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Frenemies

February 10, 2014
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I first heard “Frenemies” on an episode of Sex and The City. It seemed silly and harmless, and considering the theme of the series, it wasn’t something that I thought about till very recently.

Frenemies is apparently a term coined by an author in the 70s and apparently refers to a friend who can also be a rival, or an enemy who pretends to be a friend. Considering today’s world, I find it hard to believe that it was coined in the 70s, which in mind my is all about the flower power age. 

But that is the word that keeps playing in my head. It has been known for a while that we live in the world of super competitiveness. It is no longer just a rat race. It is a race of rats on steroids, coke and whatever else that pumps them up. So you keep running as fast as you can, without knowing where you are headed till your heart gives out.

The few pit stops we have in this world are friends. The evenings of cold beer, meaningless talk, venting about annoying clients is often what turns horrid situations into funny incidents and keep you going. And then one day you take that pitstop and realise that it has turned into a competing arena and people who weren’t even supposed to be competing in this space have joined in – for the sake of mere fun. 

Frenemies.

It seems like such a simple, silly word. 

It doesn’t really quite capture the desire to punch someone’s face, the urge to scream and shout or pull at your hair in sheer frustration of being backstabbed. It doesn’t quite have the emotional depth of what really occurs when you face a frenemy. 

The idea of jealously guarding your ideas, your inspirations is just so tedious. Sometimes, exhausting. An idea grows by being shared. Inspirations are often derived from simple conversations. Of course, in this world of property registrations, intellectual property rights, creative common copyrights, patents on ideas and concepts – everything is up for sale. 

Someone recently started a project on Facebook, very similar to one I’ve been doing for a while. They gave it the same title and of course, we both had the same inspirations. I wrote to them, pointing out that I was already doing this project for the past 3 years and shared links to show the same. I offered to collaborate with them or share their photographs on my page. The person started off annoyed at the intrusion, but realised that I had a valid claim (or as valid as it can be) to the project. They apologized, offered to change the name of their project and ended their conversation with “I hope you will not sue me”.

The thought of suing them over this never even occurred to me. It is a photography project. A fun project. On Facebook. The idea is not even mine originally. It is a global project that was inspired by a man in New York. Yet, ideas are dough of the day and you can sue someone for all kinds of infringement. 

Of course ideas are the dough of the day. “Consultants” for brands and whatever else make more money for tossing out ideas than people who work towards making the ideas happen. It the world where people who cannot write a line of lyrics to save their life insure their voices. The people who have the gift to write beautiful poetry give away those lines without credit for bags full of money.

I believed once that as you grow older and more confident in your field, you would willingly share ideas and have active discussions about them leading to more ideas. I did not realise that I would have to hoard them and evaluate friends if they were friends, enemies or worse, frenemies before talking about it. 

Of course, there are always better ideas and better inspirations. A true artist never stops because someone stole an idea. But in an expensive world and an empty bank account, it sure as hell burns to see an idea stolen. 

Then again, we go to Facebook to vent, share, discuss these things – an idea that was stolen from two other men and created into something else by someone who had part of the skill but perhaps not the ability to bring up the original idea. 

The idea men remain a footnote in a book, a credit in a movie while the others drive away laughing in a cool Bentley.

Frenemies.

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