Saturday, August 21, 2010

People are very cliqueish.

Orientation has been on for 4 days.  Several cliques were visible on day 2 and now they've ossified.  I'm in a clique myself but have been trying to bring into it as many people as possible.  Being a stranger in a strange land, I think it best to have more rather than fewer friends.  I'll talk to anybody and I make a point of including people who don't seem like shitbags in any plans my clique has in the offing.  I'm trying to enlarge the circle.  But it's not working.

Example one:  two days ago, I sat down at a random table in the cafeteria for dinner and made the acquaintance of a nice Irish vegetarian.  She seemed a good sort, so I invited her and her roommate to join the clique for an expedition to a local watering hole.  This was a doubly excellent idea because my clique includes another Irish she hadn't met; the minorities (non-North Americans) are always interested in knowing each other.  We went out and everyone liked the new Irish and she seemed to like us.  After the first watering hole, everyone in the clique but yours truly and the two new people went off with the only seriously irredeemable shitbag I've met thus far, a frat boy who goes out every night to be loud and drunk.  Myself and the Irish + roommate walked around the town a bit but neither would talk to me at all.  They retreated into their established relationship and maintained a non-stop conversation between themselves for the rest of the evening.  It's possible they just didn't like me, but they've become cold to everyone else I know as well.

Example two:  today, during the ceramic experience at a Korean folk village (think Colonial Williamsburg, but Korean) I made the acquaintance of a nice South African sitting next to me.  She didn't seem to have any friends around and our banter went well enough, so when we were leaving the ceramics area I invited her to join the fragment of my clique I was with.  We wandered around, she talked to everyone, we shared the experience of the Korean Haunted House, and all seemed well.  Then she spotted one of her prior friends and it was as if her new friends, i.e. us, had all suddenly died.  I didn't see her again until dinner and I get the sense we won't speak again.

There are more examples but the broad strokes are all the same.  The social scene here has petrified after only a few short days.  I see the same people with each other all day long and there's seldom any cross-talk between the groups.  It's frustrating.  I think everyone would benefit from casting their nets wider, but there's a palpable resistance to making new friends.  I understand people are desperately clinging to any shred of security as they establish new comfort zones but come on:  rise above it.

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