5.a.9 – What does unite the group?

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June 20, 2010 — Riccardo Sabellotti - Giacinto Sabellotti

What does unite the group?

In principle, a group is formed to perform a particular activity, like hunting or a mountain trip, after which the group is dissolved. In cases where the activity is not temporary, but recurring or ongoing, the group of course takes the same characteristic, such as happens when five friends form a football team to have fun and keep fit, or when people who have a passion for the history of ancient Egypt open a website devoted to this subject.
In the modern world we associate with more than one group: there is that of the usual friends, which meets for various activities, that of colleagues and a series of occasional groups that are formed for various reasons such as meeting among parents of pupils and teachers or the meeting of the condominium.
An important difference that we can immediately see between modern and tribal groups, is that not always their members are known to each other; even while remaining within the friendships, many of us attend two or three separate groups of friends totally unrelated between them. This is clearly a novelty in human society, a phenomenon totally impossible before the formation of large cities, but these groups also find similarities with the few surviving tribal societies.
It is rather easy to observe that, alongside the normal recreational activities within groups of friends, other ones overlap, which is very important from a social and emotional point of view: the friends exchange confidences, seeking an advice or moral support, if necessary they help each other with various forms of assistance, but even in the absence of specific reasons, the friends talk to each other, for the simple sake of it.
It may seem an activity without no purpose, a simple entertainment, but it is not so: it plays very important functions from a social-biological point of view: speaking friendly of various issues, we all exchange views and information, reasoning and cultural paths, that is how it is generated the well-known word by mouth, that is still the channel of communication more used in the world. It is therefore only logical that natural selection has endowed us of a sense of pleasure in speaking with friends, even for speech that seem to be empty and devoid of meaning; this happens in large cities as in the tribal villages in Borneo or in Amazonia.
Therefore, if the original activity, such as playing football, was the cause that led to the formation of the group, social activities that overlap are the glue that hold together, knit and then keep efficient the group itself.


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