Friday Favorite: Misunderstanding “I Love You”

Every Friday, I post a past post that was popular. This post was originally posted on November 20, 2011. Enjoy!

There’s a show on MTV that I catch sometimes. It’s called Friendzone. I don’t know why I watch it when it’s on. It’s half an hour of grueling emotional heartbreak and I never follow it all the way through to the conclusion.

The show follows a new couple of people every episode. These people have best friends of the opposite sex and have always felt something more for said best friends. The show is formulaic. It starts with the protagonist asking their best friend/crush to help them get ready for a “blind date.” The best friend/crush helps out. They go to the location of the “blind date” and then the protagonist reveals his or her feelings for the best friend/crush. It’s grueling.

The show bothers me for a couple of reasons. First, out of all of the contestants from this whole genre of MTV dating-type shows, I feel like I can actually identify with these people. These people are my friends, my peers. These are the people I give advice to when they tell me they have feelings for another one of our friends. I know them.

Second, it makes the assumption that we have no control over love. Love, though, is not an adjective. Sometimes, it is a noun, yes. But most of the time, it is a verb. It’s something we do, not something that does us. The hopeless, star-crossed lovers are a fiction. And that’s not upsetting or cynical. It’s just true. Sometimes you like someone more than that person likes you, and that sucks, but there is no reason to believe that because your feelings are so strong, you and that person are supposed to be together.

Third, it presupposes the only way to show love for someone is romantically. There was a 13th-century Persian mystic poet known as Rumi. He was pretty cool. He was doing things that the romantics and the transcendentalists would do almost 600 years later. One of his greatest works, Diwan-e Shams-e Tabrizi (or The Works of Shams of Tabriz), was written for his friend and master Shams. When you read the poetry contained in the work, you feel Rumi’s love for Shams. The idea that a love for a friend can be spiritual and transcendental, mystical and inexplicable is pretty cool. We don’t have to be having sex with a person or moving toward having sex with a person to be profoundly altered by another human being. I have a couple of close friends who are girls. And we routinely tell each other that we love each other. And it doesn’t mean that we want to sleep with each other. It means that we know each other, support each other, believe in one another.

So after a thirty-minute show on MTV, I am sad. I am sad because these people don’t know that romantic relationships aren’t the end-all be-all of all human relationships and development. It is just one facet of a very complicated awesome web of people.

Have you ever crushed on your best friend?

Important Timelines

Excuse the absence the past couple of days. I have been recovering from the culture shock that is that introduction of Facebook Timeline. I have been waiting for Timeline since some time in October when Zuckerburg and the team first announced it. I have always been team Facebook. Even when I opened a google+ account, I did it begrudgingly. But over the past couple of months I have been happy to see Facebook keep its mass public appeal while making additions that seem to be mostly cluttering and superfluous.

But then, several days ago, Timeline went live to all users. And I have never been more excited to log on. I switched immediately and made my new profile public without even thinking of the consequences.

You see, the whole shtick behind Timeline is that it is meant to show your entire life through pictures, interactions with friends, and events. Sounds cool. Isn’t cool.

As I started scrolling through my 2007 and my 2008, I realized that I really didn’t want all 700 something of my closest friends to be able to see all of my triumphs and failures and friend interactions from almost half a decade ago. Now, in winter of 2011, I treat all of my online interaction as if I were on a street corner shouting. I never say anything that I wouldn’t want everyone to know. But back then, I wasn’t thinking about that. I was thinking that Facebook was a gateway that would help me better communicate with my friends. Of course, that was entirely misguided.

The joke on my Facebook news feed as people began to change to Timeline was that we were all about to get a lot closer. But I don’t think my friends will get a better idea of who I am by understanding the person I displayed myself as sophomore year of high school.

From time to time, I talk about sincerity and making meaningful connections with people. I stand by all of that. But I also think that we decide what about ourselves is going to be meaningful. The reason it’s okay that I hid all my Facebook posts from January 2007 to August 2011 is that those posts aren’t necessary information about me. You don’t have to know those things to know me.

I think we often get caught up in our “important” narratives. I have a nasty habit of telling new romantic interests my dating history within the first couple of weeks of dating. I do it because somewhere down the road I decided that my romantic history was an important narrative – that it defined me. But, you know, it really doesn’t. And neither does my Facebook news feed.