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Faux Outrage

Literally the most important blog in the universe since 2010.

I have a bunch of friends.  A satisfactory number, really.  Without getting specific, it’s fair to say that there are a comforting number of people that I could count on in a time of arbitrary or magnified need.

As a general rule, friends support one another, as is our custom, for reasons that we don’t much care about.  We tend not to question the motivation of our peers do-gooding because doing so either…

  1. awkwardly implies that our friends are friendly for non-altruistic, selfish reasons; or
  2. philosophizes our important relationships in such a horrifying, pedantic way that the analysis ends up undermining the goodness we started from

In any event, we all generally conclude that no matter what the reason — whether it be biological, environmental, social, or otherwise — the important thing is that we go out of our way to do kindness upon those who we’ve invested in socially.

We enjoy the acts of kindness that are bestowed upon us.

All hail kindness!

This is all pretty uncontroversial stuff.

Things get interesting, though, when our ability to accept kindness crumbles for reasons that I am not able to sufficiently explain.

Say, for example, that I have walked into a bar.

(I should have ducked!)

Next, let’s postulate that my plan is to meet some friends at this bar. Upon noting my arrival, any number of (reasonably kind) people would ask right away, “What do you want to drink?”

Why do my friends do this?  It’s not because they are drunk (or even tipsy). It’s not even because they would like to see me drunk (or even tipsy).  No.  Presumably, they do this because that’s what friends do: We buy drinks for one another.

If I had no money and showed up at a bar to meet people, I would not be allowed to stand empty-handed, because of my friends, and I would do the same thing for them.  But — and this is important — even if I had some dollars to spare, it is still socially acceptable for my friends to buy me a drink because — hey! — friendship!

All of this is still pretty uncontroversial, and that’s a good thing.

But here’s where it gets tricky:  Let’s alter the situation. Let’s say that it’s noon-thirty on a Sunday afternoon, and I’m sitting in an apartment with one or two of those same friends from the bar on Saturday night.

“I’m hungry.”
“Great!  Me, too.”
“What do you want for lunch?”
“What do you want for lunch?”
“Huh? Why?”
“I’ll buy you a sandwich.  Come on.”
“Why are you buying me lunch?”
“We’re friends, I don’t know. Let me buy you lunch.”
“Dude, weird. What’s going on?”
“Fine, I’ll buy you a beer.”
“Thanks, man!”

Keep in mind that these are the same people who, one night previous, were willing — unprovoked! — to spend much more than the cost of a sandwich to secure the other’s happiness.  And yet here we have a case where a friend is trying to buy food — crucial for the maintenance of life and homeostasis — and the offer is being met with curiosity and skepticism.

Of course, the answer might be a simple “this is how we are socialized so just deal with it” or possibly “your friends obviously think you are trying to poison them,” but I think we ought to strongly consider being the people we when we are in bars all the time.

Without the drunk part.

(Most of the time.)

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