Thursday, November 11, 2010

Internet Group Dynamics

I have a feeling that this is going to be one of those I Never Could Get The Hang of Thursdays days. There's a front coming in, and I seem to be able to feel it in my head. Meanwhile, a writing organization I belong to has chosen this time to blow up completely, and conflict bothers me. It's an argument that can't really be resolved because there isn't a lot of middle ground, and it seems to come up in every writing organization I've belonged to. When the group's e-mail list is allowed to be a free-for-all, you get a nice, tight-knit group among the people who participate, which creates an atmosphere that encourages people to ask on-topic questions and share valuable business information. But you also get tons of cute pet/kid/husband stories. Tons and tons of them. The moment that anyone suggests that it would be nice if posts were more on-topic, the people who post the cute pet/kid/husband stories throw a fit and claim that the friendly atmosphere is the only reason they're in the group, they like reading other people's pet/kid/husband stories, and if they aren't allowed to share cute pet/kid/husband stories, then they'll flounce off and play elsewhere, and besides, it's because of all the off-topic posts that we have such a great atmosphere. And they're kind of right because in every group I've been in that has cracked down on posting rules, the list has degenerated into nothing more than re-posts of announcements and "I'm blogging at whatever site today, come and comment and win a prize!" posts. So now this organization seems to have come up with a reasonable solution that creates the opportunity to allow the people who want to talk about their pets to do so without annoying the people who don't care, and meanwhile the ones who want to talk business can do so elsewhere. And still the cute personal story people are flouncing and saying that will RUIN EVERYTHING and it won't be the organization they joined and the world is coming to an end, and so they're going to leave the group. The cynical part of me suspects that they're not going to be happy unless everyone is FORCED to read about Fluffy's latest adventures.

I think it's just basic group dynamics, cranked up to Eleven because of the sometimes overly emotional and dramatic writer personality. This group is the last thing keeping me in Romance Writers of America, since I no longer write things that could be shelved as "romance." I'm certainly not in the in crowd in this particular organization, possibly because I don't have kids, husband or pets to share stories about. Silly me, I only post when I have a business matter to discuss.

Still I find it strange that I'm so conflict-averse that this is upsetting me enough to throw off my morning schedule. I think I'm getting enough conflict in the book these days. Mind you, that didn't stop me from putting my two cents into the discussion, since Someone On The Internet Was Wrong and because any time I feel like a faction of a group is ganging up and making some kind of public statement that We All feel a particular way with the not-so-subtle peer pressure that all reasonable people would naturally feel that way and you're not really one of us if you don't, it tends to make me be contrary and leap to side with the people who aren't included in that We All (see the Great HOA War played out at a City Council meeting of 2004 -- I didn't even care about the issue, but ended up speaking before the city council in opposition to my HOA's view on a neighborhood matter, just because the We All attitude pissed me off).

Which, come to think of it, is exactly what's going on with my heroine in the part of the book I'm currently working on, which may be why I'm overly sensitive about it right now. Real life and the story are merging, but the stakes are much, much higher in the story, and I'm then applying that to real life. I'd probably better disconnect from the Internet for a while before I start a revolution, or something.

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