Why Have People Started Using the Word “Tribe” So Much?

February 19, 2009 at 3:59 pm | Posted in What's Up With the Word "Tribe"?? | 6 Comments
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Dear Mr. Answers,

It seems like everywhere I turn these days, someone is talking or writing about their “tribe.” I’m never quite sure what exactly that means. Do you know what it means when people today use that word?”—Baffled in Ohio

Dear Baffled,

As a matter of fact, I do. It means they’re idiots. The primary relationship people who use that word have with other people is through the Internet. People who daily e-communicate with a great many more people than they ever talk to in real life have grown enthralled with that word, because instead of socially retarded affirmation junkies it allows them to feel like lean, mean, jungle-dwelling, loincloth-wearing, rainstick-wielding shamans just one animal call away from being instantly surrounded by resolute yet unnervingly calm members of their “tribe.” It lets them imagine that through shared values and ideals they’re primordially linked with a network of people who in real life have a panic attack if their network server blinks out for a nanosecond.

Last of the Mogeekans. Text Messages with Wolves. Warriors of the “I’ll Sue!” tribe.

All hail Chief Starbucks, stalwart leader of the ferocious Blackberry tribe!

Oh, no.

Mr. Answers has just had a revelation.

He’s realized that he’s jealous because no one’s ever asked him to join their tribe.



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  1. Forget tribe – want to join our nation? Many of those I know talk about their “nation” like it is a group separate from the U.S. nation.
    Me, I’m not a joiner anyway and if you let me join your “tribe” or “nation” I’d… well you know that quote about any club that would let me join.
    And we can’t invite you to join our secret league (hint: Superman would sure look spiffy presiding at one of our meetings) or it would remain a secret.
    Super Kung Fu Tiger Girl and Reality Boy send their best wishes. Reality Boy is developing his superpowers and will soon adopt the name Gravity Man. Seriously.

  2. Does this mean there won’t be a John Shore or Mr. Answers group at TRIBE.NET?

  3. Seth Godin for the win.

    It’s viral or something.

  4. Dude, I must protest! Tribe is the term of endearment we use to describe the members of my immediate family, as well as the various people who have worked their way into our inner circle of “special”. Indeed they are an e-mail away whenever we need anything, surrounding us with their unnervingly calm resolute-ness! We don’t have to see each other & talk in person to know who matters and they don’t have to hang out in our kitchen to know we love them. It sounds like you just need a place to belong and we extend a friendly hand to you, Mr Answers.

  5. Susi: I don’t think you read the whole post.

  6. It seems to me like one of those words co-opted by the internet to simplify some broad human trait that the internet tends to elicit, like “Meme,” “emo,” or, “40 year old Korean man.”

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