Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Now is the Winter of Our Discontent

...made tedious and tiresome by drama in my knitting group. Before I moved to Cape Cod I scoped out a knitting group listed on Meetup. It turned out to be a good fit for me because most of the members were new to the area and we were all looking for friends to share our hobby with. I have been, and am grateful to the group founder for setting up the group and introducing me to so many wonderful women. As often happens, some members have drifted out for their own reasons and some have left the area. Some have found knitting groups that suited their schedules, sensibilities or politics better. We settled in to a smaller group of faithful members until the trouble started. Now there is turmoil and stress. Some apparently innocent members have been summarily banished, and the rest of us are unsure of how to proceed.

I've been in this position before. It's not an unusual thing for groups of women. I've been the one to drop out of a groups that no longer fit my interests and just kept up with people through third party news (otherwise known as gossip!) or Facebook.  I've been marginal in many groups due to deficiencies in my own social skills (snarky sense of humor along with some difficulty picking up on social cues). I've been pushed out of a group I valued for reasons that did not make sense at the time and still don't.

I've given a lot of thought to how this happens, and based on my admittedly anecdotal evidence and somewhat skewed lens I believe what causes groups to blow up is inherent instability in one or more of the key members. There has to be mutual respect even if the group is so diverse that points of agreement or common experience are few. When most members are solid the group and the group is fairly evenly matched it stays together through crisis and members draw support as needed. When key members are unstable or overly needy the group  gets out of balance and spins out even if the internal friendships are of long duration. Few groups except the most casual (or the youngest) can survive a key member who likes drama. In couples groups instability within the couples will make the group crack even if that instability is unacknowledged or carefully hidden.

It's discouraging. I am sad, and although I love being part of a group every time I go through a group breakup I feel less inclined to commit to another. Whatever shape things take in future I will be knitting with friends. I will continue to hang out with the group members with whom I feel a close connection. I've joined up with an additional group which I enjoy but may not jump into with both feet in the circumstances. I love to knit with a group, and the encouragement of friends is priceless. When summer finally arrives I hope everyone's spirits rise and we can all enjoy ourselves.

1 comment:

zippiknits...sometimes said...

I'm glad you are having a little Spring, and were able to get out and about with Roxie for a nice long walk. The shell pictures are very interesting to a shell collector like myself.

About group dynamics: Firstly, I want to say that I'm sorry this has happened to your group of knitting friends. That is sad. Secondly, I think you have correctly diagnosed what happens in a group when the leader or leaders, i.e. the ones who organized the group, are either needy or unstable. In truth, I think too many people love to throw their weight around in groups, sadly.

I have a lot more to say that involves how stable groups like the military achieved harmony but actually I no longer think of even their top commanders as "stable".