I have a pretty tight circle of friends, one of whom, who I don’t consider a close friend, exhibits some pretty disreputable behavior. Basically, he never has anything nice to say about anyone, provided the targets of his negativity aren’t around. For example, if I’m hanging out with the Jerk and Friend A, the Jerk will be talking smack about Friend B, but when Friend B is around and Friend A isn’t, Mr. Jerk will be filled with negativity about Friend A. I’m pretty sure my various friends have no idea the Jerk says nasty stuff about them when they aren’t around. Personally, I’m uncomfortable with the whole thing, since I don’t care for shit-talking, but I don’t know what to do. Should I say something to the guy? How do I deal with a frenemy?
I’m torn. We hipsters have a complicated relationship with negativity. For example, it’s not uncommon for hipsters to hatewatch an entire season of television just so they can stockpile a barrage of disparaging comments for later entertaining their hipster friends. You’re not a proper hipster till you’ve hated the majority of popular music (and ironically liked a select minority), and sharing disdain for mainstream crap is well documented as the most direct means of earning a fellow hipster’s trust.
I’d like to take credit for this as a purely hipster invention, but at least one major study published by university academics suggests that people bond more strongly over a shared dislike of a third party than they might over a mutual interest in, say, Jonathan Safran Foer novels or, at the very least, pretending to like Jonathan Safran Foer novels. That particular finding may be darker than a total blackout at a Joy Division concert during a new moon, but it puts your frenemy’s behavior into perspective. Trying to be friends with everyone by exploiting the common ground of mutual hatred is probably more insecure than nefarious. What that says about us as humans is up for debate, and whether you choose to spend time with someone who has nothing positive to contribute is up to you. Rest assured, something with nothing nice to say about anyone has nothing nice to say about you. Perhaps simply downgrade the friendship from “Pinkerton” to “Green Album” on the Weezer scale of cherishment?
Hipsters are good at technology, right? How can I teach my parents to use Facetime properly? Every time I put them on to talk to my kids (we live far away), it’s like talking to a bunch of shadows and foreheads, and I get really frustrated.
You correctly assume your parents don’t know how to use Facetime “properly.” You err in your assumption that they give even the faintest of shits. Asking them to conform to arbitrary standards for socially acceptable mobile technology use is like asking your hipster friends to commit phone numbers to memory or balance their checkbooks by hand. At best, they will look at you like you’re wearing a PETA shirt and eating a BLT, and they will ask, “Why?”
You have no good answer other than, “Because it annoys me.” Instead, demonstrate tolerance to your children. Someday they’ll do the same for you when you’re still using Instagram long after the world has collectively moved on.