TheAlchemist

Insight into human tribalism from (not) wearing a mask

4 posts in this topic

Like probably many of you, I have recently been out in public both with, and without a mask.

Something very interesting that I have noticed is that my thinking and my way of seeing the world and other people is affected by whether or not I wear a mask. When I don't wear a mask, I tend to relate more with other people who are not wearing a mask. I feel more separate from other people who are wearing a mask. Ideas and narratives that support the idea that wearing masks is dumb, not useful etc. are more attractive for my mind, because they are self-serving and they help reduce cognitive dissonance. They help reduce the conflict that exists between how people around me are acting, and how I am acting. The more people I see around me wearing a mask (while I am not) the more the cognitive dissonance increases. My mind sees that this discomfort can only be relieved by either a) getting in line with other people's narratives or b) by grasping onto a powerful narrative that justifies my choices. On the other hand, when I am wearing a mask in public, pretty much the opposite thing happens. I begin relating much more with people who are wearing a mask and my mind starts grasping onto narratives that make me feel better about that. There is this tribalistic ingroup-outgroup dynamic that happens quickly and quite automatically, and my mind grasps to those narratives that support my choices. I do believe I have a rational basis for wearing a mask and an understanding of why masks work, but it's also useful to at times take a break and seriously consider if I am just acting out some narrative (pre-packed package of justifications) my mind has grasped onto. 

Have you noticed this dynamic operating in yourself? 

How do you think these processes unfold in society at large? How can we avoid slipping into these ingrained patterns in ourselves? Just more self-awareness? Or more detachment or "transcendence" perhaps? Or is it even a bad thing to slip into these patterns if it helps society at large?

 


Every perspective has at least a piece of the truth in it.

No one is capable of being 100% wrong.

 

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Posted (edited)

Very well spotted. Credit to you for spotting this and being aware enough to see this.

Human beings have an emotional need called 'belonging'. Belonging is the human need to be a part of a tribe, to be a part of a group, to fit into a group. Now, when you wear a mask, you will feel the energy of mask-wearers pulling you towards them and you will 'fit in' with that group. In such a situation, the part of you that needs belonging will come up with all sorts of stories and justifications that help you fit in with them, that the mask-wearing group commonly believes. It may or may not be true, but that's not important. The important thing is to fit in. Likewise, when you don't wear the mask, the energy of those against wearing masks pulls you towards them and you start thinking along those lines!

The mask is a huge symbol of what you believe about the COVID Pandemic in general. It's like a brand-symbol or logo of groups. This is how branding works, this is why it works. It creates a sense of belonging among the market of consumers, that 'you will belong with us and our consumers if you get our product!'

17 minutes ago, TheAlchemist said:

How do you think these processes unfold in society at large? How can we avoid slipping into these ingrained patterns in ourselves? Just more self-awareness? Or more detachment or "transcendence" perhaps? Or is it even a bad thing to slip into these patterns if it helps society at large?

The answer to this question, according to me, would be to consciously create a strategy for creating belonging, consciously creating your own tribe. When you have that need met or when you have a strategy for it, you will have much more incentive to look at both sides critically and to arrive at the underlying, complex, nuanced truth.

Edited by Parththakkar12

"Do not pray for an easy life. Pray for the strength to endure a difficult one." - Bruce Lee

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I think it’s a hive mind effect. A lot of people don’t like to believe there’s some collective intelligence at work in groups but really it’s there.

When you’re out in public without a mask, you get caught into the non-mask wearing hive mind, and your thoughts will reflect that. Likewise when you’re wearing a mask.

Its why homeless people can be ignored on major city streets despite thousands of people seeing them every hour. The “regular people” hive mind doesn’t want to acknowledge homelessness so that homeless person sort of exists “outside” of it. It’s also why if you see a homeless person, idk, talking to a box, you don’t think much of it, since they’re just doing “homeless people things”, but if a lawyer or banker started talking to a box a lot of people would find it really weird.


“All you need is Love” - John Lennon

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