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Friday, January 16, 2009

group dynamics

I can't settle myself to sleep tonight; I have a vexing situation that I am still mulling over its hanging in mid-air, even though I have already done what I can for tonight to appease it.

Imagine yourself part of a social club, church group or maybe the ECA you were in at school, like I was in ODAC back in my JC days. In such a group, everyone is expected to perform to their official role, like say if you are in a dance club, you learn your skills and keep improving at it while working as a team. But outside the performances your dance group stages, or the events your church group hosts and so on, you guys are probably friends. Maybe not with all of the members, but there will be some of them who are your friends, or else you probably won't still be staying in said club or group. It is inevitable, in fact a by-product of the group's existence, that there will be some members you choose to call close friends. Yet there will also be some who remain to you merely professional club or group acquaintances, after all, we naturally gravitate towards some people and less to others. There might even be some members whose attitudes or skills hardly contribute to the club, and may in fact hamper the club or group's growth in some way, and perhaps if you are not one of them, you find their lack of positive attitude a tad irritating.

The thing is, it is a recreational community, even if it is for serious hobbyists who truly train themselves for their next rock-climbing competition or similar. It is still about a hobby, it is still about people gathering to indulge in a hobby in a dedicated way. It is not a business organisation that works in the evolutionary dog-eat-dog way, where merit is given more merit, and discredit is given aplenty.

So where do you draw the line where, say, you have a group mate who is seriously lacking in improving his skills in the hobby but yet is a good friend of yours? Or you have someone who has the skills but is a total pain-in-the-ass as a friend? Should friendship truimph, or should the skills truimph? If you needed to put together a team for a tournament, who would be in the first team, who would be reserves? Your friend or the pain-in-the-ass?

I am all for hobbying and socialising together. However, the recreational / social group dynamics are radically in between that of a family (stays together even through shitty behaviour and shirking of household chores) and that of a business organisation (reward the skilled, banish those with lack). Which means when it comes down to forming the first team for the big game, the lines are in varying shades of gray.

So, I am caught in a situation like this. In fact, it is worse: I cannot do anything much in terms of directing the group into a balance upon the family/business continuum. I am not the one picking the team for the tournament, in fact I am more like the water-boy or mascot. Where I don't do very much yet I hear all the conversations that take place in the locker room, on the benches and in the field.

Have I lost you in my essaying about being in a recreational club? It seems juvenile, but it really is about a group that I am in that I furiously love and hope to protect. This group has been there for me not only to help me pursue my hobby together with, but also through life's ups and downs outside the the hobby itself.

I want to do something about the upsetting things that happen in my beloved club. But I am just a water-boy or a mascot, and all I can do is probably call for a group hug for now. I hope it works.