Facebook, the Island of the Lotus-Eaters

Last night I watched Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief on TV.  (Beware, spoilers ahead.) This moderately-entertaining movie cleverly incorporates a number of elements from Greek mythology.  One of them is the island of the lotus-eaters, reimagined as a casino. Percy Jackson and his two sidekicks need to visit this casino to look for a special, hidden jewel.  At the casino, they are persistently offered and keep consuming some unusual, mind-altering appetizers.  The addictive hors d’oeuvres make them forget why they were there and what their mission was.  After a long time they manage break out of their stupor, retrieve the jewel, and resume their quest.

Sometime after watching this scene, I was struck by the realization that Facebook is like the island of the lotus-eaters to me.  I usually log in with a definite purpose in mind, such as looking up an old friend or confirming an invitation to an event.  However, immediately after logging in and before I know it, I find myself scanning through the News Feed, looking at random, yet interesting tidbits about friends and old-time acquaintances.  Many minutes will pass…  Once I finally realize what I’ve been doing and break out of the hypnotic effect, I’ll typically have forgotten why I initially logged in.  It takes me a couple of minutes to remember.

Facebook is not the only “island of the lotus-eaters”, but it is a very striking example.  The digital world is full of such islands.  It takes superhuman levels of self-discipline to stop landing on those islands or binging on lotuses.  Yet there are more important and substantial things, and I must resume my quest…

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