Archive for February 4th, 2011


February 4, 2011

I’ve been fretting about the negative implications of tribalism, and the idea that native wisdom entails excessive focus on the local and traditional. “Growing the tribe” seems like a better idea: expanding the circle of empathy, coming to see “the land” and our place as the entire planet and all its peoples. (Or to be more expansively Saganesque about it: the entire cosmos is our home.)  The right kind of pluralism, I’m thinking, transcends the local tribe.

Seth Godin sees it differently:

Seth Godin argues the Internet has ended mass marketing and revived a human social unit from the distant past: tribes. Founded on shared ideas and values, tribes give ordinary people the power to lead and make big change. He urges us to do so.

In the age of tribes, will the benefits outweigh the problems? Specifically, if society fractions into increasingly small groups, won’t we wind up with more rules, more conflict, and more difficulty in communicating, as each develops its own norms and goals? Does this internet-enabled tribal age have implications for how we are going to coexist in society as the “other” becomes an increasingly large part of the population? — David Stewart

I think the idea of negative tribal behavior is older than the Cro Magnon man. Tribes online, in work and in communities aren’t going to make us more violent. We don’t run the risk of more us/them conflicts. I think, instead, we’re going to see more movements that benefit all of us. When enough people care about autism or diabetes or global warming, it helps everyone, even if only a tiny fraction actively participate. Remember, it’s the doing, more than what gets done, that defines tribe. (More…)