Monday, January 11, 2010

the way of the goat: social acceptance ritual

How the same are we? What do we share? Where do we overlap? What do we have in common? Things we ask ourselves on a daily basis when we talk to another person. Finding 'the common ground' is older then your grandmother. And wanting to belong and get noticed as well. That's like cave time territory all over again. Yet now we use different media to promote ourselves to the world and to connect to others.

Check out Youtube to find out how many people crave to be noticed. 'Yes I am unique'. Are you? Of course we're not. But we all like to think we are. Why? So we feel we matter. We all like to think we make some kind of difference, that we contribute, that we are here for a reason. Anything. Would we bother otherwise? Interesting question.

What compelled me to start this post about 'wanting to belong and matter' was just thinking of when goat Monty was first taken up in the goatie homeboys club about 3 months ago.

There was the first meet n greet (painfull), the surrendering to other's opinions (humiliating piddling ensued to establish submitting to the goat homeboys' power) the rules laid out (chewing of ears and sniffing the piddling), establishing hierarchy (how sad can it get) to absorbing the new member in the clan (disdained faces and some cold shoulders shown). Now this admittance ritual would put most of us humans in the depression corner. Seriously. But what happened? Due to Monty's bouncy nature he soon won the woolly critters over by playing with them. He started at the bottom with a 1 year old he shared bottom rankings with and worked his way up the ladder. Now he's head butting the 2IC and he gets away with it. Why? Because he's an excellent PR goat THAT's why. He decided to first adapt, but then to show his true colors and get accepted anyway.

Mind you another goat, a girl called Nerada, tried it a different way, she came in the new herd all huffy and waving her handbag about like a snooty Paris Hilton. It didn't work wonders for her, if anything she was rejected, and she had to learn to play nice to be accepted. She now hands out the occasional head butt to show she is strong but she receives treatment accordingly. Being different is one thing, throwing your weight around to establish your place is not socially helpful, neither for goats or humans.

I find it interesting how both animals and humans have these rituals and habits to establish themselves in a society group, to find their way. Some things never change, just the means to find a place in the world do. I like Monty's way of quietly testing the waters and deciding to have some fun with it. God knows the world is serious enough as it is. 

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