Familiarity and friendship

You know when you hear a song for the first time and think nothing of it? You may even criticize it. Too repetitive, boring instrumentation and a lack of rhythm. Then you hear it 5 more times and begin to enjoy it. None of those things seem to bother you and you may intentionally play it.

I reckon familiarity is the key behind this. When something is new it requires effort to understand. Listening to something for the first time puts a challenge for you to question yourself. Do I like this? Why? Why not?

Eventually when you hear something regularly it becomes welcoming. No need to exert any brain power hearing a song you know back to front. The song is something you can choose at any time and know the experience you’ll get.

I believe the same principles apply to friendship. For me personally I’ll meet someone for the first time and usually think nothing of them. Maybe I’ll even focus on their flaws to justify my beliefs. Too loud, opinionated and boring. Then I meet them on other occasions and these prejudices slip away. Hey, they aren’t that bad after all.

Familiarity. Hanging around someone you know is a lot like listening to a song you’ve heard dozens of times. You know what you’re going to get and you can relax. No need to watch what you say, you understand how they will behave and the potential for surprises is minimal.

Another application is hearing a new artist, enjoying one song, downloading their album and feeling uncomfortable hearing their other songs. Most people prefer listening to the one they already know, despite the potential for their other songs to be better. Contrast that with meeting a new friend and being apprehensive in meeting their friendship group. They are the one song you know, their friends the ambiguous 11 tracks.

What do you think? Can friendship and human interaction really be boiled down to a poor analogy about music taste?

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