The great balance of friendships.
I think its true for all of us. If we are fairly good at something that we enjoy doing for ourselves, sooner or later our friends find a way to use that to their advantage. If we’re smart, we can find a way to use their hobbies and passions to our advantage also, and it creates what I call the “Circle of Mooch.” In my “Circle of Mooch,” I have friends that can cook, friends that can sew, and friends that can build rocket cars out of scrap metal in under an hour. Yes, one of my roommates is an honest to goodness Redneck Witchdoctor, and he can build or fix anything from spare parts. I think I have the most dreaded of positions in the circle of mooch for most web infused people.
I am the tech guy.
I don’t claim to be an expert with computers. I don’t believe myself to be particularly skilled, and I don’t think of myself as some sort of super-hero hacker. I’m just a guy that likes to get a hold of electronic devices and either rip them apart, rip into their software, or at the very least put them through their paces. I have in the past alienated friends by letting them be around while I’m working on a project. The stream of rants, curses, and smashing of fists against desks (and on rare occasion a keyboard), usually solicits reactions of surprise and confusion as to why if it pisses me off so much I think its fun.
I just do.
The fact that I’m very open and passionate about my love of technology, especially in my area of hatred for Steve Jobs, Apple and everything associated with them, and my avid, near zealous devotion to Open Source, have lead to some of my friends thinking I might be a guy to ask about computer stuffs. I can’t say my ego isn’t fueled by the fact that they are willing to listen to me talk about all the different Linux distros, or about how the iPhone is the single biggest piece of crap made on the entire planet, and that’s including things that come from elephants. What does strain on me, is that I tend to get asked the same questions over and over again. So much so that I’m considering writing a guide on how to pick a new cell phone.
The Circle of Mooch
Fortunately, though, we have the circle of mooch to hold us all in balance. A friend asks me to help them build a computer, and I get to not feel guilty when I ask a different friend for help building a shelf. Why? Because that friend will ask another friend for a ride to the airport, and in turn that friend will then get a free dinner out of the one asking me to build a computer.
Friendships live and die on the health of the circle of mooch. You see, as long as we are all mooching off of each other, the circle of friends is balanced and healthy. No one is ever really taken advantage of, because we’re all actually taking advantage of each other. Its like a giant symbiotic relationship made up of several people. The true test of a friendship, and the thing that kills them the fastest, is imbalance in the Circle. When one friend starts to mooch without being mooched on, then that friend stops being a cog in the wheel and becomes instead a leech.
Nobody wants to be the leech.
Great care must be put into maintaining the balance of the Circle. Every once and a while, its a good idea to just stop and think, how close am I to becoming the leech? If we all worry about becoming the leech, then the circle of mooch becomes flooded with the intent to help our friends. The more we help each other, the better we all are, really. Isn’t that what friends are for?
Which cog in the “Circle of Mooch” are you? Are you the cook? The Tailor? The guy with a car? Or, are you the dreaded leech?