Tribalism or Harmonic Resonance

This AI transcription/summary was created on @November 24, 2023. Listen to the original recording here.

TL;DR The term 'tribalism' is often linked to a divisive 'us versus them' mentality, promoting excessive homogeneity and impeding diverse interconnections. Advocating for 'harmonic resonance' as a metaphor, the focus shifts from the divisive aspects of identity-based tribalism to a more fluid, inclusive, and interconnected view of human relationships and identity comprehension. This approach encourages a broader, more harmonious understanding of communal connections.
(daily artifact - the images heading each post are artifacts from my creative process and learning tracks.)
(daily artifact - the images heading each post are artifacts from my creative process and learning tracks.)


The return of the word tribalism and used in the context of finding my tribe is concerning for me because when I hear the word tribe I hear an us versus them opposition. I think of a kind of hyper-homogeneity which creates these micro-cosms of shared values which are too small to facilitate or, let's say, encourage interconnection among diverse people. My experience as a person born in the late 80s, growing up in the 90s, and being a teenager when the internet became accessible for normal people like me and my family, I was such a social outcast in my immediate geography and my immediate context, including my own family. But on the internet I was able to find people that I resonated with and the point of connection was usually interest-based, sometimes locution, it was never age, and I wouldn't call them my tribe because, again, I find the word to create opposition and create very small enclosures and many boundaries.

The way that I look at shared inspiration, values, this new form of non-local community is more like oscillating at a certain harmonic. The reason that I say that is because there's inherent in the word of tribalism or community or any of these things is identity, and I also think we have an unhealthy relationship with identity today, and we see it changing, but if I were to generally define identity it's a sense that we are unique individuals and unique expressions, and that there are as many identities out there as there are people in this world. I would challenge that. I do believe that we each are a unique expression in the same way that every blade of grass is unique, has some variable about it that makes it unique, but it is not a completely unique expression.

There is a certain form that grass follows when it grows, and it doesn't really vary much from that form, and I think humans are quite similar where, just like any other species, there's more that connects us than there is that divides us. And so this fixation on identity, whether that's identity of you as a unit or identity of the tribe, focuses too much on differentiation and not on connection, whereas the term that I prefer to use, which is harmonic, shows by its very nature its connection to a single spectrum, a single larger oscillation that then has these harmonics that extend into infinity, and within those harmonics there are also relations, there are dissonances, there are consonances. And to me this better represents the reality of many similar things finding constant movement in and out of relationship, and yet there's also a sort of archetype, a sort of perfect placement for each harmonic, and there's a natural drift back to that harmonic center. And when we think of ourselves as harmonics, and therefore instead of tribes, it's really just finding a harmonic resonance, it shows that there's not a single perfect place for you, that within your own harmonic consonances there

are multiple rungs that you can attach to and move between instantaneously.

It also shows that there are certain intervals that are just never going to feel that good, and it isn't a value judgment, it isn't a confusing kind of arbitrary, you know, where you have to overthink it, it's just a natural part of law and order. And some of those consonances can also become the most interesting melodies if they are played in a different sequence or played in sequence rather than tried to, you know, be put one over the other, bound together. I think it also helps to think about harmonics instead of tribes, because there's a sense within harmony that many different instruments can play the same note, but they sound different. And when we look out on this sea of billions of people, there's, I mean, I've definitely had this experience so many times that it's become part of just my worldview, that there are a defined number of archetypes, and many people share similarities through those archetypes.

Maybe some things don't overlap, but a lot of things do. And in our own lives, we can look at our friends and then look at people that we gravitate to who are not yet friends, and we can kind of see the same archetypes emerging. We can even see similarities among people and think, oh wow, that person reminds me of this person. The same can be said for going back into history or connecting with historical figures, connecting with figures you don't know, maybe you see them online on YouTube.

There's a sense of familiarity, a sense of, ooh, I really resonate with this person, I feel like we share something. And when you look at harmonic resonance, it just makes sense that this same dynamic or natural law and order applies to these kinds of propagations where there are differences of timbre, but there's also a deep resonance and a deep coherence. I think music is such a great corollary because it shows the many ways that an entire scale can work together. That yes, if you keep trying to force harmony, you can't force it.

If anything, it's going to resist and resist and resist. But you can dance around dissonance and create tensions and release and have this kind of deeper understanding that all forces, meaning the attractive, the deflective, and the reconciling are all needed to create dynamism. And this life is everything to do with dynamism. And yet, harmonics exist in perpetuity.

That frequency band is always kind of playing out there. And so there's also that combination of the ability to kind of disassociate from the timeliness and the spatiality of your identity and say, oh, my identity is a frequency and I am a unique propagation or a unique manifestation of that. But at the end of the day, it is not of this time and not of this space. It is universal.

My identity is actually a point of connection, not a point of differentiation. And through that connection, through really and through that connection, through really owning that there are certain other people who will feel like comrades or they'll feel like allies. And there are people who will feel a little bit different because they're actually complementary as opposed to, not as opposed to, but there are people who will feel complementary. There are people who will feel like they are the same person.

There are people who will feel completely uninteresting to you. And then there will be people that will feel at odds with you. And all these things are just part of the entire picture of notes, moving around other notes, and forming the symphonies that we love and that we melt into.


Main Points

  • The speaker is concerned by the reemergence of the term 'tribalism' and its implications for social division.
  • Tribalism promotes a hyper-homogeneous community that discourages broad interconnection among diverse people.
  • The speaker shares personal experiences of finding resonance and community on the internet during their formative years, which were based on shared interests rather than demographics.
  • The word 'tribalism' is seen as limiting, creating boundaries rather than fostering connections.
  • The speaker advocates for a conception of community as harmonics, signifying a more fluid and interconnected dynamic.
  • Discussion of identity today is seen as excessively fixating on distinctions, which obscures our fundamental similarities.
  • The concept of harmonic resonance denotes a fluid connection to other people rather than fixed categorizations based on identity.
  • The speaker describes how different harmonics within a spectrum can relate, creating a more nuanced understanding of social dynamics.
  • Harmonic resonance allows for a recognition of essential similarities, shared archetypes, and deeper connections beyond superficial differences.
  • The metaphor of harmonics as opposed to tribes or fixed identities allows for a more dynamic, fluid, and coexistent approach to human relations.

Stories and Examples

  • The speaker describes their own experience growing up as a social outcast and finding connection on the internet with people who shared similar interests.

References and Citations

  • The speaker references their own life experiences growing up in the 90s and the early days of the internet for societal connection.
  • Mentions general concepts of identity, community, and social dynamics without citing specific works.


Potential Action Items

Research the implications of tribalism and how it affects societal connections and dynamics.
Explore the concept of harmonic resonance as an alternative metaphor for community and relationships.
Identify ways in which communities and organizations can foster interconnectedness and discourage divisive tribalistic tendencies.

Follow-Up Questions

  • What historical events or social trends have contributed to the resurgence of 'tribalism' as a concept?
  • Can harmonic resonance be practically applied in community building and intercultural communications strategies?
  • Are there existing communities or social movements that actively apply the concept of harmonic resonance?
  • How does the concept of harmonic resonance align with or differ from other theoretical frameworks in the sociology of communities?
  • What are possible criticisms or limitations of using harmonic resonance as a framework for understanding social relationships?

Arguments and Areas for Improvement

These are potential arguments and rebuttals that other people may bring up in response to the transcript. Like every other part of this summary document, factual accuracy is not guaranteed.

  • The term 'tribalism' might still hold positive connotations in some contexts, such as fostering strong group solidarity.
  • Not all aspects of identity are divisive; many aspects can be used to build common ground.
  • The metaphor of harmonics might be too abstract for some and fail to adequately address concrete social issues.
  • The idea of universal interconnectedness might minimize the importance of celebrating unique cultural practices.
  • The rejection of identity as a primary mode of social organization might overlook the importance of identity in personal empowerment and political advocacy.

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Related Topics

  • community building
  • cultural diversity
  • identity politics
  • internet communities
  • interpersonal connection
  • music theory and human relationships
  • organizational behavior
  • philosophy of social science
  • social cohesion
  • social psychology


  • Sentiment: concerned
  • Transcription Cost: $0.071
  • Chat API Cost: $0.047
  • Total Cost: $0.119

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