Zvi Band Relationships are our most important asset.

The Age of Belonging

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[This is a meta post, summing up a plethora of research I’ve been doing to form this thesis. The thinking, therefore, represents larger trends and not any one article I can link to. I plan on publishing as many resources as possible in the near future, as soon as it’s not a 50 page Notion document.]

We’re entering an age of belonging, where one of the most important tenets of society is our ability to find our tribe and find meaning, supplanting the focus on individualism and materialism of recent decades. This era was already starting to rise – and the Coronavirus Pandemic will only accelerate it.

Where are we now?

  • We are wired to need each other – not just our immediate family for evolutionary purposes, but a greater tribe/society.
  • How that has manifested itself – the framework of values, rituals, and expectations of/with each other – has changed significantly over time.
  • Notable is the pendulum swinging between championing the individual and emphasizing group priorities instead.
  • Some of the largest institutions built to organize each other were religion, nationality, and careerism. One must not forget that there was a time before these.
  • More recently (1950s-60s), we’ve been in an age where individualism has reigned supreme – independence, rejection of authority and cultural rigidity, liberty of various forms, etc.
  • That has been taken to it’s extreme more recently.
  • Social technology has also exacerbated it in a multitude of ways, causing us to have the opportunity to be connected to more people than ever, but lacking any nourishing connection.
  • Society of today is fundamentally unhealthy, measured by the rise in suicide and loneliness, and bleak outlook for the most recent generation.
  • Societal fixtures of the past are demonstrating their rising disconnect with the present day, indicated through the decline of membership in religious organizations and a decrease in national identity.
  • The “counterculture” – whether through intentional creation or by accidental discovery, has espoused intimacy of connection.
  • … And then Coronavirus hit, sending everyone into complete physical isolation for an indeterminate period of time, wreaking havoc on the world economy in the process.
  • Our social fabric is frayed, potentially beyond repair. That, of course, opens up the need and the opportunity for something new to grow in it’s place..

What does this mean?

  • We’re going to be moving away from the championing of individualism, where individual identity and self-interest reigns supreme. The likely target will be more towards a relational society, where the primary measures of value are the deep relationships one possesses.
  • The big question is how to retain inclusion of diverse individuals (e.g. not rejecting someone for their race or sexual orientation), which individualism enabled.
  • Newer social structures will emerge, whose primary purpose is to give people their tribe and set of relationships.
  • While belonging may be a primary value proposition, many will also seek to tackle other key needs (moral ecology, spirituality, meaning, self-actualization).
  • While they manifest themselves in different ways (companies, social networks, new religions) and at differing levels of scale (small meetups up to 1B+ member organizations), they’ll build on the old (theology) with the possibility of the new (internet).
  • While a growing number may find joining these ranks as an additive to existing social institutions (namely, nationality and religion), many will find this new movement as a replacement.

The bottom line – there’s an incredible opportunity for us to build a new social fabric to turn around the dark times we find ourselves in – when we need each other more than ever.

Can you? Can I?

David Brooks – If you haven’t read The Second Mountain yet, you need to.

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By Zvi
Zvi Band Relationships are our most important asset.

Zvi Band

Founder of Contactually.
I'm also passionate about growing the DC startup community, and I've founded Proudly Made in DC and the DC Tech Meetup.