Stuff White People Like has a recent posting Having Gay Friends, the contemplation of which leads to some interesting conclusions about the types of communication I have in various settings. I doubt I am unique in my difference of emphasis in different environments, leading to different associations.
Half of my gay friends are at work, the other half online. I have no current gay friends that I know of in my lively social circle. One can draw conclusions of my personal bigotry against gay people from that if one wishes, but my narrowness is actually far worse than that. We have a fairly large sweep of people we are friendly with, but our close friends are much like us. They are Christian, somewhat close to us in age and thus with older children, above average intelligence, married (a few divorced) – I’m sure I could find more similarities if I pushed it. A second circle is our children’s friends and our friends’ children, a group only slightly more diverse. (I do consider generation-crossing to be as difficult or more than religious or racial diversity, and not to be despised in the multi-culti indices of tolerance. At work, online, and in stranger-situations, I find age a much greater barrier than racial or social divisions. I approach people of my own generation most naturally.) This is what happens to families. If we see someone socially we both have to pretty much like both of them. Any children present have interactive needs as well, and putting them repeatedly in boring or difficult situations has high emotional cost.
This is considered shameful in some Christian circles and most secular ones, a mark of close-minded uptightnesses and/or unwillingness to move out of our comfort zone. Perhaps. But we don’t even see these people anywhere near as much as we’d like. We neglect nearly all of them if one measures interest in their lives and emotional support offered. Heck, we can’t even get into our comfort zone, never mind out of it.
My gay friends at work are all close to me in age, above-average intelligence, like-minded about work issues…even my different friends are the same. As a theater major and occasional dancer, I had more gay friends in college. In college, you will note, people are about the same age as you, above-average intelligence, with common interests.
My online community, more recently developed, looks more diverse from a government checklist perspective, because it no longer matters whether spouses or children are in their comfort zones when “visiting.” Having something sensible for me to read matters much more, and the blogs I frequent written by gay people are a dead giveaway by their titles: Gay Patriot, Classical Values, Gay Conservative. I think they are mostly about my age and above-average intelligence, now that I think of it. Among the most sensible and observant people I read in a week.
Looking over the rest of my list of oft-visited sites, I have a largish category of bloggers who work in psych but are more conservative (politically or religiously) than most people in that very liberal field. They are about my age and… well, you get it.
It isn’t surprising that an assistant village idiot, focused on keeping the obvious ever before me, should find common ground with those who do not think like others in their “category.” Such people usually spend a lot of energy pointing out obvious things their fellows don’t wish to accept. They (we) spend a lot of time trying to persuade, hammering sense into people who have picked up silly thoughts from environments we are all too familiar with. We have not so much changed our minds as seen through previous errors, and we know something of the social and emotional forces that prevent one from seeing through convenient beliefs.
It takes…a mind debauched by learning to carry the process of making the natural seem strange. William James