I have a friend. He is quite eccentric. Doesn’t talk too much, but is not necessarily a good listener. I have another friend. He is quite rich and equally humble. He is also very funny. He can easily get anxious about small things, but tries to hide it. One friend from many years ago has a big heart. A really BIG heart. He isn’t rich, neither is he eccentric. He talks and listens in equal measure. And there’s another one. He is intelligent. Sometimes too much for his own good. Yet, you could say that he is the epitome of being human (I don’t mean it in the way they declare on T-shirts) – in the true sense of that word. Be-ing Human.
I don’t know if any of these friends would lay down their life for me. I don’t believe any one should lay down their life for any one. If you have to do something with a life, you have to convert it to joy. It doesn’t matter if it’s yours or someone else’s.
Like my friend—another one—who is a sun. I call him that because of his energy. He radiates it, when he is around and everybody breaks out in a summer dance. He doesn’t read much. But, I have a friend who reads a lot. You could call him eccentric – not because he is – but because he likes to think so. My friend who is rich reads little, but understands a lot. Unlike another friend of mine who doesn’t attempt too much of understanding, but is the sweetest person on earth. There is no way you could feel unhappy when you are around her. She is not the sun, so to speak, but you can feel earthly warmth around her, if you know what I mean. I have many friends. Let me tell you about another one. He is, as far as I know, my oldest friend. Not by age. (Perhaps I should say, he has been my friend for the longest time). If you are talking of age, my “oldest” friend will be 70 years next month. My
oldest longest friend, I have known since 1980. That’s 33 years. We lost touch for a couple of decades in between. It didn’t matter. When we met, we managed to cover up the couple of decades in a couple of hours. There are other friends. I can tell you all about them. Right now a few are upset with me, a few are away, some busy and the rest – I don’t know what they are up to.
These are my friends from primary school, secondary school, college, and various workplaces. I know some of them because of this blog and one because of Facebook. I’ve met these friends in unique circumstances, at different times, in varying contexts. School, college, and workplace friendships happen through association. What’s important, is to note what happens when you are no longer associated with the institution. What’s even more important, is that you usually cannot decide who your friends will be or should be. It takes two hands to clap and all that jazz.
Emily’s social networking program [Alchamentary] not only helped someone find their perfect match regarding relationships but also business and other fields.
Let’s not bother ourselves with what happens in the rest of the episode.
Instead, let’s bother ourselves with this tweet from Mahendra Palsule:
Yday, after reading more about Netflix’s recommendation algo, I was imagining of an equivalent in life for friends.
It was followed by:
Our friends do perform the algo’s functions, but automating it would be so much more efficient.
I was quick to disagree, but then my disagreement was made redundant by two tweets; one from Mahendra:
OTOH, the human factor would be lost. There is a joy when you connect via someone, which wouldn’t be there anymore.
And the other from Bala (who was a part of this conversation, all through)
Efficient, yes. Effective? Not sure. For some things, I would still trust the human element. Old fashioned 😀
My disagreement was accompanied by my wish to respond in long-form. (This post is the response). To my mind, recommendation algorithms work well with fixed and limited attributes. It’s
impossible very difficult to do that with humans. Just because you and I are friends does not mean that he and you will become friends. Actually, you might. But no algorithm can say for sure. That unfriendly algorithm will work on available data – and in these times when we struggle to know our selves – what data can we offer to the algorithm? In spite of all the attributes, we never know how we become friends. Why we become friends. This is one aspect – the human factor or the human element – that’s still a domain that has (thankfully) not yet been ensnared by machines. I hope that it doesn’t happen in my lifetime. I’d detest a machine telling me who I can be friends with.
The first rule of being friends is that we should not want to be friends, with anyone. There is no “making.” We should allow whatever happens with the people we meet. Even after (and if) we become friends. That’s also the last rule of being friends.
The only thing you can do, is keep the faith.
Afterthought: This post is obviously not about describing my friends, though it does sound like that, I realise. And I should tell you this: some of those friends I mentioned at the start, are über-curious. They’ll try to decipher who I am talking about. But, I am smart. If they ask me, I’ll just say, I wasn’t talking about you; it’s someone else you haven’t met.