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A few months ago I had a conversation with someone and was dismayed when they said that nurses on Twitter are so agreeable that you never get a true representation of thoughts and that we had to beware of “groupthink” Having not heard the term “groupthink” before I turned to my trusty social media platform Wikipedia (yes I know not remotely academic but accessibility makes it a great starting point) and had a read around – Wikipedia states “Groupthink is a psychological phenomenon that occurs within a group of people, in which the desire for harmony or conformity in the group results in an incorrect or deviant decision-making outcome.” It goes on to say “Loyalty to the group requires individuals to avoid raising controversial issues or alternative solutions, and there is loss of individual creativity, uniqueness and independent thinking.” It certainly got me thinking and whilst I don’t deny that there are certainly times when the #NurseCommunity is in agreement I wonder if this is due to common interests, purpose and goals. There are also times when I have seen the #NurseCommunity disagree (although due to social media etiquette this is often done in the politest of ways) this leads me to wonder if the perceived anonymity that social media affords us (i.e. we are not face to face with those we are discussing issues with) has any counteract effect on the groupthink phenomenon?
With these questions and more running through my mind I thought I would ask the #NurseCommunity what they think and here are the conversations that ensued:
It was an interesting discussion though really did not answer my questions and in fact raised more! In this dynamic and new space in which we exist and use in a professional do the old theories still apply? Do we need to consider new elements? Do we need to be cautious of collective agreement or should we embrace it and capitalise on the energy it creates? I have no psychological background but I have spent a long time observing and being part of this social media space and I can see the potential that social media offers us to improve and progress healthcare and it is because of this I feel we need to think a little on these issues and be mindful of our own behaviour.
I would love to hear your thoughts and experiences on groupthink on Twitter and perhaps even evidence and answers to some of my questions – so please feel free add you comments (in fact I very much encourage you this week !!)