#8 The one where I make F.R.I.E.N.D.S

Kia ora whānau,

I was censored! My freedom of speech taken away! *spews*
My last newsletter set off Mailchimp’s Omnivore tool which detects abuse on their platform. I think one or two keywords may have triggered it last time. Fortunately, they were kind enough to reinstate my sending privileges and I could keep my newsletter intact. So from now on if a newsletter turns up with a date from a few days ago, that’s why. The perfect scapegoat.

This week I write about friendship, or more rather my flailing attempts at it. If you hadn’t picked up on it, my newsletter titles are in the format of the episodes of obscure television series, Friends, so this week’s title is somewhat meta. It gets a little personal and admittedly I was hesitant about sharing it. But that would go against everything I’m saying here.

I’ve also got a brief review of Avengers: Endgame. Don’t worry, it’s spoiler-free. If you’re trying to find a session, good luck. Ours was sold out. Fortunately, we booked as soon as tickets went on sale. Unfortunately, as all the screenings were Endgame, finishing at different times, it can be risky overhearing spoilers on your way in. We dodged them only to have someone barge into our screening halfway through (possibly from a just finished screening) and yell a spoiler into the crowd. Trolls are now in our offline world and I’ve had enough.

I was actually spooked and reminded of the 2012 shooting at a screening of The Dark Knight Rises. Yes, that was America, but as we saw in Christchurch last month, even New Zealand is not immune to such hatred. As annoying as spoilers are at least no one was hurt. And none of my relatives passed away while I was in there.

Today marks the one year anniversary of my grandfather’s death, a death of which I only learned about as I left the theatre for the last Avengers film. We’re meeting up with family today in his honour.

Bloggy Bit

Bad Friend

I’m a bad friend. I know everyone thinks that at some time or another. But I’m bad, always have been and it’s time to stop pretending it’s out of my control. They say friendship is a two-way street. Well, that only works when one person doesn’t throw up a barricade right through the middle.

Not all friendships are supposed to last a lifetime. Some are purely situation based, like your school or your workplace. You see them every day so it makes sense to “hook up” if you will and make a connection, no matter how surface level. Yes, they can become rewarding lifetime friendships. But look back at your high school year and see who you still catch up with today. We’re only human. There’s only so much time we can devote to friendships, and so we tend to stick to a few people at a time.

Now with all that preamble out of the way, I am the barricade. I remember having friends at primary school. I didn’t have friends for the longest time and it was hard going for a while there. So I treasured these friendships. But then we went to different Intermediates and the friendships fell away. Same thing when I moved from Intermediate to College. I dropped my best friend. I can’t exactly remember how I did it. I guess I just stopped making the effort. I didn’t reach out because it was difficult. I didn’t bump into them every day. And it still happens when I move workplaces. I won’t blame it on my social anxiety because I pushed past that barrier with these people.

Someone has to make the effort, but also, the other person has to respond. And I think I used my anxiety as a crutch, that it was too scary, I could get rejected. And so I don’t try and I let the friendship fade until it’s nothing but a hazy wisp of a memory. Depressing, huh?

But that’s only one aspect of being a bad friend. Simply showing up is the barest of requirements to be a friend. But something else is important there, and it’s bonding. Sharing feelings and emotions.

As a guy, I can say my experience with that is limited. I tended to favour split-screen videogames because then I could socialise and interact with people without having to look them in the eye. It was an intermediary device to friendship if you will. My main memories of sharing emotions are at sleepovers when the lights are out and you’re staring at the ceiling spilling all your crushes, dreams and aspirations. It never clicked, that you could do that without crashing on the floor of your mate’s place, trying not to wake their parents. Something that’s not so fondly looked upon once you hit your late twenties.

Although I’ve hit thirty, I’m still repeating the techniques of my youth. Videogames and board games are still things I turn to and the occasional team project, though having a newborn certainly makes that more challenging. And of course, alcohol, the ultimate social lubricant for a shy guy. But while they can facilitate socialising, they can also get in the way. We’re not talking about our dreams and aspirations, or our doubts and troubles when we’re immersed in some other experience. Banter is all well and good but sometimes you need to go deeper.

Openness is another barrier too, especially when you’ve got a group of people together. You might feel fine sharing in front of one person, but not another. One of my friends utilises the coffee method. Where you meet up with someone over coffee. It kind of feels like a date but you’re just friends. Catching up, how novel! But to me, this was a revelation.

As men, we need to get rid of this stigma that you can’t hang with the guys unless you’re watching the game or having a barbeque. At least I do. Yes, it’s awkward asking people to catch up. Yes, I should be the one to initiate. But think of how you would feel in that situation, to be asked. Wouldn’t you feel wanted? Wouldn’t you feel loved? And that’s just the proposition. Meeting up is where the real magic happens. This is sounding like a sex thing huh? I promise you it’s not.

So there’s one solution to my dilemma. But it’s not one size fits all. I’m not always confident in a public setting and people are different and have varying needs. It’s going to be a journey. But the important thing is “I” make contact, to establish a situation for connection to take place. To be brave and forthcoming, and to encourage the other person to do the same if they are willing.

Review


Linkies

  • I’ve been watching The Bad Seed, the NZ drama series based on the novels, The Night Book and Soon by Charlotte Grimshaw. I hadn’t heard of Grimshaw before. I really should support more kiwi authors *cough* Writers Plot *cough*. 
     
  • The NZ Games Festival finishes this weekend. It’s mostly an event for developers to get together but they do have a showcase of indie games made by NZ and Australian developers open to the public at FLUX, Wellington Museum. I tried a few before the exhibit became overrun. You can also download many of them. My favourite was JUMPGRID which is an addictive little thing as you weave around a grid trying to survive as long as possible.
     
  • One of my favourite film podcasts, the /Filmcast, has started up their annual Summer Movie Wager where they rank their picks for the top 10 blockbuster films of the Summer by Domestic Box Office in the US. It’s kind of like a sports bet but for nerds and you don’t win anything. See my picks below.

If you enjoyed this newsletter, burn it to a CD.

*sup nod*

Michael

@mriceguy
michaeljgray.com