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Social Media – Today’s Isle of the Lotus Eaters

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.

Odysseus and the Lotus Eaters

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 purusing 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)”

Google doesn’t help by giving the work of others away for free: Google Tightens’s Free-Article Loophole

Content isn’t free. It comes at a price. Why would any good writer create meaningful content on a continuing basis for free?

6 Responses to “Social Media – Today’s Isle of the Lotus Eaters”

  1. Lou Covey Says:

    Respectfully, I disagree. Status updates, tweets and other word limitiation require concise writing. As evidence, here are your three tweets, edited down to 18 words:

    Poll: 85% want free content Google doesn’t help But why would writers create content for free?

    We have long been too in love with the sound of our own voices. We need to listen more and speak less. The purpose of social media is conversation, not pontification.

  2. John Blyler Says:

    Nicely done, Lou. I give you points for conciseness. Too bad the message was lost in the process.

    Twitter is for teasing folks to visit other sites, to “push” them somewhere else. Facebook is for brief interactions, playful apps and polls. Both sites have value but neither site are vehicles for meaningful content discussions.


  3. Lou Covey Says:

    Nope. It’s true that those are two of the most banal uses for Twitter and Facebook, but I have had significant business, philosophical and political discourses on both in private and public arenas. I maintain relationships with more journalists, in more geographical regions then ever before. I have opened up new business opportunities faster and with less hassle then in the past 10 years. My clientele now ranges from significant technology corporations to major religious denominations. In combination with Linkedin, social networks hav become my primary source of new business opportunities and models.
    Check my latest post on Twitter today at There will be another coming on Facebook later today and on on the importance of social conversations.

  4. John Blyler Says:

    But you’re talking about business connections, getting exposure, annoucing your presence and some low-level content coverage. I do the same thing, for which Twitter and FB are fine.

    But as for the actual delivery of content – not the pitching of content – then Twitter and FB are poor mechanisms.

    I’ll check out your BLOG (which you could not post on Twitter or FB) this week. Always enjoy reading what you have to say.

  5. Lou Covey Says:

    John, funny thing about that. I have links to all my blogs through FB and Twitter and I get more comments and DMs on those posts on FB and Twitter than I do on the blogs themselves. Not sure why.

  6. John Blyler Says:

    Hi Lou. Same here, but that supports what I’ve been saying about the “push” nature of Twitter and FB. People have to go the blog to read real content. Twitter and FB are the advertizing mechanisms that drive interested readers to the blog.

    Whether people will stay to read the blog depends upon the content, writing style and succinctness of the blog – as you hinted at earlier.

    – Your humble editor in confusion, JB

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