Wednesday, July 4, 2012


Last week (or has it been two weeks?) during The Bloggess Book Club, she expressed her happiness at finally having found her Tribe.   Since then the "Lawsbians" movement has taken off.  The Tribe figures that if we enjoy The Bloggess, than, at a minimum we have a quirky enough sense of humor to enjoy each other, too.

But this finding of our Tribe hits upon so many other common issues.  Finding our Tribe suggests, perhaps, we weren't already within our Tribe to begin with.  It hints at the feeling of being "outsiders" so many of us feel.

Last night, I admit, I was watching The Mary Tyler Moore Show.  Of particular relevance to this post, I watched Episode 7 of Season 1 - Toulousse Lautrec is One of my Favorite Artists.  In this episode, she interviews a wonderful author for a news segment, and then he asks her out for dinner.  When they both get off their chairs, she realizes how short he is, and then tries to be sensitive in all that she says next to him, finding herself blundering with inadvertent "short" references.  Not aided, of course, by her friend Rhoda, who refers to him as a shrimp when he's out of the room, so that when he comes back, Mary introduces him to Rhoda as Eric Shrimp.

In the meantime, in the course of the show and their spending evenings together getting to know each other, Eric finishes his second book, which he leaves for Mary to read.  It is all about how we all feel like outsiders.  He has this line, that I'll paraphrase badly, but you can hit the link above, and as long as Hulu has it, you can watch it for yourself.  He talks about high school, and how there was this one guy who was the captain of the football team, class president, and he may even have suggested he was top of the class.  And there was this one girl.  She was captain of the cheer squad, class secretary and dating the captain of the football team.  Those two people, he said, were the only ones who were actually happy in high school. 

Facebook - as much as Tweeps may diss it - has been a remarkable tool for reconnecting with people you used to know.  (Maybe Gotye should try it?).  I definitely felt on the outside in high school.  And so, when I left, there were only about two or three people I actually kept in touch with, and I never attended a reunion.  I got on Facebook the year of our twentieth reunion, and in those early stages, you clicked "Accept" on anyone whose name you recognized before you learned to filter.  And I had the opportunity prior to the reunion to actually get to know some people from my class that I hadn't been close to.  Who seemed, from the distance, to be popular and happy and well accepted at school.  And then, to learn, that they, too, were miserable in high school and felt like outsiders.

Then, since I was in town at the time, I went to my twentieth reunion.  And ran into more former class-mates who seemed like they were part of the "in" crowd only to discover they felt like they were on the outside, too.

I think we tend to underestimate our place within society and our community, and perhaps, to over-estimate others.  Twitter provides a remarkable ability to feel "closer" to celebrities and perhaps not their innermost thoughts, but their most random thoughts that they share with the thousands who follow them.  Not surprising, their tweets aren't too much different than ours.  Not surprising, their tweets often express their own insecurities, their own desire for acceptance, their own search for community and their place.  In some ways, it has to be harder for them, because we have all placed them way up high on a pedestal, outside the normal realm of society. 

But the reality is that our common denominator is that we're all human.  We all want to belong.  And so many of us often feel that we don't belong. 

Don't assume that the person next to you feels a part of your community.  The healthiest churches I have been in encourage parishioners to greet and get to know the person sitting on the pew next to them.  You can't assume that the person there feels like they belong until you let them know that they belong.  Just as you often feel out of place yourself.

I admit, I have felt that since I found Twitter, I have found "my people".  Y'all laugh at my jokes, enquire about my pain, and read my blog and ideally enjoy it (more comments to confirm doesn't hurt my self esteem or ego!)  But the reality is that we are all part of one big tribe.  The Tribe of Humanity.  You will be assimilated.  Resistance is futile.

1 comment:

  1. When I heard Kevin Costner talking about things like people being unable to believe he sucks at golf even though he played a golfer in a movie, I realized that even megastars put their pants on one leg at a time, and that they share the same human emotions as the rest of us. I hope to never forget this. Thank you for the reminder!