From the Civilized to the Tribal
Sebastian Junger, in Tribe–On Homecoming and Belonging, takes up the big questions of human identity and happiness in his inquiry into tribes. A tribe, he defines, is “the people you feel compelled to share the last of your food with.”
Fascinating lessons of history arise from studying the growth of Western American civilization alongside the native tribes that occupied the land before Europeans arrived.
“It may say something about human nature that a surprising number of Americans–mostly men–wound up joining Indian society rather than staying on their own. They emulated Indians, married them, were adopted by them, and on some occasions even fought alongside them. And the opposite almost never happened: Indians almost never ran away to join white society. Emigration always seemed to go from the civilized to the tribal.”
The Appeal of Tribal Life
Junger posits that a compelling aspect of tribal life was “its fundamental egalitarianism.” Agriculture and then industrialization have fundamentally changed the human experience. They have enabled us to to make individualistic choices and to live independently from a communal group. But it seems this individualism and liberty comes with a cost: “Rather than buffering people from clinical depression, increased wealth in society seems to foster it….Inter-reliant poverty comes with its own stresses, and certainly isn’t the American ideal–but it’s much closer to our evolutionary heritage than affluence.”
Connectivity: What Makes us Happy
To be content, self-determination theory holds, human beings need three things: “they need to feel competent at what they do; they need to feel authentic in their lives; and they need to feel connected to others.”
Quoting the Journal of Affective Disorders, Junger explains that: “In effect, humans have dragged a body with a long hominid history into an overfed, malnourished, sedentary, sunlight-deficient, sleep-deprived, competitive, inequitable, and socially-isolating environment with dire consequences.”
Our Part of the Remedy
That sounds pretty dire. None of us will overcome this heritage of social and biological evolution. Families Connect is trying to do our part by addressing the need to feel connected with others. Technology has enabled immediate communication with a world of strangers. We have a product that is designed to enable those who matter most–friends and family–to stay connected at a deeper level than is possible on mass social media. Please visit the home page, sign-up for the application, and give it a try.