There’s this avocado plant that I grew. It started off with a seed that you half-submerge over water. It takes around two months for the seed to split in two, and then another, what, 6 months for a leaf and stem to grow out. So 8 months later, the roots really started growing, and I put it into a pot. But it stopped growing after that.
I met two new people today, and they were character foils of each other. Below, what I’m going to try and do is figure out why I liked one of them and why I didn’t like the other.
So the first one I met in the context of my article. You see, I’ve become an opinion writer at my school newspaper, and my first article that I wrote has been getting a bit of criticism. There’s also been support, but the criticism is always more articulate.
Anyways, this guy I really only know by sight starts talking to me about my article, except he hasn’t read it. The leading question was “what ideological position did you have” if I remember correctly. I don’t think I do in fact. But I do remember that the conversation went from ideological position, to ideology, to objectivity, to rhetoric, to SciencesPo, to methodology again.
The conversation meandered… too much. And it kind of felt like the reason we were talking in the first place was for the sake of talking. But not just that. It kind of felt like a game of sophisticated intellectual masturbation. All we did was play toss between different positions on truth and methodology. Half of the time I was asking him what the words he was saying meant.
I think some people want to look sophisticated without doing the work to become sophisticated, and he definitely seemed like one of them. Gosh, he even used the word “puerile.” It suggests like he was trying to find someone else who could use big words as well.
But I’m not someone like that; at least I try not to be. I find that I’m kind of utilitarian or pragmatic in that sense. i think that you should use big words only if you have to, and only if there’s no shorter version you could use.
There was the second person. She was really interesting! We were talking about minority rights, and she was a fan of thinkers who supported the idea of minority rights. I told her I didn’t like minority rights. Her response was not “what?! why not?”. It was “tell me why” with the curiosity of a genuine human being.
Someone like that is definitely who I aspire to be. I don’t think you should feel like your ideas are who you are exactly. I think you should be the person who rises above the weak ideas, and her willingness to just ask me why I thought the things I thought really struck me as someone like that.
So what does this have to do with friendship? It seems to me like people pursue friends for different purposes. Some people make friends with others because they want to find people to consolidate and verify and justify and validate their own attempts to be someone they really wish they could be but can’t, or even shouldn’t. Others look for friends who approach problems in the same way, and perhaps share the same spirit of curiosity. Others make friends to form long term networks: a very business-y thing to do.
They say that you are the sum of the 5 people you spend the most time with. I think that you select the friends you spend the most time with. So make sure you select wisely. And consider what it is you’re looking for when you’re finding people you want to spend time with.