We live in a marvelous age were technology is developing at an ever faster rate. I am intrigued that despite all our advancements our basic nature appears to remain and it often latches on to these advancements in the most bizarre of ways. In this particular case I am speaking primarily of the rivalry which invariably pops up between groups of different mind sets within a certain area, be it technology, sports, politics, and so on. I do not speak specifically of the companies or entities involved but rather the people who follow these entities. It amazes me how dedicated, how passionate people become about their favourite product, company or team. In many cases it can go to extremes with people being so passionate that it can cause rifts in friendships, hurling of verbal abuse and even physical violence.
I am not a psychologist nor am I an expert in the field of human nature, however this bizarre and often irrational behaviour fascinates me. Why do we become so passionate about what in many cases are inane things? Why do we call Apple users sheep? Why is owning an Xbox akin to having the plague? I’ve observed this behaviour amongst many people from different walks of life and cultures. I’ve come to the conclusion that this behaviour is not caused by a specific background, history or life event. Rather I am of the opinion that this behaviour is something more intrinsic. It’s what I call “tribal mentality”.
I believe that it is in our nature to want to belong to a bigger group. We are a social species by nature and I believe this came about as a means of survival. If you consider a time before civilisation, a lone human would have found it difficult to compete and survive with other species sharing the same ecosystem. The answer was to form groups, or tribes, and collaborate and improve the odds of survival. Being dedicated to the tribe would increase the tribe’s overall chances of success. Undoubtedly this strategy has proved a success since the human being is probably the most successful complex organism on the planet.
This tribal mentality persists however and I feel that it has become more of a hindrance than an advantage in this stage of our evolution. This urge to belong to a group, to be part of something bigger than us can cause us to be blinded to common sense. In many cases we will say things, do things to support our “tribe” that in any other scenario we wouldn’t dream of doing.
Now, I must emphasise here that there is a distinction between “tribal mentality” and being social. The two are not the same but unfortunately in the modern world it is often expected that for you to be social and a “team player” it is also essential to be devoted to the “tribe”. I disagree with this point of view and am of the opinion that we can explore our social nature without having to be blindly dedicated to the “tribe”.
There is no perfect solution to this dilemma. A trait which has led to our species surviving and excelling is bound to be embedded in our DNA. What concerns me is that this trait can cause us to be irrational and turn a blind eye to the point of view of our fellow man. In the worst and most extreme of cases this can even lead to war. The music video “Two Tribes” by Frankie Goes To Hollywood, while referring to the USA and USSR during the cold war, really gets the point across. Check it out and pay close attention to what’s being said and portrayed.
My whole point here is that, by all means, join groups, socialise with its members and share thoughts and ideas. However, don’t be blinded by group thought, rather accept that there are other ideas, perceptions and beliefs out there. By doing so, you will open your eyes to the fact we live in a rich and diverse world and that we all belong to one “tribe” – the human race.