Thursday 26 April 2018

Katie Byrne: How to lose friends and exfoliate people - the Jared Kushner way

Exfoliation: Ivanka Trump's husband Jared Kushner admitted to carrying out a biannual cleansing of his friendship groups
Exfoliation: Ivanka Trump's husband Jared Kushner admitted to carrying out a biannual cleansing of his friendship groups

Friendships come and go, but if you're Donald Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, it's best to leave nothing to chance.

The senior advisor to the American president recently admitted to constructively culling his friendships every now and again - a process he calls "exfoliation".

"Anyone who was willing to change a friendship or not do business because of who somebody supports in politics is not somebody who has a lot of character," he explained.

It's not clear where the term "exfoliation" comes from, though the best guess is wife Ivanka's toiletry cabinet. Who knows - maybe he depilates the bottom line and emulsifies the figures too.

While the rest of us do an occasional cleanse and tone of our friendship circles to gently remove impurities and toxic friends, Kushner is an advocate of a vigorous scrub to slough away former pals like dead skin cells, and leave his phone book squeaky clean.

An exfoliation, it's important to note, isn't as simple as ghosting the guy you met two weeks ago or leaving the WhatsApp group that has devolved into a convoluted, confabulating circular of machine gun pings.

No, this is a zero-tolerance extermination of anyone who is extraneous to requirements. Would Lorraine from your book club canvass on your behalf if you went into local politics? Exactly. Would Breda in No 38 give you the vote? Because she's no use to you otherwise…

Those who want to lose friends and exfoliate people should also manage the vast gulf between brand perception and reality. You might have 437 Facebook friends but, realistically speaking, you probably only have two at any given time: the friend you aimlessly text all day long and the friend you call when your car gets clamped and you need a credit card number.

A diverse group of friends is, of course, handy should you ever want to put on your own festival, start a small civil war or look cool in front of people with whom you would actually like to be friendly, but Kushner is right, concentric circles of friends are just not all they're cracked up to be.

For the most part, people who collect an unwieldy amount of friends are imagining, in some part of their mind, a fantasy birthday party that is populated by an eclectic assemblage of movers and shakers and not, in fact, their next-door neighbour, two of their friends from work and one of their weird boyfriends.

They forget that their parties are never a petting zoo of cross-cultural sexual diversity because people are fundamentally useless and will probably back out at the last minute because of an ingrown toenail.

And what do you get in return for this annual onslaught of self-flagellating social suicide? An invite to their birthday party and, if you're not careful, their wedding, their child's christening and their mother's 60th.

This, I hasten to add, is before we even consider their gut-clenchingly expensive hen weekends and stag parties. The next time your work colleague asks if you fancy a quick bite, remember there is no such thing as a free lunch.

It might seem like a simple, no-strings-attached sandwich, but in a year's time you could be receiving an email from some dude called Derek - if that's even his real name - badgering you to lodge €125 into his bank account for paintballing in Westport. They say paintballing is one of the world's most expensive hobbies. That's not true - friends are.

They also say you can't choose your family but you can choose your friends. More propaganda.

Friends, don't forget, come with their friends and their partners and their pets. Before long, you're in the middle of a labyrinthine Venn Diagram of boozy brunches and misplaced obligation, when you could just be at home watching Downton Abbey with your cat (who, let's face it, is probably talking behind your back as well).

Luckily, for those naive enough to have more than two pals, there are tried and tested ways to exfoliate your friendship group without hurting anyone's feelings.

For a significantly smooth finish, start a fundraising campaign and set up a page on MyCharity.ie. Your requests for donations will have people running out of your way in no time. Becoming a vegan (and posting animal rights videos on your Facebook page) or telling people you support Trump is equally effective, while the Witness Protection Programme is always an option.

Otherwise, you could try organising an wedding. You know who your real friends are when they cost you €150 a head - and an overlooked invite makes for an excellent exfoliator.

For an intimate wedding, less stress and fresh, radiant skin, do as Jared Kushner does, and exfoliate daily.

Irish Independent

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