cliques, inner-inner circles, and exclusion.

groups, groups, groups! individuals are the atoms of society, couples are the molecules, and groups are the organisms.

groups behave really differently than individuals, and draw out behaviors that individuals wouldn’t otherwise do. in one group, i’ll behave completely differently than i will in another group.

it is hard to escape the fact that groups are based on exclusion, just as much as inclusion.

i remember as a kid being really hurt by a best friend who pretended he didn’t know me as soon as we were near the “cool kids.” that pair-bond of the intimacy of friendship was completely broken. but when we’d be alone together, we were best friends again. the friendship didn’t survive. it was kind of like my first heart break.

are you in the in-group? did you hear the gossip about so and so? wink wink. nod nod.

i’m not sure that this is a bad thing. it still stings, even as an adult. it still gets to me. makes me feel unworthy, not good enough. makes me want to be accepted by doing great acts of service. achieve glory to be popular to be accepted.

it is all very juvenile. but even adult society can be intensely juvenile.

but, is it a bad thing? i wonder. i wonder how i could embrace it. is it really the most mature response to just stay away? or maybe the mature response is to play the game?

or maybe the mature response is to be around the game… while also not playing the game. to focus on my one on one relationships, to embrace the group — not to exclude anyone.

but that’s not true. i do exclude people too. i suppose my exclusions just reflect a different set of values.

the best way to dismantle the patriarchy is to eliminate all hierarchies and the best way to do that is to eliminate all groups, or to eliminate all exclusion. but are groups even interesting without exclusion?

a group without exclusion is like a market without a price. there is no way to manage scarcity.

a hippie would say “exactly! there is no true scarcity. groups create artificial scarcity.” but that’s not true. there is a special value to a smaller groups based on various exclusion criteria.

i wonder if this is a universal human experience. and even the most popular people in one group always run up against a group where they are unwelcome.

this is all very subtle. which makes it frustrating. you can hardly talk about it even as it is happening. and in our era, it is rarely explicit. little social cues express the heartless tyrannies. the ostracisms are temporary. even one second at a time, over the course of a conversation. different people will be included or excluded.

maybe it is like rough sex. a kind of flexing of power not fully abused, but expressed enough to make everyone aware of its pain, and the pleasure when you are brought back into the fold.