Rethinking Sociality (Part 1)

by Scott Noelle

We humans are social animals, and for the vast majority of humanity’s time on Earth, human societies took the form of tribes.*

Modern civilization has undermined our innate sociality in many ways. For example, the “virtue” of self-sacrifice for the collective good defies our natural pleasure orientation.

In a healthy tribal society, where everyone is emotionally attuned with everyone else, individual and collective pleasure go hand in hand, for there is more pleasure to be had when one’s choices serve both oneself and the collective.

But in our society, with its complexity, alienation, and legacy of “dominator” values, it takes an extraordinary kind of consciousness for one to re-create that interpersonal attunement in a way that actually feels good.

In Part 2, we’ll look at how that works. For today, notice the things you say and do in order to “be social” — especially around your children and other parents.

Notice whether your “social” behavior feels authentic or not. Do you ever sacrifice your authenticity to appear “good” or “nice”?

Originally published on 2007-02-01
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* Note: The term “tribe” is used colloquially to describe primitive, nomadic, egalitarian, hunter-gatherer, kin groups, usually consisting of fewer than 100 people. Anthropologists would use the term band society.