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Loyalty in the 21st Century

Loyalty in the 21st Century

If you’re living in America you’re not going to have many opportunities to take a bullet for your friend. That aspect of loyalty has been largely removed. However, there’s something else which tests loyalty, something that’s less dangerous but more insidious: social pressure. Here’s how it normally works.

You’ll be hanging out with your friend and he’ll do something socially unacceptable…

  • Accidentally (or purposefully) insult someone.
  • Say an off-color joke among the politically correct.
  • Espouse the wrong political opinion at the wrong time.
  • Etc.

In the time it takes to stub your toe the situation changes. Your friend is singled out and a group stands against him. People stop smiling, the mood darkens and unless you have autism it’s going to be radically fucking apparent that your friend just pissed off a bunch of people.

Since this is a socially progressive nation, the odds of a punch being thrown ridiculously small. The only thing that your friend is being threatened with is a lot of negative social pressure, which amounts to humiliation and possible rejection. This sucks but it’s hardly going to ruin his life. Knowing that, it’s interesting to ask: when you’re in this situation, what do you do?

The Two Outcomes

It’s tempting to say that you back up your friend 100% of the time. But life isn’t a movie and based on my experience, most guys tend to side with the group. It doesn’t happen as obviously as you might think. A guy who sides with the group will shift his body language so that he’s subtly aligned away from his friend. Then he’ll say something along the lines of..

“Hey bro, that wasn’t cool. Why’d you say they?”
“Yo man, that was really shitty. What’d you say that for?”
“Dude, come on. Just say you’re sorry already.”

While he’s not hurling insults, this guy definitely doesn’t have his friend’s back either. He’s played his hand and shown his friend that in a high pressure situation he’ll leave him to fend for himself. Here’s the problem with that.

If you abandon a cool guy with great character, you’re going to destroy the friendship in thirty seconds. Men who are worth being friends with will not overlook you ditching them. While things may appear to continue as normal afterwards, nine times out of ten that cool guy recognized your bitch behavior and you destroyed the deeper levels of that friendship. Your relationship is relegated to casual friend or acquaintance. And why shouldn’t it be?

Conversely…

If you stay by your friend and have his back 100%, you’re going to show him that you have great character too. You’ll prove that even under pressure you’re willing to stand by him. He’ll remember that for life, which is great! That will open up the door for to an even deeper relationship than you could have had otherwise. Your actions under duress have shown him what you’re made of. There is no faking this. You can talk about loyalty all day but it’s not worth a junkie’s promise until you back it up in real life.