Nick Cave’s Three Levels of Friendship

“There seems to me to be three levels of friendship.

First there is the friend who you go out and eat with, or get pissed with, who you go with to the cinema or a gig — you know, have a shared experience with.

The second kind of friend is one who you can ask a favour of, who will look after you in a jam, will lend you money, or drive you to the hospital in the middle of the night, someone who has your back — that kind of friend.

The third level of friendship is one where your friend brings out the best in you, who amplifies the righteous aspects of your nature, who loves you enough to be honest with you, who challenges you, and who makes you a better person.

None of these levels are mutually exclusive and sometimes you find someone who fulfils all of these categories. If you find a friend like that, hang on to him or her. They are rare.”

-Nick Cave, “Is it important to have friends?” TheRedHandFiles.com. November 2021.

Related: Levels of Friendship in Arabic, How To Make Friends as an Adult, A Keltner List for Relationships, and The Happiness of Others.

Oddkin

“Here’s Donna Haraway, talking about kin, in Staying with the Trouble (2):

“Kin is a wild category that all sorts of people do their best to domesticate. Making kin as oddkin, rather than, or at least in addition to, godkin…troubles important matters, like to whom one is actually responsible….What shape is this kinship, where and whom do its lines connect and disconnect, and so what?”

Haraway is reclaiming kin to mean not merely blood relatives (“godkin”) but also those whose company [1] we choose to be in (“oddkin”). “Odd” works here to mean unexpected or unusual but also suggests the odd ones out. “Oddkin” brings the odd ones together into kinship.

But what does it mean to be oddkin? To whom are we actually responsible? The nuclear family restricts the answer to that question to the smallest possible unit: only immediate [2] relatives, not other more distant ones, and certainly not friends or neighbors. This isn’t just a philosophical restriction—it’s built in to our streets and buildings and laws with parking lots and bricks and surveillance cameras. But oddkin rewrites those boundaries, opens them wide up. Oddkin stakes the claim that the shape of kinship isn’t a birthright but a choice, that the people we choose to gather with are connected to us in ways at least equivalent to those we were born alongside.”

-Mandy Brown, “Oddkin: A working letter.A Working Library. August 29, 2021.

Levels of Friendship in Arabic

  1. Zameel – someone you have a nodding acquaintance with
  2. Jalees – someone you’re comfortable sitting with for a period of time
  3. Sameer – you have good conversation with them
  4. Nadeem – a drinking companion (just tea) that you might call when you’re free
  5. Sahib – someone who’s concerned for your wellbeing
  6. Rafeeq – someone you can depend upon, you’d probably go on holiday with them
  7. Sadeeq – a true friend, someone who doesn’t befriend you for an ulterior motive
  8. Khaleel – an intimate friend, someone whose presence makes you happy
  9. Anees – someone with whom you’re really comfortable and familiar
  10. Najiyy – a confidant, someone you trust deeply
  11. Safiyy – your best friend, someone you’ve chosen over other friends
  12. Qareen – someone who’s inseparable from you, you know how they think (and vice versa)

One interesting thing I notice is that in the Bengali language, Sahib is used as an honorific, like Sir, and I suspect that it originates from the Mughal Empire and has similar roots.

The Social Obscene

“In certain young people today…I notice what I find increasingly troubling: a cold-blooded grasping, a hunger to take and take and take, but never give; a massive sense of entitlement; an inability to show gratitude; an ease with dishonesty and pretension and selfishness that is couched in the language of self-care; an expectation always to be helped and rewarded no matter whether deserving or not; language that is slick and sleek but with little emotional intelligence; an astonishing level of self-absorption; an unrealistic expectation of puritanism from others; an over-inflated sense of ability, or of talent where there is any at all; an inability to apologize, truly and fully, without justifications; a passionate performance of virtue that is well executed in the public space of Twitter but not in the intimate space of friendship.

I find it obscene.”

-Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, “IT IS OBSCENE: A TRUE REFLECTION IN THREE PARTS.” chimamanda.com. June 15, 2021.

I found this discussion of the “controversy” around this essay pretty interesting. Why did she choose to write this? It seems like setting yourself up for a lot of bother. But, I think the central idea that the incentives of social media tends to do something to people’s perspective – removing nuance of thinking, increasing self-centeredness, etc. is valid. How do you mitigate this problem, for yourself and in relationship with others using these platforms?

To Make Friends

Be able to talk and shut up. Listen well, particularly for the voice that is hard to hear in yourself and in others. Remember: there is little difference between being shut out and being shut in.

Three Years Without Facebook, Most Social Media

Occasionally, I’ll see an article where someone talks about giving up social media or a specific service – such as Facebook – for a week, a month, 99 days, a year, or even that it isn’t possible for most people. The last may be true. If someone relies on weak ties to get through difficult times in their lives, they probably need to maintain those ties in an efficient way, such as by using Facebook.

For example, if you need to call Uncle Joe to come and pick you up when your car breaks down, Uncle Joe uses Facebook and you don’t see him much, then you probably need to be on Facebook. That’s your reality.

Another reality is that giving up Facebook is that you’ll lose friends. I tend to have a very small social circle. I have a couple of friends, and I invest a lot in those relationships. However, one of my friends lives far away, and we had moved to communicating primarily through Facebook. When I deleted most of my social media accounts back in 2017, the friendship slowly faded after.

So, there’s a price to be paid. You aren’t as connected, and it means some of your relationships will atrophy as a result.

I still maintain a few social media accounts. But, I’ve moved to a model where I do not post anything to social media and I don’t use it. I don’t browse. I don’t post. I don’t comment. On a very rare occasion, I might react or like something. But, I mostly use it so that if there’s a link to, say, Twitter in an email newsletter, I use a Twitter account using a free software app to view it on my phone. There’s no point being a zealot about it.

But, on the other end, I’ll never go back to being a regular user of a service like Facebook, which I don’t use in any form. It’s poisonous and manipulative. I miss my friend, but the cost of maintaining that relationship, and others, through Facebook was simply too high.

Looking at it after three years, I’d recommend leaving it, if you can. At the very least, try a sabbatical, so you can get a feel for what using the service is costing you in terms of your emotional well-being. Uncle Joe will still be there, if you decide log back on after a month off.