Patterns of human behaviour: The clique implosion.

Recently an Internet community or clique (including some fairly well known Youtube video producers) had a bit of an implosion, resulting in one or more of the group leaving that community. I won’t go into the specifics of the people involved, or their various disagreements, and complaints about each other. I’ll just focus on the pattern of human behaviour to which they have fallen victim.

Any time a community forms, whether on the Internet, a tribe in a sparsely populated land, a subculture in a city, or any other community, there is at the core some common interest which brings the members together. That’s a fundamental aspect of the whole thing: common interest. Generally that means the members of the community agree with each other, at least to the extent that co-operation for mutual benefit is possible, more often than not.

However, in any community, individual interest plays a part, as per Maslow’s famous pyramid. Sooner or later, spikes of self-interest rise above the general level of co-operation and mutual benefit. These spikes of self-interest cause friction, as they are points where one suddenly appears outside the norm. Whether the individual exhibiting such self-interest has good or bad reasons for doing so is irrelevant. The fact is they cause friction. Anyone still in the mainstream or more communal level will automatically see that outlier as the outlier he or she is, of course. That unavoidably creates an Us And Them division, or an adversarial relationship; it’s inevitable. Regardless of the reasons for that spike of self-interest and differentiation, once it occurs, it causes the adversarial relationship, and any social interactions on either side motivated by self-interest result in exacerbating the variance. And when I say self-interest on either side, remember that when that adversarial relationship is established, those not in the outlier position, those in the mainstream of the community, are then acting on self-interest in their thoughts, words, and actions intended to reinforce the validity of the mainstream community. This exacerbation of the adversarial relationship can be cut off simply by recognising what is happening and forgoing the need to act on such self-interest.

So, the result of all that is: the pattern results in the ejection of the outlier, for the psychological or other safety and validation of the mainstream. That’s the pattern.

I’m not saying that, in all cases, the pattern is a bad thing and should be avoided. The reason it happens is because it served our evolution by helping to keep communities strong and secure. Not right, not good, but strong. What that means is that the individual arguments or positions of the outlier or the mainstream are not necessarily right or wrong in any way (other than the might/survival/evolution aspect) simply because one is the outlier or the mainstream.

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