Coded gray, with some green and blue and violet.

Sunday 30 December 2001

Screenshot Dark Age of Camelot

Pic of the day: People tend to clump together. Like here, in this screenshot from Dark Age of Camelot, the online game. Yes, it is vaguely relevant.

A social creature

We humans are social creatures. I guess on average we are at the level of pack or flock animals. It is probably no accident that most of our domestic animals fall into this category. (The notable exception being cats, and "domesticated" may not always be the best descriptions for them.)

There are animals that are much more social than we. Ants, bees, termites ... and among mammals, the naked mole rats. In these species, only a small minority actually breed, while the rest faithfully serve the genome in other ways. This is certainly not the case for humans. Occasionally there are ideologies that want to model the human society on these collectives. These ideologies always fail. Humans are not like that.

But neither are we like the many species where each goes his or her own way except briefly to meet in the mating season. Well, at least most of us are not. It is hard to imagine a human surviving for long outside society. So long have we lived in tribes, that even as adults we depend on others in so many small ways.


So why am I thinking about this now? Well, for one thing there is this online game that I play. I notice how new characters tend to strike out on their own, but after a while they clump together. I wrote yesterday about this Cabbalist girl that I made and played, and how she drew more and more people till they were a whole group that went on their way. Well, today it happened again.

Cabal Girl and her golem Amber were hunting various critters slightly below their own level, when this guy showed up and wanted to group. So we took on some bigger things, and then some bigger things, and then we needed more people. So we took on more people, and more people, and we used our various powers for the common good. At the end, they wanted to make their own guild. At this time I bid my leave and went off on my own, while the people who had gathered around me went on planning their guild.

Nor is this something new in my life. It tends to happen when strangers are placed together for some common purpose. I talk to people, and make them get to know each other. As time passes, the random pieces fall into a pattern. A structure of some kind emerges. But without me. Like an enzyme, I drift away unchanged.


The other thread of thought comes from my Christmas holiday, which I spent with the woman I love and who kind of likes me, and her family. (They kind of like me too, I think.) It is good to have friends in the fleshworld too. There are times when I wish I were closer to someone, like a family or something. Eating together, shopping together, doing things together. I don't hate and fear hugging and snuggling either, like I used to do. It is strange indeed that a part of me seems to grow more normal in this aspect, now that it is too late.

Animals are programmed with a certain level of "socialism" for each species. But in us humans it can vary not just from person to person, but even over the course of a life. This is what I see now. For a long time, it seemed that I grew more and more asocial and isolated, and it seemed that I was on a path to leaving the world of men altogether while still alive. This may still be the main direction, but it is surely not a ruler-straight, unbroken line.

And is not this very journal a reaching out to my fellow humans, present and future? It may be a very abstract way of doing so, but still ... "All paths lead to the same goal: to convey to others what we are." (To quote Pablo Neruda, but actually I lifted that one from Nova Notes, without which I would never have heard of Pablo Neruda at all, I'm afraid.)

I use to say that I write this diary not for myself only, but as a daily letter to my friends. But my friendship is open to anyone who wants it: Saint or sinner, man or woman, old or young. Only this is my condition: As it is freely given, so it must be freely received.

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