Here we are, right, at the end of another stupidly long day. Someone you really like has asked you to get together and you just want to cancel and go home, chill and watch Seinfeld reruns. It's all we do these days. Cancellation is the new plan.
Friendship has now gone the dinosaur route. I spend so much time with people I'm doing some sort of work with -- and it appears that my real cherished pals are those who, if we're lucky, get to converse with me (and me, them) a couple of times a year. Get together? What universe are we talking about?
If you're like me, you spend your days and some nights emailing people; getting in the same room or even outdoor space has begun to be a "challenge." I'm not proud of it and if you scratch beneath your hard surface you are not either.
Below are seven ideas to act more social. They're for me to follow -- you may eavesdrop. (Feel free to add yours by posting or if you're embarrassed, to firstname.lastname@example.org.)
1 Next time you think of someone, don't write "Hi, it's me," but pick up the phone and say "I wanted to say hello, dude, because (fill in)."
2 When you are about to spend an hour emailing, turn off your computer and go for a walk.
3 Think of something while you're out that you need to accomplish.
4 Go back to the office -- do it. Then, and after you're done, make a drinks date with an acquaintance. Someone you think is super funny.
5 Think of the one person you email the most that you have never once seen face to face - a business colleague- and make a lunch date.
6 Keep that date -- even if canceling seems like an idea that fits the event.
7 When you remember a birthday, make the effort. Send something you know a person will love, because you thought of them and you know them. But don't send e-cards. They are lazy and annoying! Show off a little.
8 Stop Facebook and Linked In "bacn" (the new "spam") with those you know to be real friends, just like you would never send group emails or those random joke/graphic lists to those you love any longer. Do this with BFs [see below].
9 Tell people how you feel and make them know you're important to them. Sorry to get Hallmarky here, but people need to know you miss them, or you found out something they will be into and/or you know their favorite artist is playing in Nashville. Spontaneity is king: "Shit, let's just go" is my longed-for fave phrase.
10 Finally, compliment their everyday choices rather than make them feel less than wonderful. That's what the people around them will do. Work pals are the business colleagues who are around them a lot; they don't them well enough to give them a long-lasting warm and cozy kind of happy.
What inspired the above? Glad you asked. A woman I've known since, ahem, 1996 has never met me or vice versa. She's a journalist, I'm a source, and we talk like three or four times a month since what year again? I made a date and am sort of thinking we'll hate one another in person. It's scaring me. It's like mad blind dating for friends who have a bizarre and easily broken connection.
The BF is simply a business friend. That's it. This is not someone you think will be around forever. For now, they come in handy as do you ("quid pro quo friendship"). This is hard for people to get. They think they can call you for favors or advice and you have to say with firmness that you wish I could help when you can't. With BF's, as opposed to the flimsy BFF everyone's bullshitting each other with these days, you always think "What's in it for me?" And with that, the hard news advice:
Save yourself for friends. As Annie Lennox murmured once a long time ago, "Everybody is looking for something." Accept it about everyone else. Even your friends want something but you can always say fuck you I'm busy.
It's more the dog eating dog society than ever before and real friends live with that truism. Yes, having work buds that can actually drink you under the table or do a fantastic email round with -- it's all good. Stick with the rules above and feel better about true friends and know the difference between a friend and a real BF.
The above is not taken from the new book "2011" (Yeahwhatever.com) from this guy Laermer and McGraw-Hill. More essays found over at Laermer.com!
Follow Richard Laermer on Twitter: www.twitter.com/laermer