Facebook should consider creating dialogs, not discussions

18 juillet 2016 par jerome lecoq

Have you ever met a new person on Facebook, had an interesting discussion with her and then have you met with her in the real life ? I never have as far as I am concerned. But isn't that social networks are for ? Meet new people and widen the circle of our friends ?

Facebook and the likes do not favor new encounters because the discussion stays on a rather superficial level of expressing one's opinion and emotions with no further deepening. It is not favoring confrontation because for example we are invited to "like", "share" and comment". If you like something, people in general don't bother to ask you why you like it. But you can like something for very different reasons and this would in fact the opportunity to discover one's beliefs and way of thinking. Similarly, the “comment” category is way of expressing an opinion without really knowing the positioning of the person in regards to the statement to be commented upon. Clarity is not the winner in such an undetermined way of conducing a discussion.

A comment is just a side statement which is supposed to be secondary to the central discussion, it appears in the footnote in a book for example. But in Facebook what is secondary is actually made central.

This emphasized the huge difference between a dialog and a conversation you can have at the counter of a coffee or a bar. When you are in a real dialog you take some time to ponder the various arguments and to see their value, their worth and you clarify whether the various interventions rather oppose to one another or rather go in the same direction. A comment is just a side statement which is supposed to be secondary to the central discussion, it appears in the footnote in a book for example. But in Facebook what is secondary is actually made central as if the whole contend created by the people was just a pretext to something else, an alibi to gather us to a place.

And what then would be the real reason why we would gather here by the network ? Well one answer would be to expose us to advertisement of course. If Facebook had any value in itself we would pay for it right ? We would pay some money or another form of commitment to have the opportunity to gather and to exchange ideas and especially to form new relationships.

But who would pay for this ? Who would have paid even at the beginnings of Facebook ? Would we sponsor Facebook like Wikipedia by making donations ? Probably not. Why ? Because 99 % of its content is of no value with all respect I have for people sharing it. If you want a content to have a value it needs to be structured, organised, unique and conducted in a rational way with arguments, proofs, illustrations, objections and answered questions, like an essay, an article, or a dialog.

In a word it has to be the result of a reflexion, not a pure narcissistic expression. Or it can be a piece of art but again the networks is not organised to display pieces of art. So our contents are just a pretext to gather us but the real reason is that we will consume some of the products we will be exposed to.  It is not to say that all content is uninteresting in Facebook ; we all like to show our nice life stories, cats, holiday pictures and our preferred artist or sportsman performances. Yes this is pretty cool but this is also pretty banal, narcissistic and complacent. It is just a more technological way of playing the cool guy who's telling jokes or nice stories at the counter of the bar, at the pub, at the restaurant table or at any social location.

A shopping mall can be a pretext to meet some friends and to hang around by visiting different shops, making the consumers experience also a friends sharing experience but the reverse is not likely to be true

 

So Facebook needs to live out of advertising and this is a problem because if you are used to exchange some cool stuff with your friends then you are not here for shopping. A shopping mall can be a pretext to meet some friends and to hang around by visiting different shops, making the consumers experience also a friends sharing experience but the reverse is not likely to be true : if you are here to share experiences with your friends you will not likely engage in a shopping experience because it would distract you from your friends. Better to be distracted from consuming by sharing with friends then be distracted to sharing with friends by consuming.

Will Facebook continue to be a place for narcissistic experiences and banalities sharing (yes exciting and cool stuff are part of human banality) or will it one day evolve in something more demanding when it comes to dialog and encountering other people ? Will it continue to be the mirror of our own superficiality or will it have us confronting with each other conscience ? Just asking it is probably foolish but will Facebook ever be a place for real dialog instead of adding opinions and feelings next to one another ?