Why Has the Internet Been So Disappointing for Discussing Individual Movies, Books, Etc.?

When I’m asked about things I like to do, reading was one of the things that I’d mention. In reality, that’s not really accurate, especially if we mean deriving pleasure simply from the act of reading. That’s not me (unfortunately). What would be more accurate is to say I like learning; and I like talking about what I learn and read. This also applies to movies as well (although watching movies is enjoyable and more effortless than reading). Generally speaking, talking about books and movies might be more enjoyable to me than experiencing either. Because of this, the internet has been a place that has, until recently, held a lot of promise for me. When I read a book or watch a film, especially more obscure ones, I assumed that the internet would be the solution to this, especially now with millions (billions) of people online. Given those numbers, finding others who have read or seen the same books and movies I have shouldn’t be hard, right? Now, not all of these people have an interest in discussion. Still, I thought the ones that would be would constitute a big enough number to have a discussion. I’ve now concluded this is not the case (but I would love to be wrong about this!). To be clear, I’m not really referring to the currently most popular books and films. I think you can find conversations on those, but if I want to find a conversation, right now, on Francis Ford Coppola’s One From the Heart, forget about it. Why is that? Off the top of my head, here’s my short explanation:

1. While many people are online, and while many people like watching movies, the number of people who watch movies that aren’t currently popular is relatively small. I don’t know what the percentages are, but I’m guessing it’s fairly small. For the purposes of this discussion, let’s call these people “cinephiles.”

2. Assuming this is true, now consider the number of cinephiles who have recently seen One From the Heart, let’s say within the last two months. This is important because the cinephiles who have seen the movie outside of this time frame, especially far outside this time frame (i.e., years ago), then we can essentially treat them as if they’re never seen it. Why? In my experience, unless a cinephile really loves a movie they’ve seen a long time ago, they’re not likely to either a) want to talk about it, or b) remember enough to have a meaningful conversation. Only the cinephiles who have recently seen the movie will be able to discuss it meaningfully. And I’m guessing the number of these people are going to be really small as well.

3. Among the cinephiles who have seen the movie, we have to identify the those that have an interest in discussing the movie. My guess is that the number is generally low for the following reasons: 1) the cinephile might not be the type who enjoys talking about films; 2) the cinephile might not have any strong opinions or strong desire to talk about the specific film. So, we need cinephiles who generally like discussing films, and a cinephile who has a desire to talk about the specific film in question, in this case, One From the Heart. The desire has to be strong enough that they will seek others, in person or online, to discuss the movie. I’m going to guess this number now is really small. Ideally, I would have used actual numbers and made specific estimates on each step above, but I was too lazy to do that. If I took a wild guess, the number of these people might be around ten. It just occurred to me that Amazon would know how many people streamed One From the Heart, as it’s available on their site, within a two month period. Ten sounds like a reasonable number, and it actually sounds a bit high. (Of course, Amazon isn’t the only way for people to see the movie, but even if you include other means, ten seems to be a decent number.)

Still if there were ten people that met the criteria above, that would be more than enough to have a good discussion online. Indeed, I think you could have a good discussion with just two people. This suggests to me that the problem is with having a space to do this, and making people aware of this opportunity. Now, there are many websites where one can discuss specific movies, but something is preventing getting these ten people to the site. (I suspect the UI has a lot to do with this, but I don’t know the specific problems that need to be overcome.)

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