My Friend is a Palestinian Bedouin: XII. Individualism versus Collectivism. Friendships
In Bedouin life, relationships with family and friends are of utmost importance. Bashar experiences life in a community or group spirit. He much enjoys the togetherness of being in a group and is hardly ever alone. Much of his life is lived outside and friends are considered those who surround him, many of them being members of his extended family. He tends to meet friends on the street, at his brother’s gas station or recently in the garage. He meets them unplanned, spontaneously, and often more than one person at a time – who happens to be there. He will spend an extensive amount of time if there is something to examine and solve together (some kind of business deal or a matter requesting a solution), but he will usually not spend much time in case the relationship goes smoothly, if there is no issue to work on, or with friends who are out of sight. He has no problem aggravating his friends, but he will invest much time and energy if this caused trouble in the relationship. His investment in relationships is an issue to which I will return later, since it affects many parts of life.
I am very different from Bashar when it comes to togetherness in friendship. I consider myself a “not-that-social” person; though I have become more social during the years, I much enjoy being on my own. I have many friends, but am more selective than Bashar with whom to consider a friend. I tend to meet my friends in private, one-on-one or with partners, at their homes or sometimes in a restaurant. My meetings with friends are usually planned and for limited periods. I invest in relationships with both close and distant friends on an ongoing base, but largely virtually, through email, Facebook or Skype. More than Bashar, I try to be considerate in relationships and not to aggravate people, in order to prevent any problems.