day he and I decided that we wanted to drink alcohol and that we were also too poor to pay for it. And so we went to a supermarket in the city to restock on some poisonous brew.

We walked around the store pretending to browse around for close to an hour meanwhile taking sachets of brandy and rum and shoving them into whatever compartment and hole we could find.

As we were about to make the “victory march” out of the store, we were pounced on by two plain clothed store policemen who bumrushed us not out of the store but all the way to the back where we were locked in a tiny manager’s office.

What proceeded was an extended period of me and my buddy lying, being discovered as heartless, and very very cheap liars, getting beaten up by a store manager because:

” I go to work everyday to pay school fees for my children so that SCHUPID children like yourself can come here to steal our stuff”

Me and my buddy left the store and immediately jumped into one of the severely overcrowded buses which was the inspiration behind tales such as this one.

As we rolled home, and onto way more debauchery and self-destructive behaviour, we looked at each other and realized we had just become greater friends. We had stolen together, gotten caught together, lied for each other, had the sense knocked into us together and we were still here……..together.

No longer would we just have good conversation, a classroom and silliness to bind us. Now we had a whole lot more.

Back to the Final Point

I use this example half tongue-in-cheek but I hope you see the point. Friendship is one of those important areas that I do not think we should leave to chance: stop reading this post now, leave me a nice comment and go out there and create another bond with your friend.

Your future self won’t regret it.

Have a friendly day,

Mwangi

PS: Feels like I haven’t written a post like this in a while and so it felt good to do this. Leave a comment and subscribe to the blog via RSS or email (apparently this tutorial is quite useful, so if you have no clue what RSS is, check out this little video tutorial page)

No Comments

  • By M, July 17, 2008 @ 3:12 pm

    Interesting insights.

    I thought you would veer into the issue of why men befriend women (based on the pic of the two friends on the bench) and vice versa … but I liked the way you treated the friendship issue without delving into the gender perspective. :)

  • By Carol, July 17, 2008 @ 7:48 pm

    Very good post tDA.Well I must go and show more love to my friends and stop taking most of them for granted.Thanks,have a friendly day too.

  • By Mwangi, July 18, 2008 @ 3:35 am

    @Carol: You are very very welcome :D

  • By Mwangi, July 18, 2008 @ 3:42 am

    @M: I have spoken and will continue to speak about male-female relationships so often on this blog, that even I am relieved that I took the time to talk about gender neutral, platonic friendships.

  • By Gal africana, July 20, 2008 @ 10:30 pm

    *tongue in cheek * that IS a very bad example lol

    I think I’m learning to work less and less at creating and maintaining friendships, people are free to come and go in my life…as I expect the same freedom from others.

  • By Mwangi, July 21, 2008 @ 3:30 am

    @gal africana: Look at the bright side, we did have the sense knocked into us: I have never even contemplated shop lifting ever again. For some reason out of the many stories I had in my memory and imagination that was the one that came to mind and it kept persisting and so I put it down.

    By nature I am like that, i.e. I just don’t follow people up unless I am organizing face to face meetings, but I think that is flawed because take away everything and all we have is each other and our planet: not the jobs, not the cars, not the accolades, it’ll just be us people, the creatures under heaven and earth and our world. So, I am thinking more and more that it’s important that we nurture an element of the human experience that is ultimately timeless.

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