The first place I went to learn how to make new friends was Google. Google had never let me down before. Whenever I had the urge to buy anything weird, like an obscure video game, a stylish new scarf, or industrial-grade laboratory equipment, it always seemed to know the answer. I really felt like Google understood me. Sort of like a friend. But, sadly, this time it let me down.
I tried taking this advice, but running up to strangers and saying "cheese" didn't work at all.
Most of the Internet's friendship advice is stuff like "be persistent" and "be yourself" and "be open about your feelings." None of that stuff helps when you haven't made it past the first hurdle, which is "manage to start a conversation with a stranger." My impulse when interacting with a new human being is to hiss like a feral cat and menacingly snap at them with my flip phone. Is persistence really my friend in that situation? Can I honestly "be myself" when that self is a snippish goblin-man whose favorite conversation topics are David Fincher, StarCraft mythology, and the precise dimensions of his personal space?
That's why I retreated into my basement to seek the comforts of my books and my laboratory. It is ironic, perhaps, that the solution to my woes came from darkness and solitude. For days I tinkered in that musty darkness, mixing different chemicals in my various vials and beakers, filling fish tanks full of strange fluids -- artificial, organic, and otherwise. In the third month, I had to seal the windows with duct tape to keep the strange odors from alerting my neighbors to my experiments. They are small-minded fools.
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They could never understand my work.