Tribes aren’t just informal groups of individuals in a given area and aren’t limited to the indigenous populations of various geographic areas, at least not as the dictionary defines it.  Tribes are everywhere and they’re not as clear-cut as one might think.  Our own personal tribes often contain a fair amount of overlap in terms of interests and focus, while at the same time retaining their own unique features.

Personally, I have:

  • a climbing tribe
  • a Burning Man tribe
  • a political debate/theory tribe
  • a video gaming tribe

And the above is the short list of the tribes that I find myself involved with or creating.  With 24/7 access and the ability to communicate with individuals anywhere there’s a wireless signal or internet connectivity, it’s become more important to me than ever to not just be an individual within a given tribe but to be deeply enmeshed within them.

The reasons for this become exceedingly clear when viewed through the lens of more conventional psychology and sociology.  Stripped-down to its most core element, the concept of tribalism is really the explicit sense of belonging to something.  Religious, ethnic, and political groups have been privy-to and have made extensive use of the dynamics of tribalism for both deleterious and beneficent ends.

The more recent application of the concepts of tribalism to modern social groups and the implication that the overlap between various tribes (as viewed from a given individual’s point-of-view) is inextricable from the chaotic and miraculous endeavor that is life should be empowering.  The notion that we have implicit control and influence within our various tribal affiliations, irregardless of the basis of that affiliation, should be a wake-up call to anyone who values their time and the inter-connected nature of the experience-driven life.

Why does this matter?  Because irregardless of whether we are cognizant of it, we are tribal beings.  It directly impacts our ability to socialize and to grow as individuals through our emotional and spiritual investment.  It allows us to mirror and to experience validation in healthy, productive ways and gives us the opportunity to experience the human condition within a safe space–and that is the most priceless aspect of the entire endeavor.

The most simple explanation I can bestow on anyone as to why finding my tribe matters to me is quite plainly belonging.  Once someone belongs, once they’re accepted, validated, and have been given the gift of space held and reserved specifically for them, they are able to invest themselves a thousand-fold.

This is what I am still searching for.

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