Discourse: Focusing On A Singular Topic
One of the things that attract me to Google+ as a social network is that there are not limits to the length of comments. This means you can fully express yourself without worry, such as the worry you get when working on a platform like Twitter. On Google+ people use paragraphs, that is how much reading you do on the platform. It's great!
The question is though: is it good? The answer is: probably not.
I used to write extremely long responses on Google+ because I felt like I wanted to cover all the facets of a particular topic or respond to everything someone else says, but after doing this for a long time I started realising that there is a better way, mostly by observing people doing it in a better way that made me feel silly for my long essays.
The key is to remain focused on one topic. If the topic was "Gummi bears cause cancer" the best approach would be to focus on the one issue that you feel is strongest in support of your position or that you feel is most important in the matter. Let's suppose that you disagree with the proposition for various reasons. There is no need to list every single one. Just list one: for example:
"It has not been demonstrated that Gummi bears cause cancer because the patients in the trial were already more prone to cancer than the general population due to their family histories"
It's a single point, and it can be discussed in length and in detail. If I had listed 5 points, with that point being one of the points, everyone else in the discussion who disagrees would have to address each one in order to change my mind. Pick a single point and discuss it at length. Nobody has the time or patience to wade through endless paragraphs addressing multiple points. If one person can introduce multiple points so can others. You can end up with a discussion that goes nowhere fast. Let's suppose you post:
"5 reasons why x is truex.1x.2x.3x.4x.5"
Someone might respond with
"5 reasons why x.1 is falsex.1.1x.1.2x.1.3x.1.4x.1.5"
The topics of the discussion can increase and, probably worst of all, the person who disagrees will choose the weakest point to address, and not the one you would have rather discussed.
When discussions start to possess multiple concurrent topics it is therefore a good idea to refocus it. If someone lists numerous reasons for something, it helps to ask them which reason they want to discuss. For example:
"You have quite a few reasons there, can you pick one that you would prefer to discuss most so that we can discuss that one specifically."
You can also offer multiple items for discussion, and let someone else choose if you have no particular preference as to which aspects of a topic you want to discuss:
"Here are my reasons for thinking X is true. You can pick which one you would like to discuss in detail."
What you will find in these kinds of discussions is that you will have more time to think and research the points and questions someone raises, you will have more pointed and relevant answers (as opposed to canned ones), and you will feel less weighed down by the cognitive load of keeping up with multiple concurrent topics. Consequently you will also waste less time reading and be able to produce shorter responses, which means you will be able to keep up with a discussion if you just have a few minutes free here and there, as opposed to sitting down and consuming large amounts of information.
Most importantly, when people list multiple subtopics a shift in opinion on one can offer the kind of perspective they need to reconsider other points. Therefore discussing all the subtopics in a topic is not only tedious, it can also be completely wasteful.