Humans are not meant to work in groups

Watch out for vicious lions.

Watch out for vicious lions.

Let’s say you are on an African safari. You know, when you can scrape together $5000 for a trip. Let’s say you actually remembered your binoculars too. So you pull out those new $200 pair of binoculars on your Safari and you see a pack of lions far enough away that they can’t reasonably catch you and eat you. But you get to observe them. They are happily walking along(at least you think so, because you aren’t sure that you know when a lion is smiling) hunting the newest pack of zebra’s that just moved into town, because they didn’t get the email that lions hunt zebra’s.

I'm a little hungry for some help too, Lion.

I’m a little hungry for some help too, Lion.

The lion crew rolls up in their Cadillac’s and the race is on. One lion chases the zebra in his Caddy, while the other liars (the lions crew) split up and chase him along on the other street’s, one to the left, one to the right and one coming straight at the zebra so they can trap them.  Later, one of them cooks the zebra in the Crock-Pot all day and grabs some tree leaves to garnish, and they all eat. Perfect right? They all have a purpose, they get things done, organized and they get an “A+” in Eating 101, right?

Well, guess what? Those are animals. They may be savage and violent, but a pack of lion’s gotta eat right? So why can’t us super smart, super evolved humans figure out how to work together as a pack? I have no idea, but I do know this. Humans are not meant to work together.

Don’t believe me? Try this simple task. Start an online course on anything. English, Finance, or Underwater Basketball Weaving. In the first week, tell everyone that you are going to be in groups for the semester.  So, how do you set them up? Do you assign groups? Or do you tell people to make their own? Either way you are going to cause major anxiety. If you tell them they are assigned, the popular crowd that has a good clique or two in the class is going to grumble because they wanted to be with their friends. On the other hand, if you let them choose groups, there will be those that are super introverted and will somehow get left out and be assigned by the teacher (this one would be me).

Now assign group projects and look how fast people become the opposite of those lions. Even if the task was as simple as finding three things that rhyme with a word starting with letter A, B and C, some dingleberries will find a way to screw it up. One group member will take control of it all, one will start texting, Facebooking, Instagramming, or whatever else they do on their phone and will disappear into Not doing a thing for this group land, and you will lose them forever. Then you will get everyone else doing just enough to skate by, so they can get a C.

Last Monday, I got together with my group on a group project and emailed them. The assignment was simple. Three competitors of your business, analyze them. We each do one, send them to me by Friday to compile them, I’ll put them together, send them back to each member. Thursday comes along, I send a reminder, they say, “Grunt, I’ll do something, grunt by Gruntday.” Great.

Friday comes, one of them sends me his part of the report I think he copied from that little sticker on a banana peel he ate from being a gorilla all day. I have to edit his to the point that I almost do his whole part all over again so it looks like I didn’t write it as I was falling off a building.

At least you can laugh at a banana.

At least you can laugh at a banana.

The second doesn’t get it to me, so I send a reminder, because I don’t want to spend all day Saturday chasing him because it is due Saturday at midnight. All day, I’m sending reminders, “hey remember this is due at Midnight. That means I need it Thursday so I can edit your crap too,” or “hey just checking in to see if you can figure out how to attach a word file to an email” or “hey, not sweating or anything here, but I have a serial killer at your door ready to push send if you forgot how to do so”.

So 8 o’clock comes, I finally get an email from him, saying “alright I’m gonna send it soon” and I’m actively and passively aggressively saying, “okay then just send it, before I give your whole network a virus!” Still nothing. So, at this point I’m just writing up his part with another competitor, but am so ready to go play video games. So I bring my computer down and while playing I’m monitoring whether this nimrod’s email comes in. At 11:15 pm, I’m turning into Jack Bauer, so I write him. “Where is the file? If I don’t get it by 11:30 pm, I’m sending in that you aren’t an American and you will be in prison for treason…of this project. Nothing. So I frantically type up another in his place and at 11:50:35 send it in.

Wake up the next morning, an email comes from the dude. “You didn’t get my email? I sent it at 8:00 pm.”

Oh, and how did you send it? To my Google +?


Bitter Groupon Ben


66 thoughts on “Humans are not meant to work in groups

  1. I feel your pain! I LOATHED group projects. I was the one who ended up responsible for everything because everyone else were just mouthbreathing potatoes with backpacks. If I wasn’t hounding people for their work, I was angrily doing it *for* them right before deadline because they couldn’t be bothered to unpotato themselves.


  2. I wood have klykt “like” but (azzizz beek umming moar ‘n moar THUH kace) I didn’t understand the post nor even over-stand it. I could ‘stand’ it, however, ’cause you wrote and seemed to be sumwhut consistent with the/a theme. about whuddevvur itt wuzz.
    groups of humans have a purpose and if anyone ever really figyerd it oubt and could bottle the essence (unless it’s (whuddevver “it” izz is) NOT an ‘essence’ but something less essential) they could $ell it so some ¢oin, I bet.


  3. I (think) I survived group projects then because basically, I did all the work. We ended up being great friends anyway, so I guess they got lucky, too. I’d rather make a quilt with my grandmother and aunts (never experienced that so im serious) than do group work in this day and age of so-called technology and social media.
    Best of luck on more group works 🙂


  4. Ben- you are so delightfully bitter! This is very appealing. I worked in the corporate world for 15 years where they forced you into groups or TEAMS. A team plays a sport. A team has fun playing the sport. A team sometimes works together. Every single “team” I was on was full of the same type of individuals that were in your group. Of course, these groups are always comprised of people that you would probably run over with in your car if you knew you wouldn’t get caught. The best was when they forced you to go to their team builders which usually took place at a bowling alley from Happy Days or a dive bar from The Wire. Hopefully you won’t have to socialize with your group. If so, I am sure since you were mentored by Jack Bauer, you will know what to do. WWJBD?


  5. Oh, group projects… I was always like you, I can’t stand it when people wait until the last minute before they get up and do something. Social loafers… Free riders… Blegh. I once told on a group mate – didn’t work, she still got a B+ while I did all her work. Life’s unfair. I agree with you: humans work better on their own. That way we don’t get in trouble for what someone else ceases to do in time.


  6. I’m not a group project person. And your perfectly bitter experience here demonstrates, yet again, why I avoid groups. Still, if you’re stuck within one, best to make fun of it! Well done, Ben.


  7. I’ve been in a similar situation and I can recognize that most of your problems stem from not being a lion. I recommend painting your skin yellow, growing out a mane, and fighting your enemies to the death. At least that’s what I did.

    Liked by 1 person

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