You heard a lot about the dark side of the Force. Sorry, Facebook... A former Facebook VP said that social media is destroying society and ripping us apart, and recommended we should take a hard break from social media (maybe that's why he's "former?"). Research showed that Facebook is not the place to argue, due to the nature and discourse of arguing there. You know. You've been there before. Maybe even, like me, this morning. You post something, or even share something posted by someone else, whether you agree with it or not, and immediately this turns into an all-out brawl, where emotions and tensions run high, and friendships are lost (or at least you get unfriended and blocked on Facebook).
Call me an optimist, or a glass-half-full person, but there is a positive side to it. A very positive side to it. This kind of discourse increases your creativity. At least it does that to me. Every single day. And I post a lot on Facebook.
Why? There are two reasons.
1. It invokes passion
When it was time for me to choose a topic for my PhD dissertation, I was intrigued by email marketing, and proposed to study what would make people forward emails with commercial content ("marketing emails") to friends. There was obviously value in that research. I proposed the topic to my mentor, Dr. Corty Cammann (who, sadly, passed away before I finished my research). He didn't like my topic. Not because he didn't like the topic itself, but rather because he felt I wasn't passionate enough about it. He kept pushing me to find a topic I'm passionate about. He kept pushing, prodding, probing, poking, until at some point I broke and, almost yelling at him, I said: "Do you know what really pisses me off??? Why people are so much more creative when they work in startups than when they work in large companies!" (that was after I spent almost 7 years at Texas Instruments, after working for a few startups before that). The telephone line went quiet, and after a while, Corty spoke first: "I think we just found your topic."
I wish he was around to see how big of an impact he had on my professional (and personal) life. My research led to 7 books (thus far), more than 200 articles at Inc. and other media outlets, and the building of a business focused on helping companies build and keep a culture of innovation.
What does that have to do with Facebook? Those arguments on Facebook get you passionate about something. Passion leads to creativity. Even though you may not "win" the argument--it will spark your passion about the topic to have creative ideas around it. Have you ever tried being creative about something you are not passionate about?
2. You learn the opposite side
Yes, other people on Facebook don't agree with you. You can't convince them that you are right and they are wrong. Although, and pardon my rudeness--could it be that they are right and you are wrong? When you argue on Facebook you get the other side of your argument. That other side is fiercely provided with a lot of passion. Maybe passion that you could not get from the other person if this was a face to face meeting, where we tend to be so much more politically correct... Enjoy the other point of view. Learn from it. See where you are suffering from confirmation bias.
This morning I found myself in the middle of two arguments. Within the hour I was inspired to write three articles; Two about the future of education, and one about government spending. I wouldn't have thought about them if I hadn't engaged in passionate conversation (if we like to call it that...) on Facebook. It helped me refine my position on several issues, and change my position on others. And it even led to writing this article (so four articles...), by the time I realized what was happening...
Thank you, Facebook!