Saturday, November 27, 2010

Beyonce Got Divorced (#beyoncegotdivorced): The Power of Groupthink

Tonight on Twitter, #beyoncegotdivorced was trending, referring to a split between power couple Beyonce Knowles and Jay-Z. People were responding with a mixture of disbelief and cocky "I saw that coming" comments. Men were preparing their "A game" to impress the newly-single Sasha Fierce, and women were ready to snatch up Jay-Z.

Funny thing is... the divorce never happened. The hashtag #beyoncegotdivorced was cooked up by a bunch of Justin Beiber fans (also known as "beliebers") as a Twitter prank. Now, while I think the spread of nasty rumors is not nice in any way, shape, or form, the fact that these kids could get together to make something "trend" worldwide is fairly impressive. It's also a great reminder of the power that children actually when they collaborate. While professionals struggle for publicity and pay the big bucks to promote their tweets, these kids got together and actually made something happen, and it all stemmed from a shared interest, loving the Beibster.

On the other hand, the fact that #beyoncegotdivorced was trending is also a fairly scary reminder about the power of groupthink. Reading through the #beyoncegotdivorced tweets, there are clear alliances being declared, and the sick obsession with the tween idol is really just over the top. But aside from the "I'm a Belieber" fan club, when things are trending, people naturally want to be a part of them. I rarely would think about the 90s flick Space Jam, let alone comment on it, but once it's trending, I want to be a part of the trend, and I find myself reading and writing about it. It's almost impossible to ignore the list of trends when you're using the social media network. Seemingly harmless Twitter is actually programming thoughts, telling you what to think about if you want to be "in the loop"-- scary.

It makes me wonder, though, what good we could do if we aimed at trending things like "donateadollartoASPCA," "writeyourcongressman," or "makeanewfriend" on an every day basis rather than #makemesick.

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