Groupthink and What’s Wrong With Social Networking

Ever wonder why the herd mentality is holding back social networking? Consider if you will the lens of Groupthink.

Groupthink is a social psychology concept, that might well be a useful concept to apply to social networking. I was reminded of this by a recent post by Klezak’s social marketing blog on applicatons of Group Theory. Groupthink happens when a committee or group does not live up to its potential and instead stifles thought that is outside the mainstream. Analysts credit Kennedy’s mistakes during the Bay of Pigs fiasco to groupthink. He put the best minds of his country in charge, and they blew it because no one spoke up.

This could explain the tension between groupthink reactions like pimping your profile on Myspace and spammers on digg and related sites, on the one hand, and innovative uses of facebook like Help a Reporter Out and other creative ways to wag the tail.

So what does this suggest about how social networks can be improved? Well we need to find a way to encourage as many people as possible to use the current socail networks in an innovative way, and to find ways to voice their new or different thoughts. It doesn’t matter if most users put glitter on their myspace pages, or shout a gazilion marketing sites on Digg. But what does matter is that we find a way of standing out with good ideas. At the moment, to break away from the pack you either need to know how to right a catchy title to your StumbleUpon post or name for your facebook group.

But what if someone developed a ranking system for blogs, or websites, that awarded “authority” better? Can someone out there come up with a way in which to reward to creative ideas (and posts)? I know many of you will say that web 3.0 will solve the problems of web 2.0 with some organic solution, but I think we need to promulgate a means for real skill, expertise and creativity to be nurtured rather than submerged.


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