Social animal

Where do your friends come from?

School is an obvious starting place, although, as I noted previously, I’m no longer in contact with anyone I knew back then (unless university counts as “school”). People I know at work are friendly, but probably fall more into the category of “acquaintances”,(or well-wishers, in that they wish me no specific harm…)  although I’m still friendly with people from previous jobs. In Italy it’s apparently quite unusual to socialise with colleagues, whereas in the UK going for a pint after (sometimes during) work with your workmates is the norm. Then there are a smaller number of people we’ve met through a shared environment (neighbours from our street, parents using the same creche or school).

Recently I’ve been making friends and acquaintances via blogs, which is a whole different kettle of fish. I’ve met some wonderful people this way (you know who you are), but there’s always a nagging doubt about what kind of impression you can get from just reading someone’s writing, rather than being able to look them in the eye, hear their tone of voice, read their body language. On the other hand, maybe this is a purer form of communication – you can just focus on the words they’ve chosen to use, without getting distracted by the visual clutter? Either way, as I said to an online “well-wisher” recently, it would feel strange and a little sad if I thought that I would never get to  meet these people in the flesh at some point.

One final thought: I often make friends with women. After a while we get introduced to our respective spouses, and from that point on it’s somehow assumed that we’ll pair off along gender lines. That is, that the women will be friends with each other, while the husbands will hang out together (to drink beer and talk about football and cars, presumably). This in spite of the fact that I very obviously get on better with the female half of the couple. Is this to avoid suspicion and jealousy, or do they just believe that I’m bound to prefer the company of another man?

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11 thoughts on “Social animal

  1. rasman1978 December 3, 2007 / 6:10 pm

    I’ve been having similar thoughts lately. The nature of these blog-based friendships is so strange. I’ve been trying to find a way to compare them with direct person-to-person contact relationships. Normally in social conversations, one person will start telling a story about something they heard on the news or that happened to them, and the other people will ask questions or give their point of view on the situation. And, depending on the dynamics of the group, eventually someone else will butt in an talk about themselves and what’s been up with them lately, and the process continues. If you look at things in this way, blogging isn’t all that dissimilar. You talk about what’s up with you and people come and say “congratulations!” or “that sucks, man! I hope you feel better.” just like they would in real life. With blogging, though, all the meaningless social ritual of small talk and talking about the weather and whose turn is is to buy the round, etc. is all removed.

    On the other hand: http://xkcd.com/352/

    So the missus and I are invited to Brussels?

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  2. simonlitton December 3, 2007 / 6:24 pm

    Anytime. Spare room is ready and waiting.
    But talking about the weather is never meaningless – not for us Brits, anyway.

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  3. rasman1978 December 3, 2007 / 6:41 pm

    Neither is whose turn it is to buy the next round, for that matter. 🙂

    My jet’s getting a new paint job, so it might be next Tuesday before I can pop over for a pint.

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  4. tinafrench December 3, 2007 / 10:10 pm

    I tend to agree with what Marigoldie said recently about blogs being a great way to get to know people and make friends with those you already know share your tastes/interests/values/sense of humor–sort of like a pre-screening system for friendship and, I’m sure, for love as well in many cases.

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  5. Jagosaurus December 4, 2007 / 3:58 pm

    AAAGGGHHH!

    Regarding your last paragraph, I wonder about that as well. From the perspective of a perpetually single woman, it is tricky, because APPARENTLY, all unmarried women spend every waking hour looking for a husband and will include the already married ones among their prospects. I just love being tarred with this brush, as you can probably imagine.

    *sigh*

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  6. rasman1978 December 4, 2007 / 4:11 pm

    Heh. I looks like I’ve found yet another phrase that my avatar accompanies well.

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  7. andrea December 4, 2007 / 11:49 pm

    I like how blogging renders meaningless small talk obsolete. I think blogging is different from real life interactions because each person gets an opportunity to talk uninterrupted about whatever they want. Maybe people won’t actually read it, but it’s out there. I guess if you were to interpret that negatively, you could say it’s a bunch of people talking to themselves. I’m not sure it’s a better or worse way to get to know someone, but I think different aspects of peoples’ personalities come to the forefront online, vs. in person (or vice versa).

    Example: I’m much better at expressing serious thoughts and opinions through the written word, and much better at expressing humor verbally/in person. I’ve met more than one person from blogs/forums who has told me I’m much funnier in person, and why don’t I act like that online? Not sure I’m capable.

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