Now that I’ve lined up my first of many lucrative endorsements*, the moment has come to set a timer and try to say something for 10 minutes.
I’m on a deep diving expedition about the nature of friendship, and was cheered to see that my Internet Friends the Darwins are also pondering the subject. Darwin’s thinking is as clear as ever despite the haze of mononucleosis that has settled about their home.
…the sheer variety of the internet makes it easy to treat friendships as a sort of consumer commodity, specifying exactly what we’d like out of our friends in every detail. Catholic SciFi fans set up a separate group to discuss fandom as Catholics, and then that group in turn splits as different types of Catholic SciFi fans decide they’d rather have their own group with only their own sort of fans. Woke doll collectors congregate separately from conservative ones. I definitely see the attraction. To the extent that I often use interest-based groups on the internet as a way to learn about a subject and to relax, I hardly want to have them invaded by strife with people I dislike or who loudly express their dislike for people like me.Consumer Friendships at Darwin Catholic
And yet, I don’t think that the tendency to pick people out like consumer goods for the maximum comfort is a particularly good one.
I agree. My circumstances are very different now than when I was growing up, in that now a great many of my local friends line up pretty squarely with me in the religious and general-approach-to-life spheres. This wasn’t the case for most of my life. I first ventured onto the Internet in search of like-minded Catholic types when I was living in a different area of the country and felt very isolated as I bumbled my way through my first year as a theology teacher at a Catholic high school (my qualifications being “has a liberal arts degree” and “is Catholic.”) I encountered many friends online whom I still keep in touch with today.
But my IRL friends at the time, a more diverse group, still formed a deep support network for me. We didn’t necessarily align perfectly on the various spectra that now constitute Things Argued About Online, but I can’t imagine ditching those friends altogether in search of new ones. The tendency to continuously curate a collection of friends based on ever-more-particular requirements is inherently destructive and leads to loneliness and neuroses. I mean, I think it does. I hope my friends are with me on this one.
There goes the timer! Maybe more on the subject soon!
*The views expressed on this blog are in no way endorsed by anyone who has ever met me or sold me yogurt.