What Are Meetings For?

Written by Dyami Millarson

The title of this article poses a philosophical question. When I think of meetings, I think of shared decisions and consensus decision-making, which may occur in a more egalitarian or authoritarian social setting. It is hard to say how such social setting emerges and why people may or may not defer authority, but that is not the focus of my article. The purpose of meetings is what I am philosophically interested in, because why would people have meetings in the first place? Could there be no more efficient ways to deal with matters?

Meetings are opportunities for human interactions and transactions. Such interactions may be in the form of decision-making and doing business (selling, buying, advertising, etc.) and transactions may be in in the form of education (information sharing, such as explaining organisation, explaining leadership decisions, etc.) or may simply be business transactions. There is overlap between transaction and interaction, it is hard to draw the line. Communication is interaction, but also transaction; education is usually interaction, but also transaction; and so on.

The point seems to be that humans have meetings of various sorts in order to interact and transact. People do nowadays not need to meet physically anymore to have such interactions and transactions, because many of those can be done through virtual meetings (examples include Skype or WhatsApp in the West, WeChat in China).

The question is, then, what is the reason to still physically meet up? The added value of physical meetings is that such interactions are more intense, while there can be more three-dimensional interaction between humans and their environment. Nevertheless, the lower intensity of digital meetings can be advantageous as it may lead to fewer distractions and the great advantage is that such meetings can be held from the comfort of one’s home or wherever one happens to be at that given moment.

6 comments

  1. It is essential that we continue the human-to-human connection and not fall into the human-to-machine-to-human connection. Then we will see people as humans and have more of a connection to them personally.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree, and I believe moreover that it is a both-and issue. We can have technology, use it for its purpose and at the same time still continue doing what makes us human since time immemorial. Virtual meetings have their merit as a complementary addition to the existing possibility of real meetings, and such enrichment of our possibilities should not be turned into an either-or issue, because the human emotional needs cannot be fulfilled by machines. At the same time, it is philosophically interesting to ponder the rational/functional purpose of meetings in the Informarion Age, ignoring for a moment its obvious human/emotional purpose.

      This helps us realise that the situation is complementary and that virtual meetings can be an accessory but should never be (ab)used to actually replace the real thing. So, if we are wise, we can reap the benefits of technology while never abandoning our humanity. I find the rapid developments worrisome in the West and particularly in East Asia (e.g. China) that machines increasingly replace human interaction rather than merely complement it, but I see also this leads to a human backlash, where human beings suddenly realise they are missing something and want a return to the real thing, because machines cannot fulfill the deepest human desires of being around other humans and interacting with them; real human interactions have a unique dynamic that is lost when everything becomes mechanised.

      – Dyami Millarson

      Liked by 1 person

      • You are welcome!
        I appreciate your input wholly, and this feeling of appreciation prompted me to share my insight.
        Inspiring each other, I really hope you experience this blog as a warm hearth where we can sit around and talk comfortably and feel safe no matter where we come from and how we think.
        When human interaction takes place in a setting with a pleasing ambiance, it delights the heart, arousing generosity, whilst it awakens creativity and cultivates hospitality.
        I believe blogging is for inspiring people, and I wish the content of this blog makes people pause and think for a moment.
        After all, people nowadays live very busy lives with so much haste they may desire something to help them calm down!

        – Dyami Millarson

        Liked by 1 person

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