Tuesday, March 5, 2013

"I’ve found it’s best in life not to have any friends."

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Blocking Your Friends (Not on Facebook)

I’ve found it’s best in life not to have any friends.

They take up a lot of time, space, and energy, all of which could be put to more productive ends by doing schoolwork, participating in extracurricular activities, or joining social clubs—which has nothing to do with friends, of course. While it is a little difficult at times not to make any friends, I’ve somehow succeeded in keeping my college friend-count shockingly low. Some say that’s a reflection on me, but I would never be narcissistic enough to say such a thing. And my efforts are finally paying off: The deadline to submit blocking groups is on Wednesday. Right about now, across the Yard, it’s the hell week for friendship. Take my not-so-friendly advice: Blocking, as well as life in general, shouldn’t be made about friends.

For those who may not know, blocking is the process by which freshmen decide with whom among their friends they will live (up to eight people in each group) for the next three years. Except I shouldn’t say “friends” because often you aren’t even close with four or five of your blockmates, who are there just because they know your friend, whose friendship you are now considering ending because he or she brought these weirdoes (or “block-headed-mates”) in to live with you. Except I shouldn’t say “live” because you don’t even really end up living with all of them as a sophomore. Except I shouldn’t say “sophomore” because you drop out of school during freshman spring because the drama of blocking has ruined everything.

By placing an arbitrary yet rigidly defined structure on the “Does he like me?…what a back stabbing… we bro so hard… pssht, that can’t be me in that strange, and what seems like intoxicated, voicemail…” unstructured world of social circles, the blocking process pressures groups of friends into defining their relationships in ways better left undefined. Unless you happen to have seven friends who all love one another and can’t stand anyone else on campus, the result is usually awkward conversations, pain, and betrayal. The friends that were once your support groups become the problems in your life that you need support to face. And the friends that were once the people who you defended, you feel you may have abandoned.

The worst part of it is, there’s no clear way to fix the problem. There’s got to be some institution by which people have the option to stick together. And without a defined number like eight people (no matter what that number is), organizing housing would be impossible. But, although there might not be a way to fix the problem directly, there is a clear-cut way to avoid it: don’t involve friends.

If you do involve friends, you end up losing them anyway or at least somewhat altering your relationship with them in a negative way. But when you are friendless, you end up becoming the most friendly and happy person on campus, because you don’t have to go through the degrading blocking process. So there’s no reason to have any friends. In my own interest, I’ll make something clear now: If you still consider yourself a friend of mine, from now on just know that you’re not. If you consider yourself an enemy of mine, remember that I am one of the most friendly people left in the freshman class, so it’s impossible for you to be my enemy anymore—but you’re not a friend of mine either. And if you consider yourself a frenemy of mine, grow up and get yourself a vocabulary.

But if you for some reason want to have friends (and I can’t see why), you can still follow a similar route. While it is easier for someone like me not to get involved in blocking schematics, it might be hard for someone who’d prefer to live with people they know, people with whom they have similar schedules, or just people who have nice furniture. At the end of the (Housing) day, your blockmates are just the people you are kinda living with, but not really. You can choose to be friends with them, or you can choose not to be, or you can just choose to float. At most, the people you live with (kind of, but not really) should be just one social circle among various other, undefined ones. It is inappropriate for students to make blocking a process by which they make, break, or define their best friendships—it’s only real function is to define, but not really, living situations. Structuring one’s social life based on administrative housing protocol is just a mistake.

So, between the inevitable backroom meetings and long nights of worry, just try to remember the appropriately paradoxical slogan “friends don’t let friends block together.” Whether you end up floating, blocking, dropping, or whatever else next semester, as long as you don’t make the process purely about friendship, you’ll always have a friend two, or more, only a few blocks away.


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