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The Questionable Value of Friendship

July 18, 2009

I should make this academic. This is what I wrote as the indicator of what this post should be: “meaning friendship and its obligations; why? is it worth it? examination from a distant point of view.”

Attempting to be brutally truthful, though most of my “truthful”s are either not as brutal or way more brutal than I think they are. In any case, this article will contain my reasoned generalizations of the human race based on my personal world view (what other world view can there be?) and observations of other people using my world view. It may come across as highly selfish, because that’s what I think a human being ultimately is.

Define friendship.

A connection between two persons, formed from communication and subsequent (not necessarily) mutual liking for each other. Ask Google. A good one from Wikipedia – “Friendship is a term used to denote co-operative and supportive behavior between two or more humans.

So based on that, friendship hinges on ‘co-operation’ and ‘supportive behavior’. Why? One assumes that both elements are mutual, otherwise the friendship would likely be one sided and probably short-lived.

Human nature always seems to come back to economics for me, which is not surprising, seeing as economics is based on the puree of human nature. Self-interest, self-gain. Personal gain is the essence of utility. One can expect to get one pays for. And in friendship, the players deposit into each other’s account. The act of investment initiating friendship, and the value of investment indicating the value of friendship. And a person invests with the expectation of higher returns. Without that, the balance can always be tipped just so far.

Optimist – higher friendship investor.

Pessimist – low friendship investor.

Digression – So how can philanthropy be explained? A (subjectively) rich person deposits into everybody’s account without expecting anything in return? Wrong. There is (sometimes) gratitude, there is admiration, there is “good press”. Ever played the Sims? Know its friendship system? For some reason I sometimes use that system in my head, not by keeping numbered tallies of ‘friendship level’ of course; I don’t have that much free time – but sometimes, if someone does something nasty, I think of the Sims and about how a Sim would decrease that person’s Friend score. I think of the big red minus signs. Does anyone do the same? Back to philanthropy – the rich person deposits into everybody’s Friend account – he/she/it gets big green plus signs over the heads of many people, and it my come back to help him sometimes. So philanthropy is not completely unselfish.

But all that is so simplistic. There’s also the still unaddressed depth – or potentiality for depth – of human emotions. It muddies up the water, or fills it up with bright primary colors. You know, like an oil leak in the ocean. /Snarkiness switch on – and that’s unsuitable for this post since it’s somewhat serious. I’ll vegetate on this and continue later./


Even speaking as someone who greatly dislikes being obliged to people, I must recognize that it’s all over the place and it is completely necessary to return obligations, as many as possible, if one wants to keep friends. Otherwise one becomes essentially a hermit, sitting in one’s own room, typing out one’s innermost thoughts and displaying them completely publicly so that nobody will ever see them… (Oops that’s me. Snarky switch off, I say.) But what I am saying is that social participation is both voluntary – involuntary – voluntary, in that endless order cycle. It can also be written as controlled – uncontrolled – controlled – et cetera.

(18 July 2009 – I’m sick of this post languishing in draft mode… Let it be free to sow disharmony in the minds of innocents and disrupt the fragile threads of emotions between those of whom they call friends <Bullshit>)


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