Friday, 15 July 2011

Friendship and its Discontents

The antinatalist community to me is a haven; never have I found a place with so many like-minded people, with such amiable attributes about them - the greatest of all being your constant civility; while you may not always agree with me, when you do disagree, no hissy fits are thrown, no chairs are broken, and no one has to apologise. You only really see this kind of thing with certain philosophy forums, though even then, it's still a rare find to participate in such a thread there. Don't led this post mislead you - I'm not leaving any time soon. I'm simply coming onto the topic of social interaction, and coming out of my shell a bit. Comment with your social situation, or on the strangeness of my disposition.
       My approach in social situations is quite a simple one. The gameplan generally goes something as follows:
    Step 1: Find out who is the most dominant person in the room (only perform said step in group conversations)
    Step 2: Find what that person likes, and as a secondary objective find what other people like
    Step 3: Fit my malleable personality to meet their likes and dislikes, and if failing that, keep asking questions about their personal life.
    Step 4: Bathe in the brief bliss of social acceptance
I'm not a sociopath, by the way. I just happened to miss out on a rather critical stage of mental development in my childhood, and as a result, my sense of self is rather, let's say, lacking. It doesn't seem wrong to me to do what I do - it happens naturally, actually, just like with you, barring the autists among us. It doesn't seem wrong to me to misrepresent myself in any way - in fact I'd probably go to the trouble of feigning belief in Islam if I cared about my friends that much. You see, I don't 'feel' the inherent 'wrongness' of these things I do - to me it seems perfectly good, since all I am doing is maximising the amount of personal success I have and the amount of personal satisfaction I give to others. Why should I trap myself in a fakery of a character - not having a 'me' is exactly who I am. My lack of personality IS my personality. Now whether this is due to some kind of Cluster B Personality Disorder or High Functioning Autism I really don't care anymore, maybe that's true, but regardless, I am who I am, or rather I am who I'm not.

Oh and, just as a note: I hold onto my personal beliefs with great gusto, I just don't tell most people what they are and mislead them a bit. Be assured that I'm an antinatalist to the core, and would never have a child just to make someone happy. I have limits, as it were.
Comments appreciated. Now I've told my story, why don't you tell yours?


  1. I normally find myself pursuing a very different strategy for getting along with people. I often find myself either disagreeing with what other people have to say or just bored by it and deal with it by turning inward. I smile and nod, but I don't discuss much. If I do discuss, it's challenging for me to stay within accepted norms of civility. I can do it, but it's a strain and makes me feel like I need to lie down afterwards. Also, I dislike things that resemble debates. In face-to-face situations especially, debates generally strike me more as being primate dominance contests than truth-seeking enterprises. The only contexts in which I normally find myself being forthright in face-to-face interactions (other than with intimate friends, as discussed below) are ones in which doing so is required and supported by some sort of institutional role: the seminar leader, work supervisor, or so on.

    If I should ever be carted off for some offense against the sensibilities of the normals, the TV News will be able to use truthfully about me the cliche they've used on so many others "Neighbors said he was a quiet man who kept to himself."

    The way I interact with the social world probably has to do with self-awareness about a difficult personality. On five-factor tests of personality -- if you think those are meaningful -- I turn out to be highly intraverted, neurotic, and disagreeable, though also conscientious and, perhaps oddly, highly open to new experiences.

    Perhaps the happiest social moments I have involve one or two intimate friends with food and drinks. Perhaps curiously, the best ones of these tend to be in semi-public spaces -- over a little table in a cozy restaurant, or over cocktails in the sort of establishment that one of said friends likes to call an "Old Man Bar."

    I find that I often feel far more comfortable communicating with people in writing than in person. In writing, it's much more easy to take one's time, think things through, and say things better. And when it's necessary to disagree, do so without being disagreeable.

    All that leads to the somewhat glum reflection that some of the happiest moments in romantic (or at least, incipiently romantic) relationships I've had have been epistolary. (Sometimes I miss old-fashioned letters, the sort that came in envelopes with stamps. Do you?) But I guess we all get by as best we can.

  2. est-

    I'm glad you are deriving some utility from the whole socialization enterprise. I used to try really hard to fit in because I really craved social acceptance. However, it was difficult and I felt like I was selling out my integrity. When I did get social acceptance, I developed a major case of impostor syndrome in relation to every area of my life, which, in turn, led to debilitating anxiety. I somehow managed to get over that and now I just don't really care what people think about me beyond practical considerations. I discovered the not caring part relatively recently, so I still feel a vague sense of satisfaction when I'm reminded of it because it used to be a longtime goal of mine. I'm not sure how it happened; maybe I just got desensitized.

    I don't find it hard to socialize with acquaintances now. If one must constantly feel boredom and discontent, it's nice to at least vary the sources of boredom and discontent every once in a while. But it's still boring and unsatisfying (and you have to deal with breeding-related topics a lot).


    I'm in total agreement about correspondence in romantic relationships. Being away from your love object makes you forget that they (and you) are just regular primates. I'm reminded of the poem Vladimir Mayakovsky (I don't think he's well-known in the States, which is a shame) wrote in his suicide note. One of the lines translates as "the love boat smashed up on the dreary routine", which I have always found very apt.

  3. "Любовная лодка разбилась о быт."

    It is a very striking image, CM.

  4. Estnihil,

    I am another antinatalist, and I blog at

  5. Done Srikant. Welcome aboard the S.S. Friend-ship, may your blog get the spectacular amount of views it deserves.

  6. fuck this shit big time