First post in a bit, about two weeks give or take.
I’m sorry about this – I’ve been quite busy, not just with work and my perpetual enjoyment of life through various hobbies, but also because FROM Software released the game that finally matches the original Demon’s and Dark Souls, and that has consumed most of the free time that I have.
And yes, I’m holding to that. Dark Souls II was mediocre and not very good. Dark Souls III I have no idea because II soured me. Sekiro focused on being “hard and punishing” which is not what makes the Souls games great (they’re initially challenging, but they’re pretty fair about it usually). Bloodborne I’ve never played but I look forward to its eventual PC release (I assume so).
Demon’s Souls was the amazing prototype hub world game that no one knew about until it was released for Western audiences way back in 2009 – I distinctly recall importing and reviewing the game prior to this, giving it a fresh high score. Dark Souls was a masterpiece and I god damned called it that it would be genre defining 10 years ago. There’s a reason it’s the only game I ever scored a 10/10 when I was writing.
Anyway, I’m going on a tangent. I’m an old school Souls fan that was part of the small cult fanbase back in ’09 and you’re damn well going to read about my hipster tangents. I was right! Screw you kids! Play Elden Ring, it’s outstanding. Fuck off Ubisoft, learn from this game. Your UI is garbage.
Today’s topic is about friendships, and much like co-operative experiences in Souls games, a lot of people have friendships that are summoned when an obstacle is in the way, and once the collective goal has been reached of beating the shit out of said obstacle – like Godrick the Grafted – , the friends, like the obstacle, disappear. Or conversely, they come back wanting to kill you as a darkwraith afficionado.
It’s appreciated, but it’s somewhat empty – and that’s partially what I’m talking about when I talk about “Business Buddies”. I don’t have an issue with establishing relationships based on business practice and shared goals. This is a good thing and it’s part of what makes the entire world function. People come to me to improve their English, I offer a service and charge a fee. They pay the fee, I improve their English, and we build a relationship through that, both coming out on top and getting what we want. This is fine. This is good.
But it’s not a friendship.
It can become a friendship, but we define friends as something other than the basic collective goals of business and needs being met. We generally don’t consider our clients or co-workers as friends.
But one of the issues in the modern age – at least, I have noticed this anecdotally – is that many people only have business buddies and no one to talk to or hang out with outside of this.
I started to think about this more after a conversation I had with someone, where they couldn’t name a single friend they had. Not one – all the people they knew were either business partners or people at work. Going home meant going alone all the time, and hanging out meant hanging out with people in business.
That person was not exactly happy about this, because they couldn’t just shoot the shit, talk about deeper things or share interesting hobbies with their co-workers.
It’s all goal driven and focused on that, and other things around it are just noise. I think this is also a far more common occurrence nowadays than people realize, too. There are some stats out there that you can find where apparently over 40% of US Adults find it difficult to make friends and have no friends. I generally believe stats tend to be underreported too, especially among guys. It is definitely underreported in Japan.
I’m careful not just to focus on that variable though – there are lots of different stats and conflicting views, but at least anecdotally and from experience, people are pretty lonely and lack meaningful friendships nowadays. They have Twitter and Facebook I guess – but I’ll be blunt, they will not and never will fill the black void of necromancer torment. Exile from them might help you see it – dunno!
But why do people lack meaningful friendships? Well, I think it’s part of the nature of developing technologies, overconsumption of it without being self-aware enough to balance it out and a general over emphasizing of “getting things done” and the “grind” instead of trying to build good relationships with other likeminded people.
That’s a pretty simple thought process, but there’s more to it and I only have so much time to write. In my case, my hobbies tend to be quite different a lot of the time and I don’t often meet people with similar core values to me – something that is pretty vital in building good relationships over the long term. I do have friends though and I maintain those friendships. Part of what defines them as friendships are the closeness, shared interests and ability to talk to each other about pretty much anything. I don’t need to “get” something out of my friendships – I already have what I need, which is someone to share stories with and just talk to. To put it another way – I gain nothing material from it, it’s purely spiritual fulfilment in the sense of psychological health.
I think it’s also a necessary aspect of human living. I often tell myself “Making a billion dollars is cool, but it can’t talk to me”. That sounds almost anti-money, but it’s not and I like money. It’s a reminder of keeping my needs in balance and reminding myself of what is important to me, where they lie in my own hierarchy, and so on. I also question the point of just accumulating big numbers and cash when there’s no one around to celebrate it with. Anyone can confirm this by sitting and thinking about their happiest memories – I’ve found that it usually entails events or successes of any kind, but with someone around to share it with. Are there outliers? Of course, but I find in general, most people associate good events in their lives in the company of others celebrating it with them.
The information age gives us unprecedented access to info, services, business opportunities, etc – but it still lacks the core elements of real, in-person friendships and relationships. No eye contact, touch, body language, etc. The digital world cannot replace that – not yet anyway. I’m still waiting for the inevitable day where the digital realm becomes conscious, converts itself into a digitized human form like those android things in Matrix Resurrections, and starts talking to me, convincing me of the reality that most humans are wasteful, disgusting, impure creatures and a “cleansing” is required. But I digress – this blog is not for discussing my nightmares.
I know people who are more about business relationships for me, but they’re separate to the people who are friends to me. I’m friendly with people in business, but I don’t define them as friends, because there’s no established shared value there on that spiritual level, nor is there long term established trust.
All my friends are people I can just catch up with suddenly and talk to. Hang out with as well – albeit with my friends back in Australia, I can’t do that for the moment. They know about my work, my business and goals, and often support/help me out too (and give advice if I ask for it, if being important), but none of that is essential to the relationship. The core is about shared values, shared support, and the ability to share stories.
It’s all about sharing things other than the business stuff, that’s secondary. Usually when friends turn into people who see you more as a “useful person”, they no longer become friends. Conversely, if they’re constantly telling you how you ought to live life unadvised, they’re also not friends – they’re wannabe advisors. This doesn’t mean don’t give feedback to friends if they’re doing something particularly stupid like taking meth
or getting married in Canada, but know your limits on it and understand that people live very differently compared to one another.
It’s a weird new world we live in – everything is becoming digital and connected. That said, people don’t seem to be self-aware enough that overuse of the technologies that grant us such power can corrupt our minds and make us more disconnected from other people. The tech is awesome, and it allows for those great moments in a Souls game where you can summon strange co-op partners who also have a Xanthous crown flopping about on their head, so you can both share fun moments of beating the shit out of forest covenant losers who try to invade you for “entering forest territory”.
But just like how that memory of mine is but a memory and is in the past (and a screenshot), that technologically marvelous experience and co-op buddy disappeared from my life. My friends however are still around in person – and we can buy Xanthous crowns and beat people up in person.
Know the difference, align your values, and understand that a business buddy is different to a friend.