The humor and indignation taste test: The art of friendship these days
Making friendships is a core a human activity that allows us to bond, connect and share with others. Friendships serve as a ventilation system where steam can get released. However, use friendships as a ventilation system with great care and judiciously. In the playground, friendships come and go within seconds. One minute a kid is ratting out another and the next they are sharing some Legos. As a child gets older friendships, or rather a circle of friends, becomes an integral part of one’s identity. Sometimes those friendships are formed by clothing type (or vice versa) or economic family status. Throughout the years and decades, the foundation for friendship formation twists, expands, narrows and gets contextualized.
When I was in middle school, my core group of friends consisted of sweet-girl nerds. We were labelled “pollitos” (little chicks) by the teachers. None of us lived near each other, but in New York that is not much of an issue as everyone is a train stop or two away. We were of different races and economic class, but we were all smart and rather nice girls. In a way we didn’t gravitate towards each other, our put upon label bonded us. A core bunch of us still interface on Facebook though not in the real world.
At boarding school, my core group of friends were those that didn’t fit a label I was Hispanic, but didn’t have a grand consciousness about it. I hung out with Blacks, Jews and Asians who also didn’t have a grand consciousness about their racial/ethnic identities. I note this, as I am returning from a business trip where I learned that a colleague, who is nearly 30, just made her first non-Hispanic friend. What bonds us to others is so personal and defines us. When I was on boarding school my friends besides not identifying grandly with their ethnic identity also loved to stay up late studying (well, love is a strong word) and listen to pink floyd and reggae. When I lived in Spain, my friendships took a complete 180 turn. All my friends were fellow brown people. We were noticeably different in Spain and our difference was readily noted by many Spaniards on the street. Our marginalization and identification by others as being an “other” bonded us.
In college, my core group of friends followed the basic psychological phenomena of bonding with others in close proximity. At the outset, we as a group did not have much in common, whatsoever. We were of different races, economic class, temperaments, and affinity for knowledge. Our lived experiences to that point were vastly different. But we were all placed in the attic floor of our dorm somewhat separated from the rest of our dorm-mates. Slowly we developed a more bonded worldview but there were always differences. Upon graduating the group somewhat disbanded.
Upon entering the work force, the development of friendships took on a whole other process. Peer friendships worked, boss-staff friendships were perilous. Friendships in the workplace, as I have previously noted, can go horribly wrong. We also have technology and social media to help expand, cement or destroy friendships. How many times have you heard “we used to be friends…” or “she unfriended me on facebook“? The waxing and waning of friendships can be very public nowadays.
What bonds people together? Obviously, a sense of similarity, proximity and musical/clothing tastes (forms of outward expressions) can help bring people together. A sense of similar values can bring people together as well. Although, sometimes those values get morphed and intertwined.
Nowadays, I believe that humor and indignation serve as the cores of friendship formation. I call it the taste test. These days many become Facebook friends within mere seconds of meeting one another. One cannot truly be friends with 3,000 people. That is just a silly concept that reflects a need for competition or an extreme thirst for connection. About 7 years ago, I was told by a colleague “you need to meet person X you two are so similar. ” we were seen as both being very outspoken and smart. But many thought those qualities would either make us friends or make us enemies. We indeed ended up being friends and it was based on humor. We both had a dark sense of humor that was just a bit odd and New York offensive. We could just sit in a tedious meeting together and totally riff on the proceedings, people and bureaucracy. And our riff was very pointed and similar. He is snarkier than I am at times, and at others I’m darker. My thing is, if you can’t laugh at the same things how do you understand each other and become friends?
I also have the indignation taste test. Recently, I met up with a newly acquired friend. We are of different generations and of different political parties. In this crazy, politicized world, that can be hard to overcome. However, did you catch the recent photo of George Bush and Bill Clinton laughing together side by side at the NCAA championship game? Politics, need not trump, friendship. By all appearances it seems that Bill Clinton and George Bush can share a laugh or two. In my case, what bonds me with my new friend is that, although we come at things from slightly different political views, we both share a sense of indignation at certain social injustices that must be addressed. We are both motivated to action. Apathy is not in our veins. When you feel the need to move and do something, you can ironically, be bonded despite the belief-source for that need to move.
If you ask me, however, the humor taste test is foremost. When I am breaking bread, or clinking cocktail glasses, I want to have a good laugh.
Inspired by a hearty laugh and the daily prompt of: Why Can’t We Be Friends
Other thoughts on friendship