Tribal Connections

tribe

Somewhat appropriately for Mother’s Day, I was going back to something Writer Chick wrote in her blog a while back that interested me. She said:

“The idea here is that a writer or otherwise creative entrepreneur type person needs a tribe. A group of people so dedicated to them that they spread the word. Offer support. Pledge undying loyalty to the person, their products and/or their brand. Now aside from family, which I think is actually a tribe of sorts, isn’t this a little bit weird? Even your group of friends could be a tribe, I guess. Or your co-workers. But like total strangers?”

To my mind what she describes here is not a tribe. It is a fanbase. A tribe does not promote you; it supports and protects you, perhaps, or shares your particular brand of weirdness, or loves what you love or speaks a shared language. So Middlebury College alumni, who speak at least two languages and have traveled abroad and let it change them, broaden their minds, etc., are one of my tribes. Whedonistas (lovers of Joss Whedon’s prolific oeuvre) tend to be one of my tribes. Peaceful martial artists are one of my tribes.

For my money, your tribe is not there to promote you like a rock star. They are there to understand you when no one else does, to finish your sentences even when you think you are not communicating clearly, and to love you for your oddities, not despite them. Anyway, that’s what I think. What do you think?