Social Creatures: Part I

Updated: Feb 14, 2021

We are inherently social creatures. From the embryonic stage, through the end of life, we rely on one another for safety, resources, comfort and meaning. I don’t think it’s overly sentimental to say that our lives are essentially dependent upon one another. People need people. Simple, right?


What follows is Part I of some thoughts on the topic of humans as inherently social animals. I'll post Part II next week. I'm not yet sure how many installments there will be, but this topic provides important context for Duérmete. I'll also be posting some excerpts from a scene in which I recount being deeply troubled by social exclusion as a teen around the time symptoms of CPTSD emerged without recognition. Like many adoptees, I felt scared and profoundly alone.


Social Creatures, Part I

We are inherently social creatures. I’ve come to see this as a fundamental truth, as axiomatic. Social connection is a basic human drive, like reproduction or the will to live. What's more, our connections extend beyond other people. We are in a similar symbiotic relationship with the “natural world” on which we rely. For many indigenous cultures, this is intractable from their worldview. As we see from environmental degradation caused by human activity, the natural world also relies on us.

We're not very different than the trees in the forest in important ways. Instead of lone figures standing their ground in solipsistic competition, new evidence suggests that trees exist in mutually beneficial collectivities. Their needs are met communally. Beneath the forest floor is a vast network of fungi connecting an economy of natural resources throughout the tree stand. Nutrients there are produced, conserved and distributed. The mycelia need the trees and the trees need the mycelia and, through it, trees cooperate with each other in concert with the entire ecosystem. Older trees prioritize saplings by increasing production of sugars for sustenance. The forest even seems to protect its young.

We too are connected through a system of networks. However, our networks are social in nature. They extend out from each of us as an egoistic nucleus. Our first and most primary connection is with our mothers. From conception through the post-natal period, we are entirely dependent on them. And, to dust off an old analogy from sociology 101, our network extends outward, like the rings of an onion, to the family, kin, ethnic group, nation state and so on in successive rings of belonging. While the inner rings are those where we interact most and where we are most immediately affected by those interactions, we seem driven to have mutuality at even the most distant layers. For example, I am now attempting to connect with you in writing this. If I am doing my job well, you will in return feel some connection to me.

Part II next week.

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<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="und" dir="ltr"><a href=""></a></p>&mdash; Michael.Rocco.Author (@AuthorRocco) <a href="">January 28, 2021</a></blockquote> <script async src="" charset="utf-8"></script>

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