Although I’m super grateful that the anti life equation party did not find the opportunity to decimate my healthcare options this week, and will most likely not have a chance to complete their evil scheme before the midterm elections, even before that failed vote it seemed imperative to vocalize my gratitude for the legions of cool people in my life.
Obviously, as I’ve written before, I was a wildly unpopular preadolescent, of the “nobody in this school likes you” variety. While had enough self-esteem to feel like that was probably a mark in my favor (like, why would I want those conformists to like me?) being universally hated is not fun. But I was totally right in my assessment as to the value of the people who vocally, stringently, aggressively did not like me, because as soon as I got out of their bubble of privilege and entitled wealth, suddenly the stigma of being me evaporated, and it turned out that lots of people liked me a lot.
So I used the screen grab of my Facebook f-list as a symbol. I don’t have 584 actual friends. A few dozen of them are people who added me for my comics and/or my connections to the literary world, a couple are people I only know online, some are family, and a lot of them are probably just acquaintances or people I met once or twice at a party. But I’d say between 2/3 and 3/4 of them are real friends to some objective degree—people I’ve known in real life and hung with and whose company I enjoy and who apparently like me back. Some of them I’ve known for 3 decades or more. Some of them it only feels like I’ve known them for 30 years. And I also have friends, like the Fox, who aren’t even on Facebook. (I know; weird, right?) And while there are times when I have fond memories of that period of “nobody in this school likes you” during which 100% of my free time could be devoted to reading and writing, there’s also something to be said for getting invited to lots of interesting parties. Not that that’s why I’m grateful for my friends either.
Community, as it turns out, is probably one of the most important things in life. I know there are people who thrive in total isolation, who can live off the land in Alaska and spend more time avoiding polar bears than talking to humans, but most of us do best with a wide support net, multiple people to call on to celebrate our success or empathize with our distress. Social networking, not in the electronic sense, or the business sense, but in the sense of being integrated into a community with whom you can communicate, ask questions, seek assistance, and share your joy, is valuable on a psychological level, and a socio-economic one, and is linked with living longer and can contribute to professional success and things like that.
So, that’s my gratitude for the week: real friends. Love you guys.