A while back I was trying to convince a guy I liked to get into a casual relationship with me.
And one of the things he was worried about was that we’d just be using each other.
I think that’s really interesting because yesterday I was looking at Kantian deontology, in which he states that we should never view people as a means, but as an end.
I disagree. I remember one time I heard Kanye West say that really, if you can’t use or be used by someone, then you’re just taking up space and you are useless. Don’t judge me too harshly, I don’t usually listen to celebrities and I think I only heard this because it was during some exam period (I always flick through daytime television when I’m meant to be studying, before getting exasperated at the terrible quality of it and switching to reading webcomics).
But I think he has a point. There’s that old cliche about people needing people and why would you need someone unless you can get something from them?
I don’t mean this in a taking advantage of others kind of way. The opposite, in fact.
For me, I’m a bit of a social whore – I know a LOT of people, and it gets really hard trying to meet up with everyone and maintain all these relationships. And sometimes I find myself wasting time on small talk that isn’t even entertaining and I catch myself and wonder why I’m bothering. What is the point of simply knowing people and forcing yourself to see them semi-regularly? It means that I often blow off people or turn them down because I just don’t have enough time to cycle through them all, and it makes me a not very good friend.
So I have a rule: I’m happy to say hello to anyone I see around the place, but I only make an effort with people who really interest me – someone with whom I feel an instant connection, someone who will push me and argue with me and challenge me, someone who is interested in similar things to myself and who I can drag out with me.
Which sounds so superficial and arrogant and it sometimes does worry me. It doesn’t seem to be enough to just be nice anymore, and sometimes I wonder if it should be, instead of having to assess people to see if they’re worth my time and effort and whether I’m willing to let them into my life.
But you can be nice to anyone, and it doesn’t mean anything really. So I like to think of it as akin to a jigsaw puzzle; you need to find people who will fill up your gaps or whose gaps you can fill, and click with. I honestly believe that any relationship should be based on what you can do for each other, because otherwise it just peters out into awkwardness and boredom.
Does that make me as horrible a person as Kanye West sometimes seems to be?