Social Media – Today’s Isle of the Lotus Eaters

By John Blyler - Editorial Director

Using Social media (SM) apps like Twitter and Facebook really does dumb down the conversation!

Here’s but one example. Today, I tried to post a simplistic discussion on Twitter, but it required three separate Tweets. Twitter has a 140 character word limit.

Next, I decided to post the same three Tweets on Facebook, but then I ran into a 420 character limit. My short message was 685 characters long – a tome in today’s SM world.

The only mechanism left was my blog which effectively has no character limit. But this instructive exercise highlighted the point of how much SM tools limit our ability to communicate while defocusing our attention and ultimately stealing our most precious resource – time! No wonder my engineering brethren do so little of their work on social media platforms. Yet social media tools like Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, Google, Linked-In, Plaxo, and all the rest are terribly invasive. Once you start using them, you’re hooked. So instead of accomplishing meaningful achievements, we Twitter and Facebook our time away. Social media sites are like the Isle of the Lotus Eaters in ancient Greek mythology. Anyone who eats of the lotus becomes forgetful and happily indolent while time slips away.

Where is the Odysseus of old to free us from the grip of these time robbers? When some of Odysseus’s crew had eaten of the lotus, they forgot about their friends, homes, and duties. In the end, Odysseus had to physically drag them back to the ships.

Want to know what started this rank of mine? It began this morning, while I was perusing the headlines and came across the following articles which I twittered as shown:

  • List this among the dumbest “duh” polls: “85 Percent of People Worldwide Want Content to Be Free (NielsenWire)” http://bit.ly/9lAV6a
  • Google doesn’t help by giving the work of others away for free: Google Tightens FT.com’s Free-Article Loophole http://bit.ly/b56dDX
  • Content isn’t free. It comes at a price. Why would any good writer create meaningful content on a continuing basis for free?

Social media applications grow like the proverbial lotus flower. Those applications allow us to enter a world of unparalleled connectivity. But we pay for this connectivity with our most precious commodity – time. Is it worth the price? We’re all finding out that answer together.

John Blyler can be reached at: jblyler@extensionmedia.com