Tribe Time is Now

December 21, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

We seem obsessed with drawing distinctions in order to categorize ourselves. In order to understand who we are we need to understand how we relate to the rest of the population. What does the car we drive suggest about us? Our subscription to a political parties beliefs branch far beyond our personal perspectives.

The decisions we reach on these minor topics end up being the sources of definition from which we understand ourselves and plot our social interactions. On the basis of these minor details we create the foundation for all human interaction. In some ways these distinctions function as devices of communication from which we can understand and establish the means of interaction.

Often we think of these distinctions are purely intellectual abstractions. Beliefs and sources of pleasure are common forms of our contemporary society, but we would be remiss if we failed to recognize the most basic level of distinction. Our history reveals these basic levels as features such as family bonds, physical similarities or geographic commonality.

The additional “strength in numbers” that came from making these distinctions is obvious and the sole reason why generation after generation continues to seek out the answer to “Where do I belong?”

One drawback of our social evolution is a move into a more individualized society that made the creation of these distinctions a more complicated process. As families moved into separate dwellings and collected devices that further eliminated a dependency on others the need for social interaction decreased. We have reached a level now where some people must seek out human interaction.

Contemporary times simply represent our most developed form of this progress: technology in all aspects of our home function largely to provide us with what we need from the confines of our home. We no longer need to leave our home for gourmet meals, specialized information or engaging forms of entertainment. Continual progress will only further complicate this issue.

Despite this progress and move into a more individualized existence, we still maintain the need for group membership. Though we are a broken population we have located other sources of group subscription. We see Coke versus Pepsi, Mac versus PC or Burger King versus McDonalds as silly marketing games that companies use to establish a customer base. These distinctions are legitimate despite their arbitrary nature and reveal more about our psychological makeup than the tactics of our corporations. The games are used because they work.

Human beings need to recognize where they belong. Contemporary society provides many of these answers in the form of product usage. We drive this car, we use this phone, or we vote for this party. While legitimate, these distinctions are but meager sources of reflection and do little to probe the more profound factors of individuality. The results of this “shallow distinction” is unhappiness as we long to belong but feel a weakened source of connection. Modern technology can assist in creating more legitimate bonds but until we move beyond the levels of common product use or experience we need to strive for deeper sources of connection.

Our ancestors had battles and hunts to form common bonds. Contemporary society needs these major battles as well. In striving for these conquests we can develop friendships and strike out common problems. Today’s conquests are not blood-thirty ones; however, common needs that define the goals of charity organizations are excellent sources of inspiration. Instead of fighting a neighboring tribe we should link up and battle illiteracy or homelessness. Fighting together can only bring us closer and help us understand our place in society and, as we strive and struggle, help society as a whole alleviate the conflicts of our world.

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