Declaration of Independence
Increasingly, I am aware of the "communities" to which I don't belong. An overused word in the humanities, "community" is more than a group of people with some minor similarities. A community has to have some manner of unified sense of purpose.
I belong to several organizations without any desire to interact with other members or associates. I don't attend any regular meetings of any organization. When I attend conferences, I try to arrive close to when I am scheduled to speak and then depart as soon as possible.
Bluntly, people often annoy me. People are cliquish. They want to be around people like themselves, which means I find myself outside most "communities" to which I am expected to relate.
When my wife and I first moved, I tried to attend one social gathering of an organization -- but left before the event began. I couldn't tolerate the setting, which was a restaurant with a decidedly political decor. Maybe that doesn't matter to most people, but I don't want to read political slogans at dinner. A non-political organization should not meet in a political setting.
I spent the last four years avoiding my academic department, even working remotely when possible. The political tribes were upsetting, especially during a difficult transition time on campus due to budget cuts. I didn't want to choose sides or try to determine who might win or lose in various power games.
Academic conferences in the humanities are notoriously political, while I would rather focus on how best to teach. I've been to conferences with presentations including "Dropping the F-Bomb" and "Interrogating the White Student." These were not about teaching; they were small political rallies.
People hijack events. They take over conferences or meetings to make their points, even when entirely inappropriate.
Autism gatherings are tribal. I don't like that or need that. I want to work on teaching and helping students with special needs. I don't want to have to determine which cliques are the "right" cliques to join.
Even technology gathering descend into the tribal: Apple vs. Microsoft vs. Linux (vs. other Linux); PHP vs. Perl vs. Python; MySQL vs. PostgreSQL vs. NoSQL; HTML vs. Flash; and so on.
The best option increasingly is to stay home. I like my wife, my cats, and books. I don't need to waste time trying to decipher idiotic tribal rituals.
I booked a much-to-long stay at the ASA conference. It was about price, when I should have considered my lack of tolerance for people. Thankfully, I can sit in a hotel room much of the time, writing and reading.
A tribe of one.