Social groups… Are you part of one?

A group of people hugging in the middle of a street

The most obvious answer could be “Yes”, yet not all of us are part of a group, many can say they are. Even if the group is a friend, it’s a group, right? Well, in a strict way of thinking, you can think of groups as subjective abstract circles, or objectives ones. That is, circles of people (think of Google+ circles, maybe?), made around you, by you and for you, which you are part of, or circles made not by one, not for one, but by many, for many. objective circles are “stablished” social groups; subjective circles are “improvised” social groups.

So, in a way, you, as a person, living around people, are part of a big social group, made by the city/town, in which social interacting is set to a minimum, letting society exist. Get that? From that, every one of us usually makes circles, or rings, that catch other people into our mental environment, setting social interaction to what we specify, on our part, and what they specify, on theirs.

A social group is any kind of set of people made around a common thing: A material thing, a topic of discussion, an origin, a common friend, all of the above. Any set given any property to arrange or build that set from people. If look at the big picture is a disorganized way the chaotic nature of, well, nature, can organize society and people in general: following objective and subjective rules: Environment-related and subject-related rules.

The environment rules above all

Not quite a universal truth, or a general rule, but still something to take into account: Society divides itself naturally, by gender, age, race, culture, profession, or any other of the kind, and while it’s true that present societies have made a great thing getting rid of these divisions, they still remain “there” at some degree (even the lowest), when it’s all about social groups.

I call this environmental because it’s not about what the person considers to be right, or truth, but what it is, where it is, as so on, making the subject’s actions or thoughts to be irrelevant to the subject’s description and position in a society. Because the great society is made of “smaller” societies; all having a set of properties, common to all the people in them, that precisely make all the people that’s “in” the society, be in it.

If I’m explaining myself well, great! If not, try to shout me out a motivational comment or tweet, expecting a little inspiration to not write another article at 3a.m. in the morning, 3 hours before posting it. Back to topic…

The subject matters

The person, the subject, beyond what it could be from birth, is a person with thoughts, ideas, emotions, feelings actions, decisions, that define, in a way, who the person is, and not what it is. The who matters. If studying the society, the “what” matters most, but here we’re always studying the “who”, the person (not always, but apparently I can say “lately”).

So, the person, who he or she is, matters because social groups are not always made out of “birth properties”. Social groups, beyond environmental, are made by the people, for the people, as I said. Each and every one of us has naturally a family, and close with have other people. Some we call friends, other acquaintances, other just plain strangers, and while we share differently with one or the others, we still form social groups with any of those groups.

But even these smaller subjective social groups, the same rules apply: A common thing must exist. The more common things, the stronger the bond is. Is just like a one-on-one relationship, but in groups: It’s a one-on-one-on-one-on-one—and so on— relationship, in which the bond is not a private thing, but a common thing between all the members.

That limits what kind of bond it might be, or the quantity of such bonds. But on the other hand, it might as well have an effect on the people, rather than the people having an effect on it: People must adapt to the group to stay in, if they want to. And once in, they most likely want to, yet not everyone have the same flexibility in social matters.

Social flexibility and bottom line

Once you realize a group of people can have an effect of their own bond, while the bond itself affects the people, you realize how it’s supposed to work: Should you be flexible, in a social way? It all relays on that question, and it’s a matter you should talk to your pillow about. Some people are, some don’t, some are limited by one or the other? Perhaps. But what do you think? How do you think you should act? People are still people, and there’s plenty of people to find out there, flexible or not. What does it mean to be flexible? It’s not to be strict and bond-cutter! But then again, the final answer is up to you. Feel free to discuss this below in the comments, if you like and want to.

Photo by Joris Louwes.

2 Thoughts

  1. At the beginning I didn’t really know what you were getting at, but I liked how this post finished up. I’ve heard about being the sum of the five people you spend the most time with, but I like how you countered that with social flexibility.

    Sometimes I’m overly picky with who I hang out with to the point where I’m spending all my time alone, and unhealthily isolated. This post gave me some ideas in how I can work against that.

    • Have you heard the phrase “Tell me who you hang out with and I’ll tell you who you are”? (or something like that, as there are many forms). Well, that is a very important premise in psychology: We pick our friends, so they define us in some way. On the other hand, letting everyone be called your friend says a lot about you, too. It’s a matter of you hang out with, as many things they are, you are too, or will become into, when some actions start to reflect in you.

      Did I explain myself? Some advise: count who you call a friend with one hand (so pick carefully). Other people can be close, but are just “people”. Get it? Loneliness can be a great companion if you are willing to share with it.

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