Tribalism has been an inherent part of human history, and is closely linked with fear. There has always been competition between groups of humans in different ways and with different faces, from brutal wartime nationalism to a strong loyalty to a football team. Evidence from cultural neuroscience shows that our brains even respond differently at an unconscious level simply to the view of faces from other races or cultures.
At a tribal level, people are more emotional and consequently less logical: Fans of both teams pray for their team to win, hoping God will take sides in a game. On the other hand, we regress to tribalism when afraid. This is an evolutionary advantage that would lead to the group cohesion and help us fight the other tribes to survive.
Tribalism is the biological loophole that many politicians have banked on for a long time: tapping into our fears and tribal instincts. Abuse of fear has killed in many faces: extreme nationalism, Nazism, the Ku Klux Klan and religious tribalism have all led to heartless killing of millions.
Our politics and culture are mired in fear and tribalism.
The algorithms tracking you on social media are triggered by your negative emotions and amplify the negativity.
Your digital tribe keeps consuming and feeding each other with the same ideology.
We regress further into tribalism and mistrust of those not in your tribe.
Higher social media use is linked with increased anxiety, stress and depression.
Short attention spans deactivate critical thinking skills (skills which are no longer being taught by the intellectual elites in our colleges and universities).
Those of us old enough to know what life was like before social media may remember how exciting Facebook was at its inception. Imagine, the ability to connect with old friends we had not seen for decades! Then, Facebook was a virtual dynamic conversation. This brilliant idea, to connect to others with shared experiences and interests, was strengthened with the advent of Twitter, Instagram and apps.
Things did not remain that simple. These platforms have morphed into Frankenstein’s monsters, filled with so-called friends we’ve never met, slanted news stories, celebrity gossip, self-aggrandizement and ads.