COVID Special Issue

Friendship During COVID–19 Requires Communication and Consent

You may or may not have heard of this dude named Jean-Jacques Rousseau, who, according to Wikipedia, “was a Genevan philosopher, writer, and composer.” I certainly hadn’t until I took SOSC while microdosing acid. But let me tell you, dear person with a middle school reading level, he certainly had some interesting things to teach us about COVID-19.

See, he invented this thing called the social contract, which, I’m told, will help explain things about how we should relate to each other during this pandemic crisis. And I need to explain it to you, my imbecilic reader, if I wanna get the credit for this portion of class.

Per his Wikipedia page, Rousseau probably invented the social contract to clarify his need to consent to elements of his sexual and romantic relationships. “When Rousseau reached 20,” the Wikipedia page reads in a truly uncomfortable level of detail, “[Françoise-Louise] de Warens took him as her lover, while intimate also with the steward of her house. The sexual aspect of their relationship (a ménage à trois) confused Rousseau and made him uncomfortable, but he always considered de Warens the greatest love of his life.”

So basically, there’s this thing called the social contract, which is the agreement we all make to live in a civil society, that we all agreed to, like the minute we were born. And the same way we need to consent to sexual activities, being confusing and often uncomfortable a ménage à trois arrangements or… well… not, making the rules by which we interact with our roommates and friends explicit can be really helpful, especially in a pandemic.

I hope that’s helpful when we think about friendship during COVID-19, and, in fact, I’m sure it is. If not, you just didn’t understand it. And I can’t really help you then.