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  • Writer's pictureJack Martindale

I agree. Sex, death and religion are all far less taboo than an adult claiming to be friendless!

A reality of being without any friends ever existing, is to me a killer concept that has carried different meanings at various stages of life.

This reality was thrown into my periphery by watching a BBC News interview earlier this month in an interview conducted by Naga Munchetty; by far one of my favorite newsreaders. The kindness with which the down-to earth and unassuming manner in which she interacts with guests never fails to draw out the elephant in the room in addressing the underlying issues in her masking going straight for the guttural. It was through her shrewd approach, that I found there to be something deeply unsettling. Here the gluten free cookery specialist Becky Excell was claiming – or ‘admitting’ as the Mail Online phrase it – not to have had a friend since 2009. There was something that I found chilling about the specificity of such a bold claim being founded.

On the one hand, there is something that can be said to be inspirationally brave in the frankness in which Excell delivers her – in what at least I find to be – discomforting reality. I’ll accept that my finding being friendless such a perplexing, demeaning and scary concept says more about me than anything else. Though I can’t help but feel that it is an incongruous with the sociability of humanity, which can only make it more frustrating for a person claiming to be in that position.

Being without any true friends is surely a feeling that’s plagued any introspective person. There’s that all too stereotypically portrayed misunderstood teenager that remains possibly still deep-rooted somewhere within us all. Then to me, there’s when you’re on a high and empathic with everybody that everything that causes such a feeling of understanding with all. There have been those periods of constantly being surrounded by a wealth of people and feeling lonely, along with spells of being in lots of solitude and feeling well-liked.

Of course you can only ever speak for yourself with any real accuracy on subjective issues of emotion and with this, I cannot see how the ways in which we construct of how other people see us can ever transcend far beyond the view in which we have of ourselves. Whether I’m being simplistic or just not complicating things is all too often a fine line to tread, but there has to be an element of choice in the way in which we define ourselves.

It is here that I see the real post-modern nature of the way in which we define ourselves; in a way in which social media fuels this image of us being at the centre of everything with a president for validation automatically being created. With such a stark access to assessing other people’s opinions and reaction to them, whilst simultaneously being so detached from any real-time interaction.

It is within this pool that the concept of feeling obliged to openly classify yourself as friendless incites a deep-rooted vulnerability that I can only imagine to be within the vast majority of us. I’d be the the first person to openly admit that I see few things more frightening or soul destroying than the concept of being without any friends. In this, there is probably something loose about definitions of friendship that I choose to adopt. Given the fact that nobody is telepathic, we must have to accept that as we’ll never know what anybody else truly thinks about anything, it has to be easier to just categorise somebody that you rub along with as your ‘mate’, before becoming a ‘friend’ if this has continued for a while, than to worry about their opinion of you. As with the regard that you’re entitled to have for them, it is inevitably one with equal truths and holes within it as the one in which you have for yourself.

Pretentiously I’d describe myself as an optimistic cynic by nature, but I’d also concede that I tend to be trusting. I’d react with nothing other than a deep rooted shame at the thought of the wool being pulled over my eyes, although I just find it easier to give others the benefit of the doubt. Spending too much time analysing the concept of what other people make of you just feels like a thankless task; especially given its limited accuracy. Making friends is easy. Making enemies is easy. Cringe ridden cliché as it is, but the only relationship that you can ever be in full control with is that which you have with yourself. With this I find it to be confusing how the relationship that you have with yourself and others not to be interrelated.

I’ve got full faith in what Excell says as being from the heart, though that is also not to say that I do not have difficulty processing and I’d never want to berate her for the truth that she states. It is just that I find it to be such a loaded concept and the fact that it was initially shared over Instagram just fuels my feeling that if we are to allow her situation to become a heartfelt reality of the modern world that needs acknowledging.

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