Apologies to Cheap Trick

There are a lot of “movements” and groups and things that, over the years, I’ve joined and left. Little (metaphorical) membership cards left discarded in my wake. Yet my preferences, values and desires have been largely very consistent for a long time. So why the mercurial associations?

Let me explain what happens. I think “One of my values is that I want more of X, both in my life and in society at large.” So I look around and I see a group of people who also want that! Great, I join up. Often this isn’t any sort of official “joining” (I almost never do that anyway), but rather I start thinking of myself as belonging to that group, I start joining in their conversations, etc.

Then, inevitably, I look around and I say “I want more X, and this group wants more X, but me belonging to this group isn’t actually getting me more X.” So I leave.

I love tacos, so I join a group that loves tacos. I join thinking that I will get more tacos as a result of joining this group, because they also want tacos. But it almost always turns out that what the members of the group actually want, is to want tacos.

They want the group more than they want the tacos, in other words. I get it, groups are important – we’re social creatures. But when you join a group because you want to join a group, but you say it’s because you want tacos, you’re creating all sorts of weird problems down the line.

All groups ultimately morph into a group whose only purpose is self-sustainment. Along the way, if you’re lucky, the group might solve some problems. It’s just that solving the problem won’t dissolve the group – even if they got tacos, they wouldn’t call it a day and disband their “Association of People Who Demand More Tacos.” So you should view all of these memberships as temporary – bind to solve a problem, then escape. When you make your groups, make them honestly. Make them just because you like the group.

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