Dear Susan Cain,
Your article on groupthink was really interesting and made me realize there were a lot of examples in my life were I have participated in it or was set up to do so. As you suggested by the school desks, from grades 1 through 8 in my grammar school our desks were either set up into fours, or touching in some way to put us into groups. I have to agree with you that by having this dynamic planned out for us might have debilitated the creative juices we might have already had flowing around in our heads. No giving us a chance to choose our groups, but choosing them for us and forcing us to work towards a goal that we might not all agree on, but we had to get to, might not have been in our best interest.
I really do agree with your notion that people who are talented and motivated should be encouraged to work alone, because I prefer working alone over anything else. I feel that I am almost demotivated when I am forced to work in a group, because there are so many people who don’t think for themselves and they just agree with everyone else or they try to latch onto your ideas and use them as your own. Slackers and free loaders seem to make up a lot of the teams I have had the misfortune to be in and I feel that has really hindered some of the work I have had to do. The only group that I have effectively worked in and avoided the pitfalls of groupthink is a class where we immediately discussed what groupthink was and how to avoid it. I think that was a big contributing factor towards succeeding, as well as being lucky enough to have group members that are hard workers.
Clay Shirky’s article “Personal Motivation Meets Collaborative Production from Here Comes Everybody” suggests that he effects of collaborative work are deep, which I can agree with. While working in groups can be detrimental because of groupthink as you suggest, I think that working together can be effective when the group all can agree with each other or are comfortable enough to discuss an issues they might have. If they are all on the same page and plan to meet the same goals, I think group work can be amazing. Shirky brings up Wikipedia in his article, which is known as a major site where people can all come together to collaborate on a topic. I think the idea is a good one and with proper monitoring, it is done well. However, I know a few years ago there was the issue where false, slandering information was posted on the site suggesting that an innocent man was involved in the assassination of JFK, and that information was there for months on end.
I agree with Andrew Keen in “The Great Seduction from the Cult of the Amateur,” that it I do not believe all the information the media gives me, at least not initially. I think that he would g along with your beliefs on groupthink because he suggests that because so many people can create new information, it’s turning so many things into ‘truths.’ I think that this idea that everyone has their own opinion and they are very persistent with it, that it goes hand in hand with groupthink because while some people will be vocal if they have different opinions, not everyone will. They might just go along with the other person because that person is so determined in their opinion.
Ana Luisa Suarez