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Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Inability to Make Friends

Warning: The article is going to be mostly whining about stuff that's better suited for my Lisa Frank diary. You have been warned.

I'm Eric, I'm 29 years old, and I have no friends.

I've never had that many friends, but I'm not going to go back over my life history. I'm talking about making friends now. It is essentially impossible.

Let's look at my neighbors. None of them share my same interests. NONE of them. I go out biking in the neighborhood and I watch people playing in their garages. I look at the kind of t-shirts they wear, and I go, "none of those people is the same as me". People are out washing their boats, tweaking their ATVS or cars, or doing yard work. I'm not interested in any sort of outdoor or mechanical activities. I'm a cerebral person. I live inside my head.

I'm not even talking about the fact that I'm an introvert. Even introverts go outside once in a while. If there were people around who were interested in the same things as me, it wouldn't be a problem, but I look at Meetup.com, and there's nothing going on around me (the hedonism group looks interesting, but I don't think my wife would approve). I don't know what people do all day, but it's not anything I do.

To wit, let's look at the recent OKCupid infographic that aggregated people's listed interests based on gender and race. Here is the white male heterosexual graphic (which I am).


Okay, now let's look my reactions to these.

Tom Clancy - This suprises me that it's at the top of the list. But for me, I have no interest in political thrillers, or politics for that matter. Whenever politics get discussed it always becomes a hatefest that no one can get anything right. I stick with Linus's advice: "There are three things I have learned never to discuss with people: religion, politics, and the Great Pumpkin".

Van Halen, Phish, Soundgarden, NOFX, The Dropkick Murphys, Megadeth, CCR, Bad Religion, Tenacious D, Queens of the Stone Age, Mostly rock, The Offspring - Some of these bands I like, but there aren't any I'm passionate about. The only band I like which is in this category is Metallica (which isn't on here, curious). I don't mind these bands, but these guys were popular when I was in college. I'm too young for Van Halen and too old for The Dropkick Murphys. My musical tastes don't trend to punk. To further the point, here are the first three songs that came up on my iPod Shuffle: The Blasters - Dark Night (from the "From Dusk 'Til Dawn" soundtrack), Britney Spears - Stronger (S.K. Prophecy Remix), Red Hot Chili Peppers - Aeroplane

Hockey, The Red Sox, UFC - These are sports you watch. I like hockey, but I'm a fairweather fan. I like baseball, but I'm a Twins fan, not the Red Sox. And UFC is too brutal for me to enjoy. If I wanted to watch legitimate fighting sport, I'd watch boxing. If I wanted to watch steroid-soaked men jump around, I'd watch wrestling. More story.

Golfing, Boats, Boating, Nascar, Mountain Biking, Hunting and Fishing, Most Sports, working out - These are sports you do. I don't golf. I find it an elitist, racist sport that takes up land better suited to a playground or community center. My in-laws have a boat, but we rarely have time to go on it, and all we do is drive around. I have no interest in NASCAR--who wants to watch rednecks turn left over and over? Mountain biking, hunting, fishing--those are outdoor sports that require a lot of expensive equipment, dedication, and more than one person to do.

Harley Davidson, Motorcycles, Jeep, cars - I have no interest in cars or off-roading. Motorcycles are dangerous, and not practical for Minnesota winters. I don't understand America's interest with cars and fixing giant mechanical things. Again, an expensive hobby, and one that doesn't yield enough value for me. I hate the Speed channel. Why does my cable company force this on me, and we can't get G4?

Ghostbusters, The Big Lebowski, Groundhog Day, Blazing Saddles, Apocalypse Now, Coen Brothers, Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels, Saving Private Ryan, Full Metal Jacket, Taxi Driver - I'm very surprised Ghostbusters was so high. I always figured that was kind of a geek movie, but I guess everyone can agree on something. But for the others, I have no interest. Groundhog Day was mediocre at best, and The Big Lebowski was quirky, but didn't make me laugh out loud. I don't have any great passion for war movies -- war is a horrible thing, and there's nothing glorious that can come of it. I don't like the Coen Brothers--I'm still pissed that they put "This is a true story" in front of Fargo, and it's not. All the dramatic movies are gritty and dirty, and I'm not much into that.

Breaking Bad, Band of Brothers, Burn Notice - I don't watch much TV. I wish I could. I wish I had time. I don't have Tivo (another thing that makes me unpopular). It's not that there aren't shows I'm interested in watching, like Breaking Bad and Mad Men (a.k.a. Watch Christina Hendricks Do Things), but I just don't have time to watch them. Lots of the people my wife knows (I almost said my wife's friends, but these are more like moms she knows) live by TV reality shows--they pout if they don't get to watch "Dancing with the Stars", "The Bachelor", or "16 and Pregnant". I don't like reality shows because they're about narcissitic people who exploit and get exploited.

I'm a country boy, Building things, I can fix anything - Like I said before, I'm not a builder, I'm not mechanically-minded. And I'm not a country boy. I'm a suburban man, so I value city life. I like technology, and I don't like dirt. I like well-built buildings, fancy security, and road construction. I guess it's the difference between Country Mouse and City Mouse.

Poker, ping pong, playing pool - I don't like gambling. I know it's a sham and the odds are stacked in favor of the house. I don't have a ping pong table, and that's probably a good thing, because I get frustrated when I lose. My in-laws have a pool table, and we play that sometimes.

Engineering, law enforcement - I'm a software engineer, which is not the same thing. And I've never had a positive encounter with law enforcement.

Guitar - I used to play bass, but I haven't picked it up since I got married, and I don't know how to read music. So I won't be joining a band anytime soon. Plus I don't have anyone to play with. Even my wife doesn't pick up the clarinet anymore, and we don't have compatible music tastes.

Zappa - ???

So here's my take on the things that I do like.

Computers - well, this one's a given. But "computers" doesn't mean anything. Are you a mac user or a PC? Do you play games? What's your set-up? Everyone I talk to acts like technology is this necessary evil they're being forced into using, kicking and screaming, except for my college friends who are, or married to, computer science geeks.

Brew, A few beers - I do like my drinking, but who do you drink with? And what do you do when you drink? You can't just sit there and drink, you have to talk or play video games or something.

Grilling - I like grilled food, but how do I make friends centered around this concept?

Robert Heinlein, Dark Tower, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Michael Crichton, World War Z - I love books, I love reading, and I would love to join some sort of book club, but the only one around me is females only. There is a writer's club near me, but many authors advise you to stay away from writing groups, so I'm hesitant about joining one.

Skiing - I do like skiing, but I'm a newcomer. We go to my in-laws Montana cabin for skiing. This would be great to do if you were looking for a date, and we do have a few college friends who ski, but it's hard to get together with them for anything with kids.

Well, that's what the "other people" do. Next time, we'll look at what I do -- my real interests, the ones that didn't show up on this list, and why no one likes them.
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