Tuesday, April 17, 2018

The Complex Dynamics of Friendship and Solidarity

The solidarity achieved through friendship makes us resilient to life's challenges. This finding is not restricted to humans but also can be found in other mammalian species.

A recent news story addressing friendship (as represented and measured by neuroscience) reported striking synchrony in perception and attention across friends.

Friends are similarly situated in time space:
Natalie Angier (2018, April 16). You Share Everything With Your Bestie. Even Brain Waves. The New York Times, https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/16/science/friendship-brain-health.html?emc=edit_th_180417&nl=todaysheadlines&nlid=329620000417“Our results suggest that friends might be similar in how they pay attention to and process the world around them,” Dr. Parkinson said. “That shared processing could make people click more easily and have the sort of seamless social interaction that can feel so rewarding.”
Friends process the world in similar ways. They share contemporaneity around key issues or modes of physical embodiment (e.g., one of my closest friendships is shared around hiking and swimming - we both love being outside and experiencing the natural world).

The bio-chemical benefits of friendship are clear, as described in the article, and the risks of social isolation demonstrable.  Friendship and solidarity build biological, psychological and societal resilience.

Of course, the major risk from solidarity itself is the tendency for friends to exclude social others whose perceptions are organized by different codes.

How can the codes of friendship and solidarity be opened to divergent ways of being in the world while still upholding key perceptions about what is real and what is right (i.e., with respect to value orientations, such as right and wrong)?

Our codes of solidarity must be inclusive and emergent, but also retain normative components beyond what is coded in law. 

It is a tricky path to navigate and we seem to excel best in our most primal social systems where we are materially co-located in time-space and feedback is immediate and multi-faceted.

The Internet has transformed the complex dynamics of friendship and marginalization in ways that we have not yet even begun to unravel....

I am grateful for my friends, those whose codes for oganizing time-space I share, and those virtual friends whose comments further the conversation, even while I acknowledge that I know them not as their authenticity cannot be measured.

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