Do You Like All Of Your Friends?
If we’re fine with asshole friends, why do we get so upset by asshole strangers?
There’s something I always wanted to ask the Dude: “Hey, it’s clear you have a deep meaningful relationship and all, but do you actually like Walter?”
I imagine if I asked that, the Dude would give me a look very similar to the expression on the picture above. As if it’s the strangest question he ever got. And if I were to get a response, it would probably be along the lines of “He’s alright.” I doubt he could make himself say he likes Walter. I don’t think anyone actually likes Walter. Yet, Walter and the Dude are best friends. Of all the things in The Big Lebouwski, the friendship between these two guys seems the most likely to actually happen.
With all the reasons we forge connections to other people, with all the interesting, complex dynamics we can find ourselves in, it’s not necessary to like the people we call friends. Some people, as the Dude points out, are just assholes. Simply being an asshole is not something that disqualifies a person from becoming a friend. Specific assholes might; lying assholes, or undependable assholes, and certainly betraying assholes get disqualified. But if we have to be honest about it, it’s the lying/undependable/betraying part which is the cause of the disqualification. Not the asshole part.
Chances are, you are friends with at least one asshole. Maybe even good friends. You care for them, you respect them, you depend on them, you are there for them. But you don’t really like them. And that’s okay, because there’s enough to your relationship that you don’t need to like each other. There’s some sort of understanding going on where you give this person the room to be the asshole they are. And you will fight with some regularity, but that’s okay too. Your asshole friend doesn’t mind you getting angry at them and you don’t mind them getting angry at you. Somehow, no matter how personal fights get, you never feel your person is attacked.
Personally I think I only like about half the people I would call friend. You could say I have a high asshole tolerance.
As much tolerance I, and from what I have seen everyone else, have for asshole friends, when it comes to asshole strangers online there seems to be no leeway at all. In fact, we will often forget all together that some people are just assholes. Instead we will either insist that they are not authentic by calling them trolls or bots, or we will take their assholery to heart and somehow think our own behavior brought it on.
We forget that being an asshole is a chronic condition, and like most chronic conditions, prone to good and bad days. For whatever reason we seem to think that assholes can stop being assholes (they can’t) or you should be exempt from their assholery because you were friendly before (you won’t).
I see a lot of people blindsided and upset about assholery, wondering what they did to deserve it. Nothing. It’s not about you. You’re just dealing with an asshole. It is inevitable that, while interacting with an asshole, at some point their assholery will be aimed at you.
I say lets try to give strangers online the room to be the assholes they are just like we do with our asshole friends. We might even make new friends in the process.