I recently acquired a Facebook contact who quotes the Bible daily. As I am an atheist, I’m puzzled by his reason for seeking me out. Perhaps he hopes to save my soul. More likely, however, he added my name to his list through a mutual friend. For reasons I find unfathomable, some people aspire to having large numbers of “friends” who are obtained by a “click.”
I doubt this new friend will stay with me long. Like Penelope at her loom, I tend to unravel his arguments. Recently he wrote, “Be careful when you find yourself at war with every church or brethren. Your character could be cause for your nomadism.”
I replied, “Or, nomadism could be evidence of an independent thinker.”
To be fair, science is on my friend’s side as much as mine. Human beings are programmed to seek out those similar to themselves. In fact, recent research suggests we choose as friends people with whom we have similar genomes: “…genetically [as] similar as fourth cousins.” (“Insights,” Psychology Today, August 2019, pg. 9.) The article fails to explain how we achieve this remarkable congruity, so I hope to learn more in the future.
In any case, surrounding ourselves with people who are like us has plusses and minuses. Decision-making is easier. Working together and exchanging information is easier. But group think narrows perspective. We fail to see different solutions and opportunities. (Ibid, pg. 10.) Worse, as individuals, we may also become more pliant, less willing to think for ourselves and more likely to fall under the influence of others. (Ibid, pg. 12.)
Nature created us with an instinct to band together for mutual protection; but in a complex and shrinking world, flexible brains, capable of accepting and formulating new ideas, may prove to be a better survival mechanism.
In that spirit, I hope my new, religious friend doesn’t reject me. No doubt we can learn from each other. When I don’t, I hold my bent tipped needle, ready to unravel his words.