1. Someone knows where you are.
There’s really no such thing as being alone anymore. Those old enough may remember the fear of stepping out of your house without any method of communication. The time between your departure and your arrival is now an ongoing story. Before cell phones, you could be struck by a derailed train and your friends might spend all day thinking you’re just a flaky ass. It was an adventurous feeling to be alone, to be without a source for contact. You could get lost meeting your friends and maybe never even find them, never communicating with them until both of you reached a landline, each of you wandering the paths of your own mind and your own streets.
2. You have to be responsible.
Friends know when you’re depressed. They know when you’re being unhealthy. They know when you’ve been wearing the same pair of jeans for a week, eating Hot Fries for dinner, and watching Stephen Colbert’s White House Correspondent’s Dinner speech from 2006 on repeat. Suddenly, people care enough about me that I should probably shave and exist in reality. I should eat food with ingredients and learn adults don’t eat dessert. Empathy is the purest form of coercion, and little speaks of empathy like guilt from people who care enough to insult you.
3.You have to care about them.
Being selfish is so easy. You simply do what you want. But showing that you actually give a damn about other people? It’s so much fulfilling and life-affirming work. Sometimes you’ll find people for whom you would do anything in the world. Avoid these people. Distance them from your own ego before you find yourself being a good person.
4. They force you into new experiences.
We call the food of our childhood “comfort food” because the familiar is awesome. Having an ironclad will against any new experience is not alienating yourself; it’s thinking of home. It’s thinking of these same four walls and this same chair and this same bed and this same cat. It’s about doing what you know you love. Friends, however, get bored. They get bored of your stoic habits and, once more pulling a natural empathy out of their holster, corner you into trying new things, going to different places, and never having a fucking clue about where you want to eat. Choices and friends make life difficult, full of surprises and good cheer. Sadness and isolation make life easy, full of mundanity and desperation.
5. They’re expensive.
You spend more money around the holidays because your friends love you. Perhaps they’d continue to love you if you got them nothing, but that’s a risk you’re not willing to take, you pathetic love junkie. So you buy gifts and pick up the check and cover the cab in search of an altruistic peace, one in which the fear of being a bad person overcomes the hope of being a good one. But your friends are not charity nor are you buying their love. You are the master of a cat, holding a treat in one hand and a spray bottle in another, slowly whispering come to the movies with me. Do it because I love you. Do it because it makes us both feel good.
6. They replace your family.
God, remember how awful your family was? Constantly attempting to love your cold, selfish ass? Imbuing you with life lessons you carry to this day? Asking nothing but your love? Your friends are like that, but ten times worse. You have to love your family, or so you’re told about your stupid older sister when she bullies you. But friends? A friend’s love is seemingly optional yet still required by your friends! What kind of joke is that? It’s like a Salvation Army ringer getting angry at you for not putting money in their bucket. I don’t have to, so why should I? The intense feeling of purpose, an awareness that your existence matters, a lifting of the psychological burden being alone gives you? Your love is valuable, so keep it to yourself.