Over the years I’ve seen many of my social media contacts supporting and rejecting various ‘causes’. Sometimes this is done in a way that’s balanced and thought-provoking, and sometimes not.
A while ago, I was setting up a band’s PA system at a local community centre and I happened to be wearing my Jordanian keffiyeh (as I often do!). Someone stopped me and asked me if I ‘had sympathy’ for the Palestinian Cause. I wasn’t expecting the question and in the end I mumbled something lame about red and black keffiyehs!! What is ‘the Palestinian Cause’ and what does that ‘cause’ mean to different people? As the conversation went on we came to understand what ‘Palestinian causes’ we each had sympathy for.
In that instance, I was fortunate to be ‘off-line’. ‘Status’ and ‘comments’ boxes miss the important non-verbal communication cues and it become exponentially harder to have a conversation (i.e. an exchange of ideas). But with social media that ‘exchange’ becomes like the pattern on the keffiyeh: are you red, or white? It takes too long to understand the roots of a cause, belief or viewpoint: 140 characters, or a profile picture, are just about enough to work out if your ‘with us’ or ‘against us’. Facebook rarely takes the time and effort to get to ‘root cause’.
Root cause is a key element of pharmaceutical quality systems. The idea (which has been taken from other manufacturing industries) is that every problem has one or more ‘root causes’. From what I can, tell the industry is still getting it’s head round the idea that if a process – which is being driven by people, procedures and products – fails then it’s the combination of these different forces that gives the undesirable result. The regulators warn Pharma against taking the easy-out and assigning root causes to ‘human error’: “It’s their fault, they did ‘it’ wrong!”. Getting to ‘root cause’ can be long and complex. And just not the sort of thing you want when you’re running at full pelt anyway!
The roots of our Causes
Like Pharma, is seems that Facebook struggles with causes: it’s easier and quicker to blame the human, be it operator or ‘post’-er, rather than take the time and effort to find out what’s at the root of our causes.