I don't think that being friends is one Relation that serves always the same function.When I take a look at a list of my friends different friendships serve different functions. 

When starting a new friendship it doesn't make sense to decide what I want to get from the friendship at the moment I start the friendship.

The moment I start the friendship I don't know which resources of the person will be useful to me in the future. At the very beginning of a friendship I even take the risk that the person doesn't have anything that's useful to me. 

The fact that I don't commit on getting something specific from my friend means that I don't commit on getting something from him that one of my existing friends could provide me.As a result noone of my existing friends is jealous of the new friendship.

My new friend might be a good conversation partner for a topic in which noone of my exsting friends is interested. He might be able to help me with a problem where noone of my existing friends are helpful. 

Even if I know what I get out of the interaction I don't profit from making it public. If I tell Dave that I get something from Bob that Dave could also provide, that might make Dave jealous. 

I might also profit from keeping it secret from Bob. If I have a conversation with Bob about tigers it's not clear who's giving value and who's receiving.Maybe I have conversation because I want to use Bob expertise about tigers. Maybe I have the conversation to let Bob feel good about himself because he's talking about his favorite topic, tigers.

Friendship involves both parties not needing to keep score about who's giving what. For that purpose it helps to avoid talking about who's giving what to whom. 

In some interaction one friend however clearly helps the other. If my lawyer friend gives me free legal advice that's clear help. I don't have to immedieatly repay that help, but it increases the likelihood that I will help him in the future wherever he needs help.

The vaguness of not being clear who's giving how much means that we don't have to negotiate about the value of the exchange. As a result the exchange has lower transaction costs. 

As I'm writing this post, I would also like to point out that the blog-commentator relationship is also quite complex...

Expand full comment

If it's a podcast then where is its RSS feed for me to plug into my podcatcher app?

Expand full comment

 Ok, so if you access the 'trackback url' underneath the post, 'relations' links to the podcast :)

Expand full comment

I don't see the podcast?... [edit: okay, now there's a link, thx]

Expand full comment