Facebook’s Flawed Strategy

The Holy Grail Is Headspace (Not Multitasking)

The person across from you has their head buried in a phone, they are entirely consumed with their social media account instead of engaging in a conversation. Sound familiar? Unfortunately, this has become the cultural norm.

So, what is Facebook’s plan to get their user community more present? Their answer is to develop a pair of augmented-reality (AR) glasses that will allow you to type 100 words a minute. Of course, this would give you the ability to update your Facebook status while maintaining eye contact (... sorta) with the unfortunate soul sitting across from you.

If you had the same reaction as I did just check out this Inc. article. It describes Facebook’s ambitions to create AR glasses within the next 5 years. "We have a goal of creating a system capable of typing 100 word per minute, five times faster than you can type on your smartphone, straight from your brain," said Regina Dugan, head of Facebook's Building 8 division, during Facebook's 2017 F8 developer conference.

Building 8 has assembled a team of 60 scientists to work on this effort, which Dugan and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg hope could one day make it possible for users to communicate instantaneously. Having this capability is crucial for Facebook's efforts as the company believes that AR glasses, will take the place of the smartphone as the key hardware consumer device of the future. Having a way to input your thoughts into those devices without using your fingers will be necessary.

Really?...Necessary? Give me a break. So, where do we draw the line? While I can absolutely see the value for AR, I think there are many other worthy use cases than creating a more expansive social universe. For example, AR could be extremely valuable for any practitioner in the field. It has the potential to access real time analytics to make quicker and more accurate decisions.

In her opening remarks, Dugan attempts to rationalize Facebook’s position. In fact, she suggests that those of us who get annoyed by the endless social engagement have the “wrong narrative”. Dugan said, “It’s a false choice. This device is important. It allows us to be curious beyond the world that we can see that is right in front of us.”

I’m sorry, Regina. This is precisely the problem. Yes, curiosity is important, but not at the expense of engaging with others. Facebook’s goal is to “create and ship new, category defining consumer products that are social first”. Social first, eh. Ironically, Facebook’s attempt to create greater human connections is a slippery slope that will inevitably lead to a greater divide if social trumps real connections.

Social is like an infant trying to find its way in the world. Give it another decade before we can recognize the absurdities for its current application and figure out a way to properly harness the technology. Social has the potential to become a valuable asset, but etiquette and engagement come first.