Reply then Reflect: How Facebook Kills Civil Discourse

We are having a “Loss of Connection Error.” The problem is not that your Internet is down–quite the opposite. Your Internet is functioning fine. It’s also not the problem, just where that problem lives…

Zephoria Digital Marketing reports that the average Facebook user spends 20 minutes on Facebook at each visit.  On a societal level, as Facebook users increased significantly, participation in civic forums, church groups, municipal sports leagues, etc., seems to have declined. Civil discourse seems to have declined with it.

I can’t say that it’s causal, but I know that those bowling leaguers spent more than 20 minutes together. And that is key because it allows for conversation to unfold and for the negotiation of understanding, and reflecting on someone else’s ideas. We need that reflection time to try on each other’s points of view, to consider our points of view from the eyes of those around us.

Public forums that populate Facebook purport to allow for a kind of broad participation, and they do on some level. But when the average Facebook user has more than 300 “friends” and a Facebook wall or forum has a steady stream of posts, taking the time to reflect before reacting or posting, may make the difference between being able to respond to a post or having that post vanish into the sea of other posts. The structure of Facebook is stacked in favor of quick replies, not reflections.

So go ahead and “Like” a post, but let’s reflect a bit on better forums for discussion. Perhaps the coffee house? Who wants to join me? Or, if you are too far away for that, the comment feature of this blog is set up to be waiting for you when you come back. Take your time and feel free to share your comments–when you are ready.

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