On Tribal Loyalties
What drives our tribal instincts? Whether political or religious, social or sporting — our identification with tribes seems to have an outsized influence on our thinking and behavior.
My desire to understand how tribal associations govern our actions was inflamed once again a few weeks ago when a renegade group within what had been patchwork community — a loose federation of infertility blogs — opted to secede.
The action, aggravated by perceived exclusivity, prompted all manner of hurt feelings, accusations and second guessing. To help provide an airing of grievances a few bloggers, (yours truly included) banded together to host healing salons — encouraging a conversation that culminated in this roundup of summaries.
Now that the dust has settled, I’m back to trying to understand what is it about humans that makes us feel the need to strongly identify with one tribe or another. I certainly find myself gravitating to women whose lives look more like mine. In my research I came across this piece on Time.com by Michael Shermer ruminating on our divisive political process. He observed of modern humans:
“We are a scant few steps removed from the tribes of our hunter-gatherer ancestors, and a few more leaps afield from the hominid ancestors roaming together in small bands on the African Savanna. There, in those long-gone millennia, were formed the family ties and social bonds that enabled our survival among predators who were faster, stronger, and deadlier than us: unwavering loyalty to your fellow tribesmen was a signal that they could count on you when needed.”
He also noted:
“Research in cognitive psychology shows, for example, that once we commit to a belief we employ the confirmation bias, in which we look for and find confirming evidence in support of it and ignore or rationalize away any disconfirming evidence.”
In hindsight, given the super sensitive nature of what brought women to the infertility tribe in the first place it’s not unexpected that many felt betrayed by fellow tribeswomen who identified and blog badged as “parenting/pregnant after infertility and loss.” It translated to a sense of disloyalty or tribal abandonment.
I was reminded of an F. Scott Fitzgerald quote:
“The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposing ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.”
It is in that vein that I was delighted to become acquainted (and re-acquainted) with a set of bloggers whom I might have overlooked — “non-non-moms” — who shared with me a larger mission: a desire to nurture fellowship, find common ground … all on equal footing. It’s good to know that even after the infertility scars have healed and we’ve moved down different paths we still have each other’s backs.