Friendship. It’s in the title of the show, and most definitely a central theme of the new generation of My Little Pony. It drives actions, saves nations, and gives viewers the warm fuzzies when things work out all right. As said by Twilight Sparkle, “Friendship is a wondrous and magical thing, and like the path cut through the orchard, there will always be a way through.” (The Return of Harmony P2)
So, is the magic of friendship something that all bronies feel in their hearts? The answer to that riddle is no. Friendship, despite being the central pillar of the show which all things are built upon, is pathetically underrepresented in the brony community. There’s acting and there’s pretending, but an incredibly high number of bronies balk at the notion of friends being meaningful.
A friend of mine was speaking with me the other day about the show. He is dissatisfied with his current state of affairs, wishing for things that he doesn’t have, malcontent with life as it currently is. He also says that he doesn’t care about and doesn’t want friends. He still likes the show, but has little interest in the fandom surrounding it, as he isn’t concerned with socialization.
One thing that I will make publicly known right now: I love making new friends, and I hate losing friends under any circumstance. Another thing to bear in mind is that I made plenty of friends before I watched My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. Friendship wasn’t a novel idea for me.
I will, however, say that my perspective on friendship has changed drastically throughout my viewership of the show. I like trying to be friends with everyone, whether the foundations be built upon faith that there is good in all people or the knowledge that I will eventually have bad things to muck through with a good friend. That doesn’t mean that friendship always works out; I don’t know of any enemies I have, but I have to have made at least one or two of them somewhere along the way.
Quite plainly, I can see that this friend of mine has a different set of ideas concerning the value of friendship. He talks to me from time to time, sure… but I’m no pillar of strength for him. He relies on himself and himself alone to make it through situations.
Is one better than the other? Well… logic dictates that being able to do something alone instead of having to count on someone else is always good. So, yes, on paper, everything works out perfectly from his point of view. But then, we’re not all robots, so we aren’t driven by logic.
I present to you Exhibit A. This is a documentary on Genie, a girl who was isolated for 12 years. Psychological trauma due to her being beaten may have been a factor, but this girl is alone—truly 100% alone with herself. No amount of forced socialization will ever get her to forget what she took 12 years to learn, and that is that she is alone.
Logic dictates that she should have been just fine. On paper, isolation is no problem for human beings. Yet, when it comes to reality, we need others. We don’t want to be alone. Much as we like to think we’re a strong, independent people, the need for socialization overcomes all obstacles.
There’s a very good reason why solitary confinement is a method of torture. Years with no human contact apart from a loaf of bread and a pitcher of water slid under a door will destroy the psyche. As far as I know, no one has ever liked solitary confinement. Much as I like to think I’m pretty antisocial, when it comes down to it, I crave human contact just as much as the next guy, and I think everyone else does, too.
However, human contact is radically different from friendship. You can talk to a guy on the street every once in a while just fine, or even find solace in knowing that there’s someone talking to you on the other side of a computer screen. That doesn’t require a commitment of time or effort on your part, and it tends to serve the same purpose.
So, what good are friends? Just a readily available way to socialize? A means to an end? My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic seems to feel differently about this: It highly esteems friendship, showing that through the bonds you make with others, you can overcome any obstacle.
My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic is also a fantasy world. How much of it is true?
Well… strange as it sounds coming from me, I did have a girlfriend once, about 6 years ago. When she broke up with me and ran off to be with another guy, I just couldn’t bear to want to do anything. I stayed at home and cried my eyes out. It was a reality-shattering experience, to know that I’m not good enough for someone that’s good enough for me.
Where were my friends? Right alongside me. There was some silly rumor circulating around the school that, when I was walking over the bridge in the town I lived in, I was “looking temptingly into the water.” Add onto that the fact that I didn’t want to answer the phone when somebody called, and they worked themselves into a tizzy wondering where I was. They finally found me at lunch time, when they ran to my house as soon as the bell rang and knocked on the door. Words can’t describe the relief I saw in their eyes when they saw I was all right, and it helped a lot to know that someone cared about how I was doing. They were my support as I came to terms with the break-up and picked my life back up.
All right, sure, friends helped me with a break-up. How would it have been for me if I hadn’t had friends to help me through the whole thing? I have another experience for that, too.
Several months after I’d broken up with my first girlfriend, I had finally moved on and was once again on the lookout for a new lady to give me self-validation. I thought I’d found it when I came across one of childhood crushes. She told me that she wanted to come see me. Me specifically! After all these years, I thought I was going to get a shot with her.
In preparation, I decided to introduce her to two of my very good friends. I gave her number to two of my friends, and gave their numbers back to her, and everything seemed great. We were all just going to have a time of things exploring the town and seeing everything it had to offer.
Was it implemented well? Not at all. Apparently, she had been flirting with both of my friends, so I watched the girl I’d idolized playing footsy with my best friend on the couch across from me while my other friend and I both stared jealously at him. Never mind that she kissed me while I was sleeping that night, and never mind that I had been hoping for this chance for years… she chose them over me.
Perhaps I was out of line in calling her a soul-playing bitch. Perhaps she was out of line for thinking such behavior wouldn’t provoke me into being rude. It doesn’t really matter now.
Where were my friends? They all disappeared on me. I’m not sure if it’s how I handled the situation or their personal feelings on the matter, but not only did the two friends who’d been smitten with her vaporize, but every other friend who heard about it left me all alone to deal with my frustrations.
And what did I do to react? I moved away. I found a friend who was away from all the drama and the crap surrounding the situation and leaned on him. In the end, all I needed was another friend who actually cared about what I was going through. In my greatest moment of abandonment, I still found a friend to help me through what had happened.
Things have since gotten better. I’m definitely still friends with the two who let a girl get in the way of things, maybe because I would have done the same in their situation, or maybe because someone in my past taught me to forgive. Whatever it is, we’re all older now, smarter, and haven’t let girls destroy our friendship since.
Still, it saddens me to remember that the best friends I’ve ever had have let relationships ruin what should have been an unbreakable bond. I wonder at times why they haven’t tackled relationship issues in G4; it’s nearly impossible to escape Hollywood romance indoctrination from kids’ movies, anyway (looking at you, Equestria Girls), and that is one of the greatest threats to friendship in my experience.
So, is this friend right in thinking I’m unimportant to him? Is friendship nothing but a waste of time? Would I be better off had I solved these problems myself?
We’ll never know. Quite simply, there’s no telling how differently things would have ended if I’d taken a different route in my decisions, or he with his. Friends are an incredible source of strength and are always there when you need them most, but they can also serve to make a terrible situation into something even worse. Perhaps, for some, being alone is better.
I can’t shake the irony of anti-friend advocates watching a show about friendship, however. Sure, there’s plenty more that the show has to offer, but… take out the friendship themes and you have My Little Pony: Nothing is Magic. That’s a great fanfic title, but doesn’t have as good a ring to it when you’re thinking about shows for kids.
When you really think about it, most of the bronies come from anti-social backgrounds as well. Isn’t it the biggest irony to think that so many shut-ins and nerds (both of which I am) would come to be fascinated with a show about friendship, of all things?
Perhaps it is ironic, but that doesn’t make the friends I’ve made, before or since discovering the show, any less important to me. Perhaps I’m not being logical or detached or cool enough by deciding I like talking to and getting to know other people; it doesn’t matter to me, because I’m happy that there are so many I can look back on in my life and fondly call “friend.” Whether for better or for worse, we got stuck together somehow, and the fragile bonds of friendship surprisingly often seem unbreakable.
Perhaps, someday, I’ll learn the error of my ways. Or, perhaps those who don’t care for friendship will see the error of their ways. In the end, it’s who we want to be that makes us who we are.
When I have kids, I want them to look upon their many comrades in school and be able to say “friend” about most of them, even if they don’t talk all that much. I want to know that they have as happy and carefree a childhood as so many of us haven’t gotten to experience. Perhaps it’s a leap to say this, but I’ll go ahead and say it anyway: Friendship is the key to happiness.
And, interestingly enough, these people I know, the ones who say friendship is a waste of time, that friends are a burden… they’re unhappy. Maybe not everyone in the world, but just about everyone I’ve ever met who hates friendship typically are angry, discontent, and irritable.
I can’t always hold my head up and be happy, and I sure can’t do it alone a lot of the time. It’s great to have a friend there to help me with the things I can’t do myself.
Is that all there is to it? Perhaps. It doesn’t make me any less happy to have friends. So, I’ll say it once more: “Friendship is a wondrous and magical thing, and like the path cut through the orchard, there’ll always be a way through.” Thank you, Discord, for fabricating that letter to the Princess.
And thank you, everyone I’ve met or have yet to meet, for being a friend when I need it.