Wednesday, April 18, 2007

A couple weeks ago I was talking with my boss, FZ, about, you know, geopolitics and stuff. I think at the moment we were harping on the extraordinary benefit of having the dollar as the world's reserve currency, and whether there's a way to quantify that benefit.

"What if instead of the dollar, people used the euro, or a basket of world currencies as the reserve?" he said. "On a flight recently I was sitting next to Lloyd Blankfein--"

"Wow, the CEO of Goldman Sachs," I said, my mind reeling. "Must have made for good conversation."

FZ smiled a little, humoring my naivete. "Yes, he's a friend of mine."

This got me thinking about the changing conception of friendship. I doubt, for instance, that FZ and Lloyd have one another over for ball games, to sip pinot and talk about currency baskets. I doubt their kids get together for play-dates. I doubt they vacation together. Do they talk about marital problems together, or how to convince their kids to do their homework?

The idea of friendship among the powerful elite must be astronomically different from what you and I consider it. I think friend comes to more closely mean "business acquaintance." I assume it's a byproduct of busyness, and the inability to connect on an emotional level much deeper than a few five-hour transatlantic flights would allow.

But now that I'm thinking about it, I guess it's not too different from the social life of an average office worker. I mean, if you work in an office, how many people do you hang out with outside of your cubicle walls? I know some offices are particularly young and cohesive, but for the most part I imagine you develop few emotional connections to the people you spend eight or more hours a day with. I thought journalism would be different, with late-night gab sessions about current affairs over brews at the local watering hole (am I trying to see how many cliches I can fit into a single sentence? Sadly, no. This is all unintentional), but I was wrong.


joshua said...

I believe that the worst thing to happen to "friends" is how the word has become a verb. As Calvin says, "verbing weirds language." As I say, "next time I say I'm 'friending' someone, kick me in the shins."

Barrett said...

who does that? why not just use "befriends"? color me confused.