The Medium is the Message
Serious ideas cannot be distributed through non-serious means. A less-than-ideal delivery system weakens the message, confuses the audience, and implies a complete lack of research and solemnity in the ideas. Unfortunately this means that, for most of us, our largest public platform is mostly useless as a way to distribute serious information about which we feel strongly.
I’ll dispense with the philosophical groundwork and just come out and say it:
Facebook is rarely the proper channel for serious discussion.
There are many reasons that Facebook is not generally a good venue for serious discussion/promotion of a serious topic. None of these reasons mean that Facebook is bad, evil, or even a waste of time; it’s just not conducive to many challenging ideas because…
1. Facebook is primarily used for entertainment purposes.
While browsing through social media, most of us are simply not in the right frame of mind to think seriously and deeply about anything. We are looking for pictures of our friends, funny one-liners, catching up on weird news, and generally looking for what is interesting in the world today. Occasionally an important message will jump out of the crowd, but even when it does…
2. Facebook, by its very design, generates skimming rather than absorbing information.
On social media, information is given out in bite-sized increments. Larger messages are truncated so that you must actively and intentionally read the rest. We aren’t looking for stories, just headlines. If that headline can’t tell the whole story or grab our attention then it will probably get lost in the clutter. This desire by each of us to find new ways to cut through the static and make our stories seem even more interesting has produced an online environment demanding that…
3. Facebook is one big advertisement.
This is not just true of the actual advertisements. Almost every post is a plea to “Look at my picture”, “Like my joke!”, “Comment on my opinion!”, “Appreciate my situation!”, “Notice me!” We are all competing for attention among the triviality of social media. Every one of us thinks our posts, pictures, and commentary is worth being seen by others. Because we all think that our information is important enough to be seen…
4. On Facebook, all posts are equal.
Because Facebook was designed to create discussion and let people be heard, well-prepared statements, one-liners, rants, personal attacks, and wild defenses by offended parties are all given equal credence. Don’t post well-thought out and articulated ideas and opinions to Facebook without expecting a barrage of unprepared and hastily prepared responses. Your hours of research culminating with a heartfelt plea for a cause about which you care deeply can be dismissed with a “To each his own, I guess” or a “Maybe instead of calling other people out you should…” or a “Can’t we all just get along?” or even “I don’t see it that way at all, I think…”
Once again, the problem lies in the fact that most of us have a greater number of people who listen to us on Facebook than we do in the face to face world, so we use that platform to share what we feel passionately about. Go ahead! There’s nothing wrong with that! Just don’t be surprised when it isn’t met with the enthusiastic agreement of your friends.
Maybe all of this just proves that reach and influence are not synonymous.