The Deafness of web2.0 and social networks

“Once the writer in every individual comes to life (and that time is not far off), we are in for an age of universal deafness and lack of understanding.” - Milan Kundera, The Book of Laughter and Forgetting

Now that should quite prevent anyone from starting a blog.

Yet, Kundera explains it very well : the urge to write comes from the urge to be understood. What he tells us however is that this quest may be vain. Is it because people will be so busy writing that they won’t read what others would have to say? Or is it because there will be too much noise?

In any case, Kundera was quite visionary: the book was published in 1979 and there was no Read/Write web then. But that time was not far off. 25 years later, anyone can write what they want and publish it to thousands of people. Did this anyhow contribute in making the world a place where people understand less of each other?

Of course, with 2.0, not everyone let the writer come to life. How about with social networks? Many more posts each day on facebook and twitter. Is everyone becoming a writer? Do people add to the universal deafness?

With the flow of tweets and posts we receive every day, we get to know more about people, but I’m not sure we understand them much better. Also, there is a kind of pressure, that in order to exist, one has to write. So now we write not only to make ourselves understood, but even to exist. There is an urge to share, share parts of our lives to assert that we have a life.

This is adding a lot of noise, and I find it quite deafening. But because it’s an urge, we can’t help, so we should better learn and deal with it.

  • First by using a little bit of discipline: in the same way that when we practice listening skills, we need to refrain from speaking, in this digital age, we need to make time to read what others have to say.
  • Secondly, by making good use of technology : we can filter our information flow to the people we want to understand, and to the writings that makes us understand more about them.
  • Thirdly, by truly engaging in conversations, and not simply triggering reactions. When we write and get comments, that’s the first step towards some kind of understanding.

This blog is my attempt to address the later 2 points: producing content that exposes my thoughts and ideas so that people can leave comments here and we can start to understand each other.