Async Awkwardness

Slack has Thread and a Mentions & Reactions view. Twitter has a Notifications and Mentions sidebar. (In its search results for from:YOUR_HANDLE, we can only filter them by at least some Engangement numbers. *slow clap*.)

All these are like digital slot machines in surveillance capitalism‘s dirty trade of behavioural data for a little dopamine kick. The platform always wins.

To break that pattern, let’s take a hint from real-time, verbal communication: If something we say elicits no reaction from your conversation partner(s) we automatically feel a little awkward, right?

What does this moment of awkwardness cause? A follow-up question whether they understood what we meant? A clarification by us, or a rephrasing of our message in other words? Patience while we wait for their reply? Or maybe even an inner reflection about what we said?

In any case, it’s an opportunity to empathise and think. This is lacking in asynchronous social media, because inasmuch as it’s asynchronous (or easily interuptible by the next funny meme) it doesn’t come with the expectation of instant reactions. Thus, no asynchronous awkwardness arises.

Could intentionally providing a dedicated space for this (our posts that have not elicited any replies, shares, fav’s, likes, reactions, etc.) help nudge us towards reflection, patience, clarification or follow-up questions?

I think yes, and I’m starting to look for browser addons or user script or app functions or services that provide such a space for (or shortcut to) the overview of all my posts that nobody else cared about.

That should put things into some humility-inducing perspective.