Our own worst enemy
"Man's chief enemy is his own unruly nature and the dark forces put up within him." - Ernest Jones
Group dynamics is under a constant form of evolution recently. For millions of years the major forms of social interaction were mostly 1 on 1, or perhaps a small group sitting around a table. We have developed complex rules of order to handle gathers of more than a few people, because we as humans are of a dual nature. We are individuals who desire to be part of a group.
Computers have given us a newfound way to interact, and with it, a whole new set of issues, our groups have to find new ways to interact. The ease at which we can send off a message to 10s, 100s, or even 1000s of people causes our group dynamics to flow in an entirely new way.
We have all been to a party, and sat there bored, no one willing to be the first to get up and leave, but when that first one leaves, it all happens at once. And if everyone was bored at the party, then isn't it them who are to blame? Change comes from people standing up and being willing to make things change, the majority will follow along like a herd.
W.R. Bion wrote about group dynamics and had several situations that he noted caused groups to break apart. The first is sex talk, people flirting rather than doing whatever the group was brought together to do. The second is common enemies, the group would break down into discussions of outside enemies of whatever they are doing and forget to do what they actually came together to do. The third is the making of something sacred, something beyond discussion. All of this led him to say that groups need strict structure like Robert's rules of order to protect the group from itself.
Many groups form and allow things to go in a free manner, and eventually start to tear themselves apart because of human nature. The other groups who maintain a more strict form, and limit the discussions of the general membership seem to last longer or be more stable than those that allow simple freedom.
Groups also run into the problem of no one being willing to actually do the work needed to make a group work. Look to any group and see how many people are actually doing the work that makes the group function.
"The worst tyrants are those which establish themselves in our own breasts." - William Ellery Channing
3 Nov 2009 00:00:00
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