Tuesday, November 15, 2011

My Lastest Friend-quation

“I am insane,” I told Mike, as he walked into class. “Lemme show you why.”
We then proceeded to have a ten minute tutorial and subsequent discussion about the new “Friend-quation” I came up with while at work.  I thought it was appropriate to discuss with him, as one of the situations this applies to involved him.  And by the time we were done-
“You are insane,” Mike agreed.
The idea for the equation came from me remembering three similar situations I remembered I had run into within about the past two months.  This particular situation, however, is probably somewhat common among people my age, too, who have formed a different group of friends in college, or at work than those they knew in high school.  And yet, as you will come to see, this doesn’t necessarily even have to involve a close group of friends.  All you really need are acquaintances.
So what do you do when you are with one group of your current friends and you encounter someone at a place that you haven’t seen for a while?  That’s where my equation comes in.  This equation quantifies, in a very loose sense, all the factors that go into how much time you actually spend with the friends you haven’t seen for a while over the friends you do.  This is not to say that you even have to leave those friends you were hanging out with. But if they have other friends in the area, this might be a good opportunity for them to go catch up with them, while you catch up on the good old times with your new friends.
We have to create a few variables in order for this to apply.  The first one is pretty basic: how long has it been since you’ve seen them.  The number I came up with I call Life Units.  It is about three years, which seems to me about the time, at least in, let’s say, the ages between 18 and 34, how long it will take the average person to move on to a new phase in their lives.  You go to College for four years, you might have the same job right after that for two- maybe you get married, have kids.  The time in between each of those new phases, based on complete hunches absolutely no statistical evidence, has been calculated to about three years.  But of course, if there are any oldsters reading this for some reason, let’s say that number increases to ten years by the time you’re fifty.
The next variable tries to answer the question, How much better friends with these guys are you than the people you’re hanging out with?  In many cases the answer might be: you’re not.  But the domain of this function is going to have to be pretty small.  Let’s call it “10 less than or equal to ‘x’ less than or equal to 40.”  If these are people you would spend less than ten minutes talking to, the equation almost doesn’t apply.  If it’s more than 40- well, why aren’t you just completely ditching your new friends to hang with your old friends for the night?  So never mind- if you could just quantify your friendship with these old friends into a number between 1 and 3 (included), I think that will suffice.  If you are just as good a friends with the other people, but you still want to hang out with the people who “friend-prised” you, I don’t know how to calculate that.
Let’s just leave it at that.  Basically, add these two numbers, multiply by ten and that’s about how long you should be able to spend with these old friends without feeling guilty that you left your new friends.  In the rough outline of this friend-quation, there were other factors that I could not turn into numbers.  Factors such as, Is there anyone in New Group you just met who you do not care to hang out with- the “Detractors”, or Is this a bigger surprise to see them here than it would be elsewhere?  As I was thinking about this, however, I’m reminded of this character from Douglas Adam’s Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy sequel, The Restaurant at the End of the Universe.  This smart old dude teaches his younger companions that while he can do complex equations in his head regarding smart stuff like rocket science, they are doing many equations (which apparently he can’t do) every time they catch a ball.  They just come naturally.  I can catch a ball. But sometimes I’m interested in the equations it takes to catch one, too.  And sometimes I like to make equations to explain other things that in many ways should come naturally.
Still not convinced I’m insane.  Try here.

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