Sunday, October 2, 2011

Why Hide It: Methinks 'Tis Time For An Essay On Groupthink

It was the perfect Autumn evening for a busk. The temperature was 85 degrees and my buskingdom was windless. A thin crowd of shoppers sauntered in and out of the Safeway grocery store on 13th Avenue in Regina, Saskatchewan. Among them was Kevin McKenzie, an extraordinary keynote speaker and storyteller. Evan was one of those strangers kind enough to toss a couple toonies into my open banjitar case. He was sporting a red Superman t-shirt.

You really are Superman! I remarked at his coin toss.

Ya, I used to wear the horn-rimmed glasses and plain gray sports jacket but now I say, 'Why hide it?' he replied.

After his grocery purchase, Kevin proceeded to eat his freshly bought supper right beside me on the parking lot curb. And we chatted. Kevin had, just an hour previous, returned from the Yukon, where he was the keynote at a teachers' conference. He used to be an elementary school teacher in Vancouver, British Columbia, but decided to follow his dream, and has been a story-telling adventurist across Canada for the past decade. Evan is obviously not a participating member of Groupthink.

Groupthink, coined by Irving Janis, is a psychological phenomenon that occurs when peoples' desire for group harmony exceeds and overrides any realistic decision making. Roundtable Groupthink participants, when striving for consensus, often minimize the real conflicts, and operate without critical evaluation. Typically, being an active or passive member of any groupthink leads to the loss of independent thinking and individual creativity.

Methinks, the notions of groupthink go beyond the general accepted round-table [non]discussions. Groupthink dances into our dress codes. Check out the clothing choices of high school and university students. Check out the fashions and styles of business people. Such checking will verify cloning-to-go in practically any people industry.

Groupthink is what keeps our fingers snapping the beat to most of our music tastes. From shop owners to pop artists, The American Top 40 With Ryan Seacrest literally keeps millions of people in the music industry employed. And country music has been galloping across the nations of North America for the past 75 years.

Groupthink definitely has built suburbia. Go for a Sunday drive in any suburb in any Western city and all those little boxes in all those little new neighborhoods look exactly the same.

even works itself into our occupational choices. How many adolescents and emerging adults aspire to be doctors and lawyers and teachers and counselors compare to those aspiring to be road workers and trench diggers and cleaners and service industry personnel.

Admittedly I, writing rosey-colored with embarrassment, am an active member of Groupthink. I have repeatedly stated and written that I am but a faux busker. And not ashamedly, I am one who employs a certain artifice, both in thrumming skill and in cap-a-pie dress to present an adventuresome persona in my neverending quest to attract coins.

However, most other practictioners who reside in
Buskerville are not members of anything, never mind Groupthink.

The following people who marched in my Chaucerian Parade this week, too, are most certainly not Groupthink members.

  • I've already introduced Kevin McKenzie, the inspiration for this blog topic. Kevin is the first person, ever, to sit, sup, and chat with me whilst I busk.

  • Meet Mark Jones. I was busking in front of the Copper Kettle Gourmet Pizza restaurant, managed and operated by my best pizza making friend, Terry Miller, who always welcomes me, providing light and and pizza whenever I busk there. A couple nights ago, while strumming my twelve string in front of Terry's, a busker from Kamloops, British Columbia happened by. He pulled out an Irish Tin Whistle (a pennywhistle) and played harmony to my tunes for a half hour. On his exit, he tossed me a fin.

  • And I must mention and say a special thank-you to the elderly lady who provided my Oral Roberts moment, when she pushed her walker aside and began to dance to my banjitar songs.

Give him all our money! I love this guy and his banjo! she yelled to her younger assistant.

To close:

Groupthink is the safe and sorry stay in the status quo.

Groupthink is the vanilla choice of flavors on the ice cream menu.

Methinks, membership in Groupthink shall forever be reserved for the sycophants and claque, and shall never be high-octane enough for real thinktank performers.

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