There was once a man who had 10 good friends. These men would do anything for him, even die. But this was not enough. He wanted more.
So he campaigned and lobbied and raised support so that he could become famous.
Soon, he had a hundred friends. Then, a thousand. Pretty soon the man was a rock star, with millions of adoring fans, following every move he made.
At first, the attention was nice. But soon he found that there were expectations associated with his new-found status. People asked for favours and handouts, wanting special attention. They made demands he couldn't meet.
He felt trapped, overwhelmed, and confused. Isn't this what he wanted? Why was he so discontent?
Not knowing where to turn, the man went in search of his true fans.
He weeded through the crowds of countless admirers and "yes men," looking for a few, dedicated followers. Finally, he found 10 people. They were his original true friends. Turns out that was all he ever needed.
Together, they went and changed the world.
Why are we so disconnected?
We live in the most connected generation that has ever existed. Nothing is a surprise anymore. Everybody knows everything about everybody, but nobody knows anyone on an intimate level. It's my conviction that this is both a result of, and a symptom of being connected but not in community.
There is roughly 1,184,000,000 active Facebook users across the world. Factor in the hundreds of millions of Twitter accounts, three billion+ hits per day on Youtube and countless other active users on LinkedIn, GooglePlus, Instagram Pinterest and Tumblr. This is the most connected generation that has ever existed.
For all this connection, there is so little community happening. I have a multitude of friends across many different platforms, but when it comes down to it there are only a handful of people who know when I'm having a rough week. It's one of the reasons I gave up social media for four years.
There is something missing from our current experience. For all the connection around us, it seems the biggest challenge facing people in the 21st century is how to conquer loneliness and isolation.
Anne Hathaway, freakin' Catwoman has this to say: "Loneliness is my least favourite thing about life. The thing that I'm most worried about is just being alone without anybody to care for or someone who will care for me".
In the most connected generation ever exist, we are crying out for community. Why?
Well, connection is shallow, skin deep and the truth is, you can connect with someone and yet be completely invisible to them. For most of us, we have confused connection with what we truly need, community. We have mistaken knowing about someone for knowing them as a person.
I don't want a network of people who want to hear what I am doing, I want a tribe of people who want to do it with me.
I think we need to rediscover our tribes.
Who's Your Tribe?
A tribe is historically, a social group existing before states and nations developed as we know them today. Many anthropologists used the term 'tribal society' to refer to societies organised largely on the basis of friendship and where you feel you belong.
Having a tribe is all about being around people who are like you, who you connect with, where you fit in and where you can express who you truly are. It's where you grow and where you feel at home. The people whose feet find their way onto your couch and take food from your kitchen without asking, that's your tribe.
The people who cruise the streets with you belting out the words whilst listening to your favourite tunes (T-Swift to Jose Gonzalez, no hate here), that's your tribe. The people who hold you accountable to be a better person when you're acting out of line, that's your tribe. Your tribe has your back – they're loyal and protective. If you have a tribe of six friends – that's fantastic – and if you have a tribe of one real mate, that is all you need.
American journalist and writer Jane Howard is credited with the following quote: "Call it a clan, call it a network, call it a tribe, call it a family. Whatever you call it, whoever you are, you need one.""
If you feel tribe-less, don't stress. Your tribe is out there, and you most likely already know them. If you know your tribe, celebrate them. I think if we spent more time hanging out with our tribes, instead of connecting to people who don't even know us for who we are, this generation would stop loneliness in its tracks.
Tribes matter. I think they're the secret sauce to punching loneliness and isolation in the face. What do you think?
If you want to read more, start here
James Young moved to the west of Melbourne to follow God's call on his life to tell young people about the greatest message they could ever hear – the gospel. On his days off, he seeks pain on a road bike, blissful beats by listening to Beautiful Eulogy and Trip Lee and relaxing with his beautiful wife Sarah. You can see more of his writing @radicalchange2010.com and follow him at @ragingzephyr on twitter.
James Young's previous articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/james-young.html