Saturday, May 22, 2010

Annoying collective behaviors!!!!!

I used to observe the difference in innocent individual behaviors and bit different kind of behavior when it is a group of these innocent individuals. Long back, at the time when I was doing my bachelors; I read somewhere that these behaviors are used well in many places. One book/article on addressing the gathering and do an effective speech" classifies this as individual v/s mass psychology. This is the same concept used in political/religious speech. I tried using, while preparing my own slides as well. As they say 1+1 != 2, it is 4 or more in case of collective effort. Positively, this psychology is best used in military. This is the power the group brings to individuals basically due to the safety an individual feels when inside a group.

Interesting studies in this direction in recent times include the social network analysis in modern Internet age. For example, in his book Six degrees, Duncan Watts starts the topic with a question how does individual behavior aggregate to collective behavior. As he says, it is the way norms and conventions emerge, exist and all on a sudden perishes, only to create new ones. The revolutions which happened in the world to the cascaded fall of real estate are well known examples of these collective behaviors. What is more interesting for me is not the chaos, but the situation after the chaos. It is the same concept I used as my blog title in search of randomness (but very much before reading Watt's work).

Though not in large scale like the above situations, I used to see these kind of effects and ironies in my own social circle. Often I used to hear comments "damn, the bus is late; what the heck is the driver doing?". Ironically, he/she comes late even more than half an hour and says "sorry... could not make it". And there may be an addition "you know, IST, Indian stretchable time". Some other time, the entire group is late by an hour and say themselves the "IST" thing. Being stupid, I actually try to be on time (in my mobile time). The only case I may enjoy such a half an hour or more waiting situation is that, some beautiful girl standing next to me (who is stupid enough to come in time like me), waiting and we are having a nice chit-chat. Or in a film style way, drizzling where I have an umbrella and she does not have.

Another nice incident which annoyed me a lot is about a temporary place for our group to work, because the lab was "announced to undergo a renovation". We are about 10-12 "individuals" and there are other group of people working under different professor. One friend from the other group asked me, "hei please coordinate and let me know how many people will be there in may-June. We can see the alternative locations". I thought, okay; let us have a discussion and see what we can do. I sent a mail, after which I had to plead to many of them to reply, tabulated it to see that almost all of them will be here at one time or other. 4 of us including me, agreed to use laptop.

I thought of different options, including requesting departmental computing facilities (DCF) which has 3 common labs which are almost empty due to vacation. All I needed to do was to set up a file server as well as a simulation server. Then I left to kerala to attend our lab mate's marriage (of the other group) and on my return journey, I received a mail from one the 4 laptop users; "only we are left out, all others shifted already to lab " (let us call it lab y). I felt sorry for my friend from other group for his sincere efforts to coordinate the entire lab. Interestingly, one of the 4 laptop users has already shifted desktop. 3 left out laptop users and a namesake list. One of my friend from our group asked " when r u shifting". I asked "to where?" and another comment next, "its not tat we never thought about the remaining people. since u use laptops we thought its possible to fit in anywhere". Hmm, "fitting in anywhere". I was wondering to laugh or blast. First of all, if I wanted to "fit in", all I have to do was to find a lab which is not so crowded and to make a request to the professor in charge of that lab.

Then in two days, rest of lab also squeezed in to this lab y and another lab z. May be "provoked" by this, I fitted myself in to the DCF. I still wonder " what people gain by just saving their own asses". But I would like to see the comments as an Individual on your reaction if you were in my place.

PS/Valkashanam (in malayalam) :
  1. Some1 told me that he/she was stupid enough to shift like that and sorry for it. Well I don't take sorries by word, better I see some deed
  2. Some1 said "ah gireesh, your mobile is 30min fast, that saved extra time while u were in ranthambore". Well I should say, 30 was again IST, in my mobile it was 35 minutes.
  3. I am wondering why people are annoyed, when I attended a 2.30 PM IST 5 minutes earlier (that is 3PM in my mobile)

Concluding remarks: Manushya in sanskrit means the one who has ability to visualize, analyze and act. I think, the group psychology overrides this ability knowingly or unknowingly. And it really affects an individual in positive or negative way. The concept of how badly an individual can be affected by such a group behavior was shown well in the movie "kill with me".
It may be childish to say that above incident is something big, but I just wanted to convey what I felt. After all it is my blog. :P



adios for now!!!!