“Groupthink”

Media Alert!

February 2021

BLOG #16

Sue Summers

www.MediaSavvyKids.org

“Groupthink”

“Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.”  Romans 12: 2 (The Message)

Groupthink is defined as “a psychological phenomenon that occurs within a group of people in which the desire for harmony or conformity in the group results in an irrational or dysfunctional decision-making outcome. Cohesiveness, or the desire for cohesiveness, in a group may produce a tendency among its members to agree at all costs. This causes the group to minimize conflict and reach a consensus decision without critical evaluation… Groupthink requires individuals to avoid raising controversial issues or alternative solutions, and there is loss of individual creativity, uniqueness and independent thinking.” (Wikipedia.com)

Psychology Today defines it this way: “Groupthink is a phenomenon that occurs when a group of well-intentioned people makes irrational or non-optimal decisions spurred by the urge to conform or the belief that dissent is impossible.” (www.psychologytoday.com)

Social media can promote groupthink, with followers quickly selecting the “like” button to join the list of admirers or supporters of the photo, statement, or opinion. To disagree or refute the comment makes an individual stand out and can cause some consternation by others who read their entry. Often those who do not agree simply move on without entering a rebuttal. As mentioned in a previous blog: silence condones!

When newscasts, talk shows, podcasts, TV programs, movies, and even advertising promote the same viewpoint, it is difficult to stand alone and disagree. David Walsh (www.drdavewalsh.com), author of Smart Parenting, Smarter Kids, stated, “Whoever tells the stories defines the culture… This isn’t new. It’s been true for thousands of years. What is new is that today’s storytellers are the mass media.” When the same concept or thought is shared in various media contexts, the result is that the media consumers often accept it without critically thinking about its validity, worth, and potential consequences.

One such example is the march to the Capitol which took place on January 6th, 2021. The narrative from news reporters, radio and TV opinion shapers, and info-tainment sources, such as “The View”, is that those involved in the melee were right-wing anarchists, far-right violent extremists, white supremicists, conservative militia, and domestic terrorists. Even those who had gathered for the rally to hear President Trump speak – who never went near the Capitol – were labeled as “haters” and insurrectionists. This narrative shapes current thinking and influences how people in other countries perceive us. Words matter! George Orwell saw it decades ago: “There is no swifter route to the corruption of thought than through the corruption of language.”

Francis Phillip Wernig said, “The person who follows the crowd will usually get no further than the crowd. The person who walks alone is likely to find himself in places no one has ever been before.

“If you’re in a groupthink culture, the question you have to ask yourself is – Is this worth it? Is constant harmony, continual agreement, and slave-like obedience worth the loss of your identity? Is it worth the loss of your creativity? If not, then it may be time to either lead a revolt, or move to an organization that values who you are – not just how well you fit in.” (“The Devastating Power of GroupThink”, www.philcooke.com)

Consider this scripture: “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” Galatians 5:1

So how can we help teens become media-savvy about the culture that surrounds them?

• Discuss the concept that there is more than one way to think about a topic. Ask: “What is the upside of group agreement and what is the downside of group agreement?”

• Share the definition of groupthink and discuss current examples, such as Twitter’s “cancel culture” phenomenon. Ask: “Have you or any one you know personally experienced being ‘canceled’”?

• Ask: “Does disagreeing with your friends make you uncomfortable? Why?” Ask: “What do you usually do when you have opposing ideas?”

• Instructors of high school and college courses often choose to orchestrate discussions that stimulate various viewpoints without expecting group consensus. Ask: “What are the advantages of this strategy?”

• Share the Francis Phillip Wernig quote. Describe the meaning in your own words.

• Galatians 5:1 states: “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” Discuss the application of this verse to today’s culture.

• Jesus is a good example of someone who opposed the view of the reigning Roman government.  Discuss how he communicated his ideas and beliefs.

* Feel free to share this blog and the suggested discussion items with the youth group at your church.

EXCITING NEWS BELOW!

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Sue Summers is a Christian media analyst, teacher, author, and speaker. She is the Director of Media Alert!
Contact info:
Blogs: http://www.MediaSavvyKids.org
Website: www.MediaAlert.org
Email: Sue@MediaAlert.org
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#MediaSavvyKids, #ChristianParenting, #ChurchAndCulture, #YouthPastors, #YouthGroupCurriculum, #HelpForChristianParents, #GroupThinkAndChristianTeens, #CriticalThinkingInTodaysChurch

© Sue Summers 2021

2 Comments

  1. Hi Sue… Great Blog on “GROUPTHINK!” I appreciate your insights and applications to our current day culture in America. Makes me think of the wise saying “God so loved the world that He didn’t send a committee!” God bless you for helping us all be media savvy so we can discern what things are true, what is noble, what is pure, what is lovely, what is of good report and what has virtue in media (Phil. 4:8) Gratefully, Kev

    Like

  2. You have articulated my thoughts! It is so annoying to watch reporters describe January 6th as “an armed insurrection of violence” and “an assault on the building by extremists”. You are right: words carry so much influence! Entering into rational conversations would be the answer, but emotions often carry us away.
    I so appreciate your insights in this blog. Also, the tee shirts are spiffy!

    Like

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