We are biological- social creatures far more so than we are logical. Like fish that school, we humans (generally speaking) are wired to nest ourselves in the context of a group, either as a well protected internal organ, or as the skin which relates to the outside world, but acts to nourish and-or defend the coherency of the group. Our biological wiring is so dedicated to this grouping task that our perception faculties are heavily biased toward what is useful over what is accurate. Most of us will sacrifice accuracy on the alter of belonging to a group every day of the week without even thinking about or recognizing it for what it is.
If we unpack the behavioral implications of our inborn social traits at a group level, we see the ritual displays we make to demonstrate our affinity to a group need somewhere to go and somewhere to grow. We seek some identification of “group self” as well as some contrasting social ground to define our group self from group other. As a result, many of us search for the boundary between “self” and “other”, probing the social landscape and attempt to “eat” the “other” as food with our superior ideas.
Never mind the ideas we hold are tokens of belonging far more than fact – they are far more holey than they are holy, we simply shrink or expand their value as necessary to fit the narrative that our group is the only true and right one. We even sometimes call the process of ritual selfing “owning” the other side. This illustrates what the actual act is – a symbolic embodiment of our biological nature; that must eat things to live. It is a perfectly normal outcropping of our social nature deeply rooted in the necessities of being in the context of the environment coupled with the current zeitgeist of ideas.
Marketers hijack these innate tendencies toward belonging in an attempt to build emotional connections between us and logos so the goop inside the packaging has more perceived value. And it works.
Thought stopping clichés are one of the benchmarks of ideas being used as social currency, not as agents of expanding our knowledge base. We diminish or increase the value of whatever ideas we encounter so that it is bent into whatever serves the group. This is why bureaucracies or social movements, once established, tend more to their preservation as they age than they do to working out whatever was in their charter. Whether or not the ideas we hold correspond to factual reality or sensible actions devoted to our common wealth or not is secondary to their value as a bonding agent – defending the coherency of the group. We are in effect groupies. If someone comes along behaving with an affinity to accuracy that differs with what serves group affinity, they are not thanked. They are either passively marginalized, or if they become influential, actively marginalized or neutralized by whatever means necessary.
There is no doubt that overcoming the limitations and mindsets of our small tribal roots is of benefit. In fact, it is arguably a necessary component of navigating the future we are unavoidably moving into. This doesn’t mean it is easy. We swim in the same pond and what we do influences our common experience. This fact carries with it an ever greater weight today than compared to the requirements of living within the threshold of uncultivated nature, waiting for her to deliver a capricious bounty. Somewhere in the depths of history we crossed a threshold to a point where we need each other in ways that cross the former boundaries of smallish tribes. Finding our footing on these untrodden grounds may not be easy, but it’s worth it.
I could be missing something(s)