Finally, I’ve decided to blog about this issue. It starts in elementary school, and continues on a larger and larger scale as we go through life. I’ll start off with an anecdote.
The setting is a third-grade classroom (no, this is not a reference to Blue Eyes, Brown Eyes). The class is small, only about ten students. One of them is acting up. The teacher, in an effort to get him to behave, threatens to revoke the entire class’s recess period if he doesn’t settle down.
What’s wrong with this? The actions of one student could result in the punishment of the entire class. I can remember that actually happening at least once, being kept inside because one kid was misbehaving.
That is perhaps a good way to teach about dependency — most people in the world rely on other people in their community — but it isn’t the best way, in my opinion. It would be better for discipline to simply keep the one student in for recess and let them watch their classmates, and more importantly their friends, have fun without them. I believe that would be a better way to teach about consequences.
For me, that was years ago, in the mid- to late-1990s. Fast-forward to 2008. I still see this sort of thing happening. High school, the Internet, whatever. (I can’t speak for the office environment yet.) They all use this technique — “group dynamics” it’s called — to enforce rules. The music teacher at my local high school, where I go to play in the orchestra, says that the entire class will have to stay after school if the two percussionists in the back (for example) don’t stop goofing off and start paying attention.
Lorelle VanFossen of Lorelle on WordPress brought up the topic of national censorship yesterday, and I noticed a distinct trend. Her very point was that a few disparate bloggers on WordPress.com are responsible for getting the entire domain blocked in countries such as Brazil, Turkey, and China. There are three million blogs on WordPress.com, and the actions of a few stupid, irresponsible idiots (pardon my French) are getting them all removed from the view of millions of potential readers.
Once again, we see group dynamics at work. It should be the individual blogs getting blocked, and their authors being sued or otherwise punished (fined, jailed, whatever). The 3,000,000+ other blogs should remain untouched. Once again, I find punishing the whole class for the misbehavior of one or two students to be a very bad way of dealing with bad behavior.
To answer Lorelle’s question, I am concerned about WordPress.com being banned. I’m concerned when Blogspot.com is banned (that’s where I’m hosted right now). National censorship of entire websites happens all the time. The news has carried far too many stories on things like: Iran blocking YouTube, Indonesia blocking YouTube, China blocking WordPress.com and the BBC, Pakistan blocking YouTube, and a bunch of other things that are usually temporary, but all-too-often permanent. (Those aren’t necessarily all real examples; I forget who blocked what.) When the changes spill out to other countries, that’s worse; Pakistan misconfigured a block and it spilled to the rest of the globe.
But I can only be concerned about things I hear. If I don’t know that WordPress.com is about to be (or currently) banned, I can’t very well complain about it.
Lorelle’s post was the source of inspiration for this one, and I thank her for it. I certainly hope that the world will soon stop making the group responsible for the individual’s actions, and instead begin making the individual responsible for h(is|er) own behavior.