We All Want To Belong…..Don’t We?

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By Kenneth Justice

~ Waking up early this past Saturday morning there were people all over downtown rushing towards Washington Street, so armed with my camera I made my way over to see what was going on. As I made it around the corner I saw a line stretching down an entire city block, at least a hundred people standing out in the cold and as I followed the line toward the front I found myself starting at the door of UHF, a popular local record shop.


UHF is somewhat of a local hipster hangout….all the cool kids who wear their big glasses and vintage clothing hang out here

If I had ever wondered what could get young people out of bed early on a Saturday morning I now knew the answer; offer them a 20% discount on records.

Turns out the 3rd day of April every year is “Record Store Day“. You can see how out-of-the-mix I am because I had never even heard of Record Store Day until I asked one of the fashionably dressed young men standing in-line, “What’s going on dude?”

To tell you the truth….I’m really old fashioned, I still listen to music on C.D.’s and on my Ipod….I don’t even own a turn table! And vinyl records…sheesh, I don’t even own a single one! ~~I felt like an ancient old fogey as I stood taking pictures of the young cool hipsters standing outside in 30 degree weather to buy vinyl records.

It was 80 degrees on Thursday...but Saturday it was 30! Would you stand in the cold for a 20% discount on vinyl records?

It was 80 degrees on Thursday…but Saturday it was 30! Would you stand in the cold for a 20% discount on vinyl records? …..and BTW don’t you love the guy making the gesture at me….he made me laugh

Yet behind their cool glasses, the vintage jeans they bought at a thrift shop, and their trendy mismatched outfits there is actually a very interesting psychological phenomenon that was occurring Saturday morning.

We all want to belong….don’t we??

Think about it…..haven’t you ever seen the throngs of people standing outside a movie theater at Midnight to catch the first showing of those Lovey Dovey Vampire Movies or those films about the Sorcerer with glasses?

What about all those gamers who cajole their parents into dropping them off at Game Stop around midnight to stand in line for hours to purchase the new release of Mortal Death Wish Killer Stab Victim 5……

Of course, any of these people could just wait a few days, or even a few months and they can usually purchase the products for a fraction of what they cost on opening night.

Check out the bargain bins located at FYE and you can buy DVD’s for a buck!

But if you wait……you miss out on the experience,

and more importantly; you won’t be apart of the experience. 

At the core of our humanity is a thirst for community….a thirst for belonging…

Sure, us in the Western World, we love our individuality, yet all the independence we have has resulted in many trips to the pharmacy to pick up our anti-depressant prescription.

solitary duck

There is a beauty in the solitary….we need to be alone at times to enjoy a sense of peace we don’t experience when we’re with others….but at our core we are social creatures

For many of us in the over 30 crowd, we were sold a bill of goods by our parents that involved an emphasis on terms like, “Education, Job, Career, Income Potential, and 401K”….

So as I sit in my study and look at what I call my wall of diplomas…….you know what?: I would trade every one of those diploma’s for deeper and more meaningful relationships with those I love.

As I get a little bit older I realize that what I value is not my earnings potential or how much money I have in my 401K….what I really value is the connections I have made with my fellow human beings, the friendships I have managed to keep.

At our core we are social creatures.

We look for connection everywhere we go; whether it is standing outside a record store or seeing familiar faces at a bar or coffee shop……

Even on my little Website here, this blog that I write; when I see familiar faces in the comment section it makes me smile.

One of the first times I realized the Internet could create a level of community was more than 10 years ago when I was a regular commenter on a blog….I actually ended up meeting a few of those people in real life…..

Don’t get me wrong; when we can work at a career we love and enjoy….it can be a great blessing to our life; and for the less than 10% who love their job, they are very fortunate.

Yet…..if we don’t take the time to keep ourselves connected to a community we can end up finding ourselves old and alone…..and dare I say feeling empty?

This is why people join Churches, Temples, Mosques, and other religious institutions…it gives us a sense of belonging…..and when those religious institutions let us down……it can end up having far reaching consequences on our lives…….because at our core; we are social creatures.

But for right now,

It’s time for a cup of coffee…..










Categories: Culture & Society

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38 replies

  1. So true. And I think social media has increased our need for belonging. Honestly, I think this has many negative manifestations – but it also allows people to connect in more amazing ways than ever before.

    • Mark,

      I think you’re right…the longer social media is with us the more our culture is going to have to determine how much society has been changed by it and if we need to make any societal adjustments in response to it….

  2. So true that we are social creatures. I start getting antsy when I’ve spent a lot of time pretending to be a hermit and need to get out there and be around other humans.

  3. Got my mantra from one of my early mentors – “Everything in life and even death is about relationships.” I tell the kids I work with this very thing all the time. The paycheck we earn means we’ve been able to build and maintain relationships with our employer and coworkers. Our academic successes have much to do with how well we build and maintain relationships with professors and/or fellow students. Happy family? Duh. Even Spirituality is usually based on relationships and often A SINGLE RELATIONSHIP with our Maker. Likewise, when kids drop out, make poor decisions, etc. – it can usually be explained by their inability to build and maintain relationships somewhere. So we should be teaching that skill (anyone whose ever been married long knows there skill involved in building and maintaining one). We should be demonstrating it as role models (politicians are the worst at this, but also other public figures). And we should mentor others to foster those skills and teach through experiential learning.

    And we should drink coffee.

    • Terzahcain,

      Great quote…..

      Great point on spirituality as well, whether its the relationships that connect us spiritually or the actual spiritual elements in our life; relationships are very central

  4. i’m in an odd place of this journey where i’m learning to meet my own needs, to sense the divine in me while seeking and maintaining loving social relationships. it’s like dipping in and out of both worlds and walking down the center.

    this spoke to me, thank you.

    and off for more coffee for me too. : )

  5. Seems that any “in” crowd defines themselves by who or what they are not as much as they define themselves by any commonality in fashion, language, demographic, etc. Living in a beach town with 500 residents – maybe – It”s easier to see the social strata and the acceptable behavior that defines one’s correct layer.
    On my Way…

    • Shimmyshark,

      Great point…..so many social groups spend more time being antithetical in relation to society rather than spending time on determining who they want to be….

      its like the various fundamentalist christian churches I grew up in as a kid….I heard my share of hell fire and damnation theology that told me how evil ‘the world’ was and very little time was spent focusing on the arts, beauty, nature, etc…..

  6. Enjoyed reading this so much. You are right we are social creatures. However, after observation and thought, I have came to the conclusion, we want to be part of social groups but we are afraid to be our true selves. Look at Facebook…a social network. But the person on the wall is just the person who is expected to be there by the people on the friends list. We seem to be afraid to open up, for the most part, about real issues. We live in a world of faux social interactions between many. That said, in your post you pointed out that those FEW close relationships you have developed over the years are what you treasure most. Maybe, that is why we are content with so many faux social interactions….because we know we also have the real thing close to our heart. Again, thanks for sharing this food for thought. 🙂

    • Billeazahir,

      Isn’t it interesting what a dramatic (immediate) impact is having on Western cultures like the United States….I really can’t remember one particular thing that has made such inroads in the influence of society….its rather breathtaking in a way

    • I assume you are talking about how Social Networks are having a dramatic impact on Western cultures. You are correct, it is breathtaking. Where once social norms were started in a region and spread at a slow pace, all the while morphing into variations that would be more accepted by the regions that they had infected, till finally a simple local fad becomes a world wide craze, norms and accepted social normalities are spread at viral speed. You see ideas and lies spread to all with the simple click of a send button. It’s scary, cause the speed of the transmission of information asking you to take a side is so fast a simple mortal is unable to make any informed decision. But for some reason, messages of love are passed along at such a slower pace and less likely to reach the coveted viral popularity. My friend, it all takes my breath away as it does you. However, I fear the lasting damage it can cause if we allow it. Sorry, about going on a rant. But I appreciate the opportunity you have provided to think on the subject. 🙂

  7. It’s funny that you say you are old because you still listen to CDs. So do I, but I still have hundreds of vinyl LPs from when I was young.

  8. Crazy, typical spring weather, Michigan style. It was 94 here in Las Vegas Valley yesterday… 😉

  9. Good read! I wonder if the guy doing the “air job” would have ever thought his photo would end up on a blog some where! Hahaha tooo funny

  10. I lost a treasure trove of ancient records in a flood a few years back. Could have probably paid off my house. Recently I was robbed of 7000 in jewelry. So it was a good lesson that “stuff” is really meaningless. The Bible, as you know, teaches us to store our treasures in heaven, and I see relationships as being the top of this list. I see blogging as penpals on steroids, and it has opened up a community of diverse cultures and people and thoughts that I never would have known existed. I gave up FB due to the trite waste of it all. Who cares it you cleaned your house today? Unless there is an experience in it that is meaningful and we can discuss and be the better for it? While I do allow my posts to flow to my FB site, there are few who comment, as the “cliff notes of the cliff notes of inanity” (as I define FB) do not allow for Deep Thought….or, HORRORS, long posts.

    • Lorene,

      great thoughts…..

      I think the reason a blog or website gets more response than a Facebook post is because of the emotional connection that develops between the reader and the blog post/article they are reading……

      since the average Facebook post is 140 characters or less, I don’t really get too emotionally connected to the post…..

      BUT, if I read a 400 or more word blog article I’ve now invested more of my time, energy, and emotions into the piece and I feel more ‘connected’ to it…..and thus I have a greater chance of commenting 🙂

    • Plus, what can you really say to “I just cleaned my kitchen” or “Going to the store”? Something just as stupid as “Come and clean mine” or ” I wana come”? Blech….I cant hardly even get on anymore, there is rarely an intelligent statement in the entire posts for the day. Perhaps it is the caliber of my friends…. 🙂

  11. “What about all those gamers who cajole their parents into dropping them off at Game Stop around midnight to stand in line for hours to purchase the new release of Mortal Death Wish Killer Stab Victim 5”

    LOL I was the parent, not dropping a kid off but standing in that line at Game Stop with the kid 😛 But for a game not as violent as you might think. I actually don’t like first person shooters. I like the fantasy games.

  12. As a child I was never taught the “value” of friendship, so as a consequence during my high school years, I never cherished or valued the friends that I did have. I often looked at friendship as being disposable. Now that I’m older, I know better and I do appreciate the few friends that I still have. I’m still not a very social person. I don’t like crowds. But exceptions are concerts, festivals, etc…. Even then I do not seek to interact with other people outside of my little family.

    • Lysa……

      I wonder if you could go back in time would you want your understanding with regard to the value of friendships to be different than what you got…….

    • I wouldn’t because, I wouldn’t be who I am today if it was. People who didn’t stick around were my lessons that I had to learn and at the end of the day do I cherish the ones I have even more.

  13. i would like to start that i love your contradictory imagery at the beginning – you claim to be old fashioned and yet you don’t own any vinyl. i find it amazing/amusing that ipods are considered old (sadly CDs kind of are) but somehow vinyl is not (at least in this post). just seems to me that the one with the turntable not willing to give up CDs for an Ipod is the old fashioned one but i could be wrong. 🙂 i do really love this whole post though. i find myself oddly at the other end of the spectrum right now however. given the lack of communication with my friends these days (partly due to the distance and being in a different time zone) is forcing me to learn to like being alone though im definitely a social creature, which is why this journey is hard for me. im having to learn to be okay on my own but i hope that it doesn’t mean being alone permanently; that it’s just being comfortable with my own company until someone worthy comes along to be in my company also. the one thing about being alone but wanting company is that it’s forcing me out of my comfort zone and having to learn to be more resourceful – all good things. i’ll have to become less shy and be more confident, which will or at least should result in making more meaningful relationships/friendships along the way – at least that’s what i’ve rationalized. we shall see. again as usual – wonderful insight 🙂 and yes that gentleman gesturing – quite funny.

    • Stormy,

      I relate to what you wrote quite a bit….

      I’ve gone through a lot of seasons in my life where I spent a lot of time alone….not because I couldn’t have created a higher level of community but because there seemed like (for lack of a better word) ‘organic’ nature to my life at the time that caused me to spend less time with my friends….

      In retrospect, those seasons of my life were really good for me because they helped me to develop positive habits that have stayed with me all these years and I was able to work through a lot of things I was thinking about life, love, etc.

      Currently I’m probably at an inbetween time; I’m not being AS social as other times of my life, but I’m also not being as solitary as other times of my life….at least I feel like I’m at a good place to really focus on my blog and website which I’ve been doing lately with as much gusto as I can muster 🙂

      As I was reading your comment The Byrds song popped into my head, “There is a season…turn, turn, turn” 🙂

  14. There is so much here, and reading all the comments just cements some of it in place. We are social creatures. Well most of us anyway. Some of us only wish we were. On FB, I get truly tired of reading the posts because like someone said in comment, so much of it is portraying a false image. Everyone seems to want to be richer and thinner and prettier and more popular than their friends. It gets old after a while. I think maybe that’s why I have no real friends. I tend towards honesty and no one wants to hear someone tell them to buck up and get with the program, or shut up and stop patting yourself on the back so much. Eh. I could always shop for filters to keep my mouth from spouting out whatever is on my mind, but then wouldn’t I be like so many other people out there? Trying to change to make people like me? No thanks. Yes, sometimes I crave social interaction…..I burned out on one blog trying to do too much, to follow everyone that followed me, even if I had no interest whatsoever in their blog. I have an intense distaste for people who are willing to change to blend in. Those who wear what everyone else is wearing whether they like it or even can afford it, just to be like everyone else. It’s everywhere, clothes, music, movies, schools, jobs, etc. I’m old. I admit it, and perhaps my patience isn’t what it used to be, but I’ll take my music how I like it, I’ll wear what I want and say whats on my mind, and in the end, I pay the price for that decision. I’d rather be alone and true to myself than popular based on a lie.

  15. Good article. We are all social creatures to some degree, some more than others, but we all are.
    I’m almost 40 and still love, listen to, and collect vinyl records. You just can’t replace the sound they make.

  16. First, gotta love the guy making the gesture in the one pic,lmao! I know that you and I come from a different generation, but as you said, that does not change the fact that we all wish to belong. Doesn’t matter if we are from Generation X or The Millenial Generation, or any other for that matter, it is programmed not in our minds to belong, but in our souls. I myself do truly appreciate what you do and your willingness to bridge the gap between all generations with your words and with your photos. It is truly inspiring.

  17. An excellant post, thanks…I’ve nominated you for the liebster award, for more information: http://bastetandsekhmet.wordpress.com/2013/04/22/newsletter-awards/ .

  18. Well said, sir. I’m in my thirties now and some of these cultural phenomena just elude me, but the basic underlying desires are much the same I imagine. Great photos.

  19. all these long responses, so I’ll just say

  20. Yes, this is what I’ve been talking about on my blog. Following this sociable, deeper connections idea. (This may come off strange) It goes back to why the Internet is popular, why young folks play online games. There is a community there, being a part of something feels great. My notion is that we should put more research into enhancing the way we interact with other humans. The end point for me is that we should research group-minds, and make group-minds with people in it. A mind to mind connection for me is a great prospect. It only takes a push to start a development thread towards that end. I won’t see it in this lifetime but the kid’s kids will. Sociable Creatures is the keyword there, if we could only understand a topic from many point of views at once, I strongly think that a lot of disagreements will be settled before they begin.
    Let’s enhance our social-ness/sociability. With technology its possible.

  21. BALANCE, I enjoy my alone time ( I call it quietude ) almost as much as I do belonging. I worry, when I shut down for several days at a time as I have done recently. That is NOT GOOD for me either ! Love your blog Kenneth. I always come especially when I need some inspiration. And FYI I am sleuhing even when I am silent.

  22. So a nice blog, I am happy about finding it (actually you found my). I ill come back 🙂

  23. your articles make me think so much..thanks a lot for sharing…I really enjoy reading your articles I would love to say

  24. I so don’t get hipsters, but it is not lost on me the irony of all of them looking alike yet striving to be unique and ahead of the curve. As an aside, none of them seem to have bums… is that a thing like the glasses and hats?
    We do love to move in packs don’t we? It keeps us safe to be with others and to my mind the only truly interesting and varied thing in the world is other humans.
    Love Culture Monk

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