Calling your coworkers your “friends” is like saying your dog is “friends” with your cat. Putting two completely dissimilar beings in a room and forcing them to coexist does not a friendship make. That said, it is nice to know that if you die alone in your apartment, someone will notice within a day or three. Could that comforting feeling, that mutual, attentive care, be called friendship? I think so. God, I hope so.
One of the simple pleasures of going home for the holidays is running into that kid you were friends with in middle school and having him be like, “Hey, bro, how’s life?” Your friendship may have effectively ended ten years ago, but that doesn’t mean it never happened. See, you do have friends, just not, you know, right now.
It doesn’t matter who you’re talking to, saying “I’d rather be home by myself then out doing whatever you’re suggesting” rarely goes over that well. That’s why it’s good to have a friend — like the one from your old job — who doesn’t actually exist. Because he won’t judge you for eating McFlurries for dinner, and he loves watching your favorite season of Battlestar Galactica. Over and over and over again.
It may be pathetic to call your parents your friends, but these are the only two people left in the world to whom you can tell all the same shit you already tweeted, without feeling like you’re repeating yourself. And if your parents read your Twitter, get new parents. Or a new Twitter. Whichever. Human relationships aren’t really my thing.
The problem with having high standards for your group of friends is that they’ll have high standards for you. Sometimes you don’t want to be on your A-game; sometimes you don’t want to be the funny one or the smart one or the attractive one or, heaven help me, all three. Sometimes you just want a friend who has incredibly low standards but no other place to go. Like the one over there who’s contemplating eating a pile of his own vomit. You there. Want to go for a walk instead? I had a feeling you might.
Everyone has a unique relationship with their cat, but I’d describe mine as more mutualistic symbiosis than interpersonal relationship. I think of my cat as a combination pillow/lava lamp, and I suspect he thinks the same of me. We watch each other do weird stuff, we lean on each other on the couch, and we walk away whenever we feel like it. That’s what I call friendship.
You and your car, which you named Jessica, celebrate its major milestones. You and your accordion, which was introduced to you as Hilda, get together and jam a few nights a week. These “friends” might not actually be, you know, alive, but they change your life in ways good and bad. They’re there for you until someone steals them away, or until they the break apart. Just choose such friends carefully. You should never call action figures, snack cakes, nudie magazines, bottles of liquor, or large knives your friends. People start thinking there’s something wrong with you.
Be they an old chum from the alt.tv.simpsons newsgroup, that girl who randomly friended you in the early days of TheFacebook and still comments on your stuff, or your Tumblr crush who hearts the occasional GPOY, these people are not only your friends, they’re real. So what if they turn out to racists or obese hillbillies or computer algorithms designed to sell ebooks to horses; they’re better than nothing, right? Right, Thought Catalog? You guys are my friends, right? RIGHT?