Monday, February 20, 2012
This is a conversation I just had with someone I love.
"You don't think I'm more emotionally mature than you? I'm way better at maintaining friends and social circles."
"Yeah, but that's your choice. I could have that many friends if I chose to."
"Well, I don't want a family or kids, so I have to have a lot of friends. Otherwise who is going to be your family when you're old? I don't want to die alone."
The important thing to recognize is how different our friendships are now than ever before. People in the history before this, they didn't have this many friends. They had no reason to. They were from small places, or they were beholden to small circles - workplaces, churches, extended families. Now we get to pick and choose how many people we want to know, we could know everyone if we wanted to. Think of that, you could make it your life's goal to meet all the people ever, and then divide the world up in parcels grids online networks. You would have to try and meet 38,357 people a day. I feel like if you were willing to partner up, collective up, and join networks, this would be totally possible.
The real point is we are reinventing the human relationship on a grand fundamental level, everyone knows that, but the choices we are making now in what are appropriate ways to relate to each other, these will be passed down as the New Manners to the next generations, just like how one day some girl complained about guys being too enthusiastic about this new thing the telephone, and the three day rule was born. Or maybe we will have no manners. Maybe anarchy is going to be born in the personal courtesies quarter.
There were layers on layers of social interactions happening Saturday, at the Brite Winter Festival, which took over all of W. 25th. An entire onion of social experience, every shape and size, and each sharper than the other. There was me walking there alone, along city blocks I've known my entire life, while avoiding the huge crowds of traffic. I cherish that feeling now, the moments you have alone to appreciate a happening before the people you know find you. It's an awkwardness and self consciousness that tastes like hard water. Then some friends showed up, and the girl I was meeting, and the wandering started. The back and forth from bar to bar, the constant chatter of where the other people are, where you want to go, what we're going to do now, how to find each other later.
There were people I barely knew, and people I've known since we were bratty little children, and people I just met that night. Girls standing in the bathroom line that you stood in line with at the last bar too. Everywhere, complete strangers to make eye contact with. How long to say hi to someone, and when to detach and pay attention to the next person. How to remember everyone's names. The joy of being really happy to see someone you only met the week before, the enthusiasm of finding friends in crowds. The careless twirling from one face to another as the alcohol takes effect in everyone. The people you find out you missed the next morning, who were only down the bar from you but impossible to find without intention. And halfway through I started clinging affectionately to my friend, because after all that restlessness and exposure, you start to crave the steadiness of some bar cuddling, leaning on each other and being kind of tired and debating whether going to this party afterwards is going to happen or not. Maybe, as someone else pointed out, I really am a social introvert. I love having one on one conversations, but in a crowd. I need anchors. I need a hand steady on the small of my back.
If the point of the festival was to get everyone together and remind us all that we were a community, like it or not, it worked. It was like a really good work party for the scene, for the job we all have of being whoever we are to our friends. The good jobs, the ones we like. And thank goodness that exists, because I would suck if I was stuck in one village my whole life.
Posted by Bridget Callahan at 8:55 PM