By Stella Constance
The duality of animals living in social groups has existed since the beginning of time, ranging from honey bees to wolves to primates, including humans.
The duality state of the social animal is split into two interdependent states comprising of: individuality and the collective (with which the individual identifies and connects). A healthy balance of the two states is needed for the individual to thrive in any environment. The absence of the collective state from the individual’s cognition will create eventual challenges for the continued existence of the individual state, because of its need to be ratified from a collective, to know that it exists with a purpose and is valued. Meanwhile, the collective exists because of its functioning individual members, contributing to the well being of the collective in a meaningful way. Hence, healthy social hierarchies are often created, based on the helpful contributions of each of its members who are focused on the best interests of the group that, at the same time, protects the best interests of the individual. The higher the rate of useful contributions of a member, as deemed by the majority of the group or its highest ranked members, both focused on the best interests of the group, the higher the individual will rank in that group — in a healthy, functional society.
However, we have seen as of late: many individuals who are heavily absorbed in virtual reality, having lost their ability to reach out in real time to real individuals who are connected to local social group(s), to make vital, needed connections to sustain themselves as individuals. These social connections of cooperation and mutual meaningful exchanges, can sustain their individuality through a hierarchical fit, with mainstream society or sub cultural groups: either of which can help individuals develop skills and coping mechanisms, to help them adapt as individuals, to the changes occurring around them. At the same time, their individuality traits are servicing the group in meaningful ways, such as by stimulating exchanges of hope, imagination/creativity, skills, and perseverance. This enables the group to overcome any environmental challenge, by reaching their most important goal to their success and survival: innovation.
Innovation and its widespread dissemination is a collective adaptive feat that provides viable solutions to recognized problems, affecting both the health and well-being of the individual and the collective – the individual is seen as being part of the whole, not as an outside radical factor of disassociation, a concept also coincidentally mirrored in chemistry and microbiology.
Yet, in the past decades, we are seeing less and less high impact from innovative ideas that actually improve the lives of the individuals comprising the group. The social phenomenon is only a symptom of a greater societal problem: there has been a serious disconnect with the fundamental collective principle with many of the higher ranked humans in their privileged roles of steering communities, locally, and in some cases, globally. Even among social grouped animals, the higher ranked individuals exist because of the continued support of the individuals under them, as they look after their group’s best interest – which is, the good health and well-being of its members’ individuality (which is the strength of the group, especially during times of change or danger). In the animal kingdom, the leader’s focus (regardless of social species type), as seen by their followers, is for the good health and wellness of the collective and its individuals – and the leader’s ability is evaluated by those merits in meeting their needs, successfully. When the leadership fails, the underlings (often, “middle management”) will conspire to remove the failed leadership from its current position, with a more viable leadership replacement candidate. Honey bees to wolves follow that “code”, as do apes, which includes, humans. Leaders do not rise up on their own: it is a collaborative effort by individuals, working together for the good of the whole and its parts (the individuals).
Hence, “me/myself and I” cannot exist without the “we”. Individuality cannot exist in isolation – because the isolation cannot ratify the individual’s existence in the context of a social group, resulting in the “loneliness” stress, which virtual reality cannot replace for the real need for real human interaction. Thereby, in the North American culture, they’ve created a commonly used concept to identify that phenomena as “cabin fever”, that goes back historically, to the time of the frontiersmen. Preventable forms of mental and social health illness can be addressed, when more people recognize their state of duality and properly manage it from those two points. The realization and progressive actions that follow, will help lower the rates of mental health illness in families and communities, and its resulting social ill effects, which are human made symptomatic constructs or expressions, often seen in the form of violence and poverty.