I was reading somewhere that a certain species of solitary shark has been proven by radio frequency tracking devices to “hang out with friends” when there is an annual gathering of the species in a specific place. Not only was there a mass gathering, but the same sharks were repetitively found in the same “social” groups with close proximity. While I am in no position whatsoever to question the inner lives and motivations of sharks, observing these behaviours in other animals raises questions about ourselves.
We assume by anthropocentric projection a choice to associate and socialise no more than we do with ourselves but beyond whatever limited range of choice free will might assert here, these social bonds are as likely the consequences of autonomously self-propagating information-processing systems seeking optimally-concise behavioural encodings, in sharks as much as in humans.
Friendship can be an emotionally-rewarding dimension of our psychological and social lives. The question is perhaps not so much as of whether the friendships occur as a consequence of our emotional, psychological or social needs so much as whether we apply or interpret and culturally assert these values retrospectively to what are at base reflexive biological patterns of optimally-concise behavioural algorithms.
These are the waves which move through us and all of the expectations, ethical considerations and normative behavioural grammars we assert are nothing more (or less) than the self-replicating game and information or energy-processing pattern and system that plays itself; through and as us.