The Hive Mind – Buzzing Through The Shop

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I watched it in action again the other day in my old place of employment – the Hive Mind trying to buy a camera and lenses.

Before you climb upon your high horse and set spur to flank to charge me with nationalism, racism, ageism, or sexism, I can state that I have seen Hive Minds in all races, many nations, all ages, and at least four different sexes. If you are uncomfortable with the term you may substitute  Pack Mentality, Soviet Central Control, or Tribal Behaviour. In all cases it amounts to the same thing – one personality shared amongst several customers.

In most cases this is no problem. People who are family, compatriots, co-religionists, etc. are free in Australia to associate and to deal with the world as a group. The may very well feel better for this and in some cases behave better due to the influence of their companions. But not every time…

The Hive Mind shared amongst people of high intelligence can be a quick thing. It may communicate with word, gesture, glance, or rhythm and in the best examples is like watching a game of World Series Mindball. Tinkers to Evers To Chance if you will.

Down lower on the intellectual spectrum, it can be painful to watch and worse to try to communicate with. The term ” Bag of Hammers ” is funny until you have to try to sell a digital camera to…a bag of hammers. If none of the individual hammers can grasp the ideas you are trying to explain, it is unlikely that the whole bag will make a better job of it.

The next problem with the Hive is the matter of command structure. Dealing with Stalin might have been awful – dealing with the All-Soviet Committee of Councils would have been worse. In the first case you might have your head cut off but you would at least be spared the indignity of being pecked to death by ducks. Hives frequently do have a leader – the one in the group who speaks some form of English – but in some cases are as leaderless as the All-Soviets. You do not know to whom you may address explanations or from whom you can seek a buyer’s decision. It can be hell when the only English speaker in a Hive is a female and the Hive is from a strongly male-dominated society. You can sometimes feel that you are not talking to a person, but through them.

The Hive frequently has to make itself look good to itself. Asian Hives run on consensus, agreement, and the practice of never challenging each other. They may be able to make up their individual minds about something but the Hive mind cannot be brought to a decision because they can never challenge each other. When all faces are saved, there is no face actually talking sense.

The business of money is also another strained point with Hives. An individual buyer bargaining with a sales person may be as generous or mean as their own character may dictate, but as soon as there is a Hive to oversee the deal, the chiseling starts to be epic. They egg each other on and the sales person can find that the previously dumb members suddenly become vocal – the inability to speak English is no disadvantage when the topic is expressed with a number. Discount is understood in all tongues.

In the end, some Hives do buy the goods Some slope off and try their luck elsewhere. Some return with supposed quotes from  rival shops. Some quote imaginative prices from the aether. And some just buzz off – the main thing to do is to be polite, professional, and not to allow yourself to be stung.

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