My Mom lived for 50 years with her female platonic friend. When Mom got dementia, her friend cared for her at home until her death.

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I have long thought there was a short straight line between childhood imaginary friends and grownups making tulpas.

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This is such a beautiful topic, thank you. Coincidentally I am writing this coming week about friendship after hearing that Culadasa’s state of enlightenment caused him to neglect his close relationships and ended up alone. https://twitter.com/mrneilscott/status/1591782680584421377?s=61&t=TN4LLKvAXFXfAL1HrRp7Bw

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Nov 15, 2022Liked by Roger’s Bacon

I was told by my sister that she witnessed me as a child conversing with my imaginary friend, in such a realistic manner that it bothered her. Indeed to this day sometimes I muse of some past events and maybe laugh, I tell my wife it’s an inside joke with my imaginary friend.

I moved from my home of many years and only have 2 friends that I occasionally call, or that call or text me. I have some folks I hang with online through a book club, but it’s not the same as a physical friend. I think I’m an affable person, but I can’t seem to figure out how to make a friend here.

Thanks for the article.

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Nov 15, 2022Liked by Roger’s Bacon

This is one of my favourite pieces from you! Thank you for writing it. I'd like to leave you with a few quotes from another essay I love:

"...This is to weave cobwebs and not cloth. Our friendships hurry to short and poor conclusions, because we have made of them a texture of wine and dreams, instead of the tough fibre of the human heart. The laws of friendship are austere and eternal, of one web with the laws of nature and of morals. But we have aimed a swift and petty benefit, to suck a sudden sweetness."

"I do not wish to treat friendships daintily, but with the roughest courage. When they are real, they are not glass threads or frostwork, but the solidest thing we know. For now, after so many ages of experience, what do we know of nature or of ourselves? Not one step has man taken toward the solution of the problem of his destiny. In one condemnation of folly stand the whole universe of men. But the sweet sincerity of joy and peace which I draw from this alliance with my brother's soul is the nut itself whereof all nature and all thought is but the husk and shell. Happy is the house that shelters a friend!"

"What is so great as friendship, let us carry with what grandeur of spirit we can. Let us be silent,- so we may hear the whisper of the gods. Let us not interfere."

- from Friendship, Ralph Waldo Emerson

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Nov 16, 2022Liked by Roger’s Bacon

In a sense, media (esp. video) portrayal of romance stole what was a common ground of normal friendship and romantic relationships, and in turn sells back to us condensed material targeting sexual attraction and (learned?) romantic fantasies because these drive sales, which instill deepening genderbinormativity and heteronormativity and set romance as more-or-less a default mode through which we interpret social interactions, in turn expelling close-friend stuff from this section of behavior space. It's not just friendship that is diminished by romance, but also… well, everything, if you think about it; a particular example would be bad endings or villain victories, which rationally should constitute greater probability in the development of a story, and can be artfully rendered if done well, but heck, that's not gonna happen because humans would forego art for entertainment (and similarly, for (certain) drugs and sucrose (also fructose) and sexual objectification and irrational echoes of arbitrary opinions and arguing/ban-from-server (vs. discussion)) because it drives pleasure. Pleasure-based memes (_The Selfish Gene_ reference) are highly contagious by themselves, and capitalist groups have evolved to be in symbiosis with them, because those who don't are at an apparent disadvantage (and because memes spread, so this establishment of prominence doesn't necessarily require strict natural selection and is thus much faster).

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Nov 16, 2022Liked by Roger’s Bacon

My personal experience with friendship has been… detachment? I don't seem to ever have *close* friends or miss anybody. Starting recently, sometimes I want to check for autism, but I fear that with the popular image of autism I would be put at disadvantage had I been diagnosed.

I know several ace+aro+nonbi peeps (i.e. two of them; "a couple of" would have inaccurate connotations). One of them is very attached to close friends, as they self-describe, in a platonic fashion; they rationalize it as, in a sense, a filler for their lack of romantic experiences (i.e. the reverse of the effect of media). But this doesn't seem to be true in general, as the other of them practices a kind of passive social response most of the time.

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Nov 16, 2022·edited Nov 16, 2022

Also, I would argue against foregoing logical thinking to favor an unconditionally stabilized friendship status. Letting friend dynamics go unchecked could potentially promote abusive friendships, by which time a lack of logic would only either extend abuse or damage the friendship like an explosion; letting go of logic may also, in the mean time of strengthening one particular friendship or social relationship, obscure bigger pictures and create distinct "us" and "others". (The stereotypical high-school physical bullying or street crime stories rarely involve one lone bully, but usually a pack, who are, ironically, *close friends*.)

I would instead argue for the importance of "chill" communication and (inheriting the perspective of professor John Mackey,) logic, esp. mathematical logic. Harari made a point in _Sapiens: A Brief History of Human Kind_ that Sapiens are able to develop more complex social structures quickly due to the ability to reprogram their beliefs, but science and technology did not come from the kind of reprogramming for human society; short as though it may seem, Christianity has lived through 2E3 years, whereas that number for telegraph is around 1E2, a magnitude and more smaller than the former. And telegraph is dead, whereas many hold that Jesus is technically alive according to a translation of a compilation of transcriptions of oral stories. At this point, I would argue that changes in the society is outpacing the Sapien capability of both biological and social adaptations, which is why we see backward developments such as anti-vaccination and rescission of queer rights. On the largest scale, humanity has two choices, which are either to back step into its social and biological comfort zone, or to upgrade itself. Meanwhile, technological development has seen rigorous logic as a powerful tool to bypass the speed limit of evolution, especially in the computer age. However, humans are dumb, me included. I have found the average CMU freshman lacking at the ability of challenging practical real-world assumptions from a purely logical perspective, and I, too, must seem very dumb to someone else (or at least often to myself). We don't have much time to teach ourselves logic before our biological and cultural assertions make it too late.

People, do math plz! You can always do math with your close friends ya know.

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I don’t think nowadays people treat friendships with the importance they deserve. Friendships are considered a “nice to have” at best and expendable. They are immediately sacrificed as soon as anything comes along the way that conflicts with them (jobs, love relationships, moves, or any other type of commitment). People never consider to design their lives around friendships.

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Nov 17, 2022Liked by Roger’s Bacon

As someone who's on the front-lines of this battle against widespread loneliness, I wholeheartedly agree with this.

Over the past 7 years, my partner and I have tried to help almost a million people to make genuine new friends in their area.

Although we've already 'facilitated' tens of thousands of real, in-person friendships, our findings suggest that matching highly compatible groups of people together is not enough. We need a better understanding of the psychology behind these early interpersonal dynamics if we are to stem the tide of social disconnection at scale.

If you care about this problem and want to get involved, I'm reachable at julian at we3app.com. You can also check out what we're doing over at We3. (https://www.we3app.com)

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The loneliness epidemic is a real and sad thing. Not surprising, really, when you look at social media, the proliferation of the dreaded iPhone, our toxic disconnection from each other physically and our simultaneous entry into the digital realm over the past twenty years. Robotization. You can’t stop ‘progress.’

Michael Mohr

‘Sincere American Writing’


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> friendship just isn’t a very legible thing

Counter-thesis 1: friendships are very scientifically legible (ask Roger Dunbar & his circle of friends). There is a pattern that is near universal across multiple anecdotal reports. There is always distinction between spouse, BFFs, close friends, party friends, "regular" friends, and "frenemies". Also for all the social engineers and pick-up artists, sorry but friendship is observable but cannot be forcefully manufactured (descriptive but non-prescriptive). https://archive.fo/LoLkU https://archive.fo/su9lO https://archive.fo/Du012 https://archive.fo/UMIq9 https://archive.fo/MbwE4 https://archive.fo/40tKf

BUT the denial of its legibility is ITSELF an indicator that EA and intellectual types can't understand and/or operate friendship fully. One of the first problem with understanding this is social media's dilution of the term itself. Some claim that it expanded the 150 figure for "regular" friends to 500+ in Facebook and Twitter (on average, median wise it is still ~150). http://www.lifewithalacrity.com/2005/02/dunbar_triage_t.html http://www.lifewithalacrity.com/2003/12/social_software.html https://archive.ph/V1obF https://archive.ph/0kv14

> totalizing/optimizing mindset ("doing the most good") of EAs and other intellectual types predisposes them towards... technocratic projects... over "near" things like friendship

Counter-thesis 2: friendship inflation as social engineering is not done by accident, as corporate "networking" is displacing friendship in an increasingly managerial world. Patel's "barbell strategy" of keeping only 5 BFFs and 50~150 friends, and culling all close friendships around the 15~30 persons mark, corresponds to the chasm of social incohesion within corporate organization. EA might follow a similar pattern of "optimizing for cohesion". https://busyminds.substack.com/p/friendship-or-network https://busyminds.substack.com/p/friendship-or-network/comment/11326654 https://www.dwarkeshpatel.com/p/barbell-strategies https://archive.fo/gGBFI https://archive.fo/wDfUt

But without this layer of "agreeing to disagree", the 15 person layer of close friends, or what Dunbar originally named "superfamily" or "sympathy group" eliminates empathy and displaces any chances of amplifying idea exploration, and anybody beyond this circle are only there for transactional relationships differed by converging or conflicting interests (50 "party friends"/"affinity group"/"buddies" = positivist partnership, 150 "just friends"/"meaningful"/"active network" = friendly neutrality, 500 "frenemies"/"acquaintances" = temporal truce).

> generally a bad idea to think too... quantitatively about your friendships — a certain degree of... forgetfulness is essential to the whole enterprise

Counter thesis 3: there is a simple solution for nerds, and that is to bake "lover's quarrel" and sibling-like punching games into the formula of friendship. If the Lizardman Ratio (4%) of ACX and Positive Sentiment Override (PSO, 5~8%) of John Gottman and are of any merit, is that mistakes and contrarianism are better than being yes-men as it poses the risk of groupthink. Tenth Man Rule is a good benchmark for "devil's advocate". The construction of paired indicators like trust vs civil disagreement, is enough to cut the Gordian Knot of systemization. https://etiennefd.substack.com/p/bad-news-is-good-news/comment/10364212 https://archive.ph/htI0o https://archive.ph/pwh1A https://archive.ph/gzxNk https://themindcollection.com/the-tenth-man-rule-devils-advocacy/ https://swellandcut.com/2017/09/04/the-five-types-of-paired-indicators/

Question to myself: why is "15" such a bad number for social cohesion, but still valid for sympathy? why are ratios of disagreements set as such?

Note to self: go outside more and talk to people, no matter how "smart" you are.

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