Over this past weekend, I read an article on one of the blogs that I try to keep up with called “Dumb Little Man”. The article was entitled “How To Design Your Circle of Friends” and it got me thinking about friends, expats and living in the Philippines.
Why would such an article make me think about living in the Philippines? Well, it did because I know a number of other expats here who seem to feel that any time that they see another foreigner in the mall or along the street, that person should be their friend. I don’t feel that way. In fact, some of these people that I know feel downright offended if the foreigner that they see in the mall doesn’t run over to talk to them and meet them. Personally, I don’t see things that way.
I mean think about it. If you were back in your homeland where you came from and you went to the mall wearing a blue shirt, would you feel the need to go talk to every other person wearing a blue shirt in the mall? Certainly not, that would be silly. Why should we feel that we need to go talk to every foreigner that we see? The truth is that most foreigners that I do meet turn out not to be people that I would be interested in being friends with anyway.
Don’t take me wrong, if somebody comes and says “hi” to me, I always stop and talk to them, be they foreigner or Filipino. But, I don’t make a habit of watching for every foreigner and running to catch up so I can meet him. I do sometimes say hi to other foreigners that I don’t know, but it takes more than just the fact that they are a foreigner for me to do so. If I can see, based on what they are doing, or something about them, that we have something in common, I will certainly say hi, and make some friendly talk with them. For example, I used to live in the Portland, Oregon area and I am a Trailblazer fan. If I saw a foreigner in the mall and he was wearing a Trailblazer shirt, I would probably say something like “Hi, how are you, and hey, how about them Blazers?” Why? Because we obviously have something in common other than just being a foreigner, and that is that we like the Trailblazers.
I find that many of the foreigners that I do meet are much different than I am and have different interests. Maybe they are here to chase the girls. I have no problem with that, but it’s not what I am interested in, I already have the girl that I want. Whatever it is, I often find that if I do meet a foreigner, we don’t have that much in common. No problem, but it also means that we probably don’t have enough in common to bond closely or enjoy a close friendship.
I choose my friends based on mutual interests, not the color of their Passport. I have foreign friends and I have Filipino friends too. If we have common interests that we can share, then we can usually strike up a nice friendship, and we both enjoy it. But, if our interests are very far apart, and all that we share is the fact that we are foreigners, well, we probably won’t enjoy hanging around with each other very long.
What do you think? Is the color of your passport, or the color of your skin enough to mean that you should be friends? Or, like me, do you need more to be friends?