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.