There’s been a lot of propaganda, illogical fallacies, and other mean-spirited, agenda-ridden denigrating language to malign what was once generally celebrated: the natural social desire for “birds of a feather (to) flock together”. For political and other reasons, the normal need to be around people with whom we have something in common has been labeled as cult-like, an “echo chamber”, small mindedness, and much worse. This is nonsense!
Unless folks are conspiring to hurt others or are otherwise in a dysfunctional and abusive group, it’s healthy to surround ourselves with people who share values, interests, careers, hobbies, culture, locality, and other factors in common. Isolation can make us physically ill from social deprivation. Condemning the practice of finding a sense of community with those whom we feel connected to, has the sinister result of replacing our natural fellowship with manufactured common “values” that primarily benefit the very entities responsible for shaming us for our normal, healthy social yearning to belong (hence their conscious or subconscious motive for an obsessive and controlling interest in the social networks of strangers).
When we’re pushed into steered social groups through shaming, intimidation, and manipulation, we may feel alone in a crowd. Why? Because birds of a feather flock together. No one can tell us who our bird friends are, as the reasons for feeling a sense of community, connection, fellowship, and empathy are very individual and highly complex.
What could look like an echo chamber to an outside observer is likely not a fair representation of why people connect. Even if the traits that the persons in the group have in common seem obvious, the underlying reasons for connecting are probably intangibles like:
- Joy: a shared sense of humor (they “get” me)
- Acceptance and respect for one’s values, faith, religion, culture, lifestyle, etc. (even if folks within the group disagree)
- Passion for things that individuals in the group are keenly interested in or consider important (same priorities in life, similar focus on hobbies/career/etc., a lifestyle in common such as parenting young children)
Even if a group looks to be connected by politics, the real tether is still likely to be based on the three intangibles above: joy, acceptance, and passion. The people who “take the same side” on certain issues are probably people who share our deepest core values involving how we respect each other, how we “get” each other through humor, and the intensity of our interests. We should therefore push back on the tiresome trend to condemn how people socialize, and let people be free to find their own flock.
Birds of a feather really DO flock together, for good and for bad (unfortunately criminally bent people find each other quite easily it seems). Those of you who follow my blog may feel a connection to me and a deepening friendship, based on shared values in common. You may respect my authentic voice, even when you don’t always agree with me. You may feel that I “get” you when I post something humorous. You may feel understood and accepted when I share something that hits you where you are, something you can relate to. I hope so!
I welcome the concept of finding people who share something in common, as this is how we are naturally wired. It is healthy to find a flock and enjoy the company of birds of a feather. If you are one of my fellow bird friends, thank you for flying with me.