all posts tagged 'friendship'

Why Americans Suddenly Stopped Hanging Out

🔗 a linked post to » — originally shared here on

We come into this world craving the presence of others. But a few modern trends—a sprawling built environment, the decline of church, social mobility that moves people away from friends and family—spread us out as adults in a way that invites disconnection. Meanwhile, as an evolutionary hangover from a more dangerous world, we are exquisitely engineered to pay attention to spectacle and catastrophe. But screens have replaced a chunk of our physical-world experience with a digital simulacrum that has enough spectacle and catastrophe to capture hours of our greedy attention. These devices so absorb us that it’s very difficult to engage with them and be present with other people.

The sum result of these trends is that we are both pushed and pulled toward a level of aloneness for which we are dysevolved and emotionally unprepared. Sartre said hell is other people. Perhaps. But the alternative is worse.

Ironically, this article was shared to me by one of the few people I see IRL nearly every week.

Paul, Micah, Nick, and I get together every Monday night and make music. It’s often the highlight of my week.

We get dinner beforehand and talk about the day to day goings on of our lives. Then, we retreat to Paul’s multi-million dollar recording studio 1 and just noodle around.

We don’t have a set agenda, no prescribed musical style. One of us just starts playing something, and the rest of us join in.

No matter how depressed, anxious, or frustrated I feel walking into Paul’s house, I never leave with those feelings. Getting to spend time with three smart, talented, and caring dudes always leaves me with a filled bucket.2

Find an activity that brings you joy and go do it with other people. And if you don’t know where to find those people, just ask someone. That’s what Paul did, and thanks to him, I’ve now got two new friends and a weekly outlet for building my guitar skills and expressing some creativity.3

  1. It may look like a laundry room to you, but between the gear, the artwork, the lighting, and Micah or myself inevitably smacking our guitars on the overhead duct work, it’s just as inspirational as any “real” recording studio has felt to me.  

  2. You know what drains my bucket? Non-stop Zoom meetings. Reddit during an election year. Hell, Reddit in general. YouTube’s algorithm surfacing any sort of hot take on a modern news event. Just, kinda, being on the open internet in general.  

  3. I should write a longer post about this, but it is terrifying to play an instrument within a band. I often find myself just sticking to the chords because I don’t wanna screw up everyone else. But the more I watch better guitar players like Paul and Nick and Micah do their thing, the more confident I get and the more I find myself actually practicing on my own. One of these days, maybe I’ll get enough courage to try shredding in front of others. 

Continue to the full article

Politics, Friendship, and the Search for Meaning

🔗 a linked post to » — originally shared here on

Imagine, by analogy, a virtuoso pianist at the peak of her career who looks out at the culture around her and realizes that appreciation for classical music is rapidly fading. She senses a crisis: if things continue, there will soon be no audiences, no careers in music, and no future great performances. She considers the situation so dire that she decides to step away from her instrument, if only for a time, in order to defend classical music nationwide. She gives speeches about composers in grade schools across the country, lobbies Congress for increased support for the arts, and solicits wealthy donors to sponsor classical-music instruction. Her work is noble, but it consumes her; and the crisis is so severe that her task is never done. Thus, she never fully returns to the life of music she enjoyed before. Now, when she has time to play, which is rare, she’s a shadow of her former self. Practice sessions find her distracted. Her music suffers as a result of her effort to save music.

The battle to save music is not itself the practice of music. The two activities are worlds apart. One is an instrumental good, the other intrinsic; one is never complete, the other complete in itself. This paradox occurs across domains: The battle to preserve a space for Christian worship in an increasingly secular society is not itself Christian worship. The defence of the liberal arts is not the liberal arts. And the war to save our political union from our enemies is not itself political union.

A pretty heavy article that makes a few great points about nihilism, politics, friendships, and meaning.

My only quibble is that the article makes an unnecessary leap about not being able to be complete without a relationship with God, but hey, maybe the longer I live and partake in intrinsic activities, those experiences will help change my opinion about why we’re here and what set this world into motion.

Continue to the full article

Kunal Shah - Why choosing your friends matters

🔗 a linked post to » — originally shared here on

When he said “I do businesses to hunt more insights”, I really felt that. Great little snippet from the great Knowledge Project podcast.

It’s Your Friends Who Break Your Heart

🔗 a linked post to » — originally shared here on

Whenever I mentioned to people that I was working on a story about friendship in midlife, questions about envy invariably followed. It’s an irresistible subject, this thing that Socrates called “the ulcer of the soul.” Paul Bloom, a psychology professor at the University of Toronto, told me that many years ago, he taught a seminar at Yale about the seven deadly sins. “Envy,” he said dryly, “was the one sin students never boasted about.”

He’s right. With the exception of envy, all of the deadly sins can be pleasurable in some way. Rage can be righteous; lust can be thrilling; greed gets you all the good toys. But nothing feels good about envy, nor is there any clear way to slake it. You can work out anger with boxing gloves, sate your gluttony by feasting on a cake, boast your way through cocktail hour, or sleep your way through lunch. But envy—what are you to do with that?

Die of it, as the expression goes. No one ever says they’re dying of pride or sloth.

This is one of those articles that is hard to pull one single quote from, because it’s just so damn good.

The whole piece hits me right in the chest, and I’m sure you, dear reader, have someone you should be reaching out to after reading this too.

Continue to the full article

Secrets about People: A Short and Dangerous Introduction to René Girard

🔗 a linked post to » — originally shared here on

Perhaps one of the paradoxical benefits of the internet, in the long term, is shifting the way we think about peer relationships from “opt-out”, which it’s been since pretty much forever, towards “opt-in.”

In an opt-out peer set relationship, we default towards needing to look good in front of people; towards caring what people think, towards being embarrassed about aspects of ourselves, almost automatically – regardless of who the other person is. Not caring about what other people think has to be this deliberate act of bravery that’s hard to do.

But in an opt-in peer set relationship, we only people in as peers and role models selectively and deliberately; not caring about what most people think comes naturally, because it’s on by default.

I’ve personally been struggling with this concept for the last few weeks, and this article really helped set some things in perspective for me.

Continue to the full article

Working on a suicide helpline changed how I talk to everyone

🔗 a linked post to » — originally shared here on

It turns out that conversations with friends are not so different. Even when you think you know somebody, you never have all the information; something always gets lost in translation. Sometimes you strip away unnecessary banality but, often, something essential is cut. Friends might avoid the truth because they are afraid of being judged. They might be unable to put their thoughts into words, or they might be held back by motives or concerns they don’t even fully understand themselves. Or they might be expressing themselves perfectly well to you, but you twist their words because you are superimposing your own models of the world onto them. To varying degrees, there is an uncrossable chasm between you and everybody you care about.

Continue to the full article