Homo Sapiens, meaning and the new tribes

Jul 14 2005 by Michael Bayler Print This Article

Homo sapiens has been defined, distinguished from the rest of the animal kingdom by our thinking, our feeling, our use of tools, and so on. I argue that, perhaps above all, we are creatures of meaning.

We can look back and see many examples of how, when deprived of that meaning, a "Lord of the Flies" model creeps in to fill the vacuum: we move towards destruction.

We looked earlier at the sensations that meaning manifests in the human mind and body – the weary draining of entropy at one extreme, the surge of identity, organisational attachment and direction that is energy.

Meaning is also experienced as completeness, as an increase in our biologically essential sense of unity. Kafka's Josef K, Orwell's Winston Smith, Camus's Meursault, all are marked by not only a deadly (literally) absence of meaning. They are all terribly isolated, utterly alone, despite being often crowded cheek-by-jowl with their fellow humans. And of course, they are excruciatingly separated from themselves, fragmented, broken men.

How many times in a week – a day - do we see this state of being acted out in front of us? And ask yourself, how much does the network increase that exposure to this fragmentation, this aloneness, this vacuum of meaning?

The tribal dynamic
So, it's not hard to see why, and to suddenly recognise where, many go in the search their own Grail, seeking the return of something they may never have had in full, but that they know they lack.

They migrate – a great, dramatic paradox – along the very pathways that have sucked the last vestiges of true meaning away, to find new fellowship, identity, reassurance, structure, contact, and communication on the network.


About The Author

Michael Bayler
Michael Bayler

Michael Bayler is a strategist and futurist based in London. He specialises in the impact on brands, organisations and individuals of developments and trends in culture, media and technology.