Tribe, Neo-tribe, digital tribes, consumer tribalism, MyTribe, Third Tribe, #USGuys Tribesman,…
The word tribe is all over social media. Is tribe the new community? It definitely has more buzz and feeling.
Wikipedia’s take? The article on tribe illustrates how challenging the word is to define. It seems to be something between a clan, which is more like a large extended family, and a state with a formal government. Tribe implies a loose grouping that can pool resources depending on need. How about we leave nailing that definition to the anthropologists? What do we mean by tribe?
I have to think of the Avatar movie where a disenfranchised, modern dude finds a new chosen family, meaning, love and happiness. Doesn’t it sound like a great answer to modern feelings of isolation and emptiness? A blue tribe, networked trees, territorial battles: Bam! Meaning of life. There ya’ go.
The word tribe is a marketer’s dream term. It feels good in some fundamental, “get back to nature” way while having such an amorphous definition that it can be used for just about anything. NASCAR Tribe, anyone?
Tribe also helps identify an Us and a Them. I recently started engaging on the appropriately titled #UsGuys, a Twitter tribe. Blogs (Thank you, @Josepf) sum up the key joys of belonging to the #UsGuys tribe: common interests, humor, high value placed on intelligent, authentic conversations and, very critical, support. They recently sent out a poll to the entire #UsGuys audience to decide on the logistics of scheduled chats; a great example of tribal governance by transparent consensus building.
I am very interested in the use of the term for online communities because I belong to an “offline” tribe, the Chickasaw Nation. That sense of tribal belonging is still very different from the new tribe. Perhaps born of kinship and culture, here are a few thoughts on how the experience differs:
- Fierce pride and loyalty
- Tight bond over common heritage of trials as well as successes
- Creation of services and resources for the greater good of the tribe
- Support for those less able
- Vision for a shared future
I do believe that online tribes can and will gain these qualities in the long run. What do you think? Are there any online tribes that already have these qualities? I would love it if you would share examples in the comments section below!