Friendship Through Unfiltered Lens

Food for Thought

For almost a year, I had Manny’s camera lens, which he had completely forgotten about lending to me. He searched high and low for it, he told me. Feeling guilty, I treated him to a West African dinner in Brooklyn, just a short distance from his place.

In our long relationship, both as business partners and friends, the number of times we argued is too numerous to count. When we had an office, it was often like a scene from Curb Your Enthusiasm. It’s somewhat surprising that Curb is as popular as it is. Part of the appeal, I think, is that all the characters act as if they are autistic without any social filters. They blurt out or scream whatever they think, but their friendships remain intact. I think many people fantasize about friendships like that.

I see normal people tiptoe around the feelings of the people they consider their best friends. Even if they have something they want to say, they keep it to themselves, fearing that their relationship may be unable to withstand it. I can imagine them watching Curb and thinking, “That must feel so good.”

When I read Dale Carnegie’s “How to Win Friends and Influence People,” it struck me as a primer on the obvious. If you want someone to like you, you just have to identify his fantasy, who he thinks he is, and then feed what he wants to hear to reinforce it. If it’s a business relationship, you figure out a strategy where his fantasy aligns with what you want. I’ve tried this, and it works. As if hypnotized, people come back to you for more, but it’s too tiresome for me to bother because I don’t enjoy that type of relationship.

Curb imagines a world of unfiltered expression without consequence, a stark contrast to the fragile fabric of real-world relations, which can unravel with a single misplaced word. I’ve lost some friends over it. In my younger days, I felt self-righteous about it and pressured people to be blunt. I’ve stopped that and begun respecting the different boundaries people set.

Friendships, much like muscles, demand a delicate balance—too little stress, and they atrophy; too much, and they tear. Mindfulness of this equilibrium fosters resilience, allowing both body and bonds to flourish.