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The Minimalists
The Minimalists are Emmy-nominated Netflix stars and New York Times–bestselling authors Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus. Alongside their podcast cohost, T.K. Coleman, this simple-living trio helps millions of people eliminate clutter and live meaningfully with less. Learn More.


I was late to the game. When I joined social media in 2010—shortly after my mother died and my marriage unraveled—I signed up for Facebook, Twitter, and MySpace on the same day, searching for connection.

It quickly became apparent that, with my preference for prose, my Twitter account was the best place to connect with people I didn’t know but wanted to know. So I followed people who interested me, rarely tweeting myself—reading, listening, and learning instead.

What a resource! Instead of prying conversations out of coworkers and former schoolmates, I had access to people whose values reflected the person I aspired to be. Everyone I “met” on Twitter used this incredible tool to improve their lives, and all types of people were welcome.

In time, however, we began to separate ourselves into self-selected tribes. From the comfort of our couches, we erected plexiglass walls around our ideologies and identities, creating an echochamber to protect us from our own insecurities. As the tribes grew larger, the walls grew taller and thicker, and the technology that once connected us now divided us.

The tribes aren’t the problem, though—the walls are the problem. In fact, tribes can be valuable: joining a group with high standards is one of the best ways to challenge ourselves; when we surround ourselves with people whose skills and knowledge are greater than our own, we gain competence, insight, wisdom—all of which we can share with new members of the tribe.

But when we protect an idea at the expense of our values, or when we attack others for immutable differences, or when we engage in recreational outrage, we lose sight of what brought us to the tribe in the first place: connection, not identity. It’s not the amount of melanin in our skin, nor the presence of a Y chromosome, nor the logo on the car or T-shirt that makes us the best version of ourselves—it’s our values, which are shaped by our behaviors and the standards of the people around us.

The solution, then, isn’t to hurl our emotions back over the wall each time we disagree; the solution is to cut a hole in the wall and listen to the voices on the other side. An echochamber is a noisy place, though, so we better listen carefully. Then, eventually, instead of new walls, we can install welcome mats in front of our values—because a tribe with shared values is infinitely stronger than an identity someone hands us.