Welcome Jenn & Trin to WWdN! They kindly answered some questions written by Will Hindmarch, made up just to share with us while Wil Wheaton is at sea. Their friendship is the genuine best.
Jenn & Trin are the community & event directors behind Cards Against Humanity. They co-host a podcast called Friendshipping, a weekly discussion about friendship and mental health. Every week they answer audience questions, like “How do I stop feeling jealous of successful friends?” or “What if I have a crush on my BFF?” or “Should I ask my friend why she unfollowed me on Twitter?”
Will Hindmarch caught up with them via some of the communications technologies that are so popular right now and asked them a few questions about podcasting and friendships and windjammers…
Q: If you were to describe your podcast to someone who is not a friend of yours, perhaps someone sitting next to you on an airplane, how would you describe it — and where would each of you be likely to help move the conversation thereafter?
Trin: I recently spoke with a woman who told me that she goes on annual cruises with her friends of 30, maybe 40 years. I told her that her story was especially interesting to me because I care so much and so deeply about friendship that I record myself and my good friend Jenn talking about it every week, and we put it on the Internet. That’s the crux of it for me – we just truly give a shit. If I were trying to get someone to listen to the podcast, I guess I’d tell them that it’s two women giggling and complimenting each other for 20 minutes, and they eventually give people advice on being a more empathetic person and better friend.
Jenn: Friendshipping is what I needed when I was younger. I wasn’t a particularly good friend, and I thought I was doomed to feel that way. But that’s not true! No one is doomed. It turns out, friendship is actually a skill and you can improve at it. No one’s a perfect friend, but you can improve. So our podcast is for anyone who wants to make new friends, or strengthen their current relationships. Plus, it’s an excuse for me to hang out and talk with Trin for an hour on Monday mornings. We have to cut out about 40 minutes of our giggling. Trin literally makes me cry of laughter before I’ve even had coffee. Best way to start the week.
Q: What’s the secret origin of Friendshipping and/or its theme song?
Trin: We asked our friend Molly Lewis to write a song that could be anything as long as it was very short and included “Do friendship at the problem.” We trusted her entirely and we were not disappointed!
Jenn: Molly is a genius.
Q: What’s the bold future of Friendshipping as/or beyond a podcast?
Trin: We’ve long considered branching out into other projects! Right now we hold friendship advice panels at the PAX conventions called Making Friends in Geek Spaces. Our 50th episode is going to drop in a few weeks, so we’re old pros at this stuff. Now’s the time to experiment.
Q: How do you select or reject questions? How do you get from the question you receive to the answer we hear on the show?
Trin: We take our questions from our ask.fm! Sometimes we alter them if they contain identifying information, or are specific to the point where the answer couldn’t be applicable to more than just the asker. We’ve also synthesized questions from conversations we’ve had with friends – with their permission!
Q: What question — or sort of question — stands out as really satisfying to you to have answered? What have you heard back about the impact your answers have made in listeners’ lives?
Jenn: One of my favorite questions is, because it’s just so tricky and wonderfully awkward: “Should I ask my friend why they unfollowed me on Twitter?” The other ones I like — and we’ve gotten these a few times — “How do I maintain long distance friendships?” And, “How do I handle feeling jealous of my successful friends?” These questions are so deeply human. I love how honest they are.
Trin: My favorite questions are the ones that I would’ve wanted to have known the answers to when I was a teenager. I find so often that as adults, we either never took the time to learn and teach ourselves about making friends and being a good friend, or we’ve forgotten the lessons we learned as children. I like questions that act as reminders – be empathetic, take some time to think about what the other person is going through, consider that your perspective might be too narrow.
Q: Do you ever find that the answers you give surprise even you? How have your friendships or capacities to do friendship changed as a result of making the show?
Jenn: Before we begin recording, Trin & I look at our list of questions and group any questions together that we feel are similar. This is pretty easy to do: turns out, humans share lot of the same concerns. From there, a theme emerges naturally — like “battling feelings of jealousy” or “how to apologize when you screw up.” We open a Google document and brainstorm how to answer. It’s amazing how often my opinion evolves during this part: I might start with a heated reaction like, “your friend is totally wrong here!” And after talking it over with Trin, taking notes, and deeply thinking about it, I end up with, “You know, I can see where your friend is coming from.” Friendshipping is teaching me how to be more emphatic.
Trin: I’ve found that I value the time I spend listening to people more, and I am more active in listening and empathizing with my friends. I also tell people to shut up more often. If you care about the act and the art of listening, and you value your own perspective and input, you don’t waste it on people who are just there to hear themselves talk.
Q: So, if a friendship were a physical thing — like a windjammer or a starship — what are some apt metaphors that might help us understand the building, propelling, maintaining, or navigating of such a friend-vessel?
Trin: This is the most Will Hindmarch Question I ever heard in my life. Will, you are the wind that propels my windjammer. Having said that, this question is way weird and I don’t have a good answer for it. Jenn?
Jenn: This question is incredible. Here’s what I got: Friendship is a ladder — to help you reach the height of your possibilities. It’s also a lighthouse that requires maintenance and upkeep. It can also be a nice warm blanket, or a huge, powerful battle axe. As in, “you have my axe.” OH! It’s also a switchblade — a useful tool you equip yourself with. And because all the ladies of Cards Against Humanity have switchblades.
Q: Is a friendship between two people? How many people can board a single friendship?
Trin: I find that too often adults see their friendships in terms of the “glue” friend or friends – for example, I’m friends with Ben, and Ben is friends with Paul, and my friendship with Paul is dependent on my friendship with Ben. I wish we could see our friendships as a one-on-one relationship – you can have as many friendships as you want, but they’re an experience that is nurtured between two people. Only two people can board a single friendship, but you can drive as many friendships as you’ve got the time and energy to manage!
Jenn: What Trin said. Also, one time Trin referred to her group of friends as her “pit crew.” Like from NASCAR. I love the idea of your friends rallying together to help you when you’re feeling a little bit broken. Then, when you’re feeling better, you’re back in the game, in someone else’s pit crew.