Retrieving that tribal feeling

When we wandered around in hunter/gather mode, we had a tribal feeling. When we settled down into small villages with surrounding farms, we kept that tribal feeling. When we helped out with the mechanized production of goods and scientific methods applied to mysterious conditions, we lost that tribal feeling. We got labeled as irrational, superstitious, unrealistic, and uncivilized if we tried to hang on to that tribal feeling. We were late to work, undisciplined and impractical if we kept feeling tribal. So we got rid of that feeling and took to thinking about everything instead. We kept a lid on our feelings which maintained conditions like chronic anxiety, outbursts of misdirected hostility and lingering emotional baggage.

We're getting that feeling back thanks to the effects of pervasive connectivity. It's different this time around. This new version is compatible with our rationality, objectivity and advanced civilizations. Advances in cognitive neuroscience are showing us how to achieve the best of both: tribal feelings along with disciplined advances in governance, production, societal support systems, cultures and lifestyles. We can realize the integration of rationality and irrationality, thinking and feeling, as well as passions and higher purposes. We can achieve solidarity and cohesion when we bond through online connections. We can feel like we've joined something significant while contributing to and benefiting from the connection.

Our tribal feelings come from a place in our brains that does not keep track of time. It can hold a grudge through generations as if the dishonor happened yesterday. It can vividly recall moments of seemingly magical perfection as if no time has passed. This place also opts for participatory consciousness, losing track of oneself and becoming one with out object of fascination. This pattern makes for intense experiences of motherhood, fatherhood, or brother and sister hood. It makes it natural to stick together, protect each other and sacrifice our lives for the greater good of the tribe. This place responds emotionally to everything that happens and everything under consideration. We speak of this as "listening to our heart's desire" or "going with our gut".

Game designers, movie makers, concert producers and festival organizers already know this. If you're like me, you've had those tribal feelings in many of those experiences. It's also what comes over us when we fall in love with someone or become obsessed with some pursuit. We are "out of our mind" and into our feelings that defy our ability to justify our actions. However, our neocortex can kick in. We can get a grip, come back to our senses and restore our rationality. When we realize the integration, we can enjoy that wonderful feeling while doing something intellectual, analytical or pragmatic. Writing for this blog feels like that on most days. The pervasive connectivity is making it more likely, accessible and common for all of us to get into feeling tribal every day.

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