Call it a social experiment but here’s what I plan to do in 2020. Or rather what I’m NOT going to do in 2020.
I’m NOT going to initiate any meetings or get-togethers with anyone, except maybe BK, BL or KL.
Why those? Well one’s an old friend of 31 years, single and based in Hong Kong, visiting Singapore only once or twice a year; another’s a recent widower; and the other’s a fellow stay home dad with depression. In short, they are people in genuine need of companionship but are unlikely to initiate get-togethers on their own because…well just because.
Everyone else. Well, here’s where it gets interesting.
I’m going to flip the conventional “three strikes and you’re out”, and instead, make it “three strikes and you’re in”.
So how this works is if any friend reaches out to me the first time, I’m going to ignore and not reply. Most don’t call anymore these days; texting’s the dominant mode of communication. So just have to pretend to miss the first text. Easy enough really, since I can always say I didn’t see it or I had been busy with other more pressing messages to respond to, and overlooked it. And even if they actually call, I will not pick up. Again, not unusual to do so. Missed calls happen all the time.
The second time they contact me, I’ll hold off replying immediately. Instead, I’ll wait a day or more before replying to ask what’s up. Then, when they reply to that, I’ll again wait a bit to reply, this time maybe a week. Likely I’ll not be bothered again for a while.
But if this same friend after all that still reaches out to contact me one more time, then this time, I’ll reply almost immediately or within the same day, apologise profusely and offer to set up a time to meet-up. Assuming this friendship hasn’t been ripped yet! Crossing fingers it’ll not be, since he/she bothered to try again a 3rd time.
Strike 3. You’re in.
Why all this dramatic subterfuge you ask? Well I want to know once and for all who my true friends are. I think I’m justified to do this, given that I turn half-centurion this year. And given that up until last year, I’ve always been the one initiating contact with people I thought were my friends. So surely that entitles me to know now once and for all who my true compadres are at this advanced stage of my life, right?
And I also want to move away from relationships where people don’t need or value me, or that I’m really not all that important, since they barely bother to get in touch anyway. Instead, I can then focus my limited energy on people who need me, people who value me, and who believe I am someone they want to stay in close regular contact with because they really care for me.
Cos quite frankly, I find people who make empty promises of wanting to meet but never actually making the appointment, shallow. They really aren’t worth my time at all. And since clearly the feeling is mutual, then let it be that. It’s like that friend we bumped into during the National Day holiday weekend in August last year. We remarked about getting together at his place end November or early December so his teenager son can coach my preteen boy on drawing skills and techniques.
It’s now mid January of the brand new year. Nothing, nada. And mind you, it was his idea to get together, not mine.
Some friend eh?
For me, words mean very little these days. People will patronise you with inane stuff like “oh let’s catch up soon”, or “ya we really need to get together”, or “let’s meet up for coffee some time”. But since I never hear from them again, you wonder if they even meant it in the first place.
You might argue, but that doesn’t mean friends don’t care, they just forgot in the midst of their busyness. Really? Being busy means we have the licence to make light of what we say in an effort to sound friendly and hospitable? Like those hi byes you hear all the time in busy office corridors?
Sorry but I’m not buying that. And I’m not gonna let it happen in my world anymore.
Words count people. Words matter.
And yes, you probably think that I’m being too harsh, even nit-picky. But ask yourself this: have you ever been stood up before, or hear about a close friend or family member’s experience of being stood up, and felt even a twinge of frustration or irritation for yourself and for them? Well, that’s what I’m rallying against here. I don’t think it’s too much to ask that people weigh what they say or promise before they say or promise it to someone. It’s just plain, simple courtesy. And don’t tell me it’s just something that everyone else says all the time. Why, don’t you have a mind of your own? Are you not able to be in control of your own words that issue from your own mouth?
So here’s to 2020 and my little social experiment. Hopefully by the end of this year, my findings from this will make for a scintillating blog post.