Thursday, March 24, 2005

Group Dynamics or the trials and tribulations of an Internet Group

Perhaps I could start a new career in internet anthropology. LOL! Having been a participant on the internet before it was the internet and known as ARPANET. Back when the only access was through scientific, government industries or academia, you know back during when dinosaurs roamed the earth!? It has been quite interesting to see the changes that have occurred since the masses were first unleashed on to the "net" via prodigy, followed quickly by Compuserver and eventually the floodgates opened with it all became AOL.

Now I'm not saying that life on the net was better back in the "good old days", or that there weren't flame wars, or personality conflicts, etc. Some of the best flames I've every witnessed and experienced were back in the newsgroup days. would get quite heated over disposable or cloth diapers, SAH or Working Moms. I think I still bear the scorch marks, and surely inflicted a few of my own.

But the one thing we did have, was a sense of rules, or net etiquette. Some of these rules were spelled out from group to group, others were implied, but for the most part there was civility and the discourse was interesting most of the time.

There was a sense of community with the various groups. Each catered to a general or specific interest, so most of the exchanges were on topic. Many of my closest friends were formed from our initial contact through a group online and now we are friends almost 20 years.

After several years online it became apparent that there were distinct cycles to every group, they ebb and flow and eventually either get new blood or just fade away and die out. It's inevitable. It's basic group dynamics of which there are specific stages.

It seems that the more and more people that have access to the net, from various socio-economic and education backgrounds, the faster that group dynamic seems to cycle through the stages.

But this is not a complaint, just an observation. After a recent rise and fall of a special interest group (no names - but they know who they are). There just seems to be too much noise, and the noise seems to be too needy and demanding at times, and much too often unkind and cliqueish.

I think we have lost the etiquette piece. I think some of are too sensitive or often read into the words on the screen their own interpretation or feelings. Most of these eruptions are pure misunderstandings that if either side just stepped back, waited 24 hours before responding AND thought objectively how what they were sending would be perceived, a lot of this nonsense would be avoided.

So remember the next time you read something that gets your back up, and just before you hit that sizzling send button please remember that there is a human on the other end of that communication which appears is too easily forgotten by many of us

Please check out the rules of Net Etiquette for more details on how to behave like a grownup online.


At 9:22 AM, Blogger me myself and i said...

Interesting point of view! Gives me something to think about today! Thanks!


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