Thursday, August 7 : 1:15 AM : 0 comments :

Here's the thing about hanging out with this particular group of friends. While the social circle has changed somewhat over the years, the one thing that everyone has in common was that they danced together. Stretching maybe two and a half generations of dancers back, people know people, they know of people, and they can talk about people they knew on campus.

Basically what this amounts to is a highly incestuous group of friends (not literally, well maybe, but that's another post). When we all get together, we tend to talk about ourselves. Maybe this is bound to happen with any large social grouping but I feel like we do it to an extreme. Part of it may be that aside from the dance/college bond, people are actually really different. Would people necessarily have hung out with each other aside from this one thing in common? Possibly but there's a really good chance the group would never be this large. I mean, when can you ever get a social group this large started without some sort of unifying theme or activity?

Due to the incestuous and closed offness of alot of the conversations, it can be extremely hard for outsiders to join in. When all the talk is about "Do you remember when... Who in the group is... If you had to pick someone we know to..." it can be very difficult to relate. Eric lamented the fact that in these large gatherings we rarely break out the serious talk about religion, or politics, or sex, or anything about what we think about the world. Instead it's generally talk about us us us.

What's strange is that when this all started seven years ago, when we realized there could be a collegiate atmosphere after college, even if rarely, that's all we talked about: religion, sex, past histories, thoughts, etc. I believe part of that shift is because now we know how people think about it. We know who leans one way or the other and we know where conflicts could arise. Back then, everyone was new so these discussions were exciting and fresh. Now maybe it feels like "let's not go there."

And the interwoven nature of a friendship group like this is examining how it's really built up by many individual links. Nobody is super tight with everyone, that's just impossible. Everyone has a few people they're really close to, a few people they don't really know except in group settings, and people in the middle who are definitely great friends but also when it comes down to it, not extremely close anymore. The uniqueness of the feeling here is that, as someone said, "the group as a whole I feel close to, even if not necessarily the individuals." Brought together, it's an important and defining part of everyone's lives who's still involved

Oh, back to this bringing other people in thing. It's freaking intimidating to meet twenty people at once. Or thirty. Unless you are really committed to the idea of meeting everyone or have great natural social aptitude, it can be kind of crazy to try to get to know people. This is highlighted most by external boyfriends and girlfriends. Rare is the case of an external significant other who's been brought around to much success. Usually, the dedication of the person in the group to the group is actually a detriment to the relationship.

And since people are already so comfortable with each other, it can often seem like nobody is really reaching out and putting forth the effort to get to know new people. Many exceptions abound of course, but in general, it's tough to bring people in. Not least of which is because as a group everyone gossips and judges so much. I love it of course, I mean, judging and gossiping is what I live for, but that shit can get harsh behind the scenes.

People don't just get incestuous about the group, but about anyone associated with it, no matter how small or how brief. "What did we think about so-and-so?" When we DDT, everyone's fair game. To a lesser extent, my other main group of San Diego friends is like this too. We're a lot more tight knit and probably more open by definition, but the two dozen or so of the SD people exist on a level that is very unfriendly toward outsiders also.

So I guess my question is if all (large) friendship groups are like this. The internal gossip, the judgment wall, the feeling of exclusively community that begets closeness. Or maybe it's me because this is the only way I know how to be in a circle of friends. What other options are there?

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