How Groupthink is Exacerbating Quarantine

The definition of groupthink is letting the social dynamics of a group or situation override the best outcomes.

Dissent can be uncomfortable when putting yourself against the majority, so typically the most confident or first voice will determine the group’s decisions and thinking.

Although groupthink is a fallacy, there are ways in which what is happening with the coronavirus has gotten everyone in a panic and looking to others on how to feel.

Many people are feeling the depression of being stuck inside and the anxiety of what’s to come.

The panic is contagious.

But there is one thing that no one, except those who have been voluntarily stuck inside for months before, has had a chance to view. A new perspective.

This will pass. And when it does, we can hope and try to make the best of a terrible situation.


Almost everyone feels the depression of being inside

The long lockdown has barely begun and everyone is still in the mindset of “this sucks.”

Yes, it does suck. But mirroring that opinion doesn’t make it any better.

I’m still guilty of this myself. But as time has passed, I’ve become aware of what I should be doing and how this can still be somewhat of an opportunity.

I am, or was, attending classes as part of my last semester before the schools decided to move everything online.

At first, the announcement was that everything would transition to online for the next two weeks. On the first Monday of online classes, our university president announced the semester would finish entirely online.

This is my last semester and is for many of my classmates as well.

One of my classes is also an inhouse internship referred to as a professional program. The course consists of being in a working position with clients eight hours a day, two days a week for professional experience.

As we’re trying to get as much work done online as we can, we’re all sitting in a zoom session together talking about how depressing this is and how hard it is to get anything done.

Our professor has a better outlook on the transition and in turn, gives a bit of hope in that this will be ok.

However, this is my last semester. This is how it’s going to be now. I have no reason at all to go back to the campus that I enjoyed going to. The next time I visit where my classes took place just a little over a week ago, I’ll be an alumnus.

There’s so much sadness in our class and groupthink makes an appearance and cycles us into feeling sad with each other over and over.

As much as it sucks and distractions can only do so much, there are benefits. And even though it will take time for those benefits to appear, there are ways to seek them out and find at least some light.


Groupthink started the panic

Unfortunately, we hear about terrible things through the news a lot.

Hearing about a virus spreading was something that felt like it would be just part of a news cycle.

The groupthink was it’s just the media showcasing something bad. And I thought that too.

Then groupthink struck again when it turned out the virus was a real problem.

Now the feeling was, “Do we panic?” And seeing some people panic led to, “How much should we panic?”

Groupthink has effected this situation in the same way the toilet paper shortage started.

No one really assumed that toilet paper would be the essential that’s going to be hard to find.

What very well could have happened was one store had missed a shipment of toilet paper, someone saw this, and social media exacerbated the problem saying the virus led to a toilet paper shortage.

Obviously, this can’t entirely be the case, yet it’s still somewhat true.

The panic buying started when other people panic bought. Now, if you don’t panic buy, you’re not conforming to the groupthink and will get left behind when there is no more.

The social dynamics and the group situation, whether real or not, override the best outcome and put everyone in the same state of mind.

With the rest of the quarantine, how some people feel about it might shape how others feel.

Just as the virus spreads, the thoughts and fears of others spread even quicker.


Some great outcomes are still possible

The quarantine we’re experiencing gives us time to see how we function.

This gives us time to analyze how we were these past few months and see what we neglected to do.

It’s healthy to occasionally break your routine.

Autopilot makes time go quicker and gives us less to do. Shaking this up can lead us to see things in new ways and conceive ideas we wouldn’t have stumbled into on autopilot.

This time can be used as motivation to figure out how to make changes.

Plan to implement them when things stabilize.

For myself, I used to write on Medium pretty frequently. An amount that I would say was definitely a venture for a full-time student and part-time worker.

I wanted to get back into writing on Medium and never really had the time to do so.

I’ve published two things in the past two weeks and now, in light of a dark situation, I can really use this time to figure out what I can do in coming back to writing pieces.

Like a lot of writers on this site, a lot of my stories came from experiences.

Coming back, I felt I didn’t know what to talk about or how I was feeling. If there were any new experiences I could share.

Now, looking around at these changes, at how I’m feeling with everything going on, just like the virus itself, these changes might still be in the beginning stages.

This quarantine is an experience itself.

The best thing to do is take this time to really see how shaken up things can get and what is to come on the other end.

While I am not downplaying the severity of this situation, I am suggesting to facilitate objective means of evaluation and critical thinking practices in a situation that is no longer just a news cycle away from disappearing.

Ultimately, groupthink can only affect you if you let it. There are times when it should affect you, but what’s left to do is do what we can and to figure out how to see through the new lens this experience we are all sharing in can show us.

One thought on “How Groupthink is Exacerbating Quarantine

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  1. Such a great post, Ethan! I couldn’t agree with you more. I think that the panic was and still is fueled by one thing- group think. Also, being a survivor of bullying, I witnessed the effects of group think firsthand while I was being bullied. During those terrible years in school, nobody took the time to get to know me, they only followed the crowd and joined in the abuse. What happens is, your undeserved reputation meets people before you do and making friends of your own is difficult. However, things eventually got better. I’ve reclaimed my power, have a beautiful family of my own and a circle of close friends who are the most awesome people you’d ever want to meet. Thank you so much for posting!


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