There is no answer to this inquiry, because the proper questions to be asked are
- Why does having friends suck? and
- How do friends suck?
Let’s find the answers to these questions.
As a person who has gone through a period in which all friends were ‘acquaintances’, when I rejected uncontrolled emotion and emotional relationships, I have experienced both the situation of distancing oneself from friends, and — in the recovery after that period — bonding emotionally. I have experienced first-hand, as many of you surely have, the joys of being alone and the joys of having friends. I have also experienced the downsides.
Having friends forces a person to socialize (this is a good thing), to help one another (good), to share information (sometimes good), to adapt, and to be influenced. It’s the adaptation and influence that worries me.
Simply put, adapting in order to integrate or ‘fit in’ and being subject to friends’ influences are actions that destroy individualism. It prevents a person from expressing one’s true identity, one’s true interests, and one’s true thoughts, for fear of insulting one’s friends or alienating oneself. It moulds a person into the person with the qualities that one’s friends desire, not with the qualities that naturally develop for that person. And all of this can happen without any malice or malintent or even conscious thinking.
Have you ever felt uncomfortable with your beliefs or views for no reason other than that they differ from those of your friends?
Friends often use pressure and subtle (or sometimes obvious) persuasion methods to shape who people are. (I should know; I have both delivered and been subject to such pressure.) Certainly they mean no harm, but this acts contrary to the ‘true’ friendship, which should not be based upon or depend upon shared values.
Allow me to use a vivid and real example. I am at heart not a fantasy genre fan, and am most definitely not — at this moment — a Harry Potter fan. Yet some of the people around me are. People who are fully intelligent and rational in every other way have an affinity for — no, a fanatical obsession with — Harry Potter. These people, whom I had previously thought to be good and ‘noble’ friends, attempted to pressure me to continue reading Harry Potter (which I had abandoned three years ago) and seem to wish to convert me into a Harry Potter fan.
My views of Harry Potter do not influence my analysis here. I have always accepted — and sometimes debated — peers who have different interests and beliefs, so long as they could justify their reasoning. In the present matter, I offered that I would be more than willing to read further Harry Potter fiction if they could explain why they like the series. I expected logical arguments, or at worst, rationalizations. Instead, these sane, intelligent (very much so, I might add), and rational people could say no more than
Everybody likes it, so it must be good.
Not only is this jumping on the bandwagon — mob psychology, as it were — it shows a fanatical and unreasonable dedication to a cause to which they would convert me.
What is evident here is that a group of friends is consciously attempting to shape a person (me). I argue that abusing trust to spread one’s beliefs and teaming up to add pressure are not logical or moral courses of action. I would argue the same whether someone was preaching evangelism to me or altering my musical tastes.
I am at fault, too, for I have also attempted to influence the views of others. In recognizing this faulty purpose, however, I should also note that I typically use factual, moral, and/or logical arguments to support my views, hoping that others will see things in a similar way. I can justify my previous rejection of modern music, and I can justify being atheist (and I’d be proud to debate either). I do not jump on the bandwagon.
Or is that my fault… that I do not conform?