Sunday, July 24, 2016

tribal blindness

Tribe. Understanding our basic needs for belonging is becoming a little more common. More people are talking about it and writing about it.

That's good.  The more we look at it and talk about it the better chances we have for figuring out how to be in our tribes without completely fucking things up. What blinds us to the similarities between Tribe A and Tribe B causes conflict and violence. The internal similarities within our tribe blinds us to the differences we need to see.*

While we are learning how to better play nice with others, predators are learning too. Watch how Joey Salads demonstrates it. This post is not an endorsement of the guy and his social experiments because I have no idea if he is getting consent for these social experiments. Still, his little social experiment with the Pokemon Go phenomenon highlights a truth, and one I wonder how many people see.

 Watch the experiment here and then come back -

When we identify with a specific tribe we automatically assign deep levels of similarity and familiarity to the other members of our tribe. Humans do this without a lot of conscious consideration and often we do this somewhat blindly.

Defining the words.

Assigning Similarity: you think like me, behave like me, choose like me,  believe in what I believe in and follow the same ethics I follow even if I don't know what those ethics really are because most of us don't pause to evaluate this stuff.

Assigning Familiarity: I feel like I know you and you know me, sort of. Because we must be similar to share a tribe we must also already know a data set about each other. The more familiar you are to me, the more comfortable I am with you. The more similar we are, the more you have the right to assume you may be familiar with me.

Predators count on the assumed similarity and familiarity gained through tribal association. The shared S and F assumptions breed a level of trust. And Mr. Salads' social experiment identifies a harsh reality created by the S/F tribal assumptions.

I suspect when we deliberately choose a tribe and the tribe is artificial like the Pokemon Go tribe, we humans may be even more willing to assign a level of trust that is untested. It's one thing to belong to a tribe by the geographical markers of your childhood, or the religious markers, or tribe by heritage - we didn't choose that, it chose us. "Oh, you're Irish too? Excellent. I trust you completely." This is not what we do. Just because you have ancestors born where my ancestors were born does not mean I will jump in your car (if you didn't watch the video -the car reference doesn't have as much weight).

When our tribe is a product of our own choice perhaps we assume a deeper and riskier reality. We like to believe we are smart. Smart people make wise choices. Therefore, as I am smart, I naturally have chosen my deliberate tribes with wisdom and as a result - they are trustworthy. There are all kinds of things wrong with this proof of our intelligence but I think we do it anyway.

And I am pretty sure the predators are counting on it.

Most people have the ability to be smart. So be smart. Recognize when you choose a tribe by shared interests it does not mean everyone who shares your interest lives by your rules, your ethics, your moral compass.  Deeper still, don't assume they have chosen to share your interest because they want to join your tribe, the chosen interest might be a con and Mr. Salads demonstrates how easily the con works.

*this is all about Affordances: what you see completely determines what you can do. A concept in Conflict Communication and Violence Dynamics in Chiron Training programs I have the privilege to facilitate.

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