Dear Mole: Cliques, Clubs, Clumps & Dung Heaps


Blackfoot, Pawnee, Cheyenne, Crow, Apache, Arapahoe…

The reality of tribes is sadly unavoidable in discussing the troublesome “social animal” design (flaw) of our species, but it’s something that makes me feel a little gross whenever I talk about it.

If you interpreted that to mean that I personally find people to be gross, that’s not too far off the mark.

Of course, we all have an ever-shifting assemblage of tribes to fulfill our strange need for a consensus.  As you accurately surmised, my current circle of influence is relatively small, and the most significant constituent of those interlocking associations happens to be a dog.  In high school, I fell in with a singularly bizarre and fiercely independent group of friends who stayed in touch far longer than one might expect post-graduation.  In recent years, it seems we’ve all realized the wisdom in finally cutting that umbilical, but a few remain close friends.  In the late 80s, our common bond was a ludicrous sense of humor and an affinity for partying.  These days, the only sure common bonds that remain are bilateral symmetry and opposable thumbs.  Plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose.  Regardless, much of their former influence has proven indelible.

I’ve had my drinking tribe that necessarily moved on once I stopped imbibing.  The specifically non-drinking “recovery” tribe with whom I briefly fell in at that point quickly proved far too insipid and childishly religious for my tastes.  I’ve inadvertently found myself in the midst of other appropriate tribes revolving around punk rock, writing, philosophy, Buddhism, shared political views, and terrible Nickelodeon shows.  I am a person and I am not quite a hermit (yet), so all of this is naturally par for the course.

But as you alluded to in the final paragraph of your letter, the word itself with its newly odious sociopolitical implications makes me bristle at its very utterance.  I remember just a few short years ago, I often found it cute when another blogger would refer to their readership as “their tribe”.  It was relatively innocuous and seemed to foster a sense of inclusion and acceptance.  I no longer find it cute.  It’s gross.

I don’t consider co-workers to be a tribe.  Generating income in a soul-crushing job is the new pursuit of former hunter-gatherers, and the randomness of a company’s staff coupled with the involuntary nature of having to work for a living takes the common bond tribal aspect right out of it.  It can be a tribe if you’re lucky enough to enjoy the company of your fellow automatons, but I would guess that this is a comparative rarity.

People will continue to float in and out of my life for as long as I continue inhabiting this planet.  I try not to attach to them.  Emotional independence is literally all I’ve got going for me.

I also have a very short attention span, my recent monomaniacal blog page notwithstanding.  Usually, within a pretty short time frame, I can extract all the inspiration, education and camaraderie that I seek from a person.   After that, I simply remember them fondly as having been among that rarest of tribes: people who don’t make me want to vomit.  Is it any surprise I’ve never had the desire to marry?

I know that some of this might sound pretty cold, but I venture that it’s true of all of us, to varying degrees.  Embracing an ever-shifting cast of characters while former tribe members necessarily fall off is a form of non-attachment and as such, seems to be a somewhat healthy psychological outlook.

Do you, like me, secretly admire the simple and the stupid?  They may need bigger and more clamorous tribes than you and I, but I also surmise that most of them are considerably happier.  Am I just jumping to arrogant conclusions when I assume such things or do you agree that the bigger one’s intellect, the more potential for depression and existential ennui?

Does my aversion to social media have anything to do with my ever-increasing lack of tolerance for my own species?

Forget that last question, I don’t care if it does.

Fuck Zuckerberg,


11 thoughts on “Dear Mole: Cliques, Clubs, Clumps & Dung Heaps

  1. As Groucho Marx once said, “I refuse to belong to any club that would have me as a member”. And wouldn’t it be marvelous to be slightly stupid enough to not feel stupid all the damned time? Lol!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Increasing lack of tolerance for humans? Check.
    Conviction that the smarter you are the more potential for being miserable you have? Check.
    Yup, you’re pretty spot on.
    Now, do you want to be a part of my tribe?
    Good, because I don’t want you in it.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. In my life I have also, it seems, collected and dumped tribes, but over a longer haul (I think) than you have, Paul. My current “tribe” is enjoying almost 7 years together, my previous one lasted only two or three. My tribe before that one, in my old city, went three or four years and we all promised “to keep in touch” and never did. They reached out, but long-distance relationships are a burden I cannot bear. I have time, it seems, only for those I can see regularly. What will I lose if I also keep those who cannot give me bar time and, really, whose contributions can be replaced by others in closer proximity? Will I lose dog time? Wife time? Reading time? Writing time? No. We can share anecdotes online and (if they can think) we can exchange longer written interactions, but my complete commitment to the tribe requires local, personal, and often inebriated synergy.

    See, we’re practically the same person, in two different places. 😉

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I do engage in some hyperbole when composing these posts, of course, as providing entertainment to myself and others is the only goal here and without the spice of exaggeration, my ruminations would be very boring. But the temporary nature of most of our relationships is, as you said, very much a fact of life. Everyone knows this but few cop to it. Those former friends to whom I alluded probably never spare a thought on such matters; however, if they were to be specifically informed that I (or anyone else who used to hang with us) no longer have the time for them, then suddenly they’d find reason to feel offended. Just one more example of the fact that silence is golden.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Oh yeah. Some have gotten offended that I allowed them to drift, though they did nothing to mitigate that. Some friends think that the act of being THEIR friend requires more effort on my part than theirs. Of course, friends like that we are all better off without. But that “spice of exaggeration” thing? Oh, I know it well. 😉

        Liked by 2 people

        1. Completely off-topic, I’m unable to leave a comment on your newest post. It shows some blank lines where I guess I’m supposed to enter identifying info, but it doesn’t say what info. Desertcurmudgeon doesn’t work, nor does NFTA or my email address. So I’ll leave that comment here: I intend to hold you to your “write a piece of fiction” promise.

          Liked by 2 people

          1. How bizarre! I wonder why? The settings on that post don’t appear different than any others …

            … but nonetheless …

            Somebody better hold me to it! The next piece of fiction I finish will be my first. 😂

            Liked by 2 people

    1. Perhaps I misstated all that. Taken alone, my sexual urges are just the same as they always were, except that now I actually need tangible stimuli for them to rise from their dormant state. Why? Because I analyzed my ego out of the sex/romance equation. Try that. Imagine if most people didn’t wrap their sense of self-worth, virility, machismo, image, etc. into their libido. There’d be a lot fewer of us infesting the planet, that’s for damn sure. I neglected to mention in this post that sometimes, my major tribe consisted of two opposite sex people living together. This was usually great until it wasn’t. I don’t think people were designed to be together forever, but popular culture has elevated the notion of eternal love over that of reasonable biological urges. Not to mention, the best thing I’ve ever done for humanity is avoiding reproduction — my particular gene pool needn’t extend any further than it already has.

      Liked by 4 people

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