Honey can spot a Golden Retriever from over a block away. And she always responds with a swoosh of her tail, a funny hop, and a look at me to see if we’re going to say hello.
She has found a member of her tribe.
The Ones Who “Get” You
For years, tribalism has referred to people with ethnic, cultural, or religious ties who sometimes use violence to defend their group against others.
But I’m using tribe the way people who live their lives online use it. Your tribe comprises the people who “get” you.
Over the past year, I’ve heard the same advice from different sources—don’t waste time with people who don’t appreciate what you’re doing. Find the people who “get” you and strengthen your ties to them.
At first, the advice made me uncomfortable. Especially when the people giving it said things like “and the people who don’t get you can just go have carnal relations with themselves.” (Well, that’s not quite what they said but this is a PG-rated blog.)
But the words stuck with me. Especially when someone tries to lure me into an online argument.
Arguing with Idiots
Occasionally someone will get defensive in the comments at Something Wagging. But it’s rare.
I’m more likely to find someone with a weird agenda through my first home buyer’s blog. There are real estate agents and lenders looking for visibility and business. Large websites looking for free content. And the occasional wackadoo troll.
I still smart at a Reddit commenter who called my article about having too much debt to buy a home spam.
When I first read it, I ran serious and snarky replies in my mind for over a week. Why? I have no idea.
Because I’ve counseled over 2000 people who wanted to buy homes. I’ve read their credit reports. I’ve seen their income. And I’ve had to tell some of them what they didn’t want to hear: that if you can’t afford more than the minimum payment on your credit cards and are in forbearance on your student loans, you’re not ready to buy a house.
I’ve handed them tissues when they started crying. I’ve encouraged them as they began digging themselves out of the financial hole they created for themselves. And I’ve cheered them on at their real estate closings after years of hard work.
People who can’t reach their dreams because they need help solving financial problems are my tribe. Redditors who type nasty comments from their mother’s basement aren’t.
Increase Your Tribes
Another thing that worries me about the advice to stick with your tribe is this: when like-minded people hang out together, their views become more extreme. For example, conservative people become more conservative when they only hang around other conservatives. Liberal people become more liberal when they spend time with other liberals.
So how do you find your tribes without cutting yourself off from different viewpoints?
Honey has one answer—redefine your tribe.
Yes, another Golden Retriever will catch her eye first. But if we go to the dog park, she won’t only look for other Goldens. She’ll also look for dogs that are on the young side. She pays attention to body language that is similar to her own. And she’ll look for the other retrievers (regardless of what breed they are). Dogs that fetch balls and sticks are also part of her tribe.
I learn from Honey and constantly redefine my tribe wherever I am.
So while it would be easy to say my tribes include people with progressive politics who love dogs and work in nonprofits, I prefer the following. My tribe mates are:
- intellectually curious
Just like Honey’s tribe mates are playful and fun-loving. That gives a lot of room to have diverse tribes.
Forming tribes with people who are intellectually curious has brought me friends who love synagogue architecture, celtic music, and comic books.
Many of my expressive tribe mates write. After all, I am a blogger. But others are painters, dancers, photographers, and musicians.
And forming tribes with compassionate people means I spend time with animal welfare activists concerned with pets and farm animals. Friends who are pro-life and pro-choice are motivated by a desire to help instead of a hatred of those who disagree with them about the best way to do it.
I hope that eventually I’ll stop worrying about other people’s tribes. And focus on collaborating with the world-changers who live in my own tribe.
Humans have more complex brains than dogs. It allows us to do many good and evil things that would never occur to a dog to do.
But that doesn’t mean dogs have nothing to teach us.
Honey finds her tribe by looking for signs of friendliness and encouragement. I need to do that too. And shake off the signs that someone isn’t a member of my tribe and doesn’t want to become one.
After all, if it’s good for Honey, it just might be good for me too.
Do you think finding your tribe is good advice? Or dangerous? And does your dog have tribes?