Image for post
Image for post
Photo by FuYong Hua on Unsplash

Haters Aren’t From Your Tribe

I was recently in a conversation about Tom Brady, and someone commented how it was weird for some people to hate Brady for being, well, Brady.

There’s a reason for haters.

Negative reactions to people, things, and ideas are totally natural for folks in a tribal mindset. It’s fear of Other. It’s far easier to reject a new idea than it is to expend energy to consider it — especially if doing so challenges long-held internal assumptions. People who don’t do engage in introspection on a regular basis, or who can’t hold two conflicting ideas in their head at the same time and see the value in both, tend to experience a lot of cognitive dissonance when confronted with a new idea. It can be painful, and folks generally avoid pain.

This system works great if we’re operating in small nomadic bands in the wilderness and we’re not sure if we can trust a suspicious group on the other side of the valley who seems to encroach on our territory every year. It’s less helpful in modern civilizations where we routinely bump into other cultures and ideas. A positive aspect of modern communication is we can talk to people all over the world. A negative aspect of modern communication is we can talk to people all over the world. Tribes now span continents, instead of being confined to physical boundaries in a community.

People who unconsciously belong to tribes tend to identify with the tribe to such a degree that they get their value system from the tribe. If we find ourselves at odds with someone who’s getting their value system from somewhere else, and more importantly, they themselves do not realize that, it can be challenging to communicate our ideas. If the ideas go against the tribe’s values, we’re going to get a negative reaction.

If we communicate our new idea to someone who seems to consider it (but might still reject it), we’re likely talking to a self-authored or self-transforming individual — who maintain their own value system, or can change their value system depending on the situation, respectively.

Haters are tribal.

You can find more about the value system and identity idea in the book Changing on the Job by Jennifer Garvey Berger. More on cognitive dissonance in Mistakes Were Made (but Not by Me) by Carol Tavris and Elliot Aronson.

I write books and software. Opinions held loosely.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store