The Group Dynamic

Volunteerism is a way of life on the Key Peninsula and whether you have volunteered for an on-Key group—or in the off-Key world—you are aware of the hierarchy of organizational subgroups that contribute to progress or a lack thereof. It is a Group Dynamic that can be observed at the most basic level of any organized social interaction.

Here is the scenario: You are engaged in a group exchange when someone happens to notice a potentially problematic situation and blurts out, “Somebody should do something about (fill in the blank).”

That astute observation is validated by a chorused endorsement from Everybody: “Yes, Somebody really should fix that.”

Rare are the moments when Somebody is involved in the discussion or comes up with a solution, because Somebody, like Elvis, has left the building.

Sometimes the observer/commenter group identifies Somebody (in absentia) who is seemingly capable of dealing with the situation, but who turns out to be chronically afflicted with the “Yeah-But-If” syndrome, a systemic aversion to fixing anything without further assessment and board approval.

Even when Everybody concurs that a fixable problem exists and a solution is at hand, it invariably turns out that the task is well below their pay grade. At last, Somebody pops back onto the scene with the suggestion that a work party should be organized. Of course, this organizational task is one that Anybody could do.

But since Anybody is neither capable of reading a calendar nor comprehending a digital nor analog timepiece, no timely action is undertaken.

Eventually, the problem is ping-ponged back to Everybody—the omniscient, ubiquitous, Everybody. It is agreed that there should have been a work party, each Everybody claiming they would have been willing to do the required work, “if Anybody had told us.”

Aha, glitch identified. The task would have been done if only Somebody (management) had taken on the task of delegating responsibility for recruiting a work party, then Anybody (middle management) could have gotten the word out, and Everybody would have pitched in.

And so, the potentially problematic situation is unresolved and tabled and, after a proper interval will, once again, become a topic for discussion.

Unexpectedly, and much to Everybody’s amazement, if not chagrin, a person—actually Nobody in particular—happens by, and without any consultation hauls out a step-stool and replaces the damn light bulb.

This causes a temporary disruption of the Group Dynamic and leaves Everybody speechless.

Carolyn Wiley lives in Longbranch, volunteers frequently and aspires to be Nobody.