Tribes

“Human beings need three basic things in order to be content: they need to feel competent at what they do; they need to feel authentic in their lives; and they need to feel connected to others. These values are considered "intrinsic" to human happiness and far outweigh "extrinsic" values such as beauty, money and status.” - Sebastian Junger, Tribe

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Social connections are a fundamental part of being human. We need to be a part of something bigger than ourselves in order to feel proud and have a sense of belonging.

Why don't we make more of an effort to form and develop tribes?

First, I think we should define what a tribe is. In my mind, it is a very open definition. A tribe could a family, club, band, religion, or a million other things. There are essentially countless ways in which people can congregate and socialize. But the key element to a tribe, in my mind, is simply a group of individuals coming together under some unified theme. 

Sometimes that theme can be vague, or just a pretense. We often just want an excuse to meet up and be around others. I think many people who attend church services do so for the communal aspect rather than the dogma itself. 

To some degree, I'm torn about the need for a tribe. I've often glorified the idea of individuals who distance themselves from society at large. But maybe I over-romanticize the lives of people like Thoreau or Tesla. Despite their insights and contributions to the world, they also seemed lonely and isolated. Is that the price to pay for the life of a genius? Or maybe people will rationalize their failed relationships with the assumption that they are in pursuit of higher ideals.

Can't we be a part of something while retaining our individuality?

Although I'm not a huge fan of Andy Warhol, I like the idea of his Factory in New York - where tons of interesting individuals would pour in and out day to day. I think it's healthy to have that kind of social stimulation from a wide range of people.

If we're too shut off from others, then we can lose perspective. At the same time, if we're always surrounded by other people, we might lose touch with our own inner thoughts.

I like the idea of binging on people and then binging on isolation. I try to throw myself into social situations where I'm surrounded by interesting people, and then I try to cut myself off from the world for a bit to digest those interactions and reflect on my own thoughts.

Balance, balance, balance...at this point it feels like a cliche for how much that theme has popped up in these essays. But just because I keep touching on it, doesn't mean it doesn't have some merit, right?

People have a tendency to be drawn to extremes. It's either this or that, all or nothing. I think it's better to get a bit of both worlds, and then try and extract what you learn from that mixture. It's a yin and yang thing.

Anyway, I feel like I've gotten somewhat sidetracked from the original intent of this post.

What I'm trying to say is that it's good to be a part of something bigger than yourself. Tribes help us feel connected. They support us and offer opportunities for growth.

And there are and endless array of things that you could become a part of...or even start if there's not something out there that you identify with.

But we should just be mindful of our tribe-shopping. Let's try to pick tribes that help develop ourselves and have a healthy influence on our lives. So I joined a film club, yoga class, and volunteer group. This way, I have a creative outlet, physical activity, and way to give back a little bit.

Sometimes we over-romanticize the idea of a stubborn individual clinging to their own opinions. Let's try to find the merit of tribes. Through tribes, we build connections and build ourselves up in the process.