“You must be the change you want to see in the world” ~ Gandhi.
Has connection got worse since we became so digitally connected or do we simply need to up-skill to catch the wave of modern tribalism?
It’s difficult to miss the extent of which the world has changed in the past three decades. The exponential growth of technology has created a dynamic shift in every aspect of our everyday lives. How we eat, interact and work has shifted onto a mobile platform from dinner via UberEATS to a corporate employment strategy that involves filters on Snapchat, the world is different.
All of the above has been given a lot of airtime and a lot of consideration around how it impacts us on personal, country and global levels.
How we create, build and interact within community has also experienced exponential change. This change has caused great impact on the individual level that has been the focus of considerable negative coverage.
People feel disconnected. People feel lonely.
The thing is, loneliness is proof that your innate search for connection is still intact. The philosopher Aristotle, in his famous conversations with Plato said that there should be three parts to a loving friendship: Unity, Pleasure and Goodness. These are innate skills we are all equipped with, so the only thing standing between any person and their ability to create deep bonds with another is lack of access to others.
I have thought about this a lot. How it could be, that in a time where we are more connected to more places and people than ever before, the average persons experience of connection has decreased.
People have been saying tribal communities are a thing of the past, but I find myself questioning if this is really true, not to belittle the personal experience of people feeling this, more so to understand if it is that the opportunity to connect has actually increased (as you would expect inline with the advancement of digital connectivity) and we just all missed the how-to on YouTube?
Do we need, as a species; to rewrite the way we think connection is made, in order to open the gates to our new global tribe?
Historically if you connected with someone outside of your direct community, it was dangerous, often resulting in loss of life, so we have some deep wiring that unconsciously drives us to be afraid of reaching out into the unknown. Our wiring needs to untangle from the past and we need to reset our thinking about how and where connection is created.
If you set aside, all of the notions you have for how friendship, real lasting deep connected friendship is created historically, and forget any rules or conditioning you have around where it’s found and just look at the tools you have at your fingertips to create new connections in your life, how would you do it?
How would you search for your tribe?
It’s a question that forces you to look deeply within, past the stuff you do or the job you have or your role in your direct family. It is an asking of self; who am I? What kind of person am I? What am I really passionate about? And how do I find people that I will relate to? What do I admire in others, what am I interested in learning about or being exposed to? What languages, places, subjects or activities are am I interested in?
Well, the chances are, if you set aside a day, just one Sunday even, to search online, on the global platform of connectivity you have at your fingertips, you would probably find groups, conferences, communities and institutions that share your interests. You will probably find them locally, or within your country, but you would also find them globally, in new and exciting places. You even have algorithms that have been specially created and optimised to support your search, and could probably find options that tick many boxes on your tribal wish list.
Perhaps the issue with digital social connection is not that its all “surface level” but that we, the user, are treating it that way and the results are simply a reflection of what we are putting in.
Friendship, the kind that Aristotle spoke about, with unity, pleasure and goodness takes effort. Real life effort. Regardless of where and how they are formed, this rule applies.
You make the connection. Then you do the work. Then it takes time. After all tribal trust was built over generations, not over night, and even with this generational membership every new generation underwent initiation and event to prove commitment to the tribe.
Finding your tribe is not as easy as a click of the button, the click and the button is just the new pathway for you to build and grow with other humans. Creating lasting bonds however is your personal choice and responsibility towards commitment.
Maybe when everyone stops dismissing digital social connection as “just fun” or “not important”, and starts approaching it as you would any other community, asking what are it’s needs, which needs do you personally want to serve and how it can serve you in return.
Ultimately, it comes back to what it always has, how much time, energy and effort are you prepared to put into building connection in your life? And how prepared are you to reach out and be vulnerable to create that connection?
It’s easy to read the Gandhi quote at the top of this and jump to the “change the world” narrative, however I urge you to consider it in another way, a little closer to home, “You must be the change you want to see in the world”, in your world, in your life, with your own personal ability to connect. Be the one to change your view on how, so you can head out into the world and find your tribe.
I like to think of this as a life changing kind of crowd-sourcing…I call it Digital Tribalism.