That book is a classic now, and frighteningly prescient. Though we seem more connected than ever before with the rise of the digital age, in many respects we have never been more alone as people. We are encouraged to be atomized individuals in everything from economics to dating and this has a deteriorating effect on the social capital of our communities.
Communities are important not just for senses of belonging and flourhishing, but to hold ourselves accountable. One of the reasons I believe that we’re witnessing the degeneracy that we are is because our communities and communal bonds have degenerated, so we therefore do not have to hold ourselves accountable to anyone and participate instead in the race to the bottom.
We as people need to have things to hold ourselves accountable to – community, tribe, nation, even God, to make sure we stay grounded and strive for our best selves. It’s crucial that you find at least one community, and a high quality one. You are who you associate with.
Fortunately, many of the principles I wrote about previously when it comes to making better friends also apply to making any friends.
It’s a lonely world out there. It’s easy to get lost by isolating yourself. Get up, go out, go do what you have to do, go home, sit on your computer or TV for the rest of the day, go to sleep. Repeat.
If you’re an introvert or you just like to stay home all day, you’re going to need to consciously train yourself to get outside your house. Go take a walk for no reason at all. I highly recommend this, as it’s what really got me up and moving, helped me overcome my last fears of meeting women, and from where I began to build my new social circle. If you must absolutely have some kind of reason to do these walks, take a camera and go see the sights of your town. You may even be able to make some money at it when doing so. See who you run into. The randomness can really produce results that might surprise you. When on these outings, remember that there is no plan. Try not to put too much structure into it. I know all my fellow judging types and NTs will have a problem with this, but it’s just something you need to do, a habit you need to cultivate.
You’ll also want to apply the principles I wrote about earlier. Surely you have interests in something or someone. Join an online forum, Facebook group, whatever. Use the digital age as it should be used. Communicate with the members of that community and become a high value, respected member. This is important. If you’re nervous or socially anxious to meet people from such a community in person, remember that you will already have a positive reputation about you if you consistently add value to that community or interest group which you join. You will also feel naturally more at ease because of this, allowing your better self to come out. This process can take some time, but it’s the best way to go.
Remember that in the friendship game, the social circle game, you, being the center of it, need to continually improve your own self first. You might hate how small your social circle is and want to get out more, but do you keep going back to the same old habits of sitting inside all day? When inside, are you learning new skills, joining a community to add value to, building a brand, or just watching stuff on YouTube all day? I must confess, the latter used to be me in my early 20’s.
Always focus on making yourself better today than you were yesterday, no matter how small that is or how long it takes to pay off. Do it in accordance with your Great Work.
Sounds generic, because everyone’s experience with it will be different, but it works.
Once you begin to do this for a while, find direction, and eliminate bad behaviors, you’ll be more confident in your own self because of the work you’ve done instead of just idling around all day.
When you resolve to make some friends, you want to bring your best self to the equation and do so unapologetically. First, that is what will allow you to discern your true friends from hangers-on or mere admirers, as Louis XIV would say. Second, it will filter out people that you shouldn’t waste time on to begin with.
You have to understand that making any kind of friends is a two way street. People constantly wonder how to get others to like them, but they rarely ever ask “what kind of person do I need to be in order to be liked?” Solve that part and put yourself out there a bit – in person or online at events and communities that interest you and the problem will take care of itself.
You just need to have a vision of yourself, the communities and friends you seek to make, and the courage to put it into place step by step, day by day. Unfortunately, I can’t tell you how you should do this specifically, because each person’s experiences and desires will be different, only that you should abide by the principles.
I can give a brief exceprt from The Art of the Deal to illustrate the concept. Donald Trump had just moved to Manhattan in 1971, as he wanted to do business there. Yet, even though he was Fred Trump’s son, he had no real connections in the borough. How did he begin to build his high quality social circle? He explains:
One of the first things I did was join Le Club, which at the time was the hottest club in the city and perhaps the most exclusive – like Studio 54 at its height. It was located on East 54th street, and its membership included some of the most successful men and the most beautiful women in the world. It was the sort of place where you were likely to see a wealthy seventy-five-year-old guy walk in with three blondes from Sweden.
I’ll never forget how I became a member. One day I called up Le Club and said, “My name is Donald Trump and I’d like to join your club.” The guy on the other end of the phone just laughed and said, “You’ve got to be kidding.” Nobody, of course, had heard of me. The next day I got another idea, and I called back and I said to the guy, “Listen, could I have a list of your members? I may know someone who is a member.” And he said, “I’m sorry, we don’t do that,” and he hung up.
The next day I called again and said, “I need to reach the president of the club. I want to send him something.” For some reason, the guy gave me the president’s name and his business number, and I called him up. I introduced myself. I said, very politely, “My name is Donald Trump, and I’d like to join Le Club.” And he said, “Do you have any friends or family in the club?” and I said, “No, I don’t know anybody there.”
He said, “Well, what makes you think you should be admitted as a member?” I just kept talking and talking, and finally this fellow said to me, “I’ll tell you what, you sound like a nice young man, and maybe it would be good to have some younger members, so why don’t you meet me for a drink at Twenty-one?”
I was admitted to the club, and it turned out to be a great move for me, socially and professionally. I met a lot of beautiful young single women, and I went out almost every night.
During that same period, I also met a lot of very successful, very wealthy men at Le Club. I had a good time when I went out at night, but I was also working. I was learning how the New York scene operates and I was meeting the sort of people with whom I’d eventually work on deals. I also met the sort of wealthy people, particularly Europeans and South Americans, who eventually bought the most expensive apartments at Trump Tower and Trump Plaza. (pg. 94-7)
This long excerpt illustrates the principles I outlined perfectly, and I was surprised upon reading it how much Trump and I seemed to think alike on this matter. Good sign!
Find out who you really are, work to make yourself that person, then find out what communities and people you’d like to meet, work on earning their trust by being a valuable member, and then you will have friends. The internet makes it easier than ever before.