This topic has been floating around in my head for a long time now – since I started writing articles in fact – and as I stare down the fifth or sixth incarnation of this article, I think it’s finally ready. Every time previously that I have sat down to write it, though, it never sounds right. It’s a truly hard concept to explain or to grasp, despite how overwhelmingly apparent it is in my life and it’s rather easy to explain why: because it doesn’t make sense. It’s an oxymoron and is counterintuitive by definition.
Please, bear with me as I work my way through this, but don’t ever for a second think I’m lying or just trying to tell you a story to be entertaining. This is truth and an important part of my existence, so believe me when I tell you: I hate my friends.
Typing those words feels so strange, yet I’ve heard those words come out of my mouth so many times and when they do, I know for certain that I truly mean them.
In order for me to explain to you how this could possibly be, we need a whole lot of context, so I guess we start at the beginning and one of my least favorite topics: me. I think I’m a pretty smart guy, I learn fast, I’m competitive, and I don’t get too worked up about stuff. You will often see me loud and yelling around as if I’m upset about something, but three or four minutes later I will have forgotten all about what just happened, and I will be on to the next topic. I don’t hold grudges, and often people will be mad at me and I will have already forgotten what they are mad about. I simply assume everybody thinks this way, so when I say something mean to you or am overly critical, it’s truly not because I’m mad or don’t like you, I just assume you will be over it as fast as I am.
Our next topic is friends — not mine, but just friends in general.
If you’ve read my pieces, you know that I see people in black and white: casuals and try-hard competitive gamers. These two camps think differently about everything in life, and it even goes down to how you pick your friends.
Casuals are doing everything to have fun. Their friends are people who they can hang out with, and have fun with, all the time. They don’t need to hang out all the time, but when they do, they are there to have some fun together. They make plans and get together or they text each other when they are free and they do something.
This is not how any of my friendships are, at least not my closest ones.
Tryhards pick their friends based on people that challenge them. Chilling out is boring, trying to beat you at something is entertaining, and it ends up transcending games and moving to our lives. Now, I don’t neccesarily mean challenge as in “get better” — sometimes it’s just a challenge for the sake of competition. Tryhards want friends that keep things interesting, make things hard, not simply placate us and fill time.
For example: I don’t lock my door, because I never know when friends are going to just show up my house. Casuals don’t need to do this because they tend to give each other plenty of warning. When I get woken up at seven-thirty in the morning after a night of extensive drinking by a friend banging a pot and holding a beer in my face yelling “What you got!?” I certainly regret it, but I wouldn’t change it for anything.
I am always trying to find people smarter than me. I hate feeling dumb, but all of my best friends are the ones who do that to me. Two of my friends have vocabularies that make mine look pitiful. I have a friend who can tell you who won every major Oscar in the last two decades, and another who can tell you the top eight of every StarCraft 2 GSL ever. I have yelled around about Chomsky and ancient Roman battle tactics and then ground out a hundred games of Smash Bros. with the same people in one night. I learn fast, that’s my niche, and if I have a friend who I think is making a really bad decision I am not afraid to let them know, and give them bloody hell over it. I have a place here with these people, and I have a role. Thats how I know they are my friends.
So why do I hate them? Because I can, I guess. Because when they do something that pisses me off, or makes me upset, I have full rein to tear into them. I know that they won’t be offended. If they would get offended, they simply wouldn’t be around. Overly-sensitive people either leave the group or change, extremely quickly. Also I know that I will be over it quickly, so I put everything out there so we can all move past it. Sometimes I say it endearingly and sometimes I mean it. And I have never said “I hate you” to a friend and meant it. If I’m mad at them it’s “I hate my friends” and if I’m joking it’s “I f-ing hate you”.
It’s a bond, and because it’s not all roses and smiles it makes it stronger. 4:30 AM wake-up calls from your Magic buddy because he wants to face off against you aren’t ideal, but the same call from the guy who punched out the guy giving you grief at the bar last weekend isn’t nearly so bad. And so I may not know who is going to wake me up tonight in the middle of the night, but I do know that they are a better friend than you.
Tyler Morse is a Contributing Editor to aybonline.com.