Adam Blatner

Words and Images from the Mind of Adam Blatner

Roots, Affiliations, and the Sense of Self

Originally posted on February 4, 2013

On my website I wrote about how the sense of self is an aggregate illusion, a feeling and complex of images that arise out of a goodly number of sources. Now I’ve realized that equally that our affiliations and identifications overlap with the categories of our roots and our preferred social networks. They are invisible extensions of my “self” into other contexts. In one sense they are illusory, non-material; in another sense it might be argued (as Moreno does, though not in so many words) that these social and historical connections (including future, purposes) are another kind of reality, and perhaps a more relevant and important reality than the material boundaries of my age or the color of my eyes.

These self and social identities should also be recognized as responding to a social need for affiliation, for belonging. I think a goodly part of religion arises from this need. More, that need can be inflamed or energized by the sense that one is expected to “keep up.” It is most notable in adolescence, but it can be noticed in younger and older age groups. Now social media add to this expected standard of keeping up, being with it. It’s the complex that gets triggered by fears of missing out—a complex that has its own acronym (FOMO = fear of missing out).

All these observations reflect a need to continue to explore the overlap of social and individual psychology—what I call “social depth psychology.” In summary, the senses of self, roots, and network overlap, and all influence each other. I may expand this list and concept with your feedback.

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