When you’re down and out, your politicking friends will make you miserable

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In some situations, having a lot of liberal friends is a blessing. When you come out of the closet, for example, or when you’re learning to eat vegetarian, or when you’re looking for some quality roach (or so I’ve heard.)

But if you’re a young person struggling to make a life for yourself, your liberal friends will be there, indirectly suggesting that the system is poised to crush your dreams and you should probably just lie down and die.

Me: I finally have the confidence to send in my college application. I know I’m 21, but I’m sure I’ll be thankful for the extra maturity I’ve gained.

Them: Do you know what they’re doing to student loans and pell grants in Washington? This is the worst possible time to go to college. You’re going to get fucked up the ass, as the following ten blog posts and eleven New York Times articles prove.

Me: I only decided to go to college instead of trade school because my scientific interests require it. I’m interested in chemistry, microbiology, genetics, bioengineering, and bioinformatics. I think I would stand a better chance of paying back my student loans than many people.

Them: Bioengineering?! Do you want to work for Monsanto?! You fool! Talk about forfeiting any chance of a meaningful and moral existence.

Me: But it’s not all about the bottom line – I want to do what I love. My engagement with science has brought me out of a dark time in my life. It makes me happy.

Them: The world is full of horror and oppression. If something’s making you happy then something’s wrong with you.

And so on. For people so sympathetic to the poor, my liberal friends sure have no clue how to talk to a poor kid. I would provide anecdotes of my conservative friends for contrast, but I don’t have any friends to the right of John McCain. I lost them all last year when I had to use food stamps for awhile (I’m bad at keeping stuff like that a secret.) A high school pal told me outright that I was a thief and that she didn’t want to be my friend anymore. A family friend was posting really ugly, hurtful Tea Party stuff about poor people on Facebook, to the point at which I e-mailed her about it. She said that she didn’t judge my family because we were “the good kind” of welfare recipients. After some gentle digging, I discovered that “the good kind” was a coded reference to the color of our skin. Jesus.

If you’re two paychecks away and nervous about layoffs, my advice would be to accumulate some moderate and/or apathetic friends just in case you crash and burn. When you’re on the skids, you need emotional support, not somebody’s agenda.