Wednesday, February 03, 2016

We don’t all have to be friends, right?

Someone was telling me recently that he felt an obligation to attend a social function.

“Why?” I asked.

“Because…”

“Are you friends? Do you care above the normal ‘I wish everyone well’ level of caring about this person’s future? Because if you don’t, then I don’t see the need to go. And by going you’re actually giving the person the impression that there is a friendship here and you shouldn’t do that.”

There was a little bit of back and forth which ended with, “Patricia, you’re mean!”

This is not the first time I’ve heard this. It likely won’t be the last. I know how I am perceived, I know I’m not perceived as the nicest apple in the playground. I am okay with that because I am not actively mean. I do not actively seek to hurt people. I take pride in not being a “mean girl”.* However, because - like any good introvert - superficial connections are something I dislike and avoid, I don’t see the need to push myself to do something when there isn’t a true established connection.

But, Patricia, you’re saying, what about social niceties? You’re right. We can’t ignore them, they’re important in a civilized society, if you don’t want people acting like narcissistic heathens. I encourage people to behave in mannerly ways. I hold the door open for someone if they’re immediately behind me. I put my hand in harms way to stop the elevator doors closing if I see someone rushing to get in the elevator. I give up my seat for someone who seems to need it more. These things I do because they should be done but I don’t for one second imagine that this has established a connection, the person I just gave my seat to are not suddenly BFFs. Why do we feel this need to label everyone as a friend? Does this mean we can only be nice to friends? What’s the harm in doing something nice for a complete stranger knowing that you’ll probably never see them again?

Having and using good manners does not mean you have to try and be friends with every single person you’ve ever met. Who has the time and energy for that? Plus, there’s an authenticity to simply doing something for the sake of doing it and not because it may win us popularity points. Which is why I balk at pretending to be friends with someone who I’m not friends with. If I do that, in my mind, I’m diluting my true friendships. I don’t know. Maybe I’m just trying to rationalize being selfish with my time. Maybe deep down I mind that people label me as mean or bitchy.

I’ll ponder that some more later when I’m home enjoying my time and not out forcing myself to have superficial interactions that don’t add positive energy into my life.

*Though, of course, anytime I write that I take pride in being something or not being something, I immediately think of several examples of moments when I was or wasn’t the thing I’m saying I take pride in. But, hey, I’m human, I am flawed. I am a work in progress. I can aspire to be something while at the same time acknowledging that there are areas of improvement. Moving on, or, since this is a footnote, moving back.

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Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Yes, I Googled


Several jobs ago I was asked to draft a contract amendment. I’d never drafted a contract amendment and there were none in the office to look at so I turned to your friend and mine, Google, and searched for something that I’m sure resembled, “how to draft an amendment for a contract.” I remember (why do I remember this so vividly?) that the very first link gave me exactly what I needed. I drafted the amendment, the boss was happy with the work, and life went on.

Nearly a decade later I still sometimes turn to Google to help me with my job. While other people worry about inappropriate links showing up in their search history I worry about the powers that be looking at all of my “how do I do xyz?” queries and wondering why exactly they pay me to show up every day.

When Confessions of a Shopaholic came out in 2009 it included the scene above. Upon seeing it, I laughed much harder than the other folks in the theater because it was entirely way too familiar for me. So now, each time I find myself doing one of these searches I think of this scene and the line, “Yes, I Googled” pops into my head.

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