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How to cope w/ alienation of friends?

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Geoff
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Ive recently discovered Objectivism and have been amazed by Ayn Rand's writings. Im a senior in high school and before I took an interest in philosophy I was very depressed, I had no idea what I was doing with my life or where I was going. I didnt care about anything, not even myself. I guess the philosophy that would best describe my mood and my thoughts at that time would be Nihilism. I actually believed that no matter what I did some greater power would ruin all my plans, just because it was typical for something to come along and mess everything up. Since ive broken out of that mind set by discovering Objectivism I now know what im doing with my life and where im going. Ive been excepted in to a very good college and everything seems to be falling in to place, however; lately Ive noticed that im beginning to slip back in to my old way of thinking. Over the past month ive been finding it extremely hard to meet people who share the same ideas that I do. As a matter of fact I havent found any. I know not one person my age that has an interest in Objectivism. I know people that read philosophy, but the favorites seem to be Plato and Nietzsche. I dont know what I should do. As time progresses it seems like im becoming more and more lonely which is causing me to become irrational again. I often catch myself saying "so typical" with a sigh. I know its not right to be thinking this way, but something is still trying to justify my despair. This may sound funny, but it seems like the Nihilistic part of my brain is fighting with the Objectivist part. Im just afraid the Nihilistic part is going to win. Im leaving for college in less then a year, and that is the only thing keeping me sane. The question though is, should I try to b.s my friends and act like im having fun, or keep to myself and sink deeper in to this despair that I hate so much? any advice? :)

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Geoff, first let me say that you've made a great decision by posting here. You said you've found it hard to meet people who share the same ideas you do. Well, if you think Objectivism makes sense, you will find many wonderful people here who will be happy to discuss it with you.

Thinking back to when I was in high school (graduated in '99), I can't remember anyone, myself included, who was an Objectivist. Most people are not Objectivists, regardless of age. When you consider that high school is a very early time in a person's life, and that Objectivism (or any philosophy) requires lots of study, it should not be surprising that most high school students are not Objectivists. Hopefully, though, you can find some people who, though they may not have a deep understanding of philosophy, have some basic characteristics.

When trying to find people whose company you can enjoy, ask yourself first what your values are, and what you enjoy. Would you prefer to spend time with someone who is happy, sad, angry, goofy, or some combination? Would you prefer to spend time with someone who likes to do things, mental or physical, or with someone who often says they are "bored"? Which things interest you?

If you are drawn to Objectivism, I think you will be drawn to people who, for example, don't say they are bored or that there's nothing to do. Even though they may not be an advanced philosopher (and who would be at high school age?), someone who doesn't mope about being bored is on the right path.

This is only one example. Think of other things that might be important to you, and then seek them out. It is hard. You have found already that many people do not have good world views. Don't let that discourage you. Focus only on the task of finding good people. When you do, you will find them to be an enormous benefit to you. I have very few good friends, but I value them very highly, and I wouldn't trade them for twenty times the number of half-quality friends.

With regard to your question, should you b.s. them and act like you're having fun, what goal would you be seeking to accomplish by doing so? This is a very important question, and I'm really interested in your answer. Try to identify as best you can what you wish to gain in your interactions with others, then think about how your proposed course of action would work towards that gain.

Try not to become discouraged. You have one life, and it sounds like you're already on a good path to making good use of it. It takes a lot of courage to identify a problem to oneself. It takes a lot of effort to correct it. I think you will find that the effort is well worth it.

Best wishes, Geoff.

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Geoff, I have only a few points to add to Matt's excellent comments.

First, though I am about 45 years older than you are, I know what you are going through. I went through it too, but at a time when the Objectivist movement had barely started -- and there was no internet. I also had much deeper psychological issues to overcome. It can be done. It takes time.

Second, one issue you are wrestling with is loneliness -- not the feeling of missing having anyone around, but the feeling of having someone of value around. Aristotle, I've been told, said that a friend is "another self." That means someone who reflects our actual, basic values. Don't look only for other Objectivists in your search for friends. Look at what values and virtues people actually live by, not what they say outside their special field of interest. (If a friend of yours wants to be an astronaut, don't expect him to also be a philosopher -- but you can reasonably expect him to be positive, intelligent, rational, honest, and so forth.)

My two closest friends are liberals. Sounds terrible, doesn't it, except that both abhor the idea of being dependent on anyone else, both invest long hours in passionate pursuit of the work they love, both are honest, and both try to think problems out to a solution.

My test, in part, of a person as potential friend is to ask myself: How well would this person do in a laissez-faire society? Moochers would starve. My friends wouldn't, no matter what they might say to their liberal friends about the need for "safety nets." (I very seldom discuss philosophy or politics or ethics with my friends. Instead we enjoy each other as mirrors of our actual values. We do talk about issues, but always at a level of "How best can I achieve my values?")

Second, I would like to suggest that what you are describing in yourself as "Nihilism" sounds much more like philosophical pessimism, which is the belief that you live in the worst of all possible worlds, and no matter what you do, nothing will work out. (Nihilism, by contrast, is the belief that no values can or should exist, and the desire to destroy all values, if any exist.)

Philosophical pessimism is the opposite of philosophical optimism, which is the belief that we live in the best of all possible worlds (because God is good and God designed the world), and that no matter what the facts say, nevertheless everything will work out well.

Both philosophical optimism and philosophical pessimism are wrong. The right way is objectivity: The universe is neither for us nor against us, but is here for us to use for our ends. And we are equipped to deal with the world because we have reason.

Third, if you want Objectivist friends you need to explicitly set that as a goal, develop a step-by-step plan for reaching it, and then implement your plan. It can be done, and this website is a good place to discover ways to fulfill your goal.

There are some very good people in ObjectivismOnline.net. While not everyone here agrees with Objectivism, you can sort through the gravel to find the gold nuggets. That is the same process you will need to go through in the rest of life too.

Edited by BurgessLau
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The question though is, should I try to b.s my friends and act like im having fun, or keep to myself and sink deeper in to this despair that I hate so much? any advice? :)

Why "act" like you're having fun? For whose benefit would you be acting? Certainly not for your own: it's bad enough being somewhere where you're not having fun, and it's even worse having to act like you are. So why bother? If you're not having fun with them (or at least enjoying yourself in some redeemable way), then go on and search further.

Another point: think of why you equate being alone with feeling desparate. In my own experience, I used to feel the need every Friday night to call up everyone I knew and surround myself with people who adore me. I needed others to accept me because I got my confidence and sense of worth from them. Now that I have SELF-confidence and SELF-worth, I choose my friends, not try and "b.s." a bunch of people to be chosen by them.

I'm fairly new to Objectivism, and I too find myself limiting the number of people that I do call "friends." It's a good thing: those that I have decided "to keep" are the truest people I know, and though we may not share the same philosophy, we all share honesty, integrity and independence as common values.

Think of it as Quality vs Quantity.

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To me it sounds like you are becoming depressed. While all of the above is excellent advice I would add one more piece. Go seek mental health care. Trust me, I've been there and done that (and still am). Just don't let yourself sink too far, it's no fun.

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The problem youre having is "why dont they get it too?" or "It makes sense, why cant I make them understand?" Most people throw themselves at anyone who tells them that they are ok, that the things they know to be wrong about themselves are all right.

The loneliness is because most people have given up, and theyll die before they submit to reason. This means that they will resort to any form of nihilistic response in order to get you to lose. They dont want to win; they want you to lose. As Ayn Rand puts it: "those who deny reason cannot be conquered by it."

When someone acts like this, their goal isnt to prove a fact, but to evade one. You can see this occuring when you convict a child of doing soemthing they are guilty of; they arent very good at hiding it. Not yet. Its easy to see intuitively what they are hiding. The reason for this is that you are not guilty of it, or approving of the action within yourself. You will find that the more you improve your thinking and character, the more flaws you see clearly in others.

As to your friends, and what you should do: dont give in. If you want to know what happens when you do, look at what they are. When someone doesnt accept something that you know makes perfect sense, no matter how clearly you articulate your point, they dont want to get better. "Well thats just the way I am" or "Thats just my opinion" are common subjectivist rationales youll hear. Watch what happens when you stop arguing, and ignore them. It will start to sound like begging.

As long as you set truth and reason as your standard, and stop at nothing to be right, you arent one of them.

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This has been somewhat touched on by Burgess, but my advice is to think long range. Plan long range and rationally toward your future. Plan a bright future, something that really fires you up more than anything else can. Then, fight for that future. Reach for the stars!

Don't let short term pain destroy your future. In fact, you can replace that pain with the pleasure by knowing you're on track for a better life.

This is not to say that you should deny the here and now. You shouldn't, but try to keep things in reasonable proportion, and generate that fire in your soul to drive yourself to be better.

It's really what life is about. :thumbsup:

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Over the past month ive been finding it extremely hard to meet people who share the same ideas that I do. As a matter of fact I havent found any. I know not one person my age that has an interest in Objectivism. I know people that read philosophy, but the favorites seem to be Plato and Nietzsche. I dont know what I should do.

Gee, Geoff - I notice that you haven't yet listed where you are from in your member profile. Who knows, perhaps some really neat person on this Forum or some lurker who drops by every so often lives close by..... How is this person ever going to know that you are close by if you don't mention where you are from? :thumbsup:

Don't look only for other Objectivists in your search for friends. Look at what values and virtues people actually live by, not what they say outside their special field of interest. (If a friend of yours wants to be an astronaut, don't expect him to also be a philosopher -- but you can reasonably expect him to be positive, intelligent, rational, honest, and so forth.)

Burgess gives good advice here.

It is very nice to know people who you can talk about Objectivism with and with whom you can discuss cultural and philosophical issues without constantly having to explain yourself. There are enough Objectivists out there that, in time, you will know such people - especially if you end up going to a large college. But one of the things you will find is that some of the Objectivists you meet will be more interesting than others - and you will probably even consider some of them, once you and they have pretty much exhausted anything new you might have to say about Objectivism, to be pretty dull and boring people. People who are Objectivists have a wide variety of interests and personality types - and it is entirely possible for two Objectivists to recognize each other as being rational, moral and knowledgeable people and still not like each other very much simply because their individual personalities clash. I mention this so that, when you do finally run into another Objectivist, you won't be too thrown back in the event that the person did not live up to exactly what you were hoping for in such a person. If that happens, don't worry - you will meet more Objectivists.

And, as for Burgess's advice, I agree: seek out people who you think are fun to be with and share your interests and values regardless of their philosophy. And you never know where or when you might run into a fellow Ayn Rand fan. I have a friend that I met through my interest in 1920s and 1930s music - and we were both very pleasantly surprised when we discovered that we were both big Ayn Rand fans.

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Its just very irritating to me that when one of my friends see's me reading an Ayn Rand book or an Aristotle book, I become the outcast. Its very hard to see someone that has been a very good friend attack you with a no brained statement about how Capitalism is evil and is the cause of all the worlds problems. Its so absurd I dont even know how to respond to a statement like that. Im starting to see things more clearly now. Its like how everyone hates America. Not because we do evil things, but because we do good things. I shouldnt be worried about this at all. I think tomorrow im going to bust out my Atlas Shrugged book. Thankyou everyone for the feedback.

On another note, my teacher today said "I dont understand why people need Philosophy, who cares?" I just began to laugh, because its people like him who need it the most, but on a very sad note. He is a teacher.

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I kind of understand what you are going through - and I think it is not at all unusual for people in your position.

When I was in high school, I was very much an outcast - not because of an interest in Ayn Rand, whom I had not yet discovered, but because I was raised very differently than the other kids and because I had zero interest in pop culture types of things. I promise you that it will get better once you got to college. High school tends to be a time when lots of kids go through a really disgusting mindless conformity stage - something that some of us have the integrity to not participate in. It is very possible that many of the people who are giving you a hard time have no idea of what they are even talking about - they might be attacking you in order to "fit in" out of fear of "standing out" too much and, therefore, becoming a target themselves. In college, the students come from much more diverse backgrounds so it is much more difficult for some sort of all-pervasive "culture" to take hold that everybody is expected to mindlessly conform to. Interestingly enough, once I got out of high school, the very traits that made me an outcast in high school were the very same traits that people in college and afterwards valued in me. I have talked with a lot of people who experienced pretty much the same thing

I also understand your loneliness to find people with whom you can hold an intelligent discussion of Objectivism and who share your excitement over such a neat intellectual discovery. It was a couple of years between the time that I first read Ayn Rand and when I discovered the local Objectivist club and actually met some real life Objectivists. I, too, was suddenly VERY much aware of the irrational premises held by everyone around me and it bothered me. In my case that, combined with the fact that I was so very eager to talk with someone about my new intellectual discoveries, led me to go so far as to open up and force philosophical discussions upon people around me who were NOT interested in what I had to say. Looking back, I realize that some perfectly nice people I knew at that time pretty much regarded me as an obnoxious jerk - and properly so. Here was some know-it-all picking apart anything and everything they said which was remotely philosophical and telling them how irrational it was. Fortunately, I grew out of that phase once I knew other people I could talk about the philosophy with. If you ever find yourself going through a similar phase - my advice to you is don't. That WILL lead to alienation in a very big way.

That heightened awareness of the irrational premises around you will also pass. The non-Objectivists I deal with on a daily basis have pretty much the same premises as the people I knew when I first discovered Objectivism. But it is not something that I really notice very much because my main focus is on the values we DO hold in common. Over the years, I have developed an appreciation for just how radical and ahead of its time Ayn Rand's philosophy was and still is. I have asked myself where would I be philosophically had Ayn Rand never existed or had I never discovered her works - and the answer is: just as confused on such subjects as most people are. Imagine if you somehow got the privilege to go on a time machine and go two hundred years into the future and spend 6 months in a wonderful philosophically, culturally and technologically advanced society - and afterwards you had to come back and live in today's world. Suddenly, the people around you will seem much less worldly and sophisticated than they did before - and you will now have under your belt all sorts of wonderful, precious experiences that they are simply not capable of relating to or appreciating. In such a scenario - is that any fault of the people who did not get to benefit from such an experience? Of course not. And should you, as a result, think any less of them than you did before? Of course not.

Being on the cutting edge of anything can be a somewhat lonely experience. Eventually, you will grow accustomed to being ahead of the curve on philosophical matters and the contrast between Objectivism and the people around you, while still there, will not bother you so much - and that will make it much easier for you to focus on shared values in other areas of interest. Knowing other Objectivists will also make it easier.

In the meanwhile, high school can be a lonely place for anyone who is somehow different than the pack. And if you live in a so-called "blue state" or go to school with a bunch of Leftists - well that can also be tough. My experience is that Leftists (as opposed to mere liberals, some of whom are decent and fun people to be around) are often VERY bigoted and intolerant - and the fact that they are steadily losing their grip on political and cultural power and it is beginning to dawn on them that their worldview is intellectually bankrupt, well, that only makes them all the more nasty and hostile towards those who disagree with them. I don't have any suggestions on how to deal with such people as I come from a very "red" state and it is pretty easy for me to avoid them.

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  • 2 months later...
  • 2 weeks later...

I know where you are. I've been through the exact same thing. When you know what you want, its impossible to keep friends that have another or just flat out wrong direction in life. The entire problem you're facing is losing your friends. The reason you're getting down about it is because you haven't accepted it. Well my friend, accept that friends of high quality are rare and a treat when found, and be okay with what you have now. As soon as you really accept that there aren't any noble friends around, your chin will lift up and you're much more likely to see someone worth talking than if you would looking at your feet and saying "how typical" (odd, I've said those exact same words to the same situation too).

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  • 3 months later...

It seems like all of us have been through it to some degree. I went through if before I even read any Rand, after I read Rand I chose my friends, or who I would bother spending any time with by their values and virtues. Just like Burgess, one of my best friends is a socialist but he doesn't practice what he preaches in regard to his highest value, he's a bit red on the outside but he's got ego in him :lol: My other best friend, I have probably 3 tops, is pretty conflicted right now and I don't like bieng around him unless he is doing something that makes him happy, which isn't too much at this point and that has been a bit sad for me to see as of late. Another one of my friends I constantly tell is the only one I can get along with 100%. Although he doesn't know much about my values specifically, just like all my other friends he knows that i'm hardcore Atheist and Capitalist, and has alot of questions about my beliefs which gives us plenty to talk about. My reason for joining this forum was so I could talk to people that shared a majority of my beliefs and actually have some intellectual conversations with people and not have them give an answer or solve a problem by telling my the feel that its right or that I need faith. Hope you get through your problem though, and the time you spend on here will make for good intellectual ammo against your professors :lol:

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I know people that read philosophy, but the favorites seem to be Plato and Nietzsche.

I read those fellows a good deal before discovering rand. Take heart in the fact that reading these two is a great sign that they are philosophically interested at the very least. By way of making a connection to them, I recommend you reading and then recommending to them 'will to power' by nietche -and this is very important-, edited by a man named HL Mencken. It is a good reason based intro to nietche that probably gives him more credit then he deserves. You will find that a great deal of it falls in line with objectivism. If they like it, getting them to read some objectivist literature might not be as hard.

Best of luck

Gordon

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Looking back, I realize that some perfectly nice people I knew at that time pretty much regarded me as an obnoxious jerk - and properly so. Here was some know-it-all picking apart anything and everything they said which was remotely philosophical and telling them how irrational it was. Fortunately, I grew out of that phase once I knew other people I could talk about the philosophy with.

Lol. That's funny, me too. When reading Atlas Shrugged (and all of Ayn Rand's stuff, and any good ethical philosophy really), there were many times I became more aware of irrational people around me-- but also times in which I became much more aware of irrational tendencies within myself, and in a way that made me not want to repress, but to acknowledge and own and change those things, and explore (working my way backwards introspectively) the premises that led me to them. I regard both as extremely valuable, and the latter probably even more so. I'll admit this one hit me right close to home:

Francisco answered courteously, "It is not advisable, James, to venture unsolicited opinions. You should spare yourself the embarrassing discovery of their exact value to your listener."

The truth is, I was an obnoxious jerk before I ever discovered Objectivism. I was desperate to discuss philosophical ideas and prinicples too, though-- especially moral ones. So, for me, it was discovering Objectivism that mostly cured me of this kind of behavior! But, I'll admit from time to time I do take discussions in a kind of philosophical direction when probably I shouldn't with people I probably shouldn't. Failing to take your audience's context into consideration is a bad flaw for any communicator. Note to self: something to work on! :lol:

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But, I'll admit from time to time I do take discussions in a kind of philosophical direction when probably I shouldn't with people I probably shouldn't. Failing to take your audience's context into consideration is a bad flaw for any communicator. Note to self: something to work on!

My same problem. I'm working on a system of self-monitoring--it seems to be helping lol. . .it's just so hard not to speak up when I hear someone in public make a comment that is communistic in nature. I usually look at them incredulously, and sometimes with a tint of indignation (which probably isn't good). So now, before I speak, I try and remind myself, "OK, this person's intentions are probably good; it's just her perspective that is a little off. . ."

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I try and remind myself, "OK, this person's intentions are probably good; it's just her perspective that is a little off. . ."
I disagree. It doesn't make sense to me. Just like in the famous quote: "Road to hell is laid out of good intentions."

A good intention doesn't make an idea any more right. If the idea is wrong, it is still wrong.

Quoting Ayn Rand from the article "How Does One Lead Rational Life in an Irrational Society?":

One must never fail to pronounce moral judgement.

Of course, when your life is threatened, you can't speak up, but otherwise, I follow the quoted principle.

P.S. The article goes into some depth as to why it makes sense. Read it, if you have not.

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I wasn't suggesting that a good intention had any merit on determining the correctness of an idea. . .but I do prefer a bad idea with a good intention than I do a bad idea with a bad intention ;)

And yes, I've read that article many times by Rand. The difficult part of finding out whether I should voice my opinion is if I think my voice is being implicitly solicited or not.

For instance: pretend you are on a public train and there are two people sitting next to you having a conversation. One of them says, "I tell you (to his conversational buddy), what we need to do is raise taxes on the rich. They've got plenty of money while I'm sitting here working my butt off and getting taxed more."

Should I voice my opinion? Usually, with a welcoming smile, I would interrupt and sarcastically say, "Yeah, not a bad idea, who needs intelligence and freedom anyway?"

Although my opinion isn't being explicitly solicted by this man, I figure that since we are on a public train and I could easily hear his comment, there's nothing wrong with me voicing it. ( I remember in Rand's article she said something like: "voice your opinion if you think your silence grants weight to evil.")

Thoughts?

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For instance: pretend you are on a public train and there are two people sitting next to you having a conversation. One of them says, "I tell you (to his conversational buddy), what we need to do is raise taxes on the rich. They've got plenty of money while I'm sitting here working my butt off and getting taxed more."

Should I voice my opinion? Usually, with a welcoming smile, I would interrupt and sarcastically say, "Yeah, not a bad idea, who needs intelligence and freedom anyway?"

Although my opinion isn't being explicitly solicted by this man, I figure that since we are on a public train and I could easily hear his comment, there's nothing wrong with me voicing it. ( I remember in Rand's article she said something like: "voice your opinion if you think your silence grants weight to evil.")

Thoughts?

I'd say something, not sarcastic, but I'd ask some sort of question such as 'Rich people don't deserve the money they've earned by working their butt off?' I would highly doubt you'd make anyone see the error in their thinking in a small conversation, but you never know what gears you'll set in motion.

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To answer your original question: How to cope with alienation of friends:

First of all, you should answer the question: why do I need friends in the firstplace, and why these friends? I don't know you personally too much (or at all), but the answer is probably why most people want friends: With friends you can laugh about funny things, if you share a sense of humor, you can go places with them (which is also a psychological need: a person can't sit on their ass in their room all day, and stare at the walls or read books. person goes insain from doing that for too long :dough: ). Friends are people you can trust to help you out if you missed class or if you need some sort of information that they have. With friends you can have more fun while you're at school (which is a major part of the day) and you can go out. Without friends, you can suffer from boredom during the day (unless it's an interesting class, which is rare, let's face it), and stay alone at home, and have a daily routin which is quite, hmm, depressing. True, you could use that time to read and learn, which is fun, but a person also needs fun from the type of going places, being physicaly active , seeing places (and not just working hard for your future all day long)...

The problem is that the option which you are facing now, in this immidiate period in your life, is to loose those fun things that you used to do with your friends, because you became different than them.

(Let me know if I way off). moreover, they have been your friends for a long time. you have feelings of affection for them, you used to think they are good people, and all of a sudden you feel betrayed, and you cant understand why. Am I correct? it hurts especially when you see them having fun together without you, and when you sense that they are talking about you behind your back (well, maybe I'm way off now). Anyway, The simple and fun things that friends do together require that they feel comfortable, or intimate with one another. For a lot of people, that intimacy is achieved by conforming with the group. Ask yourself if the fun that you can get from being with them is worth conforming all your intelligence, all your love of justice, all your love of truth, to their "group rules", to make them feel comfortable with themselves, so that they will agree to hung around with you. I say, heck no. Better be alone and invest my time in my own hobbies, until I can have a true friend.

As for searching for a true friend, I think that people gave you some great advices here. examin them, try them, and dont let them slip away.

You might also have a hard time figuring out if your friends are good or not, and why they act the way they do (to you). Especially in light of your past history and all the mutual fun you shared.

My suggestion is to figure out why they act the way they do, and then to decide if you approve of the reasons or not, and whether these friends are worth fighting for their friendship. You can try asking them why they alienate you. If they don't give a straight answer try to figure out by yourself why they do what they do. You can stay friends with them until you figure it out. The answer to why they treat you the way they do is very important.

Another important thing is to tell the truth aloud. I discovered that when I am surrounded by a bunch of creeps there is nothing more fun and relaxing than telling them what I think right in their face. Not in an agressive way, but simply telling them the truth, or asking questions that people usually try to sweep under the carpet (like questions about jelousy, motives, etc). The feeling of being clean and proud of yourself is worth everything you put against it.

When I was in juniour high I decided that I want to always tell the truth (I have no idea what led me to that decision, maybe it was the hero of a soup opera that I admired). Well after a while (few months) my friends started to alienate me, and talk about me behind my back. To make a long story short, they didnt like how I described myself as better than them in some things, like painting. One friend, which was my best friend, thought that I dont value her at all. The other friends had different reasons, which I didnt like. So I decided to go back to talk to that friend of mine and I never went back to be good friends with the rest. Aparently that one friend actually liked how I tell the truth, and she admired my painting talent, rather than being nerrow eyed about it. The conclusion is that knowing the reason for alienation is important. if they were your friends for years, maybe there IS a good reason for that. you can also try to tell them interesting things about the book and persuade them to read it.

Try meeting a lot of people. Assume that people are good until proven otherwise. it's easy to meet people when you have that attitude (which is the right attitude to have).

You seem like a very sharp fellow, with high self awareness. Never give it up, for anyone.

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The socratic method has been helpful to me in not alienating people. I have always thought of it as more selfish approach. When someone else is speaking, you have the oppurtunity to learn from them. Even if the individual is a total hippy-communist mystic whackjob you can at least come to understand what causes them and people like them to believe what they believe. Phrases like "what do you mean by that?", "why do you feel that way?", "why do you feel so strongly about this?" are very helpful in that regard.

I'll make an exception to socrates and give them both barrels if they are proselytizing and I lack the time to massage them into their own contradictions little by little. If someone is talking to a group and possibly having any kind of influence, then, I will resort to rhetoric.

If it is another reason oriented person, I'll be honest and direct, too, but in a slightly different way. If I have a disagreement with someone who advocates reason, I try to keep in mind that the communication of complex issues is difficult in general, but even more so when two people are dealing with different sets of information(definitions, personal experiences, and so forth). Patience is key in those circumstances.

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Even if the individual is a total hippy-communist mystic whackjob you can at least come to understand what causes them and people like them to believe what they believe.

Yeah, another good point to remember before speaking.

Phrases like "what do you mean by that?", "why do you feel that way?", "why do you feel so strongly about this?" are very helpful in that regard.

:thumbsup:

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