Be Hopeful And Never Give Up On Your Dreams

Be Hopeful And Never Give Up On Your Dreams

As I stated in my last blog post, this semester has been a rough one for me — in every aspect. Just because things were very rough for me doesn’t mean that I will let off my principles. Much on the contrary, I must add. Honesty, hard word, respect for others and caring for students is still what I believe and always going to believe.

A regular person without hope would have simply given up and folded if they would have experienced what I’ve passed though but I never give up or fold. In my opinion, everybody should live their lives exactly the same way. Never giving up.

Misfortunes come and go and so do ocean waves. I guess what differentiates me from many other education professionals is my degree of hope and focus on the positive things in life. I’m still hopeful that something wonderful will happen this Summer for our family. A lot of things happen in a period of a month or so. It ain’t over yet.

I’m from the position that a dream is worth pursuing, all the way. Never will I ever give up on what is right and fair. For me, my family matters quite a lot and staying close to them is important to me. I’m hopeful for as great tomorrow and a prosperous future.

Why? Because I believe in a just God. What God gives, He can take it away. I understand that. But what God gives to those who ask for the right reasons can’t be quantified by anybody that you or I know.

I just know that everything will be all right. I’m hopeful. Giving up on my dreams? Never.

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When Life Gives You Lemons Make Lemonade

When Life Gives You Lemons Make Lemonade

I had a pretty crappy semester, even though I’ve worked my bud off. In a period of six months, I got infections multiple times, had opportunities come and go, my dog died, my grandma is near death and to complement everything… I now have a big burn out along with high blood pressure and a big health bill to pay.

Life sucks but I’m on the way up. After hitting golf balls and spending four days with my parents in Georgia, I’ve come to realize that when bad things come your way, even if they are irrational, you must embrace them and turn them around. You know, “You need to make lemonade from the lemons you have” and move on.

Perhaps, the problem I’ve faced this semester were my problems after all. I’ve been too kind with people which in higher education doesn’t seem to be a good thing. I think that empowering students to think by themselves make them think that you are weak and disorganized… maybe even a bad professor. I will definitely be firmer with what I want them to know from now on.

Maybe I expect too much from people. That’s a bad thing. I need to change that and be less involved in the well being of others. In fact, I must pay way more attention to my own well being, I’ve learned this term.

It’s so atypical of me to put myself first by maybe it’s what is need it. Things will turn around, I have faith.

It was shocking what people have promised me this term and canceling on me without fully sealing the deal in the very last minute. I was pretty close to getting a $5000 consulting contract and out of nowhere things just blew up and I got $125. It felt that I was on high demand for a number of opportunities but in the last minute, these gigs vanished away from me. Weird.

I’m refocusing and turning all these horrible events into something productive. I’m now going to hit golf balls weekly, work on my blog and redesign my classes completely using behavioral models of education. I’m going to take care of me first and rejoin my old church.

I’m seeing the good in life despite of what has happened to me this term. I recommend that you do the same. Take charge and turn these lemons into lemonade if you have to. You may even like it in the end. I’m starting to enjoy mine.

Allegiance On-Line: Look For Social Proof

Allegiance On-Line: Look For Social Proof

Social proof is the idea that any given individual is observing the behaviors of others to come to a conclusion about choices. Let me explain: Because Johny’s facebook page has 1000 likes, 345 shares and 12800 comments, it is more likely that Johny’s page will get more likes from somebody or shall we say… have more social proof than a page that isn’t as “well liked” because of the volume of people attesting (social proof) that it is so.

It doesn’t take much time for us to realize that fabricated “social proof” can inflate one’s importance in any media outlet, including social media networks.

When somebody rarely engages with a friend’s content in any social media platform, he is in essence reducing the chances that his friend’s content is spread and “liked” by more people. Therefore, constantly failing to endorse a person’s post in a social media platform can reveal a pattern often seen in enemies or people who doesn’t have a person’s best interest in mind — Disdain in social media networks means exactly what is defined, “The feeling that someone or something is unworthy of one’s consideration or respect; contempt.”

To me, interactions aren’t always to be seen as transactions but when I see a discrepancy between what a person says and how he acts in social media opposed to that behavior, I see an uncomfortable inconsistency that is worth paying attention to.

Understanding how social proof is used in social media network growth is worth your time and effort. It’s amazing what you can discover when analyzing this simple concept alone.

 

 

Great Content Isn’t Enough

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After dedicating 300 hours studying the essence of what makes social media catch on, I came to the conclusion that great content is only a part of what makes messages go viral on-line. Let me explain: Great content without being strategically grounded in a particular niche (for example my niche of motivation) is likely to be lost in this gigantic world we call the internet. In reality, creating great messages (content) and positioning them in a particular niche makes a lot of sense if you think about it. In the “real world,” grocery stores don’t organize their operation around selling steel to you. They are in business to make you happy through food. Creating great content into a niche are steps 1 & 2.

After positioning great content into a niche, people must have an audience. Now, this is where most non-influencers struggle to have their messages heard. Why? Because their level of influence is so insignificant that even if their content is of great quality and belongs to an on-demand niche… it won’t scale beyond the the original network they already have. Forget about going viral at that point. It won’t move beyond your immediate circle of influence. My advice is for you to work on building your audience over time until setting any quantifiable goal of having to make any content go viral. This process should take between 2-5 years if you have a talent for what you are trying to convey, I suspect.

When you have great content grounded in a niche along with an audience to receive it, then the next step is to distribute the content. It doesn’t matter which social media platform you use. If you have built a solid audience (on or offline), your content will be shared and spread, I bet. When that happens, all you need to do next is to repeat the process and you should be on your way to go viral.

Don’t get very excited now that you know how this social media thing works as of yet. Building that audience won’t be that easy. It seems to be the differentiator between those who scale their messages globally from those who rarely scale what they know locally. My recommendation: Work on building your audience as much as creating great content into a niche. This is my 2 cents.

You Must Deal With Discomfort In Order To Win Big

You Must Deal With Discomfort In Order To Win Big

You must deal with discomfort in order to win big in life. Being able to leverage that unease feeling we feel in our stomachs is critical if your goal is to achieve something of significance in this life. You must experience discomfort. I mean, literally.

These are some examples of discomfort that often leads to big victory.

  1. Pumping iron religiously in order to gain muscle mass
  2. Studying long hours in order to ace the test
  3. Programming overnight in order to finish a game prototype
  4. Initiating anything worthwhile in life and not giving up
  5. Taking a stance on a position and sticking to it

These are some examples of comfort that often leads to loss.

  1. Pumping iron in order to gain muscle mass today but quitting tomorrow because of body pains.
  2. Studying long hours in order to ace the test but compromising on focus.
  3.  Programming overnight in order to finish a game prototype but giving up at 4:42am.
  4. Initiating anything worthwhile in life and giving up when challenges arise
  5. Taking a stance on a position and failing to stick to it

There is no way out. Either you go through the motions of experiencing discomfort or you will never experience a big win. Tiger Woods hits golf balls for hours on end in order to win the Masters; Edison failed over one thousand times before inventing the light bulb. Arnold schwarzenegger didn’t become Mr. Olympia seven times by avoiding the uncomfortable.

My advise is this — Put your smartphone away and start working hard unless the discomfort your need to experience to win big involves using your smartphone. You have the chance to be like anybody else and don’t win anything big in life or experience the uncomfortable and win big.

What is your choice? Choose wisely.

Choosing To Be Succesful Is A Habit

Choosing To Be Succesful Is A Habit

Success is a habit. Like any other life habits, it is a process that involves hard work, perseverance, and will power. Success is what we should shoot for but before I elaborate on it, let’s define what success is.

Success isn’t money, status, or anything that superficial. Success is a habit! It is a way of being and thinking about the world. To me, success is being able to live a life that you want to live without having to compromise your values and beliefs for the selfish desires of others.

In this life, you will meet people who will put you down and degrade your accomplishments because of insecurities. It part of life. It comes with being successful. It’s the result of making success a habit and being able to live your dreams without compromising who you are.

I find no other way to live my life than to strive to be successful. We live in the empire of the world. In the United States, we pay a big price if we choose to be unsuccessful.

These are some of the side effects people feel by choosing to ignore success.

  1. They die earlier
  1. They live a more stressful life
  1. They grow cynical about the workforce

Just don’t. Choose success! Make the pursuit of success a life goal worth pursuing. Success is a habit! Success isn’t anything superficial like money or status. Success is a way of being worth pursuing. It is living your life without having to compromise your values and beliefs.

Technology Has Sent Mass Media Advertising Into Retirement

Technology Has Sent Mass Media Advertising Into Retirement

This is what I think.

Technology has sent Mass Media advertising into retirement. I know that the former is a strong statement but evidence seems to support this provocative thesis. How many of you watch TV ads? Or Radio/newspaper advertising? I don’t know about the former but I do know that you rarely look at page 49 of the Sports Illustrated Magazine looking for an ad. Am I wrong?

By the way, when was the last time that you bought a product from a new company that advertised on television? I ask this question because some people may say, “Well Luis, what you are saying is true but I still enjoy watching a Coca Cola commercial during the Super Bowl and buy Coca Cola products.” You may be a rare case. It is possible but it’s just not likely.

Please realize that if you do watch Coca Cola TV ads and buy Coca Cola products thinking that you bought them because of a recent ad, you may be fooling yourself. Coca Cola is an established brand that grew during the industrial age where Mass Media advertising was the norm for growing a brand and selling products.

Coca Cola is now benefiting from investments in advertising they made 70 years ago. That’s why some of you still buy Coca Cola products. Have you ever heard about ALO? Even better… When was the last time you bought an ALO drink? It’s a new product. They have advertised (not like other major drink companies but they did) and I bet that most of your never bought one of their products.

Reality:  Modern technology has changed the advertisement industry. DVR enables people to pass through the ads in both cable television and on streaming TV services like Netflix and Hulu. In this abundant world we live in, who wants to add more interruption to our lives? I don’t. How about you?

Do you watch the youtube ads before watching your favorite youtube video? Or do you stop them after 5 seconds of mandatory “watch” time? Mass Media advertising is an old concept that is expensive and time consuming. I’m not sure if the ROI is there anymore.  

Do we still need advertisement? Yep.

However, the kind of advertising I believe in is done through meaningful conversations  by conversing one-on-one with a prospect and individualizing the message. It is inefficient and time consuming but if done with enough frequency can help a prospect to move from a person who doesn’t trust you (or your brand) to one who might give you a try if you prove to them that you are for real.

Trust is key in this new individualized advertising process.

Forget Mass Media advertising. The former is a dated concept that is de facto very expensive and brings little return on investment, especially for a new company wanting to gather market share. Invest your time in personalizing your advertising message and positioning yourself to attract a small segment of the population who loves what you produce. Do what you can earn their trust, overtime. Repeat.

If you have a big budget, consider sponsoring a movie on Hulu instead of spending millions on Mass Media advertisements that people just won’t watch. You may be better off this way.

 

People Who Are Legitimately Interested Will Make The First Move

People Who Are Legitimately Interested Will Make The First Move

Whenever a student is interested in learning, he/she takes the initiative to come to class early and raise his/her hand first. When colleges and universities are interested in an applicant for a job, they initiate the communication process and follow up first with a finalist. When an organization wants to hire a potential employee, the organization also makes the first move and keep the candidate aware of their intentions to hire him/her. Initiative means interest. Lack of initiative doesn’t.

I’m always a bit weary when people say they are interested in something but they don’t make an attempt to make the first move. In the back of my mind, I wonder — Are they really interested if they hesitate? Let me go even further. It worries me when I see, for example, students lacking initiative because lack thereof may mean something much more than just initiative.

When I’m interested in something, I take the initiative to make things happen. I make the first move to make an impact and show interest. we You should do the same.

Why?

Because by showing interest and stepping up first to make a stance is rare. In an abundant economy that is so cluttered with supply and output, taking the initiative is int itself a rare behavior. We cannot afford to be average anymore.

Taking the initiative and being first in something makes you an outlier by default. It ain’t a bad place to be, I must add. My recommendation: When in doubt, take the lead and initiate.

 

 

You Need A Mentor Even If You Have To Buy Him

You Need A Mentor Even If You Have To Buy Him

No matter where you were born or which language you speak, you need a mentor even if you need to buy him. A mentor, whether he is paid or not, help you in these unique ways.

  1. He tells you things you need to know, the way they are. We all must live In the moment and have others helping us to see our behaviors.
  2. He listen to what you have to say. Sometimes, you just have to speak your frustrations out.
  3. He is patient with you. In this life, you will make mistakes. Having a person who knows you is key to continuing growing. A mentor can help you with that.

Don’t underestimate the power of mentors. We need them in order to grow. Who is your mentor? Do you need to buy one? You just be prepared to be a extraordinary.

There Is A Surplus Of College Professors Out There But Only A Handful Of Dr. A’s

There Is A Surplus Of College Professors Out There But Only A Handful Of Dr. A’s

There is an abundance of commodities in our economy in 2019. Do you want to get a college education? You are welcome to choose between and among 5,300 different options. These options are private, public, christian, HBCU, women’s college, you name it. According to the Bureau of Labor statistics, there are $486,000 plumbers in America. There is one billion websites on google and somewhere between 600,000 and one million books published every year for your to choose and buy. On Spotify alone, we have 40 million songs to choose from and 3 billion user playlists to listen to. And to complement this madness, we can choose between 59 different kinds of salad dressings at Publix.

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It is no accident that the value of these commodities are decreasing in price and need fast. Our economy isn’t scarce anymore which means that we must do something different in order to attract people’s attention to whatever we do or sell.  Advertising a lot isn’t the answer, obviously. We don’t need to be cluttered with more messages these days. The over reliance on advertising isn’t the answer, I say.

What do we need to do then in order to make our offerings more scarce, then? In my opinion, this can only be accomplished by helping the client to save time.

In my industry of higher education, I do what I can to help my students to save time. I produce tutorials, podcasts, design video games, work in class with them on projects, go to the cafeteria and guide them on life pursuits, you name it. I make the lives of my students easier which in effect makes them save time. I’m willing to trade my time for their attention. They appreciate it. I innovate, earn the permission to speak with them and they choose me over the other thousands of daily stimuli they ignore every day.

It seems to be working. In the past semester alone, I carried out a conversation with 569 students, advised them in my office, at the mall, in the cafeteria, playing ping pong on campus, at the library, on the street, in their dorm lobby, at the park, during spring break, fall break, thanksgiving, at the swimming pool, via facebook, instagram, snapchat, linkedIn…

Wake up! Our economy has changed. Our standard operating procedures are being flipped upside down to accommodate for this explosion of intellectual property that is available for us all. Higher education is tanking because of lack of change and understanding about where the economy is headed. Information is now free. If we are to charge fore information, we may need to somehow incorporate the time variable in our offerings.

We don’t like (or want) to be bothered or interrupted anymore. There is so much noise in our lives because of over production. No wonder why students hate to waste time and effort. Things are available for them right now and often someplace else. They don’t need to come to a college class to learn. They may want to come, however, if they save time.

Here is my advise to you: If you want to advance your industry, be different. I’m different by saving students time. What are you doing to be different?

There is a surplus of college professors out there but only a handful of Dr. A’s. Are you the “Dr. A” of your industry? What is your competitive advantage? What are you doing different for others to choose you over the million other options they can choose from?

For now, this is what I’m doing. Tomorrow? Who knows! I will invent something else.

 

 

 

 

Video Games Are Cool I say

Video Games Are Cool I say

I like video games. I like video games more if they are used for education purposes. I’m suspect, though…

Why? This is why.

I’ve researched the impact of video games as it relates to instruction and found out the following.

  1. Video games help to maintain order in the classroom
  2. Video games motivate students to learn content
  3. Video games diversify from course lectures
  4. Video games help students to achieve higher scores in examinations

Why aren’t we then developing more video games for education? Some say that we don’t develop them because building video games are too expensive. Others argue that video games increase violence and therefore can’t be used in education environments. Video games this, video games that.

Non-sense!

Video games aren’t always expensive to design and develop. Have you try developing games with game maker or RPG maker? Designing and developing games is a reasonable endeavor. Let’s me share something with you. Back in the day, I co-developed 20 video games with kids ranging from age 8-12. It’s possible.

Video games don’t increase violence. Have you heard about the concept of catharsis? Let me define catharsis to you…

“Catharsis is the process of releasing, and thereby providing relief from, strong or repressed emotions.”

Could it be that video games help subjects to release emotion so they don’t engage in violent behaviors? Yes!

Theoretically speaking, It is quite possible indeed. Video games are cool, I say. But hey… I’m suspect.

 

You Must Make Yourself Scarce And Therefore Rare

You Must Make Yourself Scarce And Therefore Rare

In the age when the abnormal is the new norm, you have to be rare in whatever you do. You must be the only option, the only alternative, the only one, the only thing, really.

Quite simply you must be:

– The guy who chooses to create.

– The guy who skateboards when nobody does

– The guy who take risks when everybody is afraid

– The guy who is genuine generous with others

– The guy who disconnects when others don’t.

– The guy who wants to make change.

If you have to create your own category of “other,” to be able to accomplish the former, do it. It’s okay to position yourself three standard deviations from the mean. Be different.

We celebrate the new. Go out there and create! We are hungry for it…

College Professors Don’t Make Good Chess Pieces

College Professors Don’t Make Good Chess Pieces

My old and dear friend Gary Dean once said, “College professors don’t make good chess pieces,” He used to tell me… We are in the business of thinking not marching. I must say that old Gary, this iconic figure who looked more like Yoda than the barber next door, was probably right.

College professors like to think. Thinking is what professors do. Therefore, it is futile to think that professors won’t think or that they will obey an order without critically thinking about its motives and consequences.

In the age of the internet, where everything is about a click away, forcing intellectuals to blindly follow a cause, a mission, a movement, anything… will only result in more student anxiety in higher education due to high faculty turnover overtime.

By thew way, students hate when faculty members come and go because they need to learn how the new professor operates.

Anyways.

It is true that the more a peon works, the closer he gets to the king. As a consequence, the king stays longer in power the more the peon works. The challenge when the former logic is applied to higher education is that professors aren’t peons and/or chess pieces.

You can define king whatever way you like…

The best way to lead a group of highly educated people (college professors, for example) is to give them space to think and create. Involving them in decision making is “king.”

College professors don’t make good chess pieces. College professors like to think. Thinking is what professors do.

 

The proletariat’s paradox

The proletariat’s paradox

Proletariat can be defined as the working class or the segment of society that chooses to work for someone else in order to survive. There are different kinds of proletariat. In fact, they come from different types, shapes and forms. For simplicity sake, I will define them as high, middle and low.

High proletariat are higher level employees in a particular organization. They hold the fate of many middle and lower level proletariats in their organization. Lower proletariat are employees who belong to the low levels of the organization hierarchy and are often seen as a commodity by proletariat at the top. Proletariat in the middle are simply defined as middle level proletariat. Their DNA contains elements of both high and low level proletariat.

Every organization has them. For better or for worse. This is interesting.

Seth Godin once said that kings profit and stay in power by making peons work harder, limiting their growth for self gain and for maintaining the status who. Peons, on the other hand, hold the belief that hard work is their ticket to one day have the chance to becoming the king.

If Seth is right, then we have a proletariat paradox, assuming that the king represents high proletariat and peons lower proletariat. I tend to agree with him.

Where do you fall in the proletariat paradox? Can you escape the inevitable? Only time will tell.

 

 

 

 

New Technology Is helping To Reform The Bell Curve

New Technology Is helping To Reform The Bell Curve

The bell curve, perhaps one of the most discussed concepts in statistics, may need to be redefined. Or shall I say reformed? Perhaps for the first time in human history, an external force, we call technology, may change the shape of the normal curve. How so you may be asking.

This is how. These are the characteristics of the bell curve.

  • The mean is always at the center
  • It has only one peak
  • It’s by definition unimodal
  • It may be bimodal in some instances
  • But normality is expected

68% of the population falls in the mean. 68% of the population is then normal.

Technology reforms the bell curve by giving people choices. By being able to choose, outliers are then able to gather their own groupies and start their own bell curves. As choices increase, smaller bell curves are then created reducing the normal, increasing the edges and reshaping the curve into a series of other sub curves perhaps forever.

How is the new bell cure going to look like?

This is how, I think. These may be the characteristics of the new bell curve.

  • The mean is perhaps to be located at the edges in the long tail
  • Multiple peaks may be the new norm
  • Unlikely unimodal form
  • Bimodal form expected if not multimodal
  • Normality is under attack

As the rate of technology innovation increases, normality decreases. If normality then decreases, the new norm falls in the long tail. Outliers are then the new normal. If the former is true, then the concept of the bell cure must be redefined. Technology advances is then the fuel of these reform.

Oh my… It’s 2019. What is next?

The Difference Between Leadership And Management

The Difference Between Leadership And Management

They are different.

Leadership has the following characteristics:

  • Leadership questions the status quo
  • Leadership is about creating the system
  • Leadership is about making change
  • Leadership is influence, as Maxwell would say
  • Leadership has followers
  • Leadership is adventurous and rebellious
  • Leadership is bottom up

Management has the following characteristics:

  • Management is about maintaining the status quo
  • Management is about enforcing the system
  • Management is about making the existing more efficient
  • Management is about making widgets, as Seth Godin says
  • Management hires employees
  • Management is anti-defiant
  • Management is top down

An entry level employee may be a leader. A manager is never entry-level. Leaders don’t care much for organization structure. Managers do.  Leadership inspires people how to think. Managers tell people what to do.

Leaders create movements. Managers don’t. Leaders use technology to create. Managers use technology to enforce. Leadership doesn’t end. Management ends at 5:00pm.

 

The TechnoModeration Manifesto

The TechnoModeration Manifesto

Use technology but in moderation…

If you like technology too much learn to unlike it a bit. Get away from computerized devices to move more, help people, help yourself, celebrate others, exercise, go to church, go on a date, and read a book. Play, laugh, smile, enjoy, make it happen, and don’t forget to disconnect in the process. Do it now not tomorrow. Give yourself permission to be in control of your computerized devices use. Don’t be a slave to your smartphone. Converse and build relationships that last off-line and make friends not on-line followers. I dare you to control your life not technology. Focus, be alert, think, reflect and act. Be the change you want to see in others. Be in control of you and never, under any circumstances, let technology dictate how you live. After all, you are a son or daughter of God not an object to be plugged in a wall somewhere.

Live.

The Elephants Have Arrived At The Party And Most Aren’t Prepared For Them

The Elephants Have Arrived At The Party And Most Aren’t Prepared For Them

It’s true and it’s here. The elephants now own the house and have little to no competition, ladies and gentleman. The old factory is approaching irrelevance and is likely to be shipped overseas because of complacency and fear of change in the very near future. Get ready! The birth pains are just starting. For the first time in the history of the higher education factory, you are going to be asked to think differently for your own sake. It’s survival mode. The irony? Oligarchs will listen, agree, but will resist the same ideas that could transform the system into a new paradigm.

The irony is… we, for the most part, have dinosaurs in positions of authority, teach our classes the same way, isolate linchpins, promote complacency, persecute the weird, and insist fear and penalties in anybody who questions the status quo. Go figure the elephants are now here. There are so many elephants at the party right now! I see old school administrators implementing analog tactics in a digital world, teenagers who think for themselves, a system of higher education trying to survive with no funding, and technology who can literally replace human labor if implemented appropriately.

It’s tragic but its true.

We could have avoided this crisis by attacking these elephants with lions and crocodiles back in the day when elephant juveniles were in the wild but the oligarchs of higher education insisted in doing business as usual, protecting themselves with protectionist cabinets and using processes, procedures, and arguments used in the Fordist era to maintain the status quo.

It worked back then… Take a guess. The world has changed much, you know? In the shared economy era, on demand products and services are weird (innovative), new and fluid. Uh oh, it ain’t the higher education environment of today.

Lack of innovative thinking guided at reshaping existing systems, lack of curiosity for the sake of maintaining the “known procedures” and benefiting from it, lack of common sense along with saying “We do things like this here” with a lack of courage has contributed to what colleges and universities are experiencing right now.

An industry that reminds me of the old steel mill industry factories back in the 1980’s.  Dated, slow to change, logistically in misalignment with the demands of the market, expensive, and managed to kill new ideas for the sake of regulation.

I don’t hear the voice of curiosity too much in colleges and universities, anymore. I see, however, fear everywhere.

  1. Fear of not getting tenure.
  2. Fear of not having enough students.
  3. Fear of losing students.
  4. Fear of not getting accredited.
  5. Fear of doing something different.
  6. Fear of change.
  7. and now…

Fear of elephants.

I’m seeing the end of higher education as we understand. Today, I advised two high school students. They were both bringing in 60 credits of dual enrollment straight from high school!  In higher education, an incoming freshman must complete 120 credits to graduate with a bachelors degree. This process used to take four years to complete. 17 year olds, if planned correctly, can now graduate college in 2 years with a bachelor’s. Wait, what?

Yep. I’m glad that I’m not a music or English professor or a professor of philosophy… even though I hold a doctorate of philosophy! They will be the ones who will go first. The liberal arts curriculum is not becoming an elective commodity. The only problem (for colleges and universities) is that we are a very expensive commodity in an era of free community college education. Sebastian Bach would cry after reading this paragraph. Hey, the market doesn’t care what Bach (or me and you) have to say. The market is the market.

To a large degree, the system has done this to itself, fueled by management practices that wanted to automate and break down its tasks into smaller less sophisticated tasks in order to replace expensive labor with ease and increase profit instead of redefining complexity into something as complex and on demand. Isn’t it how factories operate, by the way? Can you see what I see?

Let me tell you a true story. Today, a clever high school student who thinks for himself told me in my office, “I hate education. The teacher kills my ideas and gives me a C because I missed a comma. He also said, “Why do I need to go to school to learn photoshop when I can get free tutorials on youtube? That’s why I’m not majoring in digital media.” What can I say back to this kid? Tell me. 

The elephants are next door. The elephants are up and down. The elephants are left and right. The elephants are everywhere and there is no where to go but to create.

What is as scary is that I see the industry choosing to destroy itself before going somewhere. Let me be real with you. Sometimes I feel like a witch in the middle ages. Because I do something different and choose to lead a tribe, I’m seen as a blasphemer who does things “not like us” like standing on tables, having party event classrooms and critical thinking sessions through chess playing in my office, and because I skateboard on campus. Should I be labeled a heretic because I innovate?

I see managers maintaining the status quo to protect themselves and those above them. I see a call to management instead of a call for leadership. This is a bad idea in an age where we idolize Tesla and disdain GM.

Here is what I know.

When you do something worth making a remark about, people remember your actions AND they often come back for more because it’s remarkable. What is higher education doing to be remarkable? Let me ask you to think critically about this one for a moment.

So, what do we need to do Dr. A to get out of this mess? We can still do something about it to save our jobs in the age of automation. Being aware that we are terminal is the beginning of wisdom.

Let me do my best to tell you what perhaps can help us to survive longer in this important business we call higher education.

  1. We need the baby boomers to retire en masse
  2. We need less managers and more leaders
  3. We need managers to be a minority in higher education
  4. We need to empower leaders to redefine what higher education means
  5. We need to empower leaders to create a total new system of higher education where creativity and innovation precedes grades and attendance
  6. We need to redefine failure in higher education
  7. We need to be much more human

That’s it. It’s out! The elephants have arrived at the party and most aren’t prepared for them but at least you are aware that the elephants are here. What are you going to do about it? Tell me.

Let’s Unfollow Like a boss, shall we?

Let’s Unfollow Like a boss, shall we?

I’m tired of following people on Facebook that I have no relationship with. I’m not sure if these people are all that beneficial to me, to be frank with you. I know that I’m not the only person who holds this thought, I must add, and that’s good.

Back in the day, it was customary to accept friend requests from people we rarely knew and strangers and say, “Oh ok, I will accept you. I will have more followers, more than you… and that’s awesome.

Really? Who cares? I don’t. Do you?

Wait. What if having tons of unengaged followers isn’t awesome? What if having people you aren’t connected with makes your instagram feed clog for often? Welcoming “friends” to whom you have no relationship with in social media is literally a ticket to irreversible damage. You don’t want this, trust me.

Do this. Today, go to your instagram or Facebook and unfollow anyone you don’t know. Do it like a boss. Don’t be shy. Do the right thing. If your ambition it to grow a social media account, forget about pods and bots and focus on speaking with people. Pods and bots are artificial means to generating buzz. It ain’t worth it.

Practicing humanity is precisely what we need today in the world. We don’t need more fake followers or anything fake. IGaudit.co exposes social media importers in servings.

We need to be indispensable. Be a leader, be a source of please. Build your online network based on your actions and interactions offline. Unfollow others if necessary.

In the end of the day, the truth always wins. My advice: Unfollow people who aren’t your friend. It’s that simple.

Your life on-line is a reflection of your life off-line

Your life on-line is a reflection of your life off-line

This is what I’m seeing. Your life on-line is a reflection of your life off-line. It pays off to build your personal brand off-line first. People believe in what they can see. A picture may be worth a thousand words but three dimensional conversations are worth about a billion.  Your on-line popularity is secondary to your ability to communicate well off-line.

By engaging with people face-to-face and off-line, over time and with much persistence, eventually you will earn the privilege to be categorized as an influencer on-line. Personal brands are built after remarkable performances, memorable experiences and the like. Why do you think Beyonce has millions upon millions of social media followers and fans? That’s elementary — She was awesome off-line first.

It amazes me how many people still believe that they can build their reputations solely on-line without caring much about their off-line campaign. What a big mistake.

Audiences are earned not bought. It takes time and is labor intensive. It’s part of the game. There are no shortcuts. Off-line work is as important if not more important than  on-line work but the real work starts off-line. 

Faking until you make it is a dead concept. You need to be authentic, truthful, and careful about how your persona is seen by others, off-line. That’s the world we live in these days. I’m going to say it again, “Your life on-line is a reflection of your life off-line.”

Culture is our frame of reference, ladies and gentleman. We might as well be a part of ours, don’t you think? We celebrate people who we like and trust. One of the best ways to build trust is to have meaningful conversations with people in a coffee shop, library, or church.

If your ambition is to build an on-line audience worth engaging with, you may want to start your quest by being the very best off-line communicator you can be. Your on-line popularity is secondary to your ability to communicate well off-line.  

 

Technology isn’t what makes a person indispensable for an organization anymore

Technology isn’t what makes a person indispensable for an organization anymore

It isn’t a technology skill that makes a person indispensable for an organization. It is their ability to bridge internal and external constituents that makes them unique and irreplaceable. The worker who is out there speaking with the customers, defending the brand in key events, and building connections is often the one you should strive to keep long-term in your firm. Trust, generosity, and one’s ability to relate with others is rare in  the workforce today, hands down.

Technocrats think otherwise, I know. They are wrong. Your humanity is in great need, I say. Your ability to be human will pay off. Why? Well…

We don’t live in the industrial age anymore. The industries aren’t coming back, sorry. Sears is gone and so is K-Mart. Kodak is history too. Here is my advise for you. Don’t bet your family’s fortune on believing that US Steel will make a major come back in 2023. It won’t happen. We literally live in a supply rich post-industrial world where automation is destroying most of our known operating systems. There is nothing we can do about it. It is what it is.

We live in a shared economy where abundance is the norm. In today’s economic landscape, win the game those who are able to connect better with others in a more humane and specific matter. We literally need to give and position ourselves to be the only option out there in our niche, as Seth Goldin would say.

I’m not saying that a technology skill, such as one’s ability to use photoshop to edit images, isn’t worth learning or using in a professional setting. Of course it is important especially for a graphic designer. What I’m saying is that we need people who are good with people. Desperately.

People like to talk with people. One’s ability to relate with others is rare in the workforce today. It isn’t a technology skill that makes a person indispensable for an organization. It is your ability to be you and influence others that is.

What I think when I don’t look at a smartphone screen

What I think when I don’t look at a smartphone screen

The process of creativity is fascinating. In the connect economy, the creative act is more important and relevant than ever. Michael Michalko in tbinkertoys shares with us the importance of knowing the mental processes behind a new idea. He also advances the idea that we should know the source of creativity and the methods by which we create.

When we get away from doing superfluous tasks on the machine, we discover that we have the time to explore the many possibilities we have to create. Have you critically thought about how words are constructed and how breaking or adding word “pieces” assist you with creating something entirely new? Have you tried to read a word backwards and see if there is meaning to you? I have.

Many times, actually.

Reading the word desserts from left to right means a collection of desserts for a fluent English speaker. By looking (or shall we say reading) that same word from right to left, deserts, mean stressed! We can conclude that the frame by which you look at a word may have a completely different meaning to us.

Using the same line of thinking… what is evil to some is live to others. LIVE. The word guns can be interpreted as snug by some depending on how they read the word. GUNS. What is raw to you may mean war to me. WAR.

Live guns war makes me think about live war with guns and the possibility to create a feature story on television about the use of illegal guns used in the Brazilian slums, shot live… RAW. Showing the elements of WAR that exists down there! A lot of Evil will be seen in that report.

Bingo! See? The process of playing with words can help us to generate a total new idea maybe never broadcasted on air just by looking at word construction from a different perspective — Left and right.

The process of creativity is fascinating, isn’t it? I think it is, at least. Hey, do yourself a favor and create something new today. Look at things differently and from a different angle. You will enjoy this process more than you think, I bet.

Conversations First, Social Media Second

Conversations First, Social Media Second

Sherry Turtle once said, “I’m not anti-technology. I’m pro conversation.” I agree with her very often. We are creatures of habit who make sense of the world by living in community. The act of speaking and engaging with a fellow human being, AKA having conversations, is something that cannot be taken for granted even though too many people are ignoring the act. We were born to live in community, experience the human heat and speak with others for survival for thousands of years.

I see hundreds today choosing to start conversations with people in social media networks first with the hope that these interactions will lead to more friendships and therefore conversations. I don’t like this approach.  Let me say this differently. I don’t think it will work.

Why complicate if you can simplify? Start your conversations off-line.

I like meaningful conversations, off-line and on-line. What I’ve come to observe is that having conversations off-line first helps us to engage with our friends and acquaintances off-line better. Go figure! Human beings tend to speak with others when they establish boundaries and rapport first. We may live in a modern world where social media communication is a reality. I beg to differ that on-line communication, by itself, will generate great conversations off-line in mass by many.

Despite the many avenues we have these days to communicate with friends and strangers on facebook, instagram, peach… the secret to having great conversations off-line and on-line, is is to start the conversation off-line. So I say, “Conversations First, Social Media Second.”

If your goal is to build relationships and have meaningful conversations…

Instagram — This Is What I’m Seeing

Instagram — This Is What I’m Seeing

This is what I’m seeing. Instagram users are like younger siblings of twitter and facebook users. A lot of Inspagramers (people who use instagram to spam other people) are coming from the stance that having a big instagram handle alone means influence and power on-line and off-line, regardless of what the substance of their content is. They are wrong. It’s not. I see thousands of Inspagramers going for a gold rush on instagram that is just not there in the way they think it is.

Nobody who’s sharing spam messages, in addition to spamming others with a bot service, will succeed in influencing them to “support them” on instagram or any other social media platform. I see so much junk being shared on social media, especially instagram. What is surprising is that these former tactics aren’t new.  In fact, they are 11 years old.  In technology years, they are a dinosaur.

In the early twitter days, users used to follow and DM newly acquired followers and treated them as a cheap commodity with dozens of broadly composed spam messages. They were quick to sell you either themselves or their products with the pretense of “helping you”. I’ve seen hundreds of tweets that read, “Thank you for following my account. I’m Looking forward to helping you with life. To buy my products…” I’m seeing the same behavior patterns used by low quality accounts on instagram today. A lot, actually.

They remind me of older facebook users.  Do you remember when we used to be “friends” with everybody on facebook? I do.

Who doesn’t , right? I admit. There was a time when I accepted hundreds of strangers into my facebook network just to have a higher number of followers. I eventually unfollowed thousands with no regrets. 

A lot of instagram users today are using the same tactics used by early facebook adopters. Follow me and I follow you. Like me and I like you. Now that we liked and followed each other, let me sell you stuff. Hmmmmm, no. 

I see tons of instagram users following and unfollowing accounts to grow their accounts or simply exchange follow for follow to make themselves “appear more relevant” to others. I see spam everywhere on instagram, ladies and gentleman. I see a lot of fake profiles, as well. Instagram is a mess.  

In the very near future, I suspect that serious instagram users will eventually do a mass unfollow to push out irrelevant people from their networks. Being “friends” with ironpoothebear_16 and alike won’t translate into building any meaningful relationship worth sharing. It will, however, have a negative impact on the user’s reputation among his true following base. I see people realizing that soon. 

History repeats itself. Today’s instagram users are yesterday’s twitter and facebook users and tomorrow’s peach users. The only thing that changes is the platform. I see spam and fake everywhere today on instagram. I don’t see the social media users of the future escaping from the cheap tactics used by their predecessors, unfortunately.

I’m seeing a lot of people wasting their lives on instagram with the hope of getting rich quickly on the shoulders of others. I also see millions perhaps hundreds of millions ignoring these people’s efforts to get rich with a simple click. What a tragedy and a waste of effort. Instagram’s “Gold Rush” seems to be leading nowhere. This is what I’m seeing.

 

No Social Media Engagement On Sunday Feels So Good

No Social Media Engagement On Sunday Feels So Good

I didn’t engaged even once in all of my social media pages on Sunday. I feels good, I must say! Because I wasn’t spending too much time engaging with others on-line yesterday, I spent the day building meaningful conversations with people that I like rather than responding to comments from people that I barely know. I wonder: How can people not see that all this social media crazy is de facto not all that important?

Gary Vaynerchuck defends the thesis that people must always be producing content on-line because there is where conversation occur these days.  I do agree with him that the youth tend to use these tools to communicate and for them, there is some value in spending time in platforms such as instagram, snapchat and many others. I do question this, however. Are these conversations transactional and meaningful or simply transactional?

I’m not sure if spending hours on end in social media is all that beneficial, especially if your audience isn’t there. I would rather take a break and engage with people on-on-one. If nothing else, It feels good, ladies and gents.

Spending too much time on instagram will help me very little in my quest to making a difference in the life of others, I think. By the way, I’m not saying that using social media is a bad thing or that you shouldn’t use it. Perhaps, we should just be critical about its function use. My advice is for people to get away from it once in a while. One of the ways to do that is to have a no Sunday engagement day.

That’s the right thing to do.

 

 

My e-Book’s Profits Are Secondary To My Willingness To Give Them Away Sometimes

My e-Book’s Profits Are Secondary To My Willingness To Give Them Away Sometimes

I don’t write for money. I write to make a difference. I write to make things better and to challenge the status quo. I write to be human. No technology will ever change the way I think about my writing. My e-book’s profits are secondary to my willingness to give them away sometimes because there is no money that can buy my optimism to seeing a better world.

Why should anyone give up an opportunity to impact others? Our humanity allows us to do precisely that! Our labor is a gift and it shouldn’t be seen or operationalized as a cheap act to be exchanged as goods and services without purpose or purely to serve as a means to an end to make money for someone. Our tangible and intangible human expressions are the outputs of our imagination. The artifacts that we produce are to be used for changing other people’s lives, first.

Rob Siltanen once said that, “People who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.” Notice that Rob didn’t write, “People who are crazy enough to think they can make all the money in the world because they have technology, are the ones who do.”

I’m passionate about seeing millennials disconnecting from computerized devices. I don’t expect anything in return for writing for them because in the end, the privilege is what gives me the fuel to keep moving and producing even more art for them anyways. Millennials aren’t my customers. They are an indirect result of my outputs.  Even if blogging technology didn’t exist, I would have found another way to write for the millennial generation.

Some people don’t like my art. I already figured this one out. Good! They are unlikely to be my audience, anyways. And that’s okay. Others, however, do like my work. Good! They are worth my sweat and service. Generosity brings attention. Attention brings artists an audience. An audience is a form of a tribe. We all need a tribe to inspire, to contribute, grow, and keep creating.

At our core, we are all artists in an abundant world of possibilities. If we decide to isolate our tribe, even if the tribe is small, we can certainly impact others by giving what we have produced with a purpose.  Seth Godin once said, “Art is a personal gift that changes the recipient.” Sometimes, we need to give our art away to make a difference.

Let’s be that personal gift that changes others. Don’t let profit alone or technology blind you and stop doing what you were made to do. Sometimes the act of giving is necessary for the message to be heard, anyways.

Think about it.

 

 

The Need To Learn Intercultural Competencies In The Age Of The iPhone

The Need To Learn Intercultural Competencies In The Age Of The iPhone

I’m convinced. In our contemporary economic landscape, being able to relate with others is a currency. Being able to emotionally engage with people of different cultures give people a different perspective and an opportunity to experience and look at a problem from a different angle which in itself is worth spending time doing.

We must be self-aware in life. Knowing people from other cultures helps us to better understand who we really are, regardless of which smartphone we own. There is value in understanding proxemics — or the branch of knowledge that studies how much space people should have between themselves and others. Studying paralanguage, or the gestures and facial expressions people make cross culturally, is an invaluable skillset to obtain in today’s workforce. Why? Because the over abundance of supply in our economy has forced us to think differently about how we are going to be identifying our tribes among the many tribes of people available.  At least, we are being encouraged to do so.

When we better understand what people from different cultures really care about, in a language and context they know and understand, we transcend from being obsessed with communicating with them for self gain and start collaborating with them. In America, we value collaboration but we almost always engage in compromising. At least this is what Bradford Hall claims in his great book, Among Cultures: The Challenge of Communication. Moral of the story: The more we understand other people, the higher the chances we have to engage in true collaboration.

In 2019, being able to collaborate is also a currency!  Developing intercultural competencies are key. Using technology to complement developing these competences seems more urgent than the alternative making technology second to our ability to better understand people.

I’m not saying that we shouldn’t spend time on a smartphone or engage with others on-line. There is a time and a place for that. I don’t deny it. So, don’t stop using your smartphone with the pretense that interacting with people from different cultures are more important than using them. What I am saying is that understanding people, especially people from other cultures) should be a priority for you and me today.

 

What I know About Millennials That Computers Won’t Ever Know

What I know About Millennials That Computers Won’t Ever Know

The youth is relational, as my buddy Mark used to tell me. What they really value are the many actions and connections that you build with them. Engaging with young people can be exhausting but like any type of human labor, it is worthwhile for those who see themselves as agents for change. I believe and value change, when done right.

There is little doubt that emotionally investing in young adults can be a daunting task but the flip side of it is that it can be quite gratifying and pay big dividends in the long-run. Let me say this: 18-25 year-olds value the few meaningful interactions they have with others before their desire to acquire technological artifacts. They are hungry for relating with people, not technology. I’m convinced about that. How do I know? They tell me half of everything because I choose to invest my emotional time on them.

By smiling, being present and showing your face at events they care about, by surprising them and creating with them, you can earn the privilege to be inside their inner circle and prove to them that you do the things you do because of them. There is no technology out there they can buy that will do this for them. They love that but more importantly, they admire that. You are what they need and want. People.

So, what are you going to do today to be more relational with the youth? Are you going to be more emotionally involved with them? Are you going to engage in more off-line meaningful conversations with them? Maybe what you really need, as Seth Godin would say, is to engage in emotional labor for them.

What I know I’m not going to do is to ask google for an answer. I’m going to follow what my heart is saying that I must do. I’m not looking for any reward — My goal is simply to connect and make a difference. But that’s just me. How about you?

 

 

 

Why I Turn Off My Phone Four Times A Day

Why I Turn Off My Phone Four Times A Day

I turn off my phone four times a day. Let me tell you. I’m glad I do It and you should, as well. Why do I turn off my iPhone four times a day? Because I want to live the best life I possibly can.

I turn off my device before I leave the house in the morning to work, during my lunch hour, and after supper for about an hour and before I go to sleep.

There is no reason to have your device on 24/7. By giving your smartphone a break you give yourself a break, as well! Don’t wait until tomorrow to get a break from your smartphone today, I say.

It pays off to disconnect and as a value added, you can do so many things with your extra time. These are some of the things that I now do because I turn off my phone for times a day.

1. Exercise. I now exercise three times a week for an hour. The result: My blood pressure is lower and I lost 5 pounds already.

2. Go for a walk. My wife and I go for a walk at least one a week and we love it. We are now closer than ever.

3. Read a book. I found Seth Godin’s work by disconnecting! Love this. It has changed the way I see modern day marketing.

4. Rest. It is good to be at home and literally not be doing anything. Turning off your phone helps you to recharge your energy and that’s a necessity for anyone who wants to live a good life.

5. Master the art of timing. I now have time to critically think about those who matter to me and introduce ideas to my tribe, accordingly.

Moral of the story. Turn off your smartphone tomorrow. Four times throughout the day. Not just once or none. Give yourself the much needed time to recharge and live the life you deserve.

You won’t regret it.

No TXT for 48h: Are you an Arabian, Clydesdale, or Draft horse employee?

No TXT for 48h: Are you an Arabian, Clydesdale, or Draft horse employee?

When we aren’t always on a smartphone texting and playing on facebook or instagram, we give ourselves the opportunity to engage in some deep critical thinking and have meaningful conversations about our thoughts with others. I have thought critically about the content presented in this blog post for 48 hours. Ladies and gents, this one will make you think about horses and people with a touch of originality.

Let me make something very clear first, though. I know very little about horses, how they behave and why they are so different. I do know, however, enough about the workforce and people to have an opinion for what I’m going to write for you. This blog post isn’t an attempt to describe horses in minute detail. I will delegate this to horse experts. I’m interested, though, in using horse and horse types as an analogy to the arguments that I will be presenting with people.

I’m fascinated with the possibility that there may be an intersect between the different kinds of horses and people in the workforce. By the way: Not all horses are equal. Not all people are equal. Not all organizations are equal but similarities between different kinds of horses and people do exist. This is my frame.

So let’s get started. Let’s talk briefly about horses — three types of horses in particular. The Arabian, Clydesdale and Quarter horse.

Arabian horses are a kind of horse characterized for being a striking horse. They are known for energy, intelligence, courage and nobility. This kind of horse announces to the world that he is proud. Think “Floating trot,” spirited, and gentle when thinking about the Arabian kind.

Clydesdale horses are a kind of horse characterized for being gentle giants. They are willing to do the work they are being asked to do without arguing too much. They are easily trained and smart and can do a bit more if necessary.

Draft horses are horses that move kind of slow. They are heavy boned and can push things with ease. They are the best horse suitable for farm labor and are often used in fields, farm fields.

Let’s now briefly talk about people — three types of horses in particular — and how they relate to horse type and behaviors, somehow.

arabian.jpeg

Arabian employees are a showy and spirited employee. This kind of people are temperamental, hard to break in, quick footed, impulsive, like to race and show off. They figure things out creatively and if left to their own devices, they can put themselves in danger. They are in the public’s eye doing things that aren’t the best for the organization, sometimes. Forcing them to be mundane is bad for them. They want to do different things. They can get too excited (too fast) about the environment they live in. They like to do their stuff their way. People can’t control the Arabian kind 100%. If you have an Arabian employee on staff, you can’t treat them the same as everyone else.  This kind of employee is motivated by opportunities and the ability to be expressive (creative), like the Arabian horse.  They are often motivated by loyalty and the possibility to innovate.

Advantages: They can be creative, sometimes. They have an innovative brain able to create new products and services and systems with ease.  

Disadvantages: They lack patience and are unable  to wait for things to happen which tend to cause others to be impatient with them, leading to isolation.  

clyde.jpeg

Clydesdale employees are a fancy plow horse type of people. They make good workers and only do a splash when asked by someone else. These individuals play the part well, are kind and outgoing when needed. They look good physiologically but their nature is of a draft horse. They don’t need as much direction to do things but creativity isn’t their forte. When asked the question, “We need to develop this product and these are the parts that we have, can you do it?” They answer yes and often choose the most convenient alternative that best suits their strengths. Don’t expect much creativity from them. They can’t deliver it. This employee is better fit for most organizations. A great Clydesdale empowers the Arabian kind. They are often motivated by money not opportunity or security.

Advantages: If you put a strong Clydesdale in a position of authority, they will deliver good results.

Disadvantages: If they hit a wall or face a tricky situation, they will struggle to fix the issue creatively. 

photo-1534098063989-156b97abe66b.jpeg

Draft horse employees are everyday workers. They perform well by coming in and doing what the company says they should do and go home. Places that require these horses to think critically without direction are a bad environment for them. They need clear direction in whatever they do. They want someone to say this to them: I want this done this way by tomorrow at noon. I want you to do XYZ for me, can you do it? They should be rewarded for their good behavior. They are motivated by stability rather than money or the ability to innovate.

Advantages: Get menial things done. They make great assistants.

Disadvantages: They aren’t creative and aren’t good at working in groups or being in-charge of anything.

I must say this before we go any further. The Arabian horse employee is the most flexible of all. They can act as a Draft or Clydesdale horse but only on a temporary basis. They are more adaptable than other “horses.” This may be a major distinction between horses and human beings. Humans may adapt to their environments about things that aren’t fit for them physiologically making them somehow perform in unfit places for necessity.

When people are young, people may think that they are an Arabian but in trueness they are a draft horse employee. It is only when people enter the workforce that they discover which horse type they really are. A draft horse employee can’t be a Clydesdale or a Clydesdale an Arabian. An Arabian employee can’t be a Draft horse or a Clydesdale, either. A Clydesdale employee can’t be either a Draft horse or an Arabian. Just remember that there are variations within each kind of horse employee. Arabians, Clydesdale and Draft horse employees aren’t created equally and have variations. Lastly: The rate of innovation that an Arabian horse employee brings is proportional to the risks he takes.

In general, people don’t know what to expect or which employee horse type they are at age 19. An organization with strong leadership needs to be able to see when they have “these horses” and put them when they best fit in order to operate to capacity. They need to give more space to an Arabian employee to look for opportunities without being isolated or criticized for it. Empowering the Clydesdale horse employee to lead your organization is a good idea that is likely to pay off. Somebody needs to do the menial labor of your organization. This is why Draft horse employees exist. Unless leadership wants to push out an Arabian or Clydesdale employee, never put these kind of employees to do the work of a Draft horse employee. Why? This is why: Human Draft horses tend to associate themselves with other Draft horse friends outside the office. Clydesdales have other Clydesdales as friends. Arabians have Arabian friends outside the workforce as friends. The system is classicist. No Arabian employee will be happy hanging out with Draft horses long-term. They think too differently from each other.

Another thing:  Eloquent speeches aren’t a condition to be any of these employee horse types. If you have an Arabian horse employee on your team, teach and develop them. Be patient with them! The better they are and perform, the better you will be even if you are also an Arabian. Don’t waste them, try to understand them and you will profit in the end. Just keep in mind that some work places aren’t meant for every Arabian. Arabians are different and will seek to find where they fit more than any other employee horse. After all, this kind has a lot of energy, intelligence, and courage. Arabians aren’t the status quo. Eventually, the Arabian horse employees do what the Arabian wants. This kind will move to find his perfect fit. Always.

All three employee horses have value. No horse, by itself, is better or worse than any other individual horse… Organizations need all of these horses. Clydesdale and Draft horse employees are very important in every organization but not everybody is a Clydesdale or a Draft horse types. Innovative organizations do what they can to keep the Arabian horse employee around with the hope that they are a fit because this kind helps the organization to solve problems creatively.

So that is it. 48 hours of critical thinking expressed here in my blog. When we get away from all this technology, we do produce something worth talking about. So, which employee horse are you? Can you identify a Clydesdale? Or a Draft horse in your organization? Share your thoughts below. Let’s chat.      

 

Choose Off-Line Communication

Choose Off-Line Communication

I would rather converse with people off-line rather than online. Why? Because when we make the decision to speak with others face-to-face, we tell relational stories and engage in meaningful conversations together both verbally and non-verbally.

This is John, a student in my social media class. He understands the value of a great chat which I find it awesome. Good for him! I suspect that he will live a long life with this mentality. We all must communicate with others in order to live in community.

Engaging in interpersonal communication is a necessity. It is good for the soul to speak and listen to what others have to say. I most definitely do and you should, as well.

I Earned The Right To Converse With Garrett By Disconnecting

I Earned The Right To Converse With Garrett By Disconnecting

The moment that you choose to engage in a meaningful conversation with a person, you earn the right to speak with that person and get to know that person better.  Today, I met a very nice young man. His name is Garrett. He is the youngest son of one of my peers at the university. He is clever, critical and seem to understand what’s like to live a life of technological balance. I’m glad we had the opportunity to speak.

We both had cell phones, but during our conversation, our devices were secondary to our act of conversing. We felt that exchanging ideas and thoughts was more important than texting or going to social media networks and liking random posts.

I must say that it is refreshing to know that there are young people out there who chooses to liver a lifestyle of technology moderation which I find it to be awesome.

In a period of 30 minutes, we engaged in a critical thinking conversation about lifestyle choices and as importantly — I earned the right to converse with somebody that I didn’t previously know. We even talked about possibility of connecting again another time. It is going to happen…

What a great day.

Great Conversations Start Off-line

Great Conversations Start Off-line

Great conversations start off-line. That’s why I don’t use my smartphone much in the cafeteria. Why risk being alone and connected when you can be meeting new people and conversing? Sherry Turkle once said, “I’m not anti-technology. I’m pro-conversation.”  So am I. A great conversation is meaningful to me especially when the company is top notch.

Today, I had the honor to speak with Michael (kaki pants) and two other students, Andrew and Liam. We spoke about the need to converse and make technology secondary to our relationship building. We had a tremendous hour long conversation. Some of the topics we discussed were: Relationship building and health. We left the cafeteria with a smile on our face and our smartphones in our pockets.

Our meaningful and insightful gathering was worthwhile and worth repeating. That’s for sure.

When we choose to disconnect, we connect!

When we choose to disconnect, we connect!

When we chose to disconnect, we connect! We start sharing our stories and meeting each other again with a smile on our faces in the most unexpected places. This is Will Clark, one of my advisees and a student here at the university. We had a great conversation today about how our break went which led to us to speak about academic advising and course selection… life.

It happened organically, off-line and during the day. I was waiting for a colada smoothie and he was sitting down studying in the lobby. It just happened. We weren’t on our phones. I had an abundance of happiness outside cyberspace and I loved it.

I’m convinced of this — In the new economy, having trust, connection and proximity to others is a currency. We don’t build the former very well by only chatting with others on social media networks. It is so much easier to tell our stories face-to-face!

Live your life to the fullest and connect with people. I don’t think you will be disappointed.

What Builds Trust Is Genuine Generosity

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In the connection economy, trust is the fuel that helps us to build our modern networks. Just because a cake may appear to be smaller when we share it with others doesn’t mean that we should stop being generous and stop sharing. We still live in an age where a person who is generous builds trust, despite the fact that the internet is taking over. The genuine act of sharing and sacrificing for other people’s sake usually goes a long way and helps others to reconstruct their own narratives about themselves.

Building trust is a commodity that is worth pursuing, especially in social media.  In today’s economic landscape, it’s not who you know but how trustworthy you are and who you have access to. Being genuine and generous pays off.

The network effect is real — A product or service will gain additional value as more people use it. If the former is true, it only makes sense for social media personalities to be generous and invest in community building without putting emphasis on the self as people are less likely to adopt innovations that are essentially self-centered in nature. 

I’m convinced that engaging in the selfish act of producing lots of social media output, with the pretense of “giving content for free,” is immature and dangerous. Trust is rarely built this way. Most people can spot fake generosity.

By being genuinely generous with others, people build the trust that is required to build long lasting networks. The act of giving with the expectation of getting something in return isn’t what I call genuinely generous and is likely to decrease long term trust. Giving to others with “strings attached” is an element of hustling. People hate to be hustled. Genuine generosity is when we give without expecting to gain anything in return. It is generosity for generosity’s sake.

Listen carefully: In 2019, genuine generosity is a currency. Much attention will be gained by genuinely giving to others. Fortunate will be the ones who understand that.

You Are A Tech Gladiator!

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We live in a sort of modern day Rome where those who control the crowd become invincible. The gladiators of the past were poor slaves in the eyes of Caesar but they were the true heroes of the people. They could entertain and temporarily persuade the masses to do whatever they wanted them to say and do in the arena. Although they had no Roman right, as long as they were fighting in the Roman Coliseum, they were free and in control.

The modern day gladiator, or the small guy who now interacts with a crowd on-line in order to make a living with his craft may not be fighting lions in a stadium to entertain Caesar and the Roman citizens; however, technology has empowered them to display their talents to thousands of followers on facebook and truly entertain and influence the masses much like Roman gladiators.   

It is a form of power that can be easily understood by the powers to be. I have to admit — the smartphone has empowered the weak to be seen and valued and that’s good. Let me whisper this in your ears and please promise me that you will only tell your mom about it. Evil doers are short lived in the new age of information. Trying to oppress others isn’t worth the trouble anymore. Like a Roman gladiator, when given access to technology, the slave now has a voice to share in society because of technology.     

In reality, ladies and gentleman, I have pity for those who scheme against the weak and use positional power to oppress the brethren because in modern day America, where most people have the chance to share what they really think to millions for cheap, playing evil against good people with technology access and a crowd will, sooner or later, backfire. Let me explain.

Have you ever heard about the United Breaks Guitars campaign? I bet that most of you never heard about this modern day corporate nightmare because the campaign was targeted at the youth. After United Airlines baggage claim employees mishandled and broke an unknown country artist’s guitar, United refused to admit their mistake and replace the guitar. Uh oh. 

Let me make this story short. YouTube allowed vocalist Dave Carroll and his band to tell 17,877,563 unique YouTube users about how United Airlines mishandled their baggage and broke his Taylor guitar by composing a country song titled, “United Breaks Guitars.” The refrain went like this: “I should have flown with someone else or gone by car… cause United Breaks guitars.” What a nightmare for United!

Almost overnight, an unknown figure became a hero to the masses, like a gladiator.

Here is the reality, folks. People today are empowered by technology. Decision makers need to think twice before assuming that a person is powerless in the new age of information. A simple facebook post can cause tremendous stress to any organization and consequently cause the crowd to cheer. In a sense, we are all modern day gladiators!    

Organizations must be aware that we have democratized technology. Access to technology has given the masses a voice and a large audience to entertain. Social media platforms are now modern day Roman Coliseums where we fight and look for audience support. The crowd is now being entertained, persuaded and influenced on-line as well as in real life.   

The reality is that we live in an evil world where powers aren’t evenly distributed. We have the haves and have nots, much like in ancient Rome. Advancements in technology have allowed the modern man to become a gladiator with a crowd. For very cheap, campaigns can now be made and shared with millions of people per one post. Social media is a weapon my friends.   

The world of communication has changed forever. In the age where sophisticated media users have the ability to control and influence millions of people, the everyday person has a voice too.  Modern day gladiators are uncontrollable warriors with a platform to share their thoughts. Everybody today has a voice and a crowd to entertain. A single facebook post can now make history. Fortunate are those who understand this simple fact.

The Automation Blind Spot

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I am deeply concerned about the future of the American middle class and the long term sustainability of healthy capitalism in the land of baseball, apple pie and backyard barbecues. The reason why I am so concerned about the former is because of the inevitable and uncontrolled yet highly celebrated mass adoption of automation in our society. I just don’t see how the internet economy will generate enough peripheral jobs to sustain our standard of living and our off-line communities in the future because the majority of the jobs that the cyberspace sector produces tend to benefit only a small number of people. When you think about buying a book on-line, where do you think about buying it from? Amazon, right? If you need to sell a product on-line, which place do you go to to sell it? Amazon, maybe eBay?

Some bloggers make a living on-line with their writings. However, chances are pretty high that “professional bloggers” work off-line somewhere in order to maintain their on-line empires because blogging alone won’t pay the bills. Some folks believe that creating a smartphone app is a ticket to modern social mobility. I am skeptical! Do you know anyone who has made five hundred thousand dollars in profit selling an app? Maybe you are luckier than me. I haven’t met even a single soul. If we are relying on these activities to sustain ourselves in the future, rather than working on a traditional off-line establishment, we are in deep trouble, don’t you think?

The auto industry generated peripheral jobs that benefited the middle class, like body shops, insurance agents, oil changing stations, DOT workers, rental car companies, and many more. I am not so sure about this new wave of internet job creation. Martin Ford, the author of the book, “The Rise of Robots” talks about this topic in greater detail and presents the argument that the internet economy won’t work for many of us because this new business model tends to generate what he calls, the “Winners-take-all” effect. Rather than everyone benefiting from the advancements of technology, only a few will in fact benefit from and acquire sustainable long-term gains. Most players of this new economy win very little to nothing. I fully agree with him about that.

Let’s think about the former for a minute. If our jobs are being replaced by automation (which they are) with the justification that information technology will produce peripheral jobs to sustain ourselves when they might not, how are we going to contribute to the economy and sustain our communities? By risking losing our dependable middle class income for the sake of technology, we might lose more than a salary or a career. We risk losing what we all stand for in the United States — Freedom. Some may argue that the former isn’t an issue but I bet they either have enough wealth to sustain themselves or are benefiting from the upcoming system. For the remaining of us, the threat of automation seems to be pretty real.

I don’t think that full automation will happen tomorrow or next year but in five to ten years, I predict that the majority of our warehouse functions will be automated. Fast food restaurants will have ordering kiosks which by themselves will reduce the number of available jobs in small-town USA by at least thirty percent. If these predictions come true, it could change our local economies substantially, not necessarily for the betterment and goodwill of the people. I am a proud capitalist who believes in the market economy. We may not have a choice but to somehow control the adoption of new technologies in our communities for our survival’s sake.

Adam Smith once said, “All for ourselves, and nothing for other people, seems, in every age of the world, to have been the vile maxim of the masters of mankind.” Technology seems to be the fuel that is driving this revolution. We need to be cautious about such advancements and think systemically about its consequences before fully supporting new initiatives. At least this is what I think.

Hidden Extremism

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We live in a world marked by extremism.

At the time of our grandparents, people used to have two maybe three pairs of shoes in their closets. Back in 2013, according to the American Apparel and Footwear Association, Americans bought almost eight pairs of shoes that year. The average American man in 2017 owns twelve pairs of shoes. The average American women owns twenty-seven. Americans on average own nineteen pairs of shoes these days. That’s a lot! 

When we were young, a birthday party would maybe cost parents $150 with presents included. According to a recent consumer survey, parents now spend on average $450 on their kid’s birthday parties without calculating in the $250 they spend on presents. It isn’t uncommon for families to spend at least $500 on their children’s birthday celebrations in 2017.

According to BBC, kids today spend on average six and a half hours of screen time a day, which is a drastic change from the three hours they used to spend in front of computerized devices back in 1995. We have also seen a widespread adoption of multi-screening practices which has influenced the youth to demand connectivity! Will children own a virtual reality device in the near future? I bet they will own two maybe three of these pieces of hardware if not more.

Why are things so extreme today? It is difficult to isolate one single reason for why this is all happening. I think I have the answer for why so many kids (and parents) spend hours on end on computerized devices in Cleveland, Tennessee or Ohio and anywhere in between the states of New York and New Delhi. Folks are exhausting themselves for the sake of technology because when humans interact with multiple computerized devices on a daily basis, they become more like a “computer” without realizing.

Computer use is maybe conditioning us to be more extreme. We see evidence of the former in how we live our lives in relation to the actual traits of modern computer technology. Computers, even when they are on stand-by mode, are technically active in the background because computer processes have to be operational for the computer to be on stand-by. We seem to have inherited some of these computer traits by being so ingrained with them.

It isn’t uncommon for a number of us to work fifty sometimes sixty hours a week, not from nine to five but from nine to forever. Let’s not forget that answering emails at 9:45pm and waking up at 3:00am to solve a problem that we couldn’t solve the night before is an extreme measure. Our computer use behaviors today are quite extreme and some might even categorize them as borderline irresponsible. The human brain was not made to operate in constant information overload mode yet we are challenging our mental capacity limits by being in front of computer screens for several hours a day.   

Remember: Your family members and friends only have one brain. Overuse of technology is an epidemic, it’s alive and well and is everywhere. Adults are also experiencing the same extreme side effects that kids exhibit, due to the extreme interactions with computerized devices, as well. There was a time when extreme levels of computer use was a “kid” thing. It isn’t anymore. The vast majority of us are now on our computers for too long. We need to break from this habit.

The good news is that we can break free from technology once in a while. My recommendations for temporary breaking from computer use extremism is the following: Join a local church and volunteer your time every week for the Lord. If you like to sing, join a community choir or theatre. If your talent is labor, donate some of your time to a non-profit to help with a remodeling or landscaping project. If you like thinking, take a non-credit class in a local college to met new friends. Read a book, go for a walk, pray! In the end, you will thank the good God for living a life of moderation. It makes all the difference. 

Go See A Doctor — They Know What They Are Doing

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Early this morning, I woke up with gunk all over my eyes, a headache and a coarse voice. It is Sunday. It is church attendance day for our family and choir performance for me. I thought about staying home and recovering from the numerous times I woke up during the night to sneeze and itch my eyes for a moment. Yeah… I forgot to take my Allegra D the night before and paid the price at 5:31am this morning. Lack of technology had an impact on me but it wasn’t enough to keep me home and not listening to the Sunday sermon. We were going, I told my wife.

As soon as we got there, I decided to stop at the food/drink desk, get a donut, and fill up my  water bottle for choir practice. I thought to myself… Crap, we left home without me taking the allergy medicine. This can be disastrous and I knew it. My voice gets scratchy every time I don’t take the appropriate allergy medicine.  Drinking water was my only option I had to attempt to control the allergy symptoms I was experiencing. Before the choir practice began, I decided to drink as much water as I could but my throat was still itchy. Oops, “this isn’t good news” and I knew it as singing with a scratchy voice can make me cough non-stop. Oh well, it was too late to go home and take my allergy pills.  Rather, I decided to go straight to singing.

As I begun singing church hymns in the Bass choir session, all I wanted to do was to cough. It took literally two songs for my body to say enough and feel the side effects of having no allergy technology in my body! I went ballistic on coughing right after. I had to excuse myself to get a bottle of water. What a terrible morning I had today. I paid the price for not using technology properly!   I am glad to be a TechnoModerator not a TechnoPhobic, that’s for sure.

As I was walking towards my Sunday bible class after choir practice, I passed through a number of good folks along the way. We exchanged both verbal and non-verbal communication clues until I reached my destination. The Study had started at 9:00m. It was 9:20am when I finally arrived in the meeting room. Sunday school lasted exactly twenty-five more minutes until the Sunday school teacher made a motion to adjourn the meeting followed by a prayer. Even though I was quiet during the entire class, my throat was still very itchy. All I wanted to do was to couch profusely and go home. In my way out of the door, our bible study teacher who happens to be a physician quickly stated, “Luis, I can see that your eyes are inflamed. You have allergies…”

At that point I thought to myself, “TechnoHitlers sometimes don’t understand that a trained physician don’t need technology in order to identify and prescribe a treatment to a patient… I left the room smiling and celebrating TechnoModeration. Although I had a rough morning due to spring allergies, today ended up being a great one as all the allergies I felt during choir practice didn’t affect me in the actual church performance.

Allergies exist are the are real.  Not sure about you but when it comes to allergies… I want to see an allergist in order to get medicine to alleviate symptoms. I trust a media doctor and their ability to diagnose an illness just by looking at a patient. I am not sure if I would be comfortable listening to health advice from a robot. It doesn’t seem right to me. Allergies Anyone? Go see a human doctor. They know what they are doing.

The Automation Blindspot

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I am deeply concerned about the future of the American middle class and the long term sustainability of healthy capitalism in the land of baseball, apple pie and backyard barbecues. The reason why I am so concerned about the former is because of the inevitable and uncontrolled yet highly celebrated mass adoption of automation in our society. I just don’t see how the internet economy will generate enough peripheral jobs to sustain our standard of living and our off-line communities in the future because the majority of the jobs that the cyberspace sector produces tend to benefit only a small number of people. When you think about buying a book on-line, where do you think about buying it from? Amazon, right? If you need to sell a product on-line, which place do you go to to sell it? Amazon, maybe eBay?

Some bloggers make a living on-line with their writings. However, chances are pretty high that “professional bloggers” work off-line somewhere in order to maintain their on-line empires because blogging alone won’t pay the bills. Some folks believe that creating a smartphone app is a ticket to modern social mobility. I am skeptical! Do you know anyone who has made five hundred thousand dollars in profit selling an app? Maybe you are luckier than me. I haven’t met even a single soul. If we are relying on these activities to sustain ourselves in the future, rather than working on a traditional off-line establishment, we are in deep trouble, don’t you think?

The auto industry generated peripheral jobs that benefited the middle class, like body shops, insurance agents, oil changing stations, DOT workers, rental car companies, and many more. I am not so sure about this new wave of internet job creation. Martin Ford, the author of the book, “The Rise of Robots” talks about this topic in greater detail and presents the argument that the internet economy won’t work for many of us because this new business model tends to generate what he calls, the “Winners-take-all” effect. Rather than everyone benefiting from the advancements of technology, only a few will in fact benefit from and acquire sustainable long-term gains. Most players of this new economy win very little to nothing. I fully agree with him about that.

Let’s think about the former for a minute. If our jobs are being replaced by automation (which they are) with the justification that information technology will produce peripheral jobs to sustain ourselves when they might not, how are we going to contribute to the economy and sustain our communities? By risking losing our dependable middle class income for the sake of technology, we might lose more than a salary or a career. We risk losing what we all stand for in the United States — Freedom. Some may argue that the former isn’t an issue but I bet they either have enough wealth to sustain themselves or are benefiting from the upcoming system. For the remaining of us, the threat of automation seems to be pretty real.

I don’t think that full automation will happen tomorrow or next year but in five to ten years, I predict that the majority of our warehouse functions will be automated. Fast food restaurants will have ordering kiosks which by themselves will reduce the number of available jobs in small-town USA by at least thirty percent. If these predictions come true, it could change our local economies substantially, not necessarily for the betterment and goodwill of the people. I am a proud capitalist who believes in the market economy. We may not have a choice but to somehow control the adoption of new technologies in our communities for our survival’s sake.

Adam Smith once said, “All for ourselves, and nothing for other people, seems, in every age of the world, to have been the vile maxim of the masters of mankind.” Technology seems to be the fuel that is driving this revolution. We need to be cautious about such advancements and think systemically about its consequences before fully supporting new initiatives. At least this is what I think.

Banning classroom laptop is a major mistake!

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I am a different kind of college professor.

I am one of those Ph.Ds who take pride in leaving their office door open in order to invite students in for a great chat, work with students on real-world projects as a means to expose them to potential recruiters, and publish newspaper columns with the goal of having public conversations, like the one I am writing for you.

I am a trained scholar who has no room for nonsense, and will take action if required to advance the just cause. I am a caring guy who is vocal about what I believe. Didn’t you realize that already? I hope so.

Let me introduce you to one of the most heated discussions that is bringing much division into our complex field of education.

Two scholars — one from Princeton University and the other from the University of California in Los Angeles — are calling for a ban of laptops in the classroom because their latest research findings indicate that note-taking by pen works better for students than laptop note-taking. I find this recommendation disturbing because anyone who has spent a short time with a laptop knows that laptop note-taking is one of the many uses that a laptop offers to students.

I’m a bit skeptical about this idea of banning laptops altogether from the classroom, and for a number of other reasons.

Taking laptops out of the classroom will definitely handicap our students for careers this century. Can you imagine graduating college students who aren’t proficient and efficient with laptops for problem-solving? Give me a break! Banning laptops is a mistake.

Second, we need to maximize the use of adaptive technologies in our classrooms in order to provide instruction for students with disabilities. Many of the applications involving adaptive technologies are laptop-based. The modern-day student needs tools to remediate instruction and empower them to be outstanding. Laptops can do wonders about that.

I am not against technology as I have told you numerous times. All we have to do is to use technology in moderation.

Students have much to gain by using laptops in the classroom beyond typing. I cannot imagine my students without having a laptop in order to participate in the many scavenger-hunt activities I do in class.

By having a laptop in the classroom, students can fix photographs, create logos and websites, do balance sheets, you name it.  All that a professor needs to do is to incorporate the computer in whatever lesson plan he designs. It is that simple.

Controlling what I call “computer-based distraction” can be done. It isn’t that complicated, and it’s worth so much more than keystrokes. Let me tell you a secret. Please don’t tell anybody: One of the best ways to educate college students today is by creating solid relationships. Laptops can be used as a tool, as long as it is used in moderation, to build these relationships.

By the way, why are people so extreme in ideology these days? Don’t we, at least in spirit,  strive to elect officials in our great republic to find the reasonable middle group so that we all can enjoy the liberties of being an American?

Don’t ban laptops in the classroom. If you need help justifying the responsible use of computer technology in the classroom, give me a buzz. I would be more than glad to attend your board meeting and give the board the reasons why one-to-one computing is a good move overall for kids when implemented with discretion and moderation.

Laptops, along with great instructional design and lesson plans, can really help your kid to succeed in life.

The over-reliance on anything, especially laptops, is an issue that must be addressed immediately. My solution to this controversial contemporary discussion is technology moderation.

Teachers out there, listen to Dr. A! Don’t ban laptops in your classrooms. Students may take better notes with pens, but they have better chances to succeed in life by solving real-world problems with the machine when used reasonably.

The Importance of Being Original

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In this life you need to be original, regardless of how much technology we use. Originality or the ability to think independently and creatively or the quality of being novel or unusual is an important human condition that should be cultivated throughout life. I am not aware of any important thinker who was unoriginal. The master of suspense, Sir Alfred Hitchcock, through his originality and genius introduced to the world the “MacGuffin” a plot device that was essential to the characters on his films but without any relevance to the audience making history. The great Miles Davis re-invented jazz by his stylistic innovations. Walt Disney challenged the world when he tried to do the impossible — he achieved what was possible. By serving as a passive aggressive Pacifist,  Gandhi  changed the world of diplomacy and power forever. Life is full of examples of notorious individuals who have changed history by being original. It is a good thing to be original and creative. As a matter of fact, I argue that one’s ability to think independently and creatively is a true gift from God to others as the benefits it can reap are countless. I could share with you probably thousands of ways you can be more original in your life. In this article, I will share with you three ways to be more original.

1. Be yourself. In this life, nobody wanting to be original can be a carbon copy of somebody else. The qualities that made Napoleon great were not the same qualities that made Patton extraordinary. The great Patch Adams cared for his patients more than any other physician ever dreamed of. Yet, we have obtuse doctors who just get things done making them as great. Women are from Venus and men are from Mars and that’s okay. Whatever unique traits the good God has given you, He gave you your uniqueness for a reason. There are a number of things in this life that are possible — by studying one gets better grades; By practicing, one gets better scores; By forgiving one becomes a better man. What isn’t possible is to strive to be unique by emulating others. It simply doesn’t work regardless of what others may tell you. The great Jim Furyk would have never made it into the PGA Tour by swinging his clubs more like Ben Hogan. The earlier you realize that you need to be original, the greater your impact in this life will be and the most glory to God you will be able to give.

2. Challenge yourself. History is full of cases of individuals who put themselves in a bubble and accept mediocrity in exchange for complacency and security. Just because you can play football in a AA division doesn’t mean that you are ready to compete against the Quad A state champions. You need to be original or should I say — be different. What you really need is to ditch the idea that you should work for money and rather… work in the talent that the Lord has given you by doing the former, you will be able to be great in your area of strength which if you keep course, success will go your way when you least expect. Give yourself a chance to be challenged and embrace the opportunity to achieve high grounds by challenging yourself.

3. Create something worth sharing. Whenever you create something out of nothing, you are obligated to think with no box yet generate a working prototype of your imagination.  With the former comes conceptualization, production, revision, re-engineering, more and more revisions leading to a final product or outcome.  Even if your creation is a failure financially, there are great lessons to be learned by going through the motions of raw creation. The uniqueness of your efforts in many ways speak louder than your inability to take a chance.  If you want to be unique, you will need to take risks and give yourself a chance to achieve the unimaginable. Creating something worth sharing isn’t the test but a task and duty. Next time you think about being unique, create something worth sharing.

In this life you need to be original. You need to be unique and challenge yourself and create something worth sharing. By being unique you gain both respect and admiration. Be yourself and be genuine. Be like Walt Disney – try to do the impossible. Create your own style and keep course. One day, after many hours of sweat and perseverance, the waves of success might come your way. Always be with God, regardless of the circumstances. Keep your faith and pray. In the end, what really matters is… if you want to be original.

When Technology Swoops In Like A Superhero

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Technology is a funny thing. It can be used for good or it can be used for bad depending on how we decide to use it. You may be wondering, okay Dr. A, where are you going with this one? 

Let me get straight to the point ladies and gentleman. Even though smartphone technology can make us psychologically sick due to overuse, at the same time, it can also be used as a great anti-corruption tool to be used to bring justice to the masses.

Let me write something that I thought would have never happened in my lifetime. For the first time in the history of Brazil, corruption is being fought by millions of people because of the availability of the smartphone and social media, especially YouTube. The corrupt in Brazil could have never imagined that technology would evolve to such high levels, that their evil schemes would one day be made available to millions across the world. Ladies and gentleman, technology is cleaning up a country that is the epitome of corruption! That’s extraordinary. 

Have you heard of the Operation Car Wash? Or shall I say, “The biggest corruption scandal ever” in the history of the world? The “system,” as it is often referred to, was a massive system of money laundering involving 232 people, over 10 billion dollars in bribes, 16 companies, and made Watergate sound like kindergarten. So far, 160 people have been arrested and 179 people indicted. It literally broke the state oil company Petrobras.

The success of Operation Car Wash is evidence of technology being used to clean up the corruption. The “system” was discovered by very clever federal police officers due to irregular practices tracked down by technology algorithms. Audio technology has played a role in this investigation. Former President Luis da Silva went to prison because technology exposed his evil plans on YouTube. We may hurt our eyes when constantly looking at YouTube videos at home but in the new age of information, these videos can be catalysts for big changes.

The federal judges, as part of the guilty sentencing for the criminals, used YouTube as a means of public record keeping. The judges mandated that the documents, evidence and interrogations be presented to the public through YouTube videos. Sometimes, technology can be used for good.

Let me tell you something. People down there are sick of being oppressed and technology is their means of communicating their feelings and thoughts. It isn’t unusual today for workers, honest families, Christians and many other oppressed groups to express themselves through video technology.

Technology has, without question, given power to the oppressed in Brazil and that’s good. It has also given the regular person the ability to discern whether media conglomerates are controlling the people or are reporting on what is the truth. In the media world, we know that good journalism exposes both sides of an issue. The availability of smartphone technology did precisely that down in Brazil, organically, which some have called this a living miracle. 

What has happened and is still currently happening in Brazil is unfolding via YouTube videos. This is unprecedented and has opened the eyes for the poor. The poor finally know why they are so destitute. Who knew technology could swoop in like a superhero?

I still believe that technology has more bad than good under traditional circumstances. But hey, you kind of knew that. However, technology when used in moderation and with good intention can revolutionize any system. The Brazilian corrupt got caught and paid the price for their evil schemes. Can we refine our broken systems with available technology? Likely, I say.

Pandora’s Box Of Automation

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I am afraid that automation is going to put too many churches out of business.  Historically, technology has always created entirely new occupations and opportunities while destroying old industries and jobs. There is little doubt that the auto industry is a good example to exemplify the former cases, as horse carriages phased out when the technology became widely available to produce the automobile. There is enough economic precedence to support these former statements which may explain why so many people today naively think that millions of jobs will still be created in the near future due to the advent of information technology. The reality is that we don’t know what will happen in the future. Only the Lord knows for sure, not you or I. I feel, however, that our society has chosen to ignore an important piece of biblical scripture — Proverbs 16:1-4, “To humans belong the plans of the heart, but from the LORD comes the proper answer of the tongue. All a person’s ways seem pure to them, but motives are weighed by the LORD.” We are not in control of anything. Who are we to dictate what will happen in the future with certainty anyways? We are not God! In the Bible, the Lord is pretty clear about this “business of tomorrow.” He teaches us in Matthew 6:34 that anxiety about the future is meaningless and that “Tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”

Which position are we in to make certain claims about the economical future of our great country? I say we aren’t in any position to predict anything with certainty. We don’t have that luxury. All that we can do is to speculate! This is my speculation — I do think that the new age of information technology will fall short of creating enough jobs to replace the ones it will destroy in our society.  I can see many of you thinking, “Yeah right.”

Let me ask you a question: How many people do you think were employed at YouTube when the company was sold to Google back in 2005? The number, brothers and sisters in Christ, was 65! General Motors at its peak hired 840,000 employees. Today, GM hires 36,000 hard working employees. That is a drastic loss of employment between the years of 1979 and 2016. Have you heard about the newly developed app “Instagram?” Who hasn’t, right? How many people do you think worked at Instagram when the company was acquired by Facebook in 2012? The answers ladies and gentleman was 13! The irony of the former is that Instagram was sold for a billion dollars. The per-employee evaluation at Instagram at the time of its purchase was 77 million!

Aren’t these new companies supposed to generate millions of jobs because of technological advancements in order to replace the ones that they destroy? Many pentecostals are making life plans and setting business strategies based on this logic. I personally like the position taken by the author, Martin Ford of the book Rise of the Robots. In his book he talks about how information technology is now a utility that comes with machine intelligence. I think he is absolutely correct about his assertions, as information technology today is as necessary as electricity, as he puts it. Can you imagine banking without technology? How about education? Are cars free of technology? Which industry is free of this new utility? Won’t you agree that all new technological businesses created will take advantage of this powerful new utility? Of course they will! It is where we are headed. Let’s assume for a moment that we are going to take advantage of information technology in the creation of new industries. Then, millions of jobs are likely to be lost and be replaced by a few, if any jobs from these emerging tech enterprises as contemporary technology systems already exist. We have seen evidence of that already in the cases of the creation of YouTube, Instagram, and even the app, “What’sUp.” Why would these technology based industries create many more jobs in the future when they already possess so many cases of automation in society? I don’t think they will. In fact, I am concerned about the position of the church and the long term sustainability of our denomination. As unemployment increases due to automation, less support in Sunday and Wednesday donations we receive. Due to severe societal automation, we grow weaker as a body due to advances in technology.    

Uncontrolled information technology adoption will lead to tiny workforces where only a few will benefit from its advancements which could in effect drastically change the way our economy operates and how we live in the United States and abroad. Automation is here to stay. Sooner or later, simply based on the concept of Moore’s law, these new information technology systems will get better increasing their capacities of self learning leading to more automation in the near future. We are going to need the Lord more than ever.

I hope I am being disturbingly persuasive. As technologies continue to accelerate, I find no reason to believe that new jobs will be created to replace the ones they destroy. In fact, I think that the millions of white-collar jobs we enjoy having today will turn into maybe thousands causing a severe shift in the quality of living experienced by tens of millions of Americans. The former has a direct impact in many of our congregations.

I hope my speculations are wrong and unfounded but from what I see, I don’t think so. I guess that only time will tell. So you maybe asking, “What should Christians do to prepare for the rise of automation?” There are a few things you must do in order to protect yourself against this inevitable trend. First and foremost, be closer to the Lord and believe that He is in control of your life. Learn how to recite Philippians 4:13 to yourself, “I can do all things through Christ which strengths me.” Second, prepare yourself to careers that involve a large degree of creativity and unpredictability. The machine is predictable and logic. Be equipped to be unpredictable and illogical sometimes! Lastly, learn how to manage chaos and talk effectively with a human being rather than primarily positioning yourself as a machine button pusher.

Pentecostals, open your eyes to what is right in front of you! I am concerned about the position of the church and the long term sustainability of our denomination. The dangers of automation will affect us in the years to come. It is inevitable. I honestly don’t think that advances in information technology will help us with sustaining ourselves in the future as many believe. Only the Lord knows to what degree will automation affect us, that’s for sure. Our hope is that God is with us. We are going to need Him more than ever.

Digital Appearances Are Deceiving Too

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It is virtually impossible to really know what people are up to based on what they post on twitter. In this article, I will explain to you why the former is true with a touch of Dr. A’s personality.

Ladies and gents, let’s get real. People use a mask in public and in cyberspace. If a person is sharing happy looking pictures on instagram all the time, chances are that they are de facto sad not happy most if not all the time. People often share the opposite of what they are really thinking. People may even compensate for being sad by posting happy content. Let me give you another example. If a person decides to engage in a rant conversation with a colleague or a friend online, chances are that this person is probably afraid to engage in a face-to-face conversation with somebody. As you, me and all the Tennessee Titans Fans know, most people put a mask when they behave in public. Do you think that facebook is any different? Please.

We all know that, don’t we? Why pretend then? Or assume one thing and ignore what we know about how we typically behave in public? Listen to Dr. A: Who cares what people think of you on facebook. You must live your life and make these social media networks be subordinated to you. You won’t gain anything by playing Nostradamus based on what people post on instagram. The only thing you will gain are the headaches of gossip which is an activity condemned by God.

  Let’s get real here. How do you really know what people are feeling or thinking if intonations and variations in voice pitch, for example, aren’t being shared in social media posts anyways? See why it isn’t possible to guess who people really are online? Look, there are so many ways a person can misinterpret another person’s message on instagram that it isn’t even funny. Which body language is a person using when they “communicate” with you on linkedIn? Well, we don’t really know, do we? It is only by speaking face-to-face with somebody that you can be sure of what they are trying to communicate to you and others. I’m convinced of that.

There are so many people today investigating people’s facebook accounts these days and forming opinions about them based on what they post on a blog without having a clue about what their true intent for posting that piece of content was. It’s an epidemic. It is such a common practice that I have a micro system who checks who is actually looking at my profile on a daily basis. I’m watching you! 

It isn’t easy to “know” who people are simply by sneakily going to a person’s facebook page and analyze what they post. People may have an idea who the person is or may be but I’m doubtful that a person can really know who people truly are by doing a content analysis of what people share online.  People post content for different reasons.One of my buddies in Brazil shares jokes on a daily basis on his facebook. Does this behavior make him a social media clown? I don’t think so. Not to me. I know him better.

Remember: Not everything you see is what it seems. Social media isn’t any different. Just because a person posts too many times on facebook doesn’t mean that he or she is self centered. Maybe, they are sharing more content because their parents want to see more photos of their children on their wall. Perhaps, people don’t post as much because they hate technology. Maybe they made a vow to technomoderate that year. How can people really know, right?

Be careful with assumptions. They tend to backfire. I honestly don’t think that anybody can truly guess who people are online without knowing who they are offline. People can try but they will fall short. The complexities of communication and human behavior can’t be diminished to a level of perishable machinery.  We are humans! We are living systems! Knowing how people really are is dependent on other variables not found in cyberspace and that’s a fact.

Say NO to self aggrandizement on-line

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Great adversity is a pre-requisite to greatness. Enduring strong opposition, being able to recover from a direct knockout, and believing the most and the longest even if the odds are against you are all elements of what make great leaders truly great. I am not impressed by anyone who is constantly bragging about his latest accomplishments especially when these statements are shared on social media. Anybody who is great in what they do understand that being successful isn’t a solo sport! Greatness doesn’t need to be a contact sport necessarily but it most definitely has elements of team work. I am afraid that social media is enforcing a dangerous ideology — The idea that “I” can make my world perfect and that “I” don’t need you. 

One of the most important leadership lessons I’ve ever learned in my career came from a former Director of Analysis and Planning at Ohio State University and former Associate Provost. He once told me, “Always look at the law of opposites: The moment that somebody says that they are great in something, be aware.” “Nobody who is great at anything need to tell others that they are all that great,” my mentor once said. The former is a wise statement, indeed. Why are we allowing our kids to behave the way they do on social media?

My fellow Americans, I am afraid that all these social media walls and mediated spaces are allowing children to practice bad communication habits especially among kids between the ages of 14 and 18. It is shocking the content that we can see and hear in apps like YouNow or Yik Yak. Compatriots, your sons and daughters and quite possibly your dear grandchildren aren’t really using Facebook or twitter that much if at all. Facebook and all these “old school” social media tools are for old people like you and me. If you decide to log into the YouNow app, the bragging that occurs on Facebook sounds like kinder garden. The “I” culture of these new contemporary social media tools are reaching very high levels of ridicule to a point of no return.   After momentarily visiting a “celebrity” on a popular social media tool back in July, I felt obligated to create a lesson for college students about the danger of these new and upcoming social media apps and how they impact the lives of our loved ones.

How uncomfortable would you be to see your teenager daughter speaking with an Iraqi Soldier on YouNow? I’ve seen a person in her 50’s giving what I consider to be very poor advice about life for teenage girls on an app system. Maybe I am being overly defensive and skeptical about having fifty year old mature adult speaking with teenagers about the importance of doing “what you like” as a youngster. I don’t think I am, though. I can see many of you being uncomfortable with such scenarios, as well.  I had to say a prayer about the whole situation and de facto I did.

Why are we so shy about condemning this culture of “I” in our society these days? It is time for us to take the lead and break this idea that bragging on-line is acceptable and that anything goes in social media. My daughter’s life matter to me and I know that yours matter to you. Say no to self aggrandizement on-line. Say yes to God and the future of your children. It is our duty to guide them! It is the right thing do do.

Technology Can Be Fun, No Matter The Era

Some of you may not know this but I love those epic films from the 1950’s. As a matter of fact, I love everything about the movie Ben Hur — its soundtrack, cinematography, script and the way the movie was shot back in the day. How can some of us not like the technology used in the film, as well? I most definitely do. Today, however, many movies fall under what I like to call the fantastical category where humans and cars fly, and computer generated creatures interact with the rest of us, humans. Has the film industry always been this way?

To help me answer these questions, I decided to contact Matt Fisher, Associate Professor of Digital Media Studies here at Lee. Matt is both a nice guy and quite a competent scriptwriter and movie director who I knew would have the answers to my elementary film questions. Let me start by saying this: I had no idea that movies, regardless of era, couldn’t have been done without technology. How interesting! Even the silent movies of the past were made using some form of technology, according to Matt. Some of the technologies of the past include film stock. Film technology of today can be as simple as a dolly that helps directors to create camera movement. 

“Some things are gained… some things are lost with technology,” Matt shared this quote with me in my office when were were speaking about the movie “The Artist,” a silent multi Oscar winner movie in 2012, in regards to how technology is used in movies. How can I disagree with that statement! You know that my position on technology is of moderation. It is just not possible to defend the idea that technology is always good or always bad for that matter. Matt is right. When you gain things here, often we lose things there with technology, which I find to be a wise statement that transcends film studies and criticism. 

I don’t know if you feel this way but to some degree, I like the old technologies (Panavision 70 Photography) we find in the film Lawrence of Arabia. It feels nostalgic! Do you feel that way? I must admit that I do. Cleveland seniors, do you still have goose bumps when you watch “Its A Wonderful Life,” from Pennsylvania born Jimmy Stewart? I bet that some of you feel something different when you watch this film during Christmas time. You gain a feeling of nostalgia even thought you may be losing on the dated technology. In the great scheme of things, does it really matter that “its a wonderful life is a black and white movie?” I don’t think so. How about you?

It is true that in the past, films directors spent more time on something we call pre-production in communication where communication professionals would spend longer periods of time thinking about how the scene would look like and due to the fact that redoing a particular scene would cost studios lots of money. Today, we have more technology that allows folks to “cut” film without having to literally cut the film which in itself is revolutionary! No wonder why we have had so many great independent movies released to the market in recent years. Modern digital editing suite technology has allowed the small guy to produce big productions on a budget. “What we lost in pre-production planning we gain in post-production capabilities,” said Matt Fisher. The overuse of technology in film also has complications, he adds. Sound complicates things, camera movement is a challenge.

There is not way out, people. Technology has positives and negatives no matter how much TechnoLovers may argue otherwise. It seems clear cut to me that in the film industry, technomoderation seems to be the ideal. Next time you go to a movie, take some time to think about how much technology was used in the production of the motion picture and in which ways humans participated in the production of such an endeavor. Did they used too much special effects? How was the dialogue? In the end, I bet that you will realize that the golden ideal lies somewhere in between a microchip and a man’s brain but hey… I am suspect. 

Great Content Isn’t Enough

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After dedicating 300 hours studying the essence of what makes social media catch on, I came to the conclusion that great content is only a part of what makes messages go viral on-line. Let me explain: Great content without being strategically grounded in a particular niche (for example my niche of motivation) is likely to be lost in this gigantic world we call the internet. In reality, creating great messages (content) and positioning them in a particular niche makes a lot of sense if you think about it. In the “real world,” grocery stores don’t organize their operation around selling steel to you. They are in business to make you happy through food. Creating great content into a niche are steps 1 & 2.

After positioning great content into a niche, people must have an audience. Now, this is where most non-influencers struggle to have their messages heard. Why? Because their level of influence is so insignificant (globally speaking) that even if their content is of great quality and belongs to an on-demand niche but it lacks a solid audience… it won’t scale beyond the the original network they already have. Forget about going viral at that point. It won’t move beyond your immediate circle of influence. My advice is for you to work on building your audience over time until setting any quantifiable goal of having to make any content go viral. This process should take between 2-5 years if you have a talent for what you are trying to convey, I suspect.

When you have great content grounded in a niche along with an audience to receive it, then the next step is to distribute the content. It doesn’t matter which social media platform you use. If you have built a solid audience (on or offline), your content will be shared and spread, I bet. When that happens, all you need to do next is to repeat the process and you should be on your way to go viral.

Don’t get very excited now that you may know how this social media thing works a bit as of yet. Building that audience won’t be that easy. It seems to be the differentiator between those who scale their messages globally from those who rarely scale what they know locally. My recommendation: Work on building your audience as much as creating great content into a niche. This is my 2 cents.

Intrapersonal Communication Trumps Technology

When I was young, I chose to engage in intrapersonal communication activities like playing competitive golf and chess because I’ve always felt better doing “my thing” alone. Like a typical introverted person, I didn’t need the attention of others to gain my daily energy then and I don’t need the attention of anybody today to be energized either. I wish that hundreds perhaps thousands of teenagers in Bradley County could experience what I have experienced early on in my life because working on your own forces people to get things done without having to abide by the approval of others. I bet that many of them would realize that what other people do or don’t do in social media is actually irrelevant to their lives. The same is also true for the opinions people form online based on what people share in social media networks.

This is what I’m saying: If people focus on activities involving them only, they will build a stronger capacity to do things on their own and ignore the mad ideas people sometimes form about them. There are way too many people these days caring too much about what other people say about them in social media. Who cares what people think of you if you are secure in yourself? I feel that your grandkids are growing up without that much needed resilience to face adversity which in itself may be causing them to be depressed sometimes suicidal. Listen carefully: Instead of using technology as a pacifier, teach them how to play chess young. If you don’t know anything about chess, find them a tutor. If you cannot find anybody to teach chess theory to your child, give me a call. We can negotiate a reasonable fee so your grandkids can engage in deep thinking early on in their lives rather than growing weak with moods that are dependent on what others think of them online.

If your grandkid doesn’t like chess, try golf. You won’t regret it. Let me reveal a secret to you that is related to what we are talking about. I used to play chess alone and loved it. Playing chess taught me that I didn’t need the approval of anybody to be happy. I know, I know… this is the pinnacle of individualism but hey, life is interesting. Your grandchild can benefit from doing things by him or herself and not depending on the goodwill of others to be happy in life.

We see so many kids today anxious and depressed about life because their “friends” didn’t like their posts on facebook. Others are partially depressed because not too many people like their posts in general. Some are suicidal because nobody liked their posts. Is this the kind of life that a kid should have? In fact, is this the kind of life that people should have? No.

This is precisely why I advance the idea of engaging in social media communication in moderation. Why should anybody allow others to make them sick for the sake of technology use? Give me a break. Nobody needs that crap. I most definitely don’t allow people’s opinions about me to taint my internal happiness.

I’m stunned by the number of people who admit to having a problem with anxiety and depression in social media networks today yet are doing little to nothing to solve their problem. Public admitting of a problem isn’t a viable solution to any problem. A systematic solution is. Go learn chess or golf! Spend time with yourself and God. You won’t regret it, trust me.

There is hope. Your grandkids don’t need to grow up thinking that what others think of them defines them. What they really need is to have a couple of intrapersonal communication activities that force them to engage in deep introspection. They need to “converse” with their inner selves and realize that social media communication and interaction aren’t to be seen as the all in all in their lives. Everybody has an opinion. Fortunate are the kids who form an opinion by engaging in an activity that forces them to think critically about difficult situations and scenarios. Ladies and gents, chess and golf do just that.

Build Long Lasting Relationships: What To Look For

As it is played in Disneyland, “It is a small world after all.” The relationships we build, the friendships we make, the conversations we cultivate and the sacrifices we endure aren’t be be taken with a grain a salt by a true friend. A person who is truly genuine, is on your side and wants to maintain a great relationship with you don’t treat you like a subordinate, will never do anything to jeopardize your trust, will do what he/she can to honor your reasonable requests and are likely to ask you to go to lunch once in a while. Avoidance, extra protocols and procedures, ultra selective and divisive associations, left hand complements and gossip are true signs of someone who is egoistic and probably afraid or intimidated by you. It is even possible that folks displaying such behaviors are simply in the state of denial and are finding ways to justify their incompetence and appear adequate. Behaviors and actions will always speak louder than words, regardless of what folks may think or believe. We all have relationships in church, with family, at work, and also with our children and spouse. In all of the former, we need to cultivate great relationships and avoid destroying them but is better to have no close times with someone than associate yourself with the wrong crowd. As colleague of mine once said, “Many judge others by the people they associate themselves with.” There is truth to this former statement. My grandfather used to say the same thing. The bible states in 1 Corinthians 15:33, “Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.” It seems that God wants us to flee from bad company, right? It seems clear cut to me. There are a number of ways we can guide folks to build better relationships in many areas of our lives. In this article, I will share with you three ways in which you can build more solid and long lasting relationships with a spin of Christianity.

1. Choose good company because the alternative corrupts character. The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 15:33 Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.” In order to build relationships that last, you need to choose good company first. It is a pre-requisite that must be followed. There is no reversal to this rule. The tricky part of deciphering who is good or bad company. Individuals who provide good council are great ones to associate yourself with. Typically these folks are unselfish and have an encouraging heart. They tend to be reasonable and understanding of a wide variety of circumstances. You will know when someone is a great advisor and had the gift of exhortation because hate isn’t part of their nature. These folks tend to be great company and worth of your time.

2. If they don’t spend time with you, flee from them. Relationships are all about commitment. You need to choose carefully and pay attention to details. A dedicated ally won’t let you hanging in there and are likely to seek rather than be seek for a conversation. If someone wants to have a great relationship with you, sooner or later… they will extend an invitation for you and your family to go to lunch with them or to join their church or civic groups. They will introduce you to people they know publicly and eventually will ask you to go to their house as guest for supper. If you request a meeting one-on-one with a person and this person chooses to have a group meeting instead you know that his/her priorities aren’t you but him or herself. Remember: If they don’t spend time with you, flee from them.

3. Be loyal and test for consistency. If you find inconsistencies in your relationships, e.g., “Hey Almeidas! Nice seeing you here today.” and then in a public event the same couple who told you the former ignores you… You might as well say goodbye to having a long lasting relationship with them. If a person is really on your side and desires to keep a great and open relationship with you, they will not betray you in any way. Make sure you spend some time “testing spirits” as the bible teaches us. Which disloyalty can you clearly see and observe? Are there any inconsistencies that include you specifically? Let me give you an example. I was a member of a prominent civic club one time. In a number of occasions, Jackie — one of our senior club members, was very kind and open to a great chat with me during our weekly meetings seeming excited that I was a college professor in a public university. However, in another yet more selective event we both attended, where being a public school professor wasn’t seen as prestigious, this same person who was so chatty and nice totally ignored me due to fear of retaliation, I bet. Being associated, in that event, with a public school professor wasn’t sophisticated enough for her to maintain her appearances. Only if she knew that I had a working and close relationship with the president of that organization she was trying to build connections with. Moral of the story: Be loyal and test for consistency, always.

As it is played in Disneyland, “It is a small world after all.” Sooner or later, people will discover who you truly are by the relationships you have and by your actions and reactions. Make sure to choose good company and that your company wants to have yourself in their company. Otherwise, you might need to develop relationships with other company. Test your relationships with a dose of loyalty and consistency. In order to build a long lasting relationship with someone, you must make sure that they are indeed on your side on a consistent basis. Otherwise: Be aware. Remember: Behaviors and actions will always speak louder than words, regardless of what folks may think or believe.

If you are a real man… you must be a gentleman

No matter how old you are, where you come from, which high school you have attended or the college that you have received your degree from, if you are a real man… you must be a gentleman. The reason why I am so firm on the former is because God calls us to be one. The bible says in 1 Peter 3:15, “But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect.” Clearly, we must do what we can to emulate the teachings of Christ and be gentle to one another. In this blog posting, I will briefly introduce to you three important ways you can become more gentleman like. They are…

  1. A gentleman knows how to listen. There is no reverse to this one. In order for any man to be a gentleman, he must listen. Being a good listener means not interrupting others when others are speaking, actually listen to what others have to say, and consider alternatives if the alternatives received prove to be a better explanation for a particular phenomenon under investigation. A true gentleman listens to others and strive to make decisions that take into account the voices of others sometimes. A gentleman understands that listening is a skill that can be mastered. A gentleman waits until others finish what they were saying.
  2. A gentleman does not spread rumors. Under any circumstances does a gentleman engage in the act of spreading rumors because he knows that 10/10 times, these rumors cause hardships on others and eventually comes back to haunt them in the future. Only a boor engages in such behaviors. Schmucks love to talk about others behind their backs because they have nothing better to say or anything important to do. A true gentleman doesn’t put himself in the position of being a vermin. When asked to feed a rumor mill, a gentleman says no without remorse.
  3.  A gentleman asks, “what do you think.” Because a gentleman knows that he doesn’t know everything and that the opinions of others are to be respected, he asks for other people’s opinions. Of course he doesn’t take other people’s opinions as his own necessarily but he is open minded enough to hear what others have to say. A gentleman does need to act like an “I known it all” because they now than nobody really knows it all and because the former is a quite impolite practice. A gentleman would rather be quiet than confronting left-hand contributions.

No matter how old you are, where you come from, which high school you have attended or the college you have received your degree from, if you are a real man… you must be a gentleman. Gentlemen are trained on how to listen, not to spread rumors, and to ask the opinion of others in a number of matters. Being a gentleman should be a lifelong goal for any man. It is important to be a gentleman.

Change Is Coming: Technology Is The Fuel

Let me break something to you. We are approaching the fourth industrial revolution. Energy, transportation, heath and communication will change drastically in the coming years. Get ready! The life of tomorrow won’t be anything like living how we live today in 2018. Our living systems are evolving at light speeds. Isn’t it true that we now have alternative methods for generating energy, new ways of transporting ourselves, receiving health care and communicating? Open your eyes. The future of humanity is already here.

We are going to witness a boom in smart power, or the technology that is able to self manage, in our life time. Don’t be surprised if you get a smart roof next time you change yours. Some of the ways we have traditionally moved tangible products in the past is already changing. We are seeing a peak in the adoption of labor robots in companies like Amazon and Wal-Mart and a plethora of self driven cars being introduced into the market. This trend won’t go away, by the way.

Telemedicine will explode within a decade, I bet. The technology is already here. Our systems are robust enough to accommodate this obvious trend. Medicine is expensive! We need an alternative to the high costs of health care. Can technology help us with making care more affordable? Probably, but at what cost to the local economy?

The way we are going to communicate with each other in the near future will make us laugh about how we used to communicate in the past. Did you remember the movie Superman back in the late 1970’s? Many of the things we saw in that movie, such as holographic images, will be mundane for most if not all of us.

Get ready for the idea of wearing third party mechanical parts in your body. People are going to need them in order to make a decent living in the future. Some are predicting that we are going to increase our economic growth in the years to come probably because of wearable technologies. I don’t know about that. Sure, technology in this instance is good because it may help us to make a better living. Would you be comfortable wearing an RFID chip in your arm? I’m not comfortable with that. How about you?

I am skeptical that human labor alone will be a big part of this boom in productivity. We may see an overall increase in our gross national product because of technology advancements but in an age where the natural and the artificial are merging, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to predict that companies will look for the superhuman employee or the perfect robot. The employee of the future is going to perhaps be a merge of digital and biological. Klaus Schwab, Founder and Chairman of the world economic forum, goes further to state that “the fourth revolution won’t change what we are doing, it changes us.” I concur.    

We are living in a period of transition where the unknown will meet innovation. Don’t be anxious about what is about to happen tomorrow in regards to technology and employment in our society. Focus on today’s problems and trust that God will take care of you regardless of how much you may think that technology is taking over. Don’t lose focus on what is important. Everything in life is changing including you. God is in control. You are not God.

Change is eminent. People of Cleveland, you will eventually be affected by the fourth industrial revolution and everything that is associated with it. Four of our most fundamental systems we have — energy, transportation, heath, and communication, will evolve. You will be transformed in one way or another. You may become a hybrid of man and machine for your own sake. The machine is expanding its lead. We are becoming an obsolete commodity in this old world of ours. I am not sure if the future will be necessarily promising for us. It will certainly be a technological one.

We live in a wild world. 

Loneliness for the sake of technology

Even though we have all these technologies available in our fingertips, people are more lonely than ever. It isn’t uncommon for folks to spend hours on social media and be highly depressed off-line. The indices of loneliness in America are so high that many are now looking for a minister of loneliness in order to help them to cope with this very sad reality we live these days. 

Listen to me. All these technologies are making you living a worse life. Lately, I’ve heard people in Cleveland saying the following: Having a child is too much work. I don’t want to spend time outside social media because it is so much more convenient to chat with people on-line than to engage in conversations off-line. Why would anybody waste their time building a family. It is too expensive! I couldn’t believe my ears. Am living in a nightmare or is this the society we live in these days? I am afraid that we are living in the second option, ladies and gentleman.

The smartphone is destroying us from within, literally. The amount of people who have thousands of “friends” on facebook yet are paying for others to cuddle with them on Friday evenings is increasing by the day. How ironic, isn’t it? The more social media we use, the less human contact we get and therefore the more human contact people need. In trueness, what I am writing in this article isn’t that surprising as lack of human contact will eventually drive people bananas. We were not made to live in isolation as a species. Only a madman or woman would allow him or herself to live a life with technology this way. The relational side effects that we are witnessing in social media nowadays are real. I am afraid that our society will grow smaller and colder in personality because of these absurd levels of technological use.

Wouldn’t it make way more sense to use technology less, meet more people off-line and grow a family so that when people get old, they have someone to care for them? Come on people. It isn’t that complicated, you know? Yet, people are complicating their own lives for the sake of technology everywhere, including in our small city. Social media is quickly turning into a cancer in our society. Why are we allowing cyberspace to consume our lives and make us less social?

I don’t know about you but to me, this is all non-sense. Have we gone mad or something? Maybe I am a bit too old school and believe in God, family, and good manners. There is just no way that in my household we are going to fold to the dangers of social media including this latest trend of loneliness. I may say A and you might reply with B sometimes but in the end, I argue, we better get along well and live in community advancing our innate need to procreate and live in harmony. Isn’t that what God has asked us to do anyways? 

Say no to technological isolation and the idea that social media connections are de facto close connections. Here is what I think. Live your life as if there is no tomorrow. Go meet people and expand your social capital off-line. Have an on-line presence and chat with people in social media in moderation. Go to church, meet a mate, work hard and smart and start a family. Glorify God and help others. By doing these common sense activities, you will help yourself in the process and I can almost guarantee that you won’t be lonely. Remember: You only live once, buddy. You might as well be reasonable and don’t assume that your facebook connections are really your friends.

Listen carefully: It ain’t worth the trouble to believe that all these technologies will make you more popular or together. Sherry Turkle, MIT professor coined the term, alone together for a reason. Just because something is permissible doesn’t make it beneficial. Go meet people offline and live your live to the fullest. As I always say, “use social media but in moderation.” You don’t deserve to be lonely for the sake of technology. Got it?    

Production Over Consumption

Ladies and gentleman, there is a big difference between documenting your life in social media and being addicted to smartphones. Just because one is broadcasting content live on facebook doesn’t necessarily mean that he or she is constantly scrolling or wasting time for hours on end on facebook. In fact, quite the contrary is often true! If you broadcast your life on instagram, meaning, you put a camera in front of you and start talking to your audience, you will be engaging in what I like to call TechnoModeration! Why? Well, this is what this article is all about! Fasten your seat belts and stay with me. This ride will be awesome.

All right. Let’s start from the top. Social media presence isn’t the same thing as social media addiction or anything addiction. Being present on social media platforms is a strategy that many of us, me included, do. If you are a part of the American economy today, you better be on social media and everywhere. Why? Because if you don’t you become invisible. You, me, and the whole Tennessee Titans fan base are being bombarded everyday with thousands of messages in multiple channels throughout the day. How can anybody get any attention to what they do under such hard circumstances? Gary Vaynerchuck, CEO of Vayner Media, has made a public statement — He said the following, “Attention is a currency” I agree with him.

Notice that I’m not saying that you should be engaging for hours on end everyday or spend hours scrolling your friends’ content on snapchat. Putting a camera in front of you and sharing what you think or do on a daily basis, multiple times a day, may be the right thing to do these days — if your goal is to be discovered by someone in your niche or if you are planning to build a loyal audience to consume your content.

In trueness, what I’m saying in here isn’t anything new. We have been engaging in personal brand development and using business development tactics and procedures for years in order to be visible before the age of social media networks. The difference is that today, it costs us a fraction of the price to do the work. I spend around an hour a day on social media engaging with my audience. However, I turn the camera on and talk to my audience for an additional half hour or so live. By live I mean live. I spend zero hours editing anything I share.

You don’t have to be on your smartphone all the time to be visible these days. You can TechnoModerate! I most definitely do, even though some people may think I’m always engaging. Well, I’m not! Question? If I was always engaging with with my audience for 7 hours each day, how in the world would I have time to be a full time college professor? Elementary, right? Yep.

Now, I maximize the use of AI in order to help me to be away from the computer so that I have more time to literally produce content at scale — Macro content as we refer to it in the field of communication. And from that, I can then repurpose more content in micro form in order to feed the content monster that is required for success in the media these days. Now, don’t take me wrong. It is still a lot of work but it isn’t that much computer work as you may think. There is a large degree of interpersonal and mediated communication work that I do but these activities aren’t social media heavy. They are communication heavy!

I will be documenting my life online indefinitely because my goal right now is to build a more loyal audience organically. By organically I mean for free naturally. If your grandkid wants to position him/herself in the world today they better consider doing what I wrote in this article rather than spending hours on end “consuming” social media. They need to be “producing” social media, instead.  A person broadcasting their life online may sound goofy for many of you to hear but its the correct protocol for anyone wanting to build an audience today.

Less Technology use on the horizon

I’m seeing a shift in how youngsters are using social media. Although they are still using computer technology for 8+ hours each day, many kids these days are telling me that they are on social media much less than in previous years. What an interesting shift in the way they use media these days, I must add! How did that happen, you may be asking? What in the world has happened? In this article, I’m going to write about the reasons why this may be happening. Are you ready for this? Here we go.

Millennials are using social media less because the systems they use (instagram, facebook, twitter) are now robust and mature. It is not easy to get likes and comments on these platforms anymore unless you pay a fee. Kids, like you and me, are in search for attention. They aren’t getting the attention they think they deserve on these social media channels anymore. Therefore, we are seeing a decline of use among this population. I kind of predicted this a few years back when I talked about youngsters being hungry for attention before. Ladies and gentlemen, we are going to see kids using these tools a bit less for a while but the irony is that they will eventually realize that failing to use them will make them handicapped in the workforce because we aren’t moving back to cable TV for communicating. We are moving towards voice activated technologies to communicate socially now.

Another reason why they aren’t so much on social media is because they are getting sick and depressed from using these tools. Some are even experiencing thoughts of suicide and getting opioids to cope with social media rejection. I have spoken with hundreds of students experiencing these thoughts and can attest to you that this crisis is real. What amazes me, however, is that we aren’t attributing part of how they feel to how parents are raising them. Sure, there seems to have a correlation between social media use and depression. I am wondering if there is also a correlation between helicopter parent behavior and depression, as well. Could it be that both social media and parents doing everything for their kids so they don’t “experience stress” in life is making them more stressed? Think about it.


Listen carefully: People like to blame things in order to not blame themselves. To me, social media and parenting are causing this crisis we are experiencing these days in America but that’s just me. All right, going back to the next reason why kids may be using social media less these days.

Millennials are probably using social media platforms less because of propaganda and recent literature claiming that these tools are bad for them. I wrote two of these books! It is true that most millennials don’t read so they are probably listening to a podcast online or hearing from a friend on snapchat or instagram that using social media too much will make them sick.

Look, I’m glad people are starting to TechnoModerate. If people TechnoModerate, Dr. A wins! Dr. A likes to win! All of these former topics, by the way, only advance what I’ve being saying for years — it is okay to use technology but in moderation.

I think we are going to see a temporary decline in social media use among the youth and that’s a good thing. As soon as people realize that there is a difference between media consumption and media production, we are going to see an increase in social media use among those who produce content. Like with any room of new technology, the beginning of that innovation process is messy. Things are changing may be for the better. I think that our society, for better or for worse, is realizing that all this technology isn’t worth the trouble, you know? I don’t think that computer use will necessarily stop. A big change in social media use is on the horizon! Thank God. 

Activities For The Win

The infusion of innovation changes the composition of any living system forever. For some reason, we are choosing to ignore the laws of innovation, diffusion and adoption for the sake of technology. The mighty smartphone may have given us some superpowers such as the ability to quickly respond to messages via social media and to share photographs with our kids but it also has helped to kill shopping malls all across America, especially in small towns and cities like ours.

Smartphones are not just killing us. They are killing our malls. When we were younger, people used to go to the mall to walk around, converse, exchange ideas, and buy stuff. Today, very few people go to the malls in small towns and cities and when they go, they go to walk, not to buy. Our ideas are now exchanged on social media. We buy our things on Amazon. By the way, do you know that Toys R Us went out of business? Go figure.

Black Friday is dying. Cyber Monday is expanding. Most mall managers are concerned about these new on-line trends. They have a reason to be concerned, I think. We need to do something about this, ladies and gents. The good news is: I have a solution to this whole mess. Are you willing to hear? Here we go. 

Here is my solution to this whole shopping mall mess in small towns all across America and small cities like ours. First of all, trash the idea that malls are places where people go to buy clothes. This model is approaching death. Why don’t we turn these dinosaur malls into activity malls? Seniors are already walking there anyways, right? Don’t you think that we should expand the offerings and capitalize in what people are asking for? Listen to me: How about if we turn the Bradley County Mall into a facility with a rollerblade hall and an indoor ice skate arena?

By the way, is there a place in town for kids to play especially during winter and early spring? Let me reveal something to you: Parents don’t want to buy clothing and toys for their kids every week. Parents want some sanity after working a long week at work. Turn these dated malls into a kid’s activity place. Maybe mall managers should consider not renewing some of these clothing store contracts which are struggling to be in business anyways with a bumper car arena, an old fashioned arcade, Chuck-E-Cheese, Air Bounce, trampoline, billiards, you name it! We live in a dry county, people. Shouldn’t we make the mall the place for teenagers to go and have date nights? I bet we can turn the finances of these shopping malls around quick. 

Let me say this again: People want an activity mall to take their kids to, have fun and get some sanity folks. It is the number one complaint I hear people saying these days.

How do you monetize this idea of having an activity mall, anyways? It is simple. If people want to go to a store only, sell them a ticket for them to go to a store only. Another option? People can pay for an all day pass. People can even buy a yearly pass and enjoy all the activity mall’s activities for a cheaper price. In a couple of years, we may witness the biggest revival in shopping malls this country has ever seen.

We need stronger leadership to turn mall operations around. Let’s not allow our indoor malls to become a place for delinquent people to hang out. I tell you this: Turning the current shopping malls into activity malls will help to destroy the delinquency we now see in shopping malls. Technology may change the composition of a system forever but our ability to adapt and reinvent trumps the side effects that new technologies have on old living systems. Let me say this loud and clear: We can turn these malls around. All we need to do is to think differently, have people on board who believe in the vision, and survive the transition. Are you game to make our town awesome? I am.   

Are You Angry Of Sad? I Can’t Tell

One of the most disturbing side effects of technology of our times is people’s inability to read non-verbal behaviors. Let me make this more sweet and personal. Your grandkids are losing their ability to “read” people because of overuse of that smartphone of theirs. Is it that big of a problem that kids are constantly on their cell phone? Yeah! In fact, I am afraid that our kids will be unable to navigate through life effectively because of their inability to decode facial expressions and gestures.

Listen carefully: Our kids are not able, in a number of instances, to read people in the land of Uncle Sam. This gross lack of face-to-face interaction is having a tremendous impact on how people live and make a living these days, especially children. Lack of rhetorical sensitivity, or people lacking the ability to encode or sometimes state spoken messages will backfire very soon in a city near you. I predict that this lack of basic communication skills is going to eventually turn into a crisis of identity which in itself has a S curve of its own. How ironic? The more technology we have, the lower the ability for people to develop great communication skills. Many people swear that the smartphone is so great for us. I beg to differ.

Look, I am very concerned that the next generation of Cleveland children will be unable to identify critical emotional cues of survival or have the ability to understand the emotions of other people. How can anybody deny that all this technology is causing more damage than good? Another irony of this is that societal and business sustainability is directly related to one’s ability to relate! Transactions, as my colleague Toni once said, isn’t the answer to solving problems in 2018! I agree and completely believe she is totally right about that.

Cleveland, Tennessee! Technology is just a tool nothing more than that! It isn’t the solution to all of our problems and overusing it will, sooner or later, backfire. Technology is destroying the social skills of your children. Let me say this differently: the smartphone has destroyed a generation of future communicators to a point of no return. We are going to read, in five years or so, the tragedy that social media has done to children. I can even see a headline on the banner reading, “As Dr. A Once Said: We Lost A Whole Generation To The Smartphone.”    

Can you imagine your children not being able to distinguish between an angry, sad, or a surprised face? Which implications do you think this can cause? I can think of at least five instances where not being able to distinguish between emotions can handicap your child for life. Think about trust or shall we say one’s lack of ability to judge whether a person is trustworthy or not. I cannot imagine a society where people are unable to differentiate who is suffering or who is celebrating yet we are so close to this reality.

I don’t want my daughter to grow up without knowing how to differentiate emotions. There is no way I will allow her to use the smartphone more than an hour a day. I refuse to do it. In my household we value reading and speaking not spending hours on end on social media. My wife and I are in agreement that our daughter Sophia must be able to develop the required skills to differentiate between emotions. She needs to know when daddy is happy or sad for her benefit.

Ladies and gentleman, we live in a weird world where we are allowing a microchip to destroy our society from within — all in the name of technology. I know that most of you agree with me because we have had so many conversations around town about technology which by the way, I thank you for it. We are in this boat together, Cleveland. Your children and grandchildren deserve better! They need mommy and grammy to play with them and teach them non-verbal behaviors so that they can develop great social skills. They don’t need more technology to make them more blind. Block technology once in a while! Your kid will thank you later in life.

Jealousy and Gratitude Don’t Mix

I am grateful for being alive and having the privilege to write about technology for you. We are what we think and being thankful for the great things that God gives us in life is a requirement for the longtime sustainability of blessings. Sure, technology has made us more connected to each other but at the expense of gratitude. Let me explain.

Families and friends can now connect and network with each other quite easily on social media platforms like facebook and instagram, and that’s wonderful. When I connected with my friend Rodrigo Gracie (yeah, the Jiu-Jitsu MMA fighter) back in 2014, I experienced a true sense of nostalgia. It is not everyday that you find a childhood buddy from elementary school who is now a world renowned celebrity. Social media developers, kudos to you! From this standpoint, technology is awesome.

Unfortunately, connecting with old friends comes at the expense of losing gratitude. Most of what we read on-line is a collection of narcissistic self-centered statements that are rarely directed at the well being of others. That’s a problem. If people chose not to be grateful, chances are high that people won’t get living faith and without living faith, ladies and gentleman… people cannot get wealthy. At least, this is what Wallace Wattles states in his book, The Science of Getting Rich published in 1910. 

Technology empowered us to express ourselves at the expense of increasing confrontation. Do you really think that people care about what people share? I bet you that writing a post like this, “Today, I just got a promotion at work! Woo hoo!” will do more damage than good. Look, people get jealous about success. I don’t remember the last time I’ve heard anyone writing the following when visiting Cancun, “I want to thank my peers for covering for me while we take our vacation in Mexico! We couldn’t be here without your help.”

Most people don’t care about what people post on facebook unless the post relates to them. The main reason why this is the case is because gratitude is seldom seen in modern day facebook. When people share too many successful posts, be ready to get a combination of jealousy and competition, two very destructive things when not controlled.

The most heated conflicts I’ve witnessed in my life come from close relatives or friends who expressed themselves in too competitive a tone. Statements like, “Today, I got another promotion. Lucky to be me!” tend to generate silent wars among people regardless of culture. The closer a person is too you, the more issues these kind of statements tend to cause.

Real enemies are born out of ungratefulness. Social media blows these problems up. 

I would much rather engage with gratitude off-line than by constantly posting content about me on-line. Most people just don’t relate to “I statements” because it’s not about them. It is just a reality.

The question then is: Which benefit would any person gain by using more technology at the expense of losing gratitude? Not too many. Technology has empowered people to chose egoism over grace which I personally think is a big mistake. Be cautious with writing about yourself on-line. Be grateful.   

Plato once said that “a grateful mind is a great mind which eventually attracts in itself great things.” If what Plato said is relevant in today’s society and if social media makes us less grateful, them by logic — we are going to receive lower things. I don’t know about you but I enjoy the great things in life. No technology will ever persuade me from changing my thoughts about that.

I value gratitude. Valuing gratitude is human, reasonable, and required. I am not aware of anybody who got anywhere in life without the assistance of gratitude. Listen carefully: People get jealous when you constantly share success stories about yourself on-line. In the end, self promotion on social media only causes you trouble. The more you do it, the more headaches you get. If I had to choose between technology and gratefulness, I would choose gratefulness 100% of the time. Why? Because it doesn’t backfire.

Smartphone Addiction Is Real

We really have a big problem. In these past three years, I have heard too many folks saying that they want to give-up using their smartphones excessively because deep in their hearts they believe that the machine is making them and their relatives sick, yet they simply can’t. I don’t blame them for wanting to live a life of technomoderation, though. As a matter of fact, who wants to be a slave to the smartphone anyways? I don’t. Yet, for some giving up their smartphone use for a few hours a day is impossible.

What a tragedy! It is definitely possible for people to give up their smartphone a few hours each day as long as people aren’t diagnosed with cell phone addition. The issue, ladies and gentleman, is that too many of our compatriots simply don’t know they have smartphone addiction.

Let me remind you of some important statistics. Do you know that people check their smartphones an average of 110 times each day? 40% of people use their smartphones while on the toilet, 12% use their smartphones in the shower (unreal, isn’t it?), and 1 in 5 adults use their computerized devices while having sexual relations. It is not over — 56% of parents check their smartphones while driving and 75% of people have admitted to texting at least once while driving. Let me say this loud and clear. Our society is in trouble largely because of the smartphone.

Citizens of Cleveland, Tennessee, we must wake up from this modern day nightmare because if we don’t, we are going to lose another generation of Americans. We already lost one and can’t afford to lose one more. We can start fixing this problem by identifying that we are in fact conditioned to use these tech gadgets to a point of no return. Here is my advice: If you see your kid, daughter, grandson or wife constantly connected, sit down with them, have a serious conversation with them about addiction, and make an effort to seek a psychologist and work out a plan to help them to get out of this situation.   

This is the reality of our times my fellow Americans. If people want something badly enough, typically people get what they want within reason but not when fighting an addiction. I am not tired of hearing people complaining and finding excuses for why they can’t fight this monster we call the smartphone. The reality today is that people don’t wan’t to take action about their chosen behavior, even though they recognize that the behavior they engage in isn’t good for them.

I wish that our situation was different today but isn’t. Here is what I think. Listen carefully: If you really believe that staying on a machine for 9 hours a day is bad for you, get away from it without regrets. If you can’t, seek help. You only live once! We might as well live a good life of moderation and reason. Doesn’t that make sense? Good! I heard you saying, “YES, Dr. A!”

I know this proposition is complicated. It is common sense but it will take effort in order to make it work. I don’t know about you but in my book, when I put my mind into something, usually I get what I want. People should be able to get what they want by better understanding their circumstances. You deserve better, trust me. We have no other option anymore other than fighting heads on this smartphone addiction epidemic.

I will leave this article with my motto, “Use technology but in moderation.” If you can’t, please realize that you aren’t alone. Millions of people are struggling with a wide variety of technological side effects and quite frankly, they are in the same boat as you. The good news is this. We can turn this whole technological addiction around by understanding the need to seek guidance from a psychology professional when required. That’s what I think.

No More Robocalls, Please

Let me reveal something to you. I don’t get annoyed about things in life all that often. You know? I’m a Christian male who has a very high tolerance for stupidity and ignorance. I must admit, life is so much more than letting small things affect you in the long term. I’m not saying, however, that I never get annoyed by dumb things in life. I do get annoyed by stupid stuff sometimes. Let me share one thing that annoys me quite a lot. Robocalls!

You may be wondering. What in the world is a robocall? Ladies and gentleman, a robocall is a phone call that uses an automated auto dialer to leave people a pre-recorded message. Telemarketing companies are using robocalls like crazy, Cleveland, Tennessee. How do I know about it? It seems that half of the robocalls received in the south comes directly to my phone line! Man, I’m getting an average of 7-10 of these calls a day! Mr. Robocall “Annoying As Heck” Operator Machine is literally driving me crazy. What can I say? 

“Thank you for being a part of our family… we know you’re busy but if you could please take a few minutes and log in at…” Stop calling me! I don’t want to buy insurance from you! Jeez. Living in a technopoly has its perks but man — robocalls are so annoying. I’m still a member of the do not call list! Oh I see, I see. Companies using robocalls are violating the telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) and I must tell you, it is driving me totally crazy. These automated phone calls aren’t annoying to me only, by the way.

There are 147 million of them a day. The federal trade commission receives 50,000 complaints against robocalls every day. Holy cow, this is insane! I don’t blame the 50,000K people who complain about it. Just because we have the technology to call people and invade their privacy doesn’t mean that we should use this technology. I wish I had better news for you but this issue is only getting worse. To my misery, this robocall technology is widely available now. Automated telephone dialing systems suck, I must add. I can’t wait for the FCC to fully regulate their use somehow so this madness stops. I think we need a full FCC intervention. Some companies that use robocall technology has been fined by other organizations. I think this number is only going to increase. People are constantly seeking a way to use more technology to solve their problems. Remember this — Technology may help you to live a better life but the impact it has on people can be quite damaging.

Listen to me: Use technology moderately and let people call people in opportune times. Telemarketing companies, let me ask you a question. Do you really think that people will stop their suppers to listen to an automated message? In my household, I can guarantee you that our family won’t interact with anything technological during dinner time. Give me a break, bro… seriously. Can I eat in peace please?

Almost 6 billion robocalls were placed back in October of 2018. It is 2000 of them per second. That’s crazy but is also very real. Some companies have the gift to push loyal clients away because of technology. Just because a particular technology is widely available doesn’t mean that we need that technology anyway. Tell me about it.

At any rate, say no to robocalls! Unless you are interested in letting an electronic device control you. Let me make a pubic statement. The machine will never control me and frankly, I don’t think it should control you either. Robocalls are here to stay. I do understand the former statement. Just because this technology exists,  we must then use it.   Since October of last year, there has been billions of automated phone calls a day. That’s crazy. Thank God we have people with common sense in this world and who are willing to speak his/her voice on behalf of the truth. As I always say, “Use technology in moderation.” In the end, you will thank me.    

The Future of Savings

Technology has helped our society in a number of different ways. We now drive more economical cars, have more economical house windows, and we can now speak across borders with our relatives in different states and many times in different countries. I still remember the time when we had to pay for long distance calls in order to speak with people living out of state. I have to admit that from this standpoint, I really like technological developments especially in telecommunications. There are other reasons for why I really am a geek with personality who enjoys what is modern and technological. Not sure about you but I actually enjoy my car’s backup camera and turbocharged engine. I can’t live without them. By now, after reading my provocative column here at the Banner, you can probably deduce what is coming next. You got it! Although we have seen so many advancements in technology that sometimes makes us take for granted what we have, there are a number of side effects that we experience, as well. Let me give you an example. Let’s talk about savings and handling cash.

When I was young, I used to get money from my parents to go shopping or to go to a local burger shop down in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil where I come from. My parents used to give me something like 20 bucks to have fun every Friday evening at least four times a month. Despite the former, I have always been a frugal and calculated individual; therefore, I rarely spent all of my money at once which frequently resulted in me bringing some change home after my pinball adventures. I religiously put my coins and change in a piggy bank after coming home. Why? Because I wanted to have available cash more than four days a month! 

It didn’t take long before my piggy bank would get full which often resulted in me asking my parents to go to our local bank to cash in my money. I’ve learned a lot about handling cash savings with my piggy bank system, starting at age 11 to a point that when I was 12, I got this 6 foot talking “piggy bank” system which I felt was the coolest thing in the world. It was the best year of my teenage life, 1986. I was able to save the equivalent of 50 dollars with that massive piggy bank which back then made me feel like a billionaire.  What is the moral of the story? I have learned to manage my money by saving my change using piggy bank systems. Today some banks offer a change round up savings. They will round up your transaction amount and put the change into a savings. But how do we teach our children, who are too young for their own account, how to save? Let me start with the obvious. Do you own a piggy bank today? Are you showing your children the value of money by having them actually see “real life” currency?

All these innovations in the credit system has changed the way we now handle money. As a matter of fact, I wonder if kids today know how to handle cash at all. Look, I understand. We shouldn’t be saving our money in piggy banks all throughout our house as adults because we understand the value of interest. We must be able to own checking and savings accounts in order to build our personal financial empire. I am just skeptical that all this technology will teach our children how to handle cash and how to save money in the long run.

Let’s make this long story short. I know that my piggy bank system is outdated and old school but I trust what makes sense to me. We have lost a lot of life skills especially in cash handling and savings which is a shame. I love technology for what it is but when it comes to teaching someone to save money, I would much rather have that rudimentary piggy bank system that we all have used in the past versus all the plastic we carry now. 

Break To Make It Better

Let me shock some of you today. Sometimes, pain and suffering is good for you. Wait! Don’t go crazy and damage your body before reading what I am going to write next. We need to be reasonable, ok? Let me explain: Many times, people get better by experiencing a traumatic event such as getting trigger point treatment in a massage session, by re-breaking a bone, or burning out from the computer after years of engaging in bad behavior. Pain and suffering is necessary for things to get better in life. Don’t believe me? Go ask an economist if reducing interest rates is always the best course of action in an economic recession.

Let’s not forget how pain and suffering can help students. Without reading books and spending countless hours memorizing and applying knowledge gained, students won’t complete their college degrees and guess what? They won’t build the necessary skill sets they must have in order to succeed in life. When students go to a college or university, they aren’t only learning course content. The better ones understand that by pain and suffering, they are building resilience to face adversity in life, which is, in my opinion, worth 15 thousand dollars a year.

Most PhD’s have to experience pain and suffering when pursuing their PhD’s in graduate school, when going through the process of tenure, and when writing a book or two in their careers. When we use technology excessively, we get both positive and negative feelings. Back in 2011, I got a severe burnout from using tech devices non-stop. Although I got clinically sick from it, I’ve come to learn that experiencing pain and suffering from overusing computerized devices was actually good for me, after all. It has helped me to wake up from this modern day nightmare and create a research agenda addressing the danger of these tools in society. Since then, I have spoken on the topic with over 22 million people including you! Experiencing pain and suffering as far as technology use is concerned maybe good for you.

Do you think that I don’t know? What I am writing right now isn’t popular but I know that some of you agree with me. Why? Because what I am writing in here is real. Listen carefully: Failing to keep things real backfires. Remember: Pain and suffering is part of life. Do me a favor: Get a copy of this article and give it to your grandkids. They need to read this.

Many people have to break an old wound in order to make it heal better and stronger than before. It is no different when it comes to technology. People aren’t facing the pain and suffering that is required for people to stop using their smartphones excessively. If we break a bone in our body and this bone doesn’t set correctly, many doctors would recommend re-breaking the bone in order to fix it. In the end, induced pain and suffering will be better for the person as his leg won’t hurt as bad anymore. Facing our addiction to technology head on is a must if we are to live a good life. It will hurt less in the long run.   

Very few people in our society want to face smartphone pain and suffering today. How can we

fix our TechnoCrazy problem, then? We won’t, I bet. From this standpoint, burning out from the computer doesn’t seem to be a bad idea. I know and you know, as well. Not too many people will be able to deal with this idea that experiencing the pain and suffering of a burn out will be good for them in the long run. I understand… yet, I bet that this former solution would be more beneficial to them than the alternative.

We all experience pain and suffering in life. In 2018, we need to realize this more than ever. It is okay to experience some pain, suffering, or both in order to gain control of your life against technology. A burn out is a small price to pay for regaining control of yourself. If we have to pay this price to regain our humanity, so be it.

Fake Is Everywhere

Let me reveal something to you. I spent two years of my life infiltrating social media communities to literally find out what these kids were up to. This article is going to be about what I’ve found in this investigation. It will focus on the social media platform, instagram for simplicity. Are you ready for this? Here we go.

Kids are faking, or shall we say cheating, their way into fame. There are systems out there that can give “immediate fame” to those who are willing to buy it. Let me give you an example. I’ve met at least 100 people in social media who is using the app ‘autolike’ and celebrating the fact that their accounts now receive thousands of likes per post. This app gives people the impression of being popular without having the popularity. How do I know it works or is real? Because I’ve tried it with my account a number of times to test this thing. It is real… it works. Be very careful with what you see out there. All this technology has made me distrust what I see on-line. People are faking everywhere.

Conglomerates are forming to collaborate on spamming techniques. You heard that right. People are getting together to engage in spamming to grow their accounts and make themselves more popular. DM groups, as it is referred, is now being used extensively by millions of accounts on instagram in order to trick the system’s algorithm into believing that these spam accounts are more populated than they are. These communities meet 6 times a day, under different names, possessing a wide variety of characteristics that you must met in order to join them. They operate on a kind of, “the more the better” mindset. Do you have a 100K fake follower account, we want you! Jeez, this is the reality out there fellas. Organized spamming happens on facebook, telegram, and many other public applications. How do I know it works? You know it, right? I joined them and played with their systems. Does it work? Oh yeah.

Secrecy is at an all time high on-line. The good stuff is only being shared by a few. Nobody wants these secrets to be revealed in great detail and most want you to be clueless about it. Why? Well, because they can say to you… I can make you go viral! Give me $150 a month and I will make this work for you. The more ignorant you are about this new stuff we call social media, the better for them. There are millions of people making a living with this garbage, I must add. Some are even making a living writing books about this stuff. How do I know this? I bought a “secrets” book for $19.95. It was all there. I mean… the main ideas.

Before I forget, let me give you an app that reveals the amount of fake followers an instagram account has and also provides the expected likes and comments an account should have. It is called IG audit. Inflated numbers of likes and comments against the expected value of engagement as we say indicate participation in these activities I’ve just mentioned in paragraphs 2 and 3.

This is also what I’ve found out in my quest to better understand the social media community.  A degree of “fake” is expected and considered acceptable by these groups because the “like” factor tends to generates more likes. Let me say this differently… The more popular one appears to be tends to result in more people thinking that they are indeed popular.I know, it is weird. It actually reminds me of how life is in Brazil. It is all about rumors. If it appears to be, then it must be, type of thing.

There are too many communities forming out there to make them appear popular/likable to you. Question them first before accepting it at face value. Chances are very high that their accounts are being inflated. Like anything in life, it takes time to build anything of value. Social media is no different. Fake, group spam, and secrecy are running wild in cyberspace. Here is my advice to you: Doubt first before believing what you see in these social media communities.

Cyber Daycare 1.0

Technology has caused way too many side effects in our lives. Some of these side effects include eye strain, anxiety, neck pain and, of course… self centeredness. It is very common for us to hear the following rhetoric these days on Facebook, “I must work on my social media presence,” “I am heading out again,” or “I am going to make my life better.” We hear the word “I” everywhere, much like when we were babies. Could it be that all these social media technologies are turning our society into a big cyber daycare? Absolutely! Think about it.

The beginning of wisdom is the recognition that God is in control of our lives. Glory, ladies and gentleman is to always be given to God. At least, this is what Christianity teaches us, right? The former is the beginning of wisdom and maturity. Not sure if this “I” business is doing us any good on Instagram, Vine, Twitter… It most definitely isn’t making people more mature, that’s for sure. Have you read what so many people write on these platforms nowadays? Do yourself a favor: Log into Facebook tonight, read and pay attention to how childish most of posts are. It’s an epidemic of immaturity forever recorded and often elevated on-line. It is kindergarten 2.0.

Social media enables us to prolong our childhood for the sake of technology! Meaningless. 

Are we going mad? No. Maybe, we’re going way too secular, or shall we say, non-Christian. What good are we doing by spending hours on end writing frivolous things about ourselves on-line? Let me break this to you: We are doing very little good.

Life is about glorifying God and showing love towards your neighbor. When was the last time that any of you read the following on Facebook, “Thank God for His mercy. We aren’t anything without Him,” or “To God goes all the glory.” This big international kindergarten we call social media is distracting us from what matters the most in our lives. God! Open your eyes to reality.

Listen carefully: It isn’t uncommon to read social media posts and witness people calling others’ names, being vain, and ignoring some to get approval or gain access to a special little group at others’ expenses, which is really infantile. Stop! Wake up! God is the center of your life not you or me or your dad. All these technologies are destroying us from within and impacting how we communicate with our soul. Life is so much more than a collection of tweets about you or me.

The Bible teaches us in 1 Corinthians 13:11 that “When we were children, we thought and reasoned as children do. But when we grew up, we quit our childish ways.” Why are so many  grown ups and organizations, many of them religious based, literally saying, “Look at me!” “I am wonderful.” “Come see me!”

It is getting old, people. It is cute to see a baby growing up and thinking that life is all about them when we know better. It isn’t cute witnessing people in their 50’s saying how great they are and the games the play with others for self gain without giving any glory to God when many claim to be believers. In the old days, we had a different method for fixing wrong attitudes. By telling people, “grow up.” We lost that.

You are not that important. If you die tomorrow, how many people will attend your funeral? Social media many times gives us the illusion that we are great when in reality, we aren’t. And in fact, those who claim that they are wonderful are often less paramount than you and me.

Look, it isn’t that complicated. We are to make God the center of your universe and subordinate technology to where it belongs. Our society is becoming a colossal kindergarten because of all these technologies. Let’s stop this madness and grow up, people. First grade is around the corner! It is time for us to realize that we aren’t the center of anything and that social media use isn’t all that great for us, either. Remember: You aren’t five. You are an adult. Act like it.

Digital Appearances Are Deceiving Too

It’s virtually impossible to really know what people are up to based on what they post on twitter. In this article, I will explain to you why the former is true with a touch of Dr. A’s personality.

Ladies and gents, let’s get real. People use a mask in public and in cyberspace. If a person is sharing happy looking pictures on instagram all the time, chances are that they are de facto sad not happy most if not all the time. People often share the opposite of what they are really thinking. People may even compensate for being sad by posting happy content. Let me give you another example. If a person decides to engage in a rant conversation with a colleague or a friend online, chances are that this person is probably afraid to engage in a face-to-face conversation with somebody. As you, me and all the Tennessee Titans Fans know, most people put a mask when they behave in public. Do you think that facebook is any different? Please.

We all know that, don’t we? Why pretend then? Or assume one thing and ignore what we know about how we typically behave in public? Listen to Dr. A: Who cares what people think of you on facebook. You must live your life and make these social media networks be subordinated to you. You won’t gain anything by playing Nostradamus based on what people post on instagram. The only thing you will gain are the headaches of gossip which is an activity condemned by God.

Let’s get real here. How do you really know what people are feeling or thinking if intonations and variations in voice pitch, for example, aren’t being shared in social media posts anyways? See why it isn’t possible to guess who people really are online? Look, there are so many ways a person can misinterpret another person’s message on instagram that it isn’t even funny. Which body language is a person using when they “communicate” with you on linkedIn? Well, we don’t really know, do we? It is only by speaking face-to-face with somebody that you can be sure of what they are trying to communicate to you and others. I’m convinced of that.

There are so many people today investigating people’s facebook accounts these days and forming opinions about them based on what they post on a blog without having a clue about what their true intent for posting that piece of content was. It’s an epidemic. It is such a common practice that I have a micro system who checks who is actually looking at my profile on a daily basis. I’m watching you! 

It isn’t easy to “know” who people are simply by sneakily going to a person’s facebook page and analyze what they post. People may have an idea who the person is or may be but I’m doubtful that a person can really know who people truly are by doing a content analysis of what people share online.  People post content for different reasons.One of my buddies in Brazil shares jokes on a daily basis on his facebook. Does this behavior make him a social media clown? I don’t think so. Not to me. I know him better.

Remember: Not everything you see is what it seems. Social media isn’t any different. Just because a person posts too many times on facebook doesn’t mean that he or she is self centered. Maybe, they are sharing more content because their parents want to see more photos of their children on their wall. Perhaps, people don’t post as much because they hate technology. Maybe they made a vow to technomoderate that year. How can people really know, right?

Be careful with assumptions. They tend to backfire. I honestly don’t think that anybody can truly guess who people are online without knowing who they are offline. People can try but they will fall short. The complexities of communication and human behavior can’t be diminished to a level of perishable machinery.  We are humans! We are living systems! Knowing how people really are is dependent on other variables not found in cyberspace and that’s a fact.

The Expense of Social Media

How can I start writing this article, ladies and gentleman? All right, let me try answering this former question by saying this, “It is highly unlikely that social media will make people famous in any platform without people having a constant budget in the thousands and a group of talented media people to create awesome social media content. I am hearing little Johnie saying out loud on main street near Gardner’s Market, “Dr. A! How can that be? Didn’t Justin Bieber go viral because of youtube back in the day? Don’t people get famous all the time in social media? Well, let me clarify something for you little Johny. Let’s start with Justin Bieber — he became famous after a talent manager discovered him on youtube and then brought him out of the medium to mainstream society to scale his brand. The best way to answer the second question is to ask you the following, fellow compatriot. Who do you know who has gone viral on any social media platform without the assistance from either an influencer or a big budget these days? Probably zero.

Let me make a long story short for you guys. Knowing how to set a social media plan and policy, including the must needed social media tactics and techniques sections, is a must these days. However, just because we can design and develop social media campaigns incorporating tactics and techniques doesn’t mean that these campaigns are free of charge. It is much easier to scale operations for social media for an organization, when people are working with a group of eighteen. The reality, however, is that most people don’t have enough resources, both human and capital, in order to scale their social media accounts to the point of going viral. Can your neighbor go viral on youtube after recording his male cat doing something out of the ordinary in his kitchen? Everything is possible people but the chances of this happening organically is just very unlikely.     

Now, let me ask you this — Do you have a team of three to help you advance your brand in social media? How much money do you have to assist you with your brand on-line? It is no accident that a number of organizations in our region knock on my door asking for assistance with social media related work because, guess what, it is expensive! In fact, it is very expensive. How expensive you may be asking. Well it is $70 per month in order to manage your instagram account; Another 149 dollars a month in order to do analytics correctly… Oops, We are already at $220 a month! Shall we continue? I don’t think so! You got the idea. We haven’t even talked about content.

Dude, even when technology tools are given for free they aren’t really “free.” No wonder why millions of Americans are getting literally sick because of technology as many believe that they can actually do all this work without funding and human resources. Don’t be like them! Nobody can spend seventeen hours a day in front of a machine in order to build the social media presence we all are being asked to do. What the “public” is asking you to do on-line isn’t possible to accomplish without experiencing severe side effects. I am starting to believe that you may be better by not owning a smartphone. Question. Why do you need a smartphone at home if you pay for that internet access? I bet you have a computer at home in addition to your iPhone. Am I wrong about this? If I am right, Isn’t that double dipping?

Social media work is expensive despite the fact that most tools are free. Today, in order for youth to be visible in social media, you need to pay and engage. Engagement is both a lot of work and it demands long hours of work 24/7 meaning that at 3:30am, you may need to wake up to engage with an important follower. Is this how you want to live your life? I don’t. The social media of today is more sophisticated. Spend your time offline getting to know influencers instead. I bet that your chances of going viral will exponentially increase after you practice your human skills more. Just saying…

Giving Up Your DNA Ain’t Worth it

I grew up in an era where privacy was something that we guarded. It seems that these days are gone. Today, most people share everything about their lives, display their phone numbers and home addresses in social media platforms, and to make things weirder, Americans are now giving up their DNA privacy. But for what reason you may be asking. For the sake of technology, silly!

Wait, what? So Dr. A, are you telling me that people these days are freely giving their DNA information up which can then provide insurance companies the likely illnesses they will have in their lifetime in order to find out their ancestry? Thats exactly what I am saying.

People are paying companies to literally find out the composition of what makes their eyes blue or their lips thick or thin… Is finding out that you are 2% Japanese, 1% Scottish and 75% German worth of selling your DNA? Wake up Cleveland, TN.

In the 50s, people were concerned about Big Brother and now we are essentially giving Big Brother our genetic blueprints for the sake of technology. Go figure.

It isn’t over. DNA data also discloses your hair color, your gender… Listen carefully: People are giving up the blueprint of themselves nowadays. Scary, isn’t it? What in the world people! People are giving these DNA Kit companies everything about themselves and putting them at risk. Sorry — That’s dumb. When is Christ coming? Soon, I bet. 

Let me put this I’m perspective. By making your DNA public, I bet that insurance companies are going to use your info against you and avoid coverage based on a pre-existing condition that is backed by DNA data? Uh oh. Now, you see why this scares me a bit. These DNA kits, which is modern technology applied on steroids, will have a negative impact on your life long term. 

Let me tell you one more thing. If you already have given your DNA privacy away, game is over. Too bad. I say this: Giving up your DNA privacy is worse than getting a tattoo because differently than a getting a tattoo, DNA results can’t be erased. I get worse.

Companies will find a way to profit from your data. Pay attention to what I’m going to tell you next. In fact, do me a favor. Call your spouse right now so he or she can hear what I’m going to what I’m going to say. Do what you can to be more human. Value of privacy. Make technology subordinate to you. We aren’t living in the old Soviet Union where the private life was dead. We live in America, the land where people value privacy. Well, at least that’s what we believe in theory, right?

Now, seriously. I’m very concerned about what these DNA kits will do to people’s finances and health. In addition to the fiasco that this new technology can do to your insurance policy, I’m afraid that you may also experience the following side effects of this technology in your life — How about the anxiety that these DNA kits will generate for people when they discover that they have a pre-disposition to getting cancer? People will be able to find you because of your DNA, which is both a blessing and a curse. I don’t even want to go further with the possibilities.

It’s very scary but real.

You know, I have been writing for the Banner for over a year and I must admit in this column that this topic is making me very uncomfortable as I write it. I think it is too much for me to handle because I can see how people’s lives could be affected for the worst. Man, can you imagine being rejected for a brain tumor operation in 2035 on the basis of a DNA test done 18 years back? It will happen.

I want to keep my DNA private and you should do the same. Be very careful to not give your life away for the sake of technology. It isn’t worth the price, thats for sure. Remember this article next time you consider giving your DNA away. Your DNA privacy is to be kept intact, period.

A Handful Determines Your Fate

One of the most disturbing facts about technology is that it can take away jobs from good people. There is little doubt that technology has been replacing people in the workforce for the past 50 years. In this article, I will present the argument that technology, in itself, is only as damaging as the people who make the decisions for its adoption. Listen carefully: One of the main reasons why technology is replacing jobs is because a small group of people is determining the fate of many.

At least this is what economist Richard Wolff has been claiming. What a tragic reality, ladies and gentleman! In order to save our capitalist system and make the workforce more democratic, the people working in the enterprise should have as much voice as the very few who make these decisions.

Do you know that in big organizations, decisions about replacing people with technology lies in the hands of a few? How do I know this is factual? I happen to be a minority stockholder at Brazilian Petroleum (PBR), a state oil subsidiary down in South America. Do I have a vote in what happens at PBR? In theory I do but in practice, only the majority stockholders and a small board of directors have a say in what the organization will do. So, if this tiny group of people decides that technology should replace 7 people, then people are fired and technology is adopted regardless of whether people are consulted about the decision or not. I know that this isn’t anything new to a lot of you but I bet that this information is new to some of you. Technology, when used in excess, is a problem. Power, when given in excess to a small group of people, is dangerous.     

I wonder how many people in Cleveland are affected by the nature of our current corporate system. I don’t know how many of you are impacted by the decisions of a few but what I do know is that the lack of democratic systems to protect workers against automation impact millions of Americans every day. What a tragedy, I must add. Let me say this. The route of our automation craze is deeply routed in neoclassical economics.

Neoclassical economics, or the idea that prices, outputs and income distributions are determined by supply and demand is at the core of why people have lost a lot to a machine. Let me explain this to you. Let’s take the example of the automobile industry— As global demand for the automobile increases due to changes in import tariff in third world countries, the higher the car supply. GM then needs to produce more cars. By replacing human labor with robots, GM can keep prices lower, increase output, and maximize profit. It’s how it works, lads. This is why people don’t make too much money working for GM or other auto manufacturers. If there are less jobs available for people to get, the lower the salary. No wonder why Detroit, once a gem of American modernity, is now the worse big city for people to live in.

If a small group of people decides that the enterprise should use more technology and less people, there is very little that we can do today to stop that. In the current system we live in today, the worker has no power to control his own destiny which in fact has a direct impact in a number of micro systems including real estate, banking, education, and many more. Who in their right mind would buy a house in any community without thinking about the risks associated with losing a job? I understand that people may not make decisions based on assessment of risks. There are a lot of people who make decisions based on emotion. No wonder why we have so many bankruptcy lawyers advertising their services here in Cleveland, have you noticed that?

It is in the best interest of our town to have democratic decision making. We should be able to make our own decisions about what will affect us. This idea that only a few people decide the fate of many is undemocratic. We are going to see more people being replaced by technology under this current system. Remember that.

Fake Is Everywhere

Let me reveal something to you. I spent two years of my life infiltrating social media communities to literally find out what these kids were up to. This article is going to be about what I’ve found in this investigation. It will focus on the social media platform, instagram for simplicity. Are you ready for this? Here we go.

Kids are faking, or shall we say cheating, their way into fame. There are systems out there that can give “immediate fame” to those who are willing to buy it. Let me give you an example. I’ve met at least 100 people in social media who is using the app ‘autolike’ and celebrating the fact that their accounts now receive thousands of likes per post. This app gives people the impression of being popular without having the popularity. How do I know it works or is real? Because I’ve tried it with my account a number of times to test this thing. It is real… it works. Be very careful with what you see out there. All this technology has made me distrust what I see on-line. People are faking everywhere.

Conglomerates are forming to collaborate on spamming techniques. You heard that right. People are getting together to engage in spamming to grow their accounts and make themselves more popular. DM groups, as it is referred, is now being used extensively by millions of accounts on instagram in order to trick the system’s algorithm into believing that these spam accounts are more populated than they are. These communities meet 6 times a day, under different names, possessing a wide variety of characteristics that you must met in order to join them. They operate on a kind of, “the more the better” mindset. Do you have a 100K fake follower account, we want you! Jeez, this is the reality out there fellas. Organized spamming happens on facebook, telegram, and many other public applications. How do I know it works? You know it, right? I joined them and played with their systems. Does it work? Oh yeah.

Secrecy is at an all time high on-line. The good stuff is only being shared by a few. Nobody wants these secrets to be revealed in great detail and most want you to be clueless about it. Why? Well, because they can say to you… I can make you go viral! Give me $150 a month and I will make this work for you. The more ignorant you are about this new stuff we call social media, the better for them. There are millions of people making a living with this garbage, I must add. Some are even making a living writing books about this stuff. How do I know this? I bought a “secrets” book for $19.95. It was all there. I mean… the main ideas.

Before I forget, let me give you an app that reveals the amount of fake followers an instagram account has and also provides the expected likes and comments an account should have. It is called IG audit. Inflated numbers of likes and comments against the expected value of engagement as we say indicate participation in these activities I’ve just mentioned in paragraphs 2 and 3.

This is also what I’ve found out in my quest to better understand the social media community.  A degree of “fake” is expected and considered acceptable by these groups because the “like” factor tends to generates more likes. Let me say this differently… The more popular one appears to be tends to result in more people thinking that they are indeed popular.I know, it is weird. It actually reminds me of how life is in Brazil. It is all about rumors. If it appears to be, then it must be, type of thing.

There are too many communities forming out there to make them appear popular/likable to you. Question them first before accepting it at face value. Chances are very high that their accounts are being inflated. Like anything in life, it takes time to build anything of value. Social media is no different. Fake, group spam, and secrecy are running wild in cyberspace. Here is my advice to you: Doubt first before believing what you see in these social media communities.

Don’t Squish The Bread

Let me share something with you today. I am very concerned with how fast paced our society has been and how this fast paced lifestyle has been having an impact on our grocery shopping. Let me go straight to the point. Smartphones are having an impact on who we hire in food retail stores. 

Things are accelerating because of the technology. We now have machines replacing the youth in places like McDonalds because machines often perform quicker operations. In grocery stores, the youth is replacing the elderly precisely for the same reason, I think. These things are happening because the people are demanding efficiency. The problem is the people not the retail stores because of what I call technological conditioning. People are now conditioned to doing things quickly because the machine gives them feedback quickly… text messages, instagram messages and so fourth.

Let’s be real. People are more impatient today with slow paced operations which I would argue is a side effect of living in a technopoly. You may be asking. How do I know this? Here is my answer. If you go to any grocery story in Cleveland, most employees who bag groceries are young, sometimes very young. By the way, I would rather have an older person bagging my groceries than a college aged kid because they typically take a little longer to bag my groceries to ensure that everything is okay. Youngsters are not as careful with arranging your groceries. But hey what would the management of a grocery store do? Hire “slower” employees and risk losing its clientele or hiring the youth, gaining speed, but risk losing the client because of increased bagging errors? I would go with an older person but that’s just me.   

We live in the age of social media, ladies and gentleman where a “dissatisfied customer/employee” literally has the power to do a lot of damage to a brand at anytime. It is not fair, in my opinion at least, to push any fragile segment of our working class out of a job because of technology but hey, who said that life is fair? It isn’t ethical to me. Grocery stores are in a tough situation, I must add.

Just because advances in technology are making our pace of life quicker doesn’t mean that we should accept such demands face value. It isn’t right to replace a 69 year old woman who needs her job as a bagger in order to buy her prescription because the bagging per second of an eighteen year old is 2.754 seconds quicker than hers.

I actually care about the elderly, you know? The elderly don’t deserve to be treated like the scrap of society after 70, especially if they need to work in order to survive. Let me say this again. The problem isn’t the grocery stores. The problem is that people demand efficiency because of technology.

Listen carefully: Sooner or later, you and/or your children will be 70. Would you like to be treated as a nobody, someone that wouldn’t be good enough to bag groceries? I understand the position that grocery stores are in but thankfully I have a solution. The solution may lie in training. With careful training in customer service we can fix that.    

We can increase bagging efficiency by hiring kids but I guarantee you that if millennials perceive that the organization is lacking social responsibility, it will backfire. The millennials hate this kind of mindset. How do I know that? Because my wife is an older millennial. If they perceive that you treat people poorly, they go. You suffer.

Grocery store managers, be cautious with replacing the elderly in your grocery store. We need to find them jobs despite issues of bagging efficiency. Be very careful with how you treat them. They deserve a job and millennials are paying attention. Training is the answer.

Doing one for the team for the sake of humanity is the right thing to do. It is true that computer systems performs faster than human labor and that the youth perform faster than the elderly often but the former can have serious consequences to the well being and longevity of your business in 2018.

E-Cigarettes Anyone?

Teens are vaping their brains out, ladies and gentleman.  What do I mean by that? Your grandchildren are smoking their brains out with e-cigarettes, citizens of Cleveland, TN. There is a vaping epidemic in our region and beyond and guess what? I think that we have this problem because of technology.

All these technologies, like e-cigarettes, can be quite destructive especially if they serve as an escape mechanism for these kids. Listen to me: Your grandkids are vaping their brains out because of all the technology they consume daily and because most of you have given your sons and daughters technologies to occupy their time. Do you know what I hear the most in my office at the university? This is what I hear, “Dr. A, I just want to relate to people.” Go figure!

What the kids really want is to talk to other people. The kids want to talk with others and when they fall short of achieving such an endeavor, they vape and vape a lot. Vaping is an industry understand that. I bet that the drug dealers are aware of this, as well. Are you still ignorant about it? 

Look, vaping, to me at least, is a consequence of kids using too much technology in society people. It is a consequence of living a life on the edge, full of stress without having anywhere to go. Technology when used without control, will have these side effects. According to my research, Americans are somewhere within the human robot syndrome phase of the human robot cycle. If my conclusions happen to be true, this means that we are almost to a point of total burn out in society which to me at least, has too many negative consequences.

I think that vaping is just one way in which teenagers and young adults express their “human robot behaviors” publicly in our town. Human beings were not made to be on the computer all the time! Consuming too much technology will backfire. As I always say, “Use technology but in moderation.” Don’t give your pearls to the pigs. If you see your kid vaping, evaluate your own technology use behaviors and try to correct them. I bet that your grandkids vape and use all these technologies because your children did it first.

Am I saying that the main problem are your kids and not your grandkids? That’s exactly what I’m saying. Let’s not forget that people learn through role modeling. Parents are role models! Your kids modeled you. Your grandkids modeled your kids. If your grandkids are vaping like a maniac, I bet that you had something to do with it. Behaviors are often acquired by association. Remember: Your actions do have an impact in the life of others.

Technology can be both sweet and sour. It can be so good to make our lives easier and more convenient but it can also turn our kids and grandkids into addicted beings desperate for the next high. It is such a tragedy what we are witnessing these days with this whole vaping thing. Just keep in mind that vaping isn’t the cause. It is the consequence of overuse of technology.

Now, let me ask you this, is it worth losing a generation to e-cigarettes for the sake of technology? I don’t think so. Human life is so much more precious than perishable machines like cigarettes and motherboards. You know what? Maybe I’m just a romantic living in this crazy world we call, “The modern world.”

As much as I hate writing this, I don’t think that vaping will cease anytime soon in our community and beyond. The kids are hooked on this modern day tobacco thing. The difference is that technology overuse is being the fuel behind this massive adoption of vapor in our society. I wonder what will be next. Well, I just don’t wanna know!

Teens are vaping their brains out, ladies and gentleman. In my view, vaping is somehow related to overuse of technology in or society. E-Cigarettes can cause a lot of grief for teenagers in Bradley county and we need to be aware of it. Just because something is technological doesn’t make it good or better. That’s for sure.

Loneliness for the sake of technology

Even though we have all these technologies available in our fingertips, people are more lonely than ever. It isn’t uncommon for folks to spend hours on social media and be highly depressed off-line. The indices of loneliness in America are so high that many are now looking for a minister of loneliness in order to help them to cope with this very sad reality we live these days. 

Listen to me. All these technologies are making you living a worse life. Lately, I’ve heard people in Cleveland saying the following: Having a child is too much work. I don’t want to spend time outside social media because it is so much more convenient to chat with people on-line than to engage in conversations off-line. Why would anybody waste their time building a family. It is too expensive! I couldn’t believe my ears. Am living in a nightmare or is this the society we live in these days? I am afraid that we are living in the second option, ladies and gentleman.

The smartphone is destroying us from within, literally. The amount of people who have thousands of “friends” on facebook yet are paying for others to cuddle with them on Friday evenings is increasing by the day. How ironic, isn’t it? The more social media we use, the less human contact we get and therefore the more human contact people need. In trueness, what I am writing in this article isn’t that surprising as lack of human contact will eventually drive people bananas. We were not made to live in isolation as a species. Only a madman or woman would allow him or herself to live a life with technology this way. The relational side effects that we are witnessing in social media nowadays are real. I am afraid that our society will grow smaller and colder in personality because of these absurd levels of technological use.

Wouldn’t it make way more sense to use technology less, meet more people off-line and grow a family so that when people get old, they have someone to care for them? Come on people. It isn’t that complicated, you know? Yet, people are complicating their own lives for the sake of technology everywhere, including in our small city. Social media is quickly turning into a cancer in our society. Why are we allowing cyberspace to consume our lives and make us less social?

I don’t know about you but to me, this is all non-sense. Have we gone mad or something? Maybe I am a bit too old school and believe in God, family, and good manners. There is just no way that in my household we are going to fold to the dangers of social media including this latest trend of loneliness. I may say A and you might reply with B sometimes but in the end, I argue, we better get along well and live in community advancing our innate need to procreate and live in harmony. Isn’t that what God has asked us to do anyways? 

Say no to technological isolation and the idea that social media connections are de facto close connections. Here is what I think. Live your life as if there is no tomorrow. Go meet people and expand your social capital off-line. Have an on-line presence and chat with people in social media in moderation. Go to church, meet a mate, work hard and smart and start a family. Glorify God and help others. By doing these common sense activities, you will help yourself in the process and I can almost guarantee that you won’t be lonely. Remember: You only live once, buddy. You might as well be reasonable and don’t assume that your facebook connections are really your friends.

Listen carefully: It ain’t worth the trouble to believe that all these technologies will make you more popular or together. Sherry Turkle, MIT professor coined the term, alone together for a reason. Just because something is permissible doesn’t make it beneficial. Go meet people offline and live your live to the fullest. As I always say, “use social media but in moderation.” You don’t deserve to be lonely for the sake of technology. Got it?    

Jealousy and Gratitude Don’t Mix

I am grateful for being alive and having the privilege to write about technology for you. We are what we think and being thankful for the great things that God gives us in life is a requirement for the longtime sustainability of blessings. Sure, technology has made us more connected to each other but at the expense of gratitude. Let me explain.

Families and friends can now connect and network with each other quite easily on social media platforms like facebook and instagram, and that’s wonderful. When I connected with my friend Rodrigo Gracie (yeah, the Jiu-Jitsu MMA fighter) back in 2014, I experienced a true sense of nostalgia. It is not everyday that you find a childhood buddy from elementary school who is now a world renowned celebrity. Social media developers, kudos to you! From this standpoint, technology is awesome.

Unfortunately, connecting with old friends comes at the expense of losing gratitude. Most of what we read on-line is a collection of narcissistic self-centered statements that are rarely directed at the well being of others. That’s a problem. If people chose not to be grateful, chances are high that people won’t get living faith and without living faith, ladies and gentleman… people cannot get wealthy. At least, this is what Wallace Wattles states in his book, The Science of Getting Rich published in 1910. 

Technology empowered us to express ourselves at the expense of increasing confrontation. Do you really think that people care about what people share? I bet you that writing a post like this, “Today, I just got a promotion at work! Woo hoo!” will do more damage than good. Look, people get jealous about success. I don’t remember the last time I’ve heard anyone writing the following when visiting Cancun, “I want to thank my peers for covering for me while we take our vacation in Mexico! We couldn’t be here without your help.”

Most people don’t care about what people post on facebook unless the post relates to them. The main reason why this is the case is because gratitude is seldom seen in modern day facebook. When people share too many successful posts, be ready to get a combination of jealousy and competition, two very destructive things when not controlled.

The most heated conflicts I’ve witnessed in my life come from close relatives or friends who expressed themselves in too competitive a tone. Statements like, “Today, I got another promotion. Lucky to be me!” tend to generate silent wars among people regardless of culture. The closer a person is too you, the more issues these kind of statements tend to cause.

Real enemies are born out of ungratefulness. Social media blows these problems up. 

I would much rather engage with gratitude off-line than by constantly posting content about me on-line. Most people just don’t relate to “I statements” because it’s not about them. It is just a reality.

The question then is: Which benefit would any person gain by using more technology at the expense of losing gratitude? Not too many. Technology has empowered people to chose egoism over grace which I personally think is a big mistake. Be cautious with writing about yourself on-line. Be grateful.   

Plato once said that “a grateful mind is a great mind which eventually attracts in itself great things.” If what Plato said is relevant in today’s society and if social media makes us less grateful, them by logic — we are going to receive lower things. I don’t know about you but I enjoy the great things in life. No technology will ever persuade me from changing my thoughts about that.

I value gratitude. Valuing gratitude is human, reasonable, and required. I am not aware of anybody who got anywhere in life without the assistance of gratitude. Listen carefully: People get jealous when you constantly share success stories about yourself on-line. In the end, self promotion on social media only causes you trouble. The more you do it, the more headaches you get. If I had to choose between technology and gratefulness, I would choose gratefulness 100% of the time. Why? Because it doesn’t backfire.

COLLEGE PROFESSOR RELEASES EP WITH EMMY AWARD WINNER ABOUT TECHNOLOGY AND DIVERSITY

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 12/16/2018

COLLEGE PROFESSOR RELEASES EP WITH EMMY AWARD WINNER ABOUT TECHNOLOGY AND DIVERSITY

Cleveland, TN: Dr. Luis Camillo Almeida has released an Extended Play (EP) album titled, “Let’s Do Better” with Emmy Award Winner and multiple times Grammy Nominee, Dr. Jose Valentino Ruiz, containing four tracks relating to modern technology and diversity of thinking.   

“It’s time for us to do something about this overuse of technology in our society and diversity in the workforce. We have so many people depressed these days which just can’t happen anymore. Creating this spoken word album is important to me because it is so practical,” says Almeida. 

“TechnoModeration, is an obligation, machine replaces man, it’s an abomination… we’re in desperation for human relations, don’t let machines replace homo sapiens…” quoted from the rap in the EP. “It is very difficult for a diverse team leader to get his diverse team members to go for the same goal without taking a shared governance approach…”quoted from a spoken word track in the EP dealing with diversity in the workforce. 

“I take my job very seriously. I decided to create this EP to have a good conversation with the public about issues of technology overuse and diversity in our society. I feel that there is a big void there,” says Almeida.  

A newspaper columnist known for his provocative stance he calls “TechnoModeration” – the philosophy proposing that people must moderate their use of technology to live a better life and contributor to Lifehack on issues of diversity and leadership, Almeida is more than just technology. He is proud to be a human being who is vocal about what he believes in.

Almeida is inviting Tennesseans to be more aware about the dangers of technology and to be more sensitive about the issues of diversity in leadership in our region and beyond. The EP is currently available for download at iTunes.

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Technology Is Bankrupting Us

Technology is nickel and dime-ing us. Modern American living requires families to have three flat screen televisions, multiple smartphones, a laptop, maybe a tablet, fast internet, cable, appliances, along with services and more. Have you calculated how much money all this technology is costing you? No wonder why so many people now live with their parents after graduating from colleges and universities.

Let me make it simple for you to see what I am seeing. Three smart flat screen televisions on sale at Best Buy cost our family $2500. They were the middle of the line model Insigna Brand. We own our smartphones now but it cost us $750. All right, I am a media professor so my computer isn’t cheap as I literally use my MacBook pro 7 days a week multiple hours a day. Let’s add an additional $1600 to the bill. Let’s keep counting, ladies and gentleman.

I own an iPad. Cost? $500. We pay a monthly fee for internet access along with a basic television package and it costs us $115 each month totaling $1380 each year. If we multiple our cost of internet and cable alone by 10, in a decade, our family spent $13800 on cable and internet access alone! It isn’t over: Our appliances are also expensive. We have spend $1200 on a washer and dryer. After all, I am a son of God and deserve to have some technology to help me with cleaning my clothes while I am at work. Let’s not forget that cell service bill, we pay an extra $100 a month.

Holy cow! based on this quick yet accurate display of family debt I disclosed to people the main reason why it is so difficult for youngsters to start a living or for a middle aged man like me to save more money for retirement. See? Technology is so expensive! Nobody can deny the fact that we are spending what we earn on mostly useless machinery. Maybe I should turn into a monk, sell my tech gadgets, and move to a remote place near the mountains of Tibet.

Listen carefully: Modern American living, mostly due to technology, is negatively affecting our finances because we now are conditioned to use all of these devices and services. In addition, corporate supervisors have turned the superhero technology user into the ideal employee. With very few exceptions, most places of employment want to see its employees maximizing the use of technology in their work and consequently be connected to technology even when on vacation.

What a tragedy! We are spending too much money on technology and for what? To be able to waste our time on facebook, reply emails on our tablets, or watch television on a curved ultra HD TV? I don’t think it is worth it people. I am all for technology when it helps us to advance our life’s mission. The moment that technology starts invading my space and my friends start promoting the latest technology gadgets, I know that it is time to get away and think critically about how technology is invading my area.   

I don’t know exactly what people think about all these technologies we have today.  Camera apps, photo scanners, banks, you name it. I am critical of them especially when propaganda starts promoting tech toys that we simply don’t need. By the way, if people own an iPhone 6 today, people won’t need an iPhone 8 for a while. Just remember that, okay?    

Technology is bankrupting us. We must fight back against the technology obsession, put tech limits in our lives, and disdain all these advancements in workforce technology until we have an idea about what the innovation has to offer in the first place. Technology won’t solve all of your problems but it will increase your cost of living. That I am sure.

A Touch Of Humanity Is Necessary

Eight out of ten small businesses fail within the first eighteen months in America. Who can deny that the odds of building and running a successful small business are totally against us, entrepreneurs. How can anybody create real change with these kinds of odds? It is very tough, I must add. Well lads, let me offer you a potential answer for this former dilemma. It won’t be exactly what you are expecting to hear but I hope you are taking notes. Are you ready? Here we go: In order for contemporary entrepreneurs to make things happen, they have to use technology combined with humanity.

Yes, you heard that right. You need to reinvent your craft by using both technology and human skills in order to survive these days, long term. Depending on peoples’ circumstances, people may be better off running a store on a truck, promoting their business through social bookmarking or hiring talented freelancers working on commission, I don’t know. Only by trial and error, we shall find out the answer but one thing is certain, our solution must involve technomoderation!

What I do know is that you will need to be different. Technology will be a part of peoples’ operations whether people like it or not; as well as, their ability to act like a fine human being exercising good judgement with others, building influential connections through meaningful conversations, and many times by getting involved in local affairs with passion and enthusiasm as a means to build goodwill with your fellow citizens.   

You need to be a river of innovation flowing towards an ocean of opportunities in real life! You can’t afford to be a dinosaur of ideas in a world driven by artificial intelligence. Stop! Don’t even start it. I am not saying that people need to be using their smartphones all the time or that life should be about being on the tablet all of the time. What I am saying is that the future of business is to be created by us all combining elements of technology and humanity with a touch of moderation.

Wow, I am poetic today! Do you like it? It reminds me of when I was a teenager, when I used to write poems for a fee for friends. Hey, entrepreneurship is nothing new to me! Anyways… let’s get back to the article.    

Listen to this middle age, foreign born, Brazilian-American citizen who loves to shop local here in Cleveland, Tennessee. This idea that technology in itself will solve all of our problems is overrated. What we all need to do today is to use social media wisely along with strong elements of public relations. As I said before, people will need technology in order to design and develop products and services. In fact, responsible social media work will be a necessity to advance people’s most intricate dreams along with tangible artifacts. There is just no way that entrepreneurs today can scale anything these days without a strong integrated media based method for positioning their brand driven by a strong message delivered by a human being.

Real differentiation in the market and client gain is now dependent on technology with a touch of human ingenuity. Remember: Maximization of human resources should definitely be a part of your business strategy innovators of Southeastern Tennessee. Don’t give up on the human element if you want to build a successful business in 2018 and beyond.

Let me leave you today with this: What used to work in 1975 doesn’t work today, for the most part. Department stores are closing their doors everywhere. Car dealerships now give 10K in rebates! Where are the librarians? People need to understand their local market and what they need locally, not globally. Use technology to help you build your brand but don’t ignore the fact that people, not technology, tell a resonating story to you audience. Your remarkable ability to communicate will be the differentiator. What I am saying is: Your humanity, as well as technology are the ingredients for success in 2018. There is no alternative.

Talent Is The Differentiator

 

Let me start this column by saying this. I believe in the use of technology but in moderation. I don’t hate technology and I do think that we cannot live without it. All that I’m saying is that we need to be careful to not have technology tools and platforms take over our lives for the sake of technology use alone because it is sexy to be a youtuber. The internet and everything social we hear about it, is here to stay. We need to embrace them because this is where we are going. In this article, I will tell you what I think is okay to do, in regards to technology. 

Let me make a strong statement. It is unlikely that you will become a youtube superstar because being a superstar is statistically improbable. Now, let me elaborate on what I want to say. First, it is okay to use it. Please consider the following if you may. It is okay to use all this social media stuff as long as you spend enough time producing quality content and engaging with your audience. Creating good content, along with seeding your posts into a niche done continuously and overtime, can be beneficial for you or your organization. Going to facebook to share unfocused messages in an attempt to gain attention from others is time consuming and meaningless. 

Be smart. Use your time wisely when using these platforms. My suggestion is that you write a blog from Monday to Friday or write articles to be included in publications like LifeHack where your expertise of being human has much more value. I bet you will get much more attention this way than sharing photos of smiling cats at the north pole with your friends who probably don’t care about your shares.     

Second, be skeptical about uncontrolled social media use. Use doesn’t guarantee success! I believe that uncontrolled use of anything is bad. Making a person look bad because they don’t use social media for hours on end each day is irresponsible. Not everybody is able to produce quality content at speed seven days a week regardless of training. Let me elaborate on this. I’m currently doing an instagram campaign within the motivation niche. I post content on a daily basis which literally takes me approximately 5 minutes to produce and then share these posts with the masses. I engage with followers three times a day for 15 minutes a pop. I give myself an extra 30 minutes to advance my mission online. I spend less than two hours a day on this process. This past month, I received 5,429 post likes, 3,242 comments and hundreds of visits to my profile. However, I happen to have a talent for media.  

Let’s not forget that Dr. A is a professor at Lee University who teaches 4 classes a semester in a communication arts department. Using technology all the time because it might be the right thing to do may backfire. Listen carefully: talent is a variable in social media like it is in football Please realize that I’m not saying that I don’t like technology. I love it, as you know. But, we must be reasonable and realize that not everyone has the time, resources, or the talent to be a youtube superstar. 

Lastly, it is okay to reveal who you are. The internet exposes things. You can’t fake it. My recommendation is for you start embracing the internet, with reason. In the end, it will be better for you and me to say what we really think than to pretend to be something we aren’t. Back in the day, faking was easier and it wasn’t network bound. In 2018, being fake backfires. Everything is connected to everything else. Being two faced, in the age of social media, will damage your reputation. Don’t do it. 

In sum, we aren’t crabs who go through life moving backwards. Social media is here to stay. Thats where we are headed. By 2020, your grandsons won’t watch television anymore. Smartphones will totally replace the TV role in society. Just be aware that being a personality on-line requires a lot of work and talent. Having a web presence is all right, as long as it doesn’t control your life.  

Overuse of Technology Can Kill

We have an opioid crisis in America. How do I know that? Because irresponsible physicians are prescribing opioid drugs too loosely and due to the fact that some of my friends have been affected by this inhumane epidemic. It is de facto one of the biggest societal crises of our time. Listen to me: At the core, this is a crisis of overuse of technology. 

The reality is that many of our children are becoming orphans and tons of Americans are dyeing every year because of hydrocodone, methadose, and oxycodone. Technology, ladies and gentleman, has been one of the main avenues to both distribute and consume these opioid prescriptions. Teens and other adults can now go to regular and encrypted websites, also known as the dark web, in order to get a hold of these drugs. How sad and dangerous. 

By the way, I’m not against people using the internet or prescription drugs to live a better life. I have a problem when technology starts making us live a worse life. 

Listen carefully: Technology has side effects like any other thing. Opioids are no exception as well as the mighty internet. As I always say, “use technology but in moderation” and if technology doesn’t make your live a better life, don’t use it! 

The proliferation of prescription drugs online is a real problem that can’t be ignored. All these technologies are causing so much pain in the live of so many. We need to so something about this. Overuse of technology and pain are one and the same.   

A dose of morphine equals 222 ibuprofen, 360 aspirin and acetaminophen. Hydrocodone is as strong as morphine. Oxycodone is 50% stronger than morphine. Methadone is 3 times stronger than morphine. Buprenorphine is 40 times stronger than morphine. Fentanyl is 50-100 times stronger than morphine! And the last… Carfentanil is 10 thousand times stronger than morphine. That’s a lot. 

Although the Prescription Drug Monitoring System (PDMP’s) monitors the distribution of drugs in the market for people’s safety, technology is making it more complicated for them to enforce their safe policies which is putting in danger the lives of millions of Americans every year. Overuse of technology is at the center of this problem. Get real — technology can kill.

We have an opioid crisis in America. Many of our children are becoming orphans and tons of Americans are dyeing every year because of technology overdose. We need to so something about this. Overuse of technology and pain are one and the same. If technology doesn’t make your live a better life, don’t use it! Get real — technology can kill.

Production Over Consumption

Ladies and gentleman, there is a big difference between documenting your life in social media and being addicted to smartphones. Just because one is broadcasting content live on facebook doesn’t necessarily mean that he or she is constantly scrolling or wasting time for hours on end on facebook. In fact, quite the contrary is often true! If you broadcast your life on instagram, meaning, you put a camera in front of you and start talking to your audience, you will be engaging in what I like to call TechnoModeration! Why? Well, this is what this article is all about! Fasten your seat belts and stay with me. This ride will be awesome. 

All right. Let’s start from the top. Social media presence isn’t the same thing as social media addiction or anything addiction. Being present on social media platforms is a strategy that many of us, me included, do. If you are a part of the American economy today, you better be on social media and everywhere. Why? Because if you don’t you become invisible. You, me, and the whole Tennessee Titans fan base are being bombarded everyday with thousands of messages in multiple channels throughout the day. How can anybody get any attention to what they do under such hard circumstances? Gary Vaynerchuck, CEO of Vayner Media, has made a public statement — He said the following, “Attention is a currency” I agree with him. 

Notice that I’m not saying that you should be engaging for hours on end everyday or spend hours scrolling your friends’ content on snapchat. Putting a camera in front of you and sharing what you think or do on a daily basis, multiple times a day, may be the right thing to do these days — if your goal is to be discovered by someone in your niche or if you are planning to build a loyal audience to consume your content. 

In trueness, what I’m saying in here isn’t anything new. We have been engaging in personal brand development and using business development tactics and procedures for years in order to be visible before the age of social media networks. The difference is that today, it costs us a fraction of the price to do the work. I spend around an hour a day on social media engaging with my audience. However, I turn the camera on and talk to my audience for an additional half hour or so live. By live I mean live. I spend zero hours editing anything I share. 

You don’t have to be on your smartphone all the time to be visible these days. You can TechnoModerate! I most definitely do, even though some people may think I’m always engaging. Well, I’m not! Question? If I was always engaging with with my audience for 7 hours each day, how in the world would I have time to be a full time college professor? Elementary, right? Yep. 

Now, I maximize the use of AI in order to help me to be away from the computer so that I have more time to literally produce content at scale — Macro content as we refer to it in the field of communication. And from that, I can then repurpose more content in micro form in order to feed the content monster that is required for success in the media these days. Now, don’t take me wrong. It is still a lot of work but it isn’t that much computer work as you may think. There is a large degree of interpersonal and mediated communication work that I do but these activities aren’t social media heavy. They are communication heavy! 

I will be documenting my life online indefinitely because my goal right now is to build a more loyal audience organically. By organically I mean for free naturally. If your grandkid wants to position him/herself in the world today they better consider doing what I wrote in this article rather than spending hours on end “consuming” social media. They need to be “producing” social media, instead.  A person broadcasting their life online may sound goofy for many of you to hear but its the correct protocol for anyone wanting to build an audience today.  

Talent Is The Differentiator

 

Let me start this column by saying this. I believe in the use of technology but in moderation. I don’t hate technology and I do think that we cannot live without it. All that I’m saying is that we need to be careful to not have technology tools and platforms take over our lives for the sake of technology use alone because it is sexy to be a youtuber. The internet and everything social we hear about it, is here to stay. We need to embrace them because this is where we are going. In this article, I will tell you what I think is okay to do, in regards to technology. 

Let me make a strong statement. It is unlikely that you will become a youtube superstar because being a superstar is statistically improbable. Now, let me elaborate on what I want to say. First, it is okay to use it. Please consider the following if you may. It is okay to use all this social media stuff as long as you spend enough time producing quality content and engaging with your audience. Creating good content, along with seeding your posts into a niche done continuously and overtime, can be beneficial for you or your organization. Going to facebook to share unfocused messages in an attempt to gain attention from others is time consuming and meaningless. 

Be smart. Use your time wisely when using these platforms. My suggestion is that you write a blog from Monday to Friday or write articles to be included in publications like LifeHack where your expertise of being human has much more value. I bet you will get much more attention this way than sharing photos of smiling cats at the north pole with your friends who probably don’t care about your shares.     

Second, be skeptical about uncontrolled social media use. Use doesn’t guarantee success! I believe that uncontrolled use of anything is bad. Making a person look bad because they don’t use social media for hours on end each day is irresponsible. Not everybody is able to produce quality content at speed seven days a week regardless of training. Let me elaborate on this. I’m currently doing an instagram campaign within the motivation niche. I post content on a daily basis which literally takes me approximately 5 minutes to produce and then share these posts with the masses. I engage with followers three times a day for 15 minutes a pop. I give myself an extra 30 minutes to advance my mission online. I spend less than two hours a day on this process. This past month, I received 5,429 post likes, 3,242 comments and hundreds of visits to my profile. However, I happen to have a talent for media.  

Let’s not forget that Dr. A is a professor at Lee University who teaches 4 classes a semester in a communication arts department. Using technology all the time because it might be the right thing to do may backfire. Listen carefully: talent is a variable in social media like it is in football Please realize that I’m not saying that I don’t like technology. I love it, as you know. But, we must be reasonable and realize that not everyone has the time, resources, or the talent to be a youtube superstar. 

Lastly, it is okay to reveal who you are. The internet exposes things. You can’t fake it. My recommendation is for you start embracing the internet, with reason. In the end, it will be better for you and me to say what we really think than to pretend to be something we aren’t. Back in the day, faking was easier and it wasn’t network bound. In 2018, being fake backfires. Everything is connected to everything else. Being two faced, in the age of social media, will damage your reputation. Don’t do it. 

In sum, we aren’t crabs who go through life moving backwards. Social media is here to stay. Thats where we are headed. By 2020, your grandsons won’t watch television anymore. Smartphones will totally replace the TV role in society. Just be aware that being a personality on-line requires a lot of work and talent. Having a web presence is all right, as long as it doesn’t control your life.  

Almeida Joins Team of Lifehack Contributors

By Olivia Webb

Lee University’s Dr. Luis Almeida, associate professor of communication, recently had an article published on Lifehack, a website dedicated to publishing self-help and how-to articles.

Lifehack, founded by Leon Ho, is read in over 243 countries and has 400,000 subscribers. Since its launch in 2005, Lifehack has reached over 458 million people. Articles vary in subject, such as health, work, and relationships.

Almeida cited the difficulty of acceptance as contributor to the site as proof of its significance. “Even though LifeHack isn’t an academic journal,” he says, “having an article published there is a big honor.”

Almeida’s article, “6 People Management Tactics to Lead a Diverse Team to Success,” is broken into two parts. The first breaks down why leading and uniting a diverse team can be difficult based on social and cultural differences, as well as one’s own ignorance. “Despite the difficulties, if one leads a diverse team correctly it can be more effective than a less diverse team,” says Almeida.

The second part of the article lists and explains six people management tactics, such as the importance of flexibility and the ability to relate to one’s team.

To read Almeida’s article, visit https://www.lifehack.org/785437/people-management.

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Don’t Squish The Bread

Let me share something with you today. I am very concerned with how fast paced our society has been and how this fast paced lifestyle has been having an impact on our grocery shopping. Let me go straight to the point. Smartphones are having an impact on who we hire in food retail stores. 

Things are accelerating because of the technology. We now have machines replacing the youth in places like McDonalds because machines often perform quicker operations. In grocery stores, the youth is replacing the elderly precisely for the same reason, I think. These things are happening because the people are demanding efficiency. The problem is the people not the retail stores because of what I call technological conditioning. People are now conditioned to doing things quickly because the machine gives them feedback quickly… text messages, instagram messages and so fourth.

Let’s be real. People are more impatient today with slow paced operations which I would argue is a side effect of living in a technopoly. You may be asking. How do I know this? Here is my answer. If you go to any grocery story in Cleveland, most employees who bag groceries are young, sometimes very young. By the way, I would rather have an older person bagging my groceries than a college aged kid because they typically take a little longer to bag my groceries to ensure that everything is okay. Youngsters are not as careful with arranging your groceries. But hey what would the management of a grocery store do? Hire “slower” employees and risk losing its clientele or hiring the youth, gaining speed, but risk losing the client because of increased bagging errors? I would go with an older person but that’s just me.   

We live in the age of social media, ladies and gentleman where a “dissatisfied customer/employee” literally has the power to do a lot of damage to a brand at anytime. It is not fair, in my opinion at least, to push any fragile segment of our working class out of a job because of technology but hey, who said that life is fair? It isn’t ethical to me. Grocery stores are in a tough situation, I must add.

Just because advances in technology are making our pace of life quicker doesn’t mean that we should accept such demands face value. It isn’t right to replace a 69 year old woman who needs her job as a bagger in order to buy her prescription because the bagging per second of an eighteen year old is 2.754 seconds quicker than hers.

I actually care about the elderly, you know? The elderly don’t deserve to be treated like the scrap of society after 70, especially if they need to work in order to survive. Let me say this again. The problem isn’t the grocery stores. The problem is that people demand efficiency because of technology.

Listen carefully: Sooner or later, you and/or your children will be 70. Would you like to be treated as a nobody, someone that wouldn’t be good enough to bag groceries? I understand the position that grocery stores are in but thankfully I have a solution. The solution may lie in training. With careful training in customer service we can fix that.    

We can increase bagging efficiency by hiring kids but I guarantee you that if millennials perceive that the organization is lacking social responsibility, it will backfire. The millennials hate this kind of mindset. How do I know that? Because my wife is an older millennial. If they perceive that you treat people poorly, they go. You suffer.

Grocery store managers, be cautious with replacing the elderly in your grocery store. We need to find them jobs despite issues of bagging efficiency. Be very careful with how you treat them. They deserve a job and millennials are paying attention. Training is the answer.

Doing one for the team for the sake of humanity is the right thing to do. It is true that computer systems performs faster than human labor and that the youth perform faster than the elderly often but the former can have serious consequences to the well being and longevity of your business in 2018.

Public Schools Help Sustain Culture

This upcoming Fall, my daughter Sophia will be attending one of Cleveland Elementary schools. Why am I putting her in public school, you may be asking? The main reason why Sophia will be going to one of our county schools isn’t because she will have access to computers in the classroom. Although I believe that kids should use technology in moderation for learning, Sophia will attend a Bradley county public school in order to learn more about people. In life, people must be prepared to get along with other people in order to live in community, deal with adversity, learn how to behave in public and communicate, and fight injustice when required. Also, in order to be comfortable and stick for themselves when required.

Stop! Think! Reflect! Be a good father or mother. Before putting politics ahead of common sense and reasoning, think about what is best for your children. I am from the position that people who are prepared to deal with different types of people will eventually have the upper hand in life. I honestly don’t think that nurturing children to a point of protecting them from facing adversity is a good idea. Eventually these kids grow older and become clueless about how the world actually operate. Let me add a caveat for you, fellas. There is no technology that will solve your grandchildren’s problem when they are bullied later in life because the parents decided to protect them from the evil of this world. Kids who don’t experience interpersonal conflict tend to become severely handicapped in the workforce later in life unless they themselves realize that they are behind, read self help books extensively and are mentored by someone who actually understands how the world operates and is willing to share. 

My parents have always protected me. I was given every technology you could dream of back in the day. The problem is that technology doesn’t teach kids about people. What I got with technology, I lost in understanding verbal communication, facial cues and body language, and basic tenets of culture. I had no concept of privacy and space back in Brazil. So I question, how good is technology if you don’t gain the basics of your culture? Avoiding conflict isn’t the answer, either.

Going to a public elementary school helps kids to better understand the role of authority, and help them to learn how to deal with situations that kids dislike yet they have to learn how to act accordingly. Kids in public schools also learn how to face and handle conflict. Sometimes, saying something back or retaliating will quit the non-sense, even if the kid loses the battle. At least, this is what my dear old friend Kurt Dudt, a public educated former US marine who trained the South Vietnamese to fight the vietcong, once told me. There is honor in facing a bully even if you lose, he used to say. Look, allowing your grandchildren to hide behind a computer screen won’t protect them later in life. Very often, the former transforms great kids into cowards which in itself have some serious consequences. I woke up, came out of the shell, and now people think twice before making me mad. Your children deserve to know how to defend themselves when necessary against anyone, as well. Virtual Schools don’t teach your kids how to handle these things.

Technology is good for assisting kids to learn but it falls short to enabling children to develop themselves in society. We need to prepare our kids to be ready to respond appropriately in life so they can succeed. I am from the position that kids must be able to decipher between good and not so good people and find mechanisms to cope with them. We live in a diverse world, ladies and gentleman. Kids should be exposed to other ethnicities and realize that not every family raises their kids the same way. We can’t always rely on a computer to tell us how to think or advise us on what to do. Your grandkids need to know about people. Schools, not technology, are a playground for it. 

Don’t Let Technology Limit Yourself

A lot of people live in a state of denial these days. What they think and believe is often a reflection of their own alter egos created by all of this technology. There are so many people today who think that they need to use technology to be known as a good speaker, teacher, and influencer. Let me reveal something to you. You don’t need to use powerpoint in order to deliver a great speech! Let me break this to you, if I may. A star teacher must be student centered not technology centered. Influencers don’t rely on presentation software in order to be influential!

This past Thursday, I went to the Sunrise Rotary Club to deliver a keynote about TechnoModeration with my good old and cool Lee Oskar harmonica, plain paper, a collection of stories and different voice pitches. Okay, I had a few slides projected onto a screen from my laptop in order to make a few points here and there about what I like to call “technology conditioning” to the audience. However, the vast majority of my speech was done in an entertaining fashion without the use of technology.

What was the results that endeavor? My dear compatriots, I think the audience really liked the conversation. They were paying attention, laughed at times, interacted with me and themselves, and more importantly — got the point that we have a technology problem in America. How did they do it? By not looking at their smartphones or following a collection of keynote slides but by focusing on the verbal and non-verbal behaviors of a speaker who wasn’t reading from a powerpoint slide.

Listen to me: The key to communicating with impact isn’t related to how much technology you use or how technological somebody believes you are. Forget this idea that you need to have facebook to persuade an audience or that instagram will made others to take action about the things you say face value because they have an on-line presence. What you really need is to have the ability to tell stories and make your audience think about the topic you want them to think about. This is done better without technology and off-line.

I am getting tired of seeing so many talented young man limit themselves because of technology. We are people and guess what? People are full of emotions! Do you really think that you will be able to persuade anyone on-line without having human contact with them long-term? Think again! Mediated communication has its perks and can be used at times but it will never replace the good old face-to-face conversation. This is precisely why conferences, events, schools, and many other public venues bring trained communicators, speakers… to speak to their audiences. Communication skills are still king in the age of Fedor, ladies and gentleman.

The power of a live speech carry on, I must add. A good keynote speaker, after delivering a killer speech to any audience, without relying on too much technology, is often re-booked by somebody who saw that speech. An influential teacher who puts students ahead of technology will built an army of followers. The consequence of the former is quite predictable. These same students will eventually start coming in masses to the professor’s office hours to learn more. Keep this in mind: People are relational, especially millennials. If you can’t relate, you won’t influence them. Relationship is built face-to-face not with technology! A good teacher understands that.

Influencers are a rare breed. If you got them on your team, don’t let them go. Do what you can to keep them. Treat them with the respect they deserve. This breed usually have choices… Although influencers are often technology literate, they don’t always rely on the latest technological advancements to be influential. Did Billy Graham used powerpoint to influence his crowd during his crusades? Open your eyes to what is important. Technology is second to humanity. 

Technology Won’t help You To Navigate Communities

One of the best skills I’ve developed in my life is the ability to be quiet and observe verbal and non-verbal behavior around me. It is amazing what people find out when they simply pay close attention to what others say through words or actions. Let me share this with you. Silence, ladies and gentleman, is a source of great strength as Lao Tzu once stated. Being constantly on a smartphone won’t help you to better understand your surroundings where you work and live. Here is my recommendation for you: Put that fancy smartphone to the side and pay close attention to the world around you, especially how people behave and speak with you.

Your ability to read people is so much more valuable than going to facebook to share wall updates. You can’t give up being able to read facial expression because if you do, chances are you won’t live long. Eventually, people will take advantage of you to a point of no return. Being able to make objective instead of emotional decisions is also a critical skillset that people must have these days in order to navigate society with a sense of authority and control. Yet, too many people today are choosing to spend their lives in front of the machine wasting their time doing frivolous actions and learning very little. I bet that most of your grandkids will choose an app instead of almost anything else. Making decisions emotionally could cost you losing that so sought after job promotion.

Listen carefully: Being constantly on your computer will reduce your chances of being a human polygraph because to achieve the former, people need to be quiet and study key concepts of nonverbal communication and persuasion. I am not aware of any city or town, regardless of size and state, that will allow strangers into their most intricate local protocols simply by them liking the city council’s facebook page. Outsiders must gain a great degree of trust before access to any community is granted, unless a member of that community introduces him to the group. Do you really think that your instagram campaign will help you to get elected to a local non-profit board? I don’t think that this technology will help you any. Your ability to communicate matters, remember that. 

I am fresh here in Cleveland but some of you have been very gracious to help me to navigate this nice but unfamiliar territory. It is because of your advice, not a smartphone, that now I attend a good church. Let me say this loud and clear: You are so much better than any app we find in the latest available smartphone. I wouldn’t be a part of this community without your help. Thank you! At least, I have the common sense to realize that in this life, everybody needs to be helped by someone which is in itself a consequence to choosing people over technology. 

Remember: Your smartphone is maybe a great tool for you to call your parents, receive and answer emails and participate in social media conversations throughout the day. I urge you to put your smartphone ahead of your life. The value for doing that is simply not worth it. You would be so much better off by building contacts face-to-face than to naively believe that a piece of perishable machinery could de facto help you with navigating though society. In reality, life doesn’t work that way.

What really concerns me about people choosing technology over people in this instance is their overall inability to see and “feel” the obvious. We live in a rough world where too many individuals take advantage of others. Take the example of scammers taking advantage of the elderly. Why should we sacrifice our own abilities to communicate and perceive behavior for the sake of technology? Well, I won’t.

Choose to be quiet and listen. Pay close attention to what people do and say around you. Being able to read people is a weapon, compatriots. Technology, I don’t need you for that. Understanding my surroundings is something that I value and you should, as well.

AlphaZero Our New Opponent

Artificial Intelligence is moving faster than I’ve predicted. Go figure! Listen very carefully Cleveland, Tennessee. AlphaZero, or shall we say a game playing AI created by Google’s DeepMind, is learning how to master complex games such as chess within hours now! In Fact, AlphaZero decided to teach itself the complexities of the game of chess and was able to defeat the current world-champion chess program in only four hours. I don’t know about you but when I was a kid, I had to study the intricacies of chess strategy and learn the many openings, middle game, and endgame tactics of chess due to necessity. Learning concepts such as dominating the center of the board, sacrificing pieces to gain position, the four houses defense or the imaginative attacking style of Alexander Alekhine, my favorite chess master by the way, took a lot of brain work.

Let me tell you, people. I have no idea how this machine mastered chess so quickly. It isn’t humanly possible! Well, AlphaZero is superhuman, without a doubt.

Let me put some drama in this column, if you don’t mind. It is December 9, 2017, and a piece of intelligent machinery just figured out a way to self learn the quite complex domain of chess without you or me, quickly. See? Back in 2015 when AlphaZero was using the innovative approach of mixing deep neutral-network machine learning and what is referred to as tree search techniques, many people thought that moving beyond that would take a lot of years. It is now two years later, after AlphaZero learned how to observe humans and engage in a process called reinforcement learning, DeepMind is reaching ridiculous levels of advancement in intelligence.

Look, Moore’s law teaches us that the number of transistors in a circuit doubles every two years on average. Can we now say that the machine is learning, or shall we say getting more intelligent every two years? I don’t know, maybe. Which world are we living in these days anyways? AlphaZero should be named by Time Magazine as the “person” of the year in my opinion. Who, in history, can learn a complex field in four hours? I don’t know anybody, do you?

Let me report on the specifics of AlphaZero’s developments in chess learning, as I understand. This bot is pretty savvy as “he” starts by first playing against a version of himself to eventually discover which move results in the best outcome. Sophisticated play is, with time, tied to the knowledge gained by the machine against the best chess players.  Overtime, through continuous success, the machine learns how to make the best move by associating its move behaviors with its rate of success. AlphaZero’s secret to quick mastery is to always play against an opponent who is technically “better” than him. Overtime, this intelligent machine learns to play better chess by self study.

AlphaZero is now learning how to play video games better by trying to beat itself in an attempt to achieve excellence, engaging in critical thinking ties to life outcomes, and competing against the best aren’t just activities that a bot can learn to play better chess. Sooner or later, Google will leverage such developments to sell this technology to the corporate sector. 

I wonder what will be AlphaZero’s real challenge! Google’s CEO, in an interview given about a month and a half ago, stated that the future of AI is already here. Some people are even

stating that computers are adapting to us rather than us adapting to them! Listen carefully: The future of Google is in Artificial Intelligence, I bet. AlphaZero will only get better not worse. Remember what I once told you: Tomorrow will be nothing like today. We might as well get used to it and start adapting to this crazy reality, we call artificial intelligence. Yesterday we used to talk about IBM’s Watson. Today we speak about DeepMind and AlphaZero. I wonder what we are going to talk about tomorrow. 

The world has changed drastically folks. The machine is now learning at jet speeds. How are we going to compete against these data warriors? AlphaZero has mastered chess today. I wonder what he will master tomorrow. This is getting pretty scary.

Technology Is Destroying Golf

I am an old school certified golf pro in addition to being a college professor. Ladies and gents, I grew up watching the brilliant golf moves of Ben Hogan, the golf art of Sam Snead and the mental strength of Jack Nicklaus. Golf was a part of most of my youth. Let me say something here in the Banner. Golf has changed much since my teens back in the 80’s. We now have more technology in a golf bag than at a Kiss concert. The evolution of the golf ball along with golf equipment is making golf lose its shine. Let me make a public statement in here — modern golf technology is destroying the beauty of the game of golf.

Back in the day, we used to play competitive golf with persimmon drivers and woods and hit balata golf balls in open tournaments. By the way, a balata ball is a type of golf ball that is made of rubber-like material that didn’t go as far as the 21st century golf ball. A persimmon driver and woods were made of persimmon trees not any kind of metal.

A skilled golfer would be hitting 285 yards if he was a monster hitter, which made some of America’s most notorious golf courses, e.g., Doral in Florida, Pebble Beach in California and Oakmont in Pittsburgh, PA very tough to play in. Golf was an art only mastered by a few. Hitting a long drive meant hitting a golf ball in the center of the club. Hitting away from the sweet spot, with any golf club, meant a significant loss in distance and direction in any golf attempt.

I still remember to this day walking on golf courses counting yards before starting the first round of any open tournament. Today, kids have a device that gives them the distance electronically. What a shame, in my opinion. I’m afraid that the necessary skillsets that a golfer needs in order to fully understand the game of golf is dying because of technology. Today, a player can adjust golf heads in a minute in order to “cure slice” or manipulate a golf club head in order to hit with a power fade. That’s bad. A golfer must conceptually understand why they are slicing the ball rather than simply turn a golf head to appear more hook face to cure that slice. Let me remind Cleveland again — This is all happening because of technology.

So, you may be asking, “Dr. A, Is technology making golfers dumber?” No. Golfers aren’t dumber because of the advances in golf equipment technology. They are, however, becoming more ignorant about what it takes to swing the golf club well because of advancements in equipment technology which to me is destroying golf from within. I’m very concerned about the future of golf actually. Equipment is getting so sophisticated that Cameron Champ can now hit a driver 330 yards on air which makes most of the traditional golf courses in America half obsolete. You can thank technology for that.

I’m from the idea that we should limit pro golfers from playing with titanium golf clubs and modern golf galls. In fact, having the PGA of America introduce a Persimmon only tour event would be a hot idea along with limiting Phil Michelson and others to play with a balata ball only, I must add. It would be a dream to me to witness the PGA of America limiting tour events to persimmon and balata balls by 2025. I don’t think it will happen but it would be awesome to see golfers playing with such equipment.

As I said before many times! Technology is good when used in moderation. This explosion of technology in the golf industry has been silently destroying the game of golf for over a decade. Nick Faldo has once said, “technology is making the game of golf too easy.” The great Gary Player has stated that technology is destroying golf. Dr. A agrees with Faldo and Player and proposes a Persimmon only PGA Tour starting in 2025. Golf clubs and balls have reached ridiculous levels of technology advancements which is silently destroying the game in my view and that’s sad.

Bionic Eyes Coming To A Face Near You

I cannot imagine living life without having the ability to see the world. It is amazing how we all take for granted the many privileges we have including our ability to see. Unless you are blind or have a vision impairment, I bet that you don’t think too much about your eye sight capabilities. I have to admit that I don’t think too much about my eyes until I have to absolutely go to the eye doctor to change my prescription. Ladies and gentleman listen carefully to me because what I am going to tell you will make you think about your eyes and the future of your eyesight. We are very close to having access to what is called bionic contacts.

Can you imagine being 87 and having the eye sight of a 20 year old? I can’t, yet, but Dr. Webb, in a keynote delivered at the superhuman conference, stated that the bionic lens will be an actual lens that will replace your actual eye lens making wearing glasses or contacts a thing of the past, period. What if I told you that with the bionic lens, you will have the eye sight of a hawk or shall we say, you will have eye sight that is three times better than having 20/20 vision.   

We are going to have autofocus on steroids and be able to adjust our focus manually inside our eyes. Let me say this again — the bionic lens will allow you and me to adjust the resolution of our eyes as well as the sharpness of what they see! Why is the former so significant? Well, because future technology will now give you the capability to look at a world that was once only possible to see with an electronic microscope. Can you imagine being able to adjust your eyes and having the capacity to see the individual cells of your hand? I have to admit that I cannot imagine that.

According to Dr. Webb, whenever our eye lens gets old inside of our ocular structure, all of the other components of our eye go bad with it overtime making the case for the bionic eye a no-brainer. Citizens of Cleveland, Tennessee, we may be closer to science fiction than I thought. What does that mean you maybe asking! Let me try to explain Dr. Webb’s position on why the bionic lens will change the eye doctor industry forever. He explains that the biochemical assaults that our eyes experience because of the proteins and enzymes that are released by a defective lens end up compromising our ability to see well, along with the ultraviolet lights coming from the sun which causes eye degradation coming from the outside. He also states that the bionic lens will take virtual reality to its completion. There is some speculation that human studies have already started and that the product may be available as early as mid 2018.

Now, I like this, I must admit but I am skeptical about its potential long term side effects. My number one skepticism is grounded in the idea that no innovation is 100% perfect or 100% safe. I don’t know if I want to risk my ability to see in exchange for the possibility to be half robocop! Having the capability to fine-tune my vision is attractive to me but I really don’t feel comfortable having to do maintenance on my bionic eye! Let’s not forget that no technology is free of maintenance. I wonder how much this maintenance will cost and whether insurance companies will pay for them.

We live in a crazy world that is advancing faster than the blink of an eye. The bionic lens may revolutionize how many will experience life as we know it. I am skeptical about its long-term side effects but I have to admit that this one will help many along the way. One thing is certain, the future will be nothing like the past. The technological invasive phase has started, at least in beta mode. What the future holds is a mystery that will soon be revealed. We just have to wait and see.   

Change In Education Is Eminent

The only certainty about the future ahead is change. The education of tomorrow won’t resemble the one we have today. Because of the threat of machine take over, we now have to think about ways to trick perishable machinery in order to live a good life in the age of Siri. It is obvious that creativity will be at the core of this evolution of thought and educational practice simply because even an intelligent microchip will struggle with being creative overtime. There is much discussion on the importance of students learning the new literacies of humanics in an attempt to work alongside the machine and have a chance to succeed overtime.

The humanics curriculum is composed of courses in technological and human literacy along with data literacy topics where people are expected to apply these three areas to current problems. Twelve year olds today better get used to thinking about a world where the jobs will often lie in one’s ability to manage the flow of big data and how the machine works in unpredictable ways, as a literal means of survival. Learning from now on will be ongoing and technical which is both a blessing and a curse. The good news is that the exact sciences oriented people will profit from this transition. The humanities ones will struggle. How about the unfit you may be asking? I honestly don’t know what will happen to them in the long run which can be a scary thing.

People are going to be expected to learn how to be human. What do I mean by that? Well, they will need to write well, communicate interpersonally and have a strong sense of aesthetics in order to survive the artificial intelligence economic driven transition. I have to say that all these major shifts in paradigm make me feel a bit concerned by what is about to come. Tell me how a regular human being can compete against  an intelligent machine that can be upgraded each year? Sooner or later, our abilities to compete with the machine will end as human progress can only go so far. Good luck beating your nemesis counterpart head on in what the computer does best. We better have the mental capacity to invent and discover. The future won’t be anything like the past. We are going to laugh about the way we used to educate our kids and work! Universities will eventually offer this new major, humanics.

Have you ever thought about what would happen to your family if the computers take over? What do you think will happen to you and your family? Jobs are shrinking. Careers themselves are disappearing. There will be no economic incentive that will change the fact that computers cut jobs, period. When was the last time you spoke with a librarian? Here in Cleveland, not even the garbage man is safe against the threats of automation as a robot now collects our city trash. Which world are we living in today where we choose to support machinery over man?

We are all citizens of the world’s largest and oldest tecnopoly! Change is eminent. Education is no exception. For the first time in history, education will actually change because machines will start learning; human beings will keep texting and as a consequence, a substantial number of people will be unemployed. I wonder what Issac Assimov would have said today if he was alive. Our dependency on technology can be argued to have made us slaves to what is new and flashy. Unpredictability is now the norm, ladies and gentleman.

Listen: America is an empire of ideas where the best fit tends to succeed, and where the unfit is often left to their own devices in search for guidance and direction. In this upcoming new age of singularity, Siri won’t be able to help us to navigate society. I am seeing major unemployment eventually becoming the norm in small towns and millions in poverty due to their inability to create and predict. Humanics will prove to be the university’s biggest major which will fundamentally change the way universities operate. The Cartesian-Newtonean paradigm will prove false in the years to come leaving space for a new era of unpredictability.

Let Your Kids Speak

This article is to give a shout out to all the employees, the world over who always have an ear and a smile. Those workers, in any job outlet, from retail workers, to wait staff, to professors, to teachers and more; the people who spend all day giving customer service to the fun customers and the not so fun customers. We are the people who might indirectly be saving the world.

So many times, I have watched parents with their tone of voice and body language shut down the interaction between themselves and an employee, with their children right in front of them! After you spend all day complaining to your child that they need more social interaction and need to shut off their cell phones, you are going to complain when they want to talk to someone in real life?

Part of the problem is, in my opinion that when we say, “Put that phone down!” what we really mean is, I want your childhood to be exactly like mine. We want to share those memories that we have of our youth with our children instead of making new memories. My wife can remember playing capture the flag at night with a whole neighborhood of kids. I can remember playing cops and robbers with my friends. But that isn’t the experience of today, unfortunately these seem like special occasion experiences now.

Children now connect via social media and while we don’t need to accept them being glued to their phones we do need to realize that this has an affect on superficial relationships, like the cashier at your grocery store or the retail worker in your shops. Us, older people have a problem with pleasant small talk because our parents taught us that “those people” are salesmen who want to swindle you. Millennials and younger people don’t understand this behavior. They are seeking to speak with “those people”. Remember: Your kids aren’t connecting with their friends like we used to.

These behaviors might be directly related to the amount of depression and suicides in young people today. If your child is on their phone constantly, they are almost certainly experiencing some form of negativity. This could be one or two nasty comments or a litany of nasty comments. It could even be not having enough engagement on their posts. Us, older generations, shrug this off as who cares? That’s not real life but it is for your child. When they turn away from the stresses of social media and what they feel is a rejection, they seek the real world experiences of superficial relationships.

The retail worker that smiles at your child and talks about makeup techniques with her for a half hour might just be saving her from the despair of suicide. The comic book clerk who debates your son over Marvel versus DC might just be saving him from plot he already thought out. This seems very extreme, doesn’t it? But social media produces extreme thoughts, behaviors and actions with very real life consequences.

All that I ask is that all us “really old people” make the effort to converse pleasantly with everyone you come in contact with. Don’t give your children those mixed signals. When you take them out, let they speak and interact with people, not alone because you’re there too, but with your supervision let them experience life outside of the phone. It may be their saving grace.

Dr. Luis C. Almeida is an associate professor of communication at Lee University. He is the author of the book “Becoming a Brand: The Rise of Technomoderation.” He can be reached via his website at luiscalmeida.info.)

The Story Of Lynn

This past Wednesday, I had the opportunity to speak with local businessman, Lynn Jones. I was very impressed by how nice, kind, and quick he was to give all glory to God for everything that he has accomplished in his life. I must admit that I was quite fascinated by the person he is and for the way his mind operates. Okay Dr. A, why are you talking about Lynn and not talking about technology in this column yet? What are you up to? You may be wondering. All right. I will reveal to you why I started this column this way if you keep this information on a low profile. Don’t tell your daddy about what you will hear in here until the next sabbath, ok?

Stop! I’m kidding. Come on. We have to have some fun in life once in a while, don’t you think? You know me. I’m different. I’m Dr. A! I’m unpredictable! I’m not Lynn Jones but I appreciate him. Anyhow, Lynn, so back to the column. Let me tell you this. One of the most fascinating and talented businessmen in Cleveland, Tennessee uses a notepad and a pen to do business in 2018. Let me say this again differently. Lynn doesn’t rely on computers much in order to make a living these days and yet, he is perhaps one of the most talented businessmen I’ve ever known in my lifetime. By the way, I’ve spoken with dozens of businessmen and can attest to you that Lynn has something very special or what I like to categorize as — gifted.

Lynn has a computer but he uses it in moderation. Good for him! I wish more people used their smartphones like he does but hey, I’m a dreamer. He lives life thinking critically about the things he cares about and uses technology to the extent that makes his life better not worse. Don’t you think that many people could learn a thing or two from Lynn Jones? I most definitely do and did. Here is the reality about all of this, are you ready? You don’t need a computer to do all the “thinking” for you in life. Being a person who thinks for him or herself is still a great practice in 2018. You don’t need to always rely on a computer, smartphone, or tablet in order to win in life. The world doesn’t operate that way even today.

Being a person who gives to the community somehow, cares for other people, who thinks critically and deeply, who is able to engage in man management are all characteristics that made great men in 1854 and will make top men in 2102. Smartphones aren’t the solution to everything and frankly, you don’t need to have any machine telling what or how you should Iive your life. Lynn is the evidence of that. In my book, Lynn Jones is a business genius. I have my own definitions of what constitute a genius in society, by the way. He fits the bill. I see evidence of TechnoModeration in him.   

I know, I know, some of you are wondering. How did you meet Lynn Jones? It was in a leadership meeting where he kindly passed a blueprint of how he thinks folks should think in order to succeed in business. I spoke with Lynn for a good 20 minutes after that leadership meeting and guess what? Nowhere in our conversation, he mentioned anything technology. Clearly, you can still make a living today without being a slave to your cell phone. Lynn isn’t s slave of his smartphone and you shouldn’t be either! Remember: Lynn isn’t an ordinary man. He knows what he is doing, ladies and gentleman.

Never, under any circumstances, convince yourself that technology is what will make you successful or invincible. It often isn’t the case. Being human and caring are often better indicators of how true success is attained anyways. The story of Lynn is evidence of that. Get away from the machine right now and go hug your wife or husband. Make humanity count. Like Lynn, make the machine work for you not the other way around.    

Loneliness for the sake of technology

Even though we have all these technologies available in our fingertips, people are more lonely than ever. It isn’t uncommon for folks to spend hours on social media and be highly depressed off-line. The indices of loneliness in America are so high that many are now looking for a minister of loneliness in order to help them to cope with this very sad reality we live these days. 

Listen to me. All these technologies are making you living a worse life. Lately, I’ve heard people in Cleveland saying the following: Having a child is too much work. I don’t want to spend time outside social media because it is so much more convenient to chat with people on-line than to engage in conversations off-line. Why would anybody waste their time building a family. It is too expensive! I couldn’t believe my ears. Am living in a nightmare or is this the society we live in these days? I am afraid that we are living in the second option, ladies and gentleman.

The smartphone is destroying us from within, literally. The amount of people who have thousands of “friends” on facebook yet are paying for others to cuddle with them on Friday evenings is increasing by the day. How ironic, isn’t it? The more social media we use, the less human contact we get and therefore the more human contact people need. In trueness, what I am writing in this article isn’t that surprising as lack of human contact will eventually drive people bananas. We were not made to live in isolation as a species. Only a madman or woman would allow him or herself to live a life with technology this way. The relational side effects that we are witnessing in social media nowadays are real. I am afraid that our society will grow smaller and colder in personality because of these absurd levels of technological use.

Wouldn’t it make way more sense to use technology less, meet more people off-line and grow a family so that when people get old, they have someone to care for them? Come on people. It isn’t that complicated, you know? Yet, people are complicating their own lives for the sake of technology everywhere, including in our small city. Social media is quickly turning into a cancer in our society. Why are we allowing cyberspace to consume our lives and make us less social?

I don’t know about you but to me, this is all non-sense. Have we gone mad or something? Maybe I am a bit too old school and believe in God, family, and good manners. There is just no way that in my household we are going to fold to the dangers of social media including this latest trend of loneliness. I may say A and you might reply with B sometimes but in the end, I argue, we better get along well and live in community advancing our innate need to procreate and live in harmony. Isn’t that what God has asked us to do anyways? 

Say no to technological isolation and the idea that social media connections are de facto close connections. Here is what I think. Live your life as if there is no tomorrow. Go meet people and expand your social capital off-line. Have an on-line presence and chat with people in social media in moderation. Go to church, meet a mate, work hard and smart and start a family. Glorify God and help others. By doing these common sense activities, you will help yourself in the process and I can almost guarantee that you won’t be lonely. Remember: You only live once, buddy. You might as well be reasonable and don’t assume that your facebook connections are really your friends.

Listen carefully: It ain’t worth the trouble to believe that all these technologies will make you more popular or together. Sherry Turkle, MIT professor coined the term, alone together for a reason. Just because something is permissible doesn’t make it beneficial. Go meet people offline and live your live to the fullest. As I always say, “use social media but in moderation.” You don’t deserve to be lonely for the sake of technology. Got it?   

Intrapersonal Communication Trumps Technology

When I was young, I chose to engage in intrapersonal communication activities like playing competitive golf and chess because I’ve always felt better doing “my thing” alone. Like a typical introverted person, I didn’t need the attention of others to gain my daily energy then and I don’t need the attention of anybody today to be energized either. I wish that hundreds perhaps thousands of teenagers in Bradley County could experience what I have experienced early on in my life because working on your own forces people to get things done without having to abide by the approval of others. I bet that many of them would realize that what other people do or don’t do in social media is actually irrelevant to their lives. The same is also true for the opinions people form online based on what people share in social media networks. 

This is what I’m saying: If people focus on activities involving them only, they will build a stronger capacity to do things on their own and ignore the mad ideas people sometimes form about them.  There are way too many people these days caring too much about what other people say about them in social media. Who cares what people think of you if you are secure in yourself? I feel that your grandkids are growing up without that much needed resilience to face adversity which in itself may be causing them to be depressed sometimes suicidal. Listen carefully: Instead of using technology as a pacifier, teach them how to play chess young.  If you don’t know anything about chess, find them a tutor. If you cannot find anybody to teach chess theory to your child, give me a call. We can negotiate a reasonable fee so your grandkids can engage in deep thinking early on in their lives rather than growing weak with moods that are dependent on what others think of them online.   

If your grandkid doesn’t like chess, try golf. You won’t regret it. Let me reveal a secret to you that is related to what we are talking about. I used to play chess alone and loved it. Playing chess taught me that I didn’t need the approval of anybody to be happy. I know, I know… this is the pinnacle of individualism but hey, life is interesting. Your grandchild can benefit from doing things by him or herself and not depending on the goodwill of others to be happy in life.

We see so many kids today anxious and depressed about life because their “friends” didn’t like their posts on facebook. Others are partially depressed because not too many people like their posts in general. Some are suicidal because nobody liked their posts. Is this the kind of life that a kid should have? In fact, is this the kind of life that people should have? No.

This is precisely why I advance the idea of engaging in social media communication in moderation. Why should anybody allow others to make them sick for the sake of technology use? Give me a break. Nobody needs that crap. I most definitely don’t allow people’s opinions about me to taint my internal happiness.

I’m stunned by the number of people who admit to having a problem with anxiety and depression in social media networks today yet are doing little to nothing to solve their problem. Public admitting of a problem isn’t a viable solution to any problem. A systematic solution is. Go learn chess or golf! Spend time with yourself and God. You won’t regret it, trust me.   

There is hope. Your grandkids don’t need to grow up thinking that what others think of them defines them. What they really need is to have a couple of intrapersonal communication activities that force them to engage in deep introspection. They need to “converse” with their inner selves and realize that social media communication and interaction aren’t to be seen as the all in all in their lives. Everybody has an opinion. Fortunate are the kids who form an opinion by engaging in an activity that forces them to think critically about difficult situations and scenarios. Ladies and gents, chess and golf do just that. 

Digital Appearances Are Deceiving Too

Its virtually impossible to really know what people are up to based on what they post on twitter. In this article, I will explain to you why the former is true with a touch of Dr. A’s personality.

Ladies and gents, let’s get real. People use a mask in public and in cyberspace. If a person is sharing happy looking pictures on instagram all the time, chances are that they are de facto sad not happy most if not all the time. People often share the opposite of what they are really thinking. People may even compensate for being sad by posting happy content. Let me give you another example. If a person decides to engage in a rant conversation with a colleague or a friend online, chances are that this person is probably afraid to engage in a face-to-face conversation with somebody. As you, me and all the Tennessee Titans Fans know, most people put a mask when they behave in public. Do you think that facebook is any different? Please.

We all know that, don’t we? Why pretend then? Or assume one thing and ignore what we know about how we typically behave in public? Listen to Dr. A: Who cares what people think of you on facebook. You must live your life and make these social media networks be subordinated to you. You won’t gain anything by playing Nostradamus based on what people post on instagram. The only thing you will gain are the headaches of gossip which is an activity condemned by God.

  

Let’s get real here. How do you really know what people are feeling or thinking if intonations and variations in voice pitch, for example, aren’t being shared in social media posts anyways? See why it isn’t possible to guess who people really are online? Look, there are so many ways a person can misinterpret another person’s message on instagram that it isn’t even funny. Which body language is a person using when they “communicate” with you on linkedIn? Well, we don’t really know, do we? It is only by speaking face-to-face with somebody that you can be sure of what they are trying to communicate to you and others. I’m convinced of that.

There are so many people today investigating people’s facebook accounts these days and forming opinions about them based on what they post on a blog without having a clue about what their true intent for posting that piece of content was. It’s an epidemic. It is such a common practice that I have a micro system who checks who is actually looking at my profile on a daily basis. I’m watching you! 

It isn’t easy to “know” who people are simply by sneakily going to a person’s facebook page and analyze what they post. People may have an idea who the person is or may be but I’m doubtful that a person can really know who people truly are by doing a content analysis of what people share online.  People post content for different reasons.One of my buddies in Brazil shares jokes on a daily basis on his facebook. Does this behavior make him a social media clown? I don’t think so. Not to me. I know him better.

Remember: Not everything you see is what it seems. Social media isn’t any different. Just because a person posts too many times on facebook doesn’t mean that he or she is self centered. Maybe, they are sharing more content because their parents want to see more photos of their children on their wall. Perhaps, people don’t post as much because they hate technology. Maybe they made a vow to technomoderate that year. How can people really know, right?

Be careful with assumptions. They tend to backfire. I honestly don’t think that anybody can truly guess who people are online without knowing who they are offline. People can try but they will fall short. The complexities of communication and human behavior can’t be diminished to a level of perishable machinery.  We are humans! We are living systems! Knowing how people really are is dependent on other variables not found in cyberspace and that’s a fact.

Developing and growing your brand in social media is a daunting task

Developing and growing your brand in social media is a daunting task. It requires a strategy, a team of people, time, effort, tactics, techniques and a way to measure the overall campaign. In theory, social media enables us to reach a large number of people on-line and when promotional campaigns are well implemented, social media technology can really make a difference in the way others perceive brands in cyberspace and in real life. Let me break something to you, ladies and gents. Doing social media is both a lot of work and it requires an advertising budget which can be quite costly in order to work to its capacity. Delegating your social media tasks to an intern with zero to little budget will backfire, don’t even think about it.

Let’s start with the obvious. I don’t know anybody who can dedicate 30 hours per week to help anyone to grow their social media campaigns for free or for cheap. Composing social media messages is complicated, expensive and stressful. It takes a particular kind of communication professional in order to do the work right. This person must have the ability to write with a tone that represents your organization, have the discipline to post frequently on your accounts and, at the bare minimum, this person is to interact with other users when required.

I get it. — You have a brand and can’t ignore your brand’s social media presence when either developing or growing a business. You need social media labor and capital but have little to no money to spend on both. Listen carefully: Because of all these uncontrolled advancements in social media, people are now between a rock and a hard place because they need to do the work of three people and have funding to have their voices heard in this “free” media platform. Good luck with that!

You won’t find anyone who will manage your social media brand for you for free long-term because it’s too much work. Let me break this to you. You shouldn’t take this approach anyways because the youth doesn’t know as much about social media as you may think they do. I think you will realize that doing advertising using google or Facebook ads isn’t bad or anything but you absolutely need to invest some money in order to reach your audience. Our contemporary social media algorithms assume that you are going to invest some cash in order to have your message out. 

By the way, how much money have you gained by spending hours on end on Facebook? Have you made any profit from your Instagram posts? I have met only a handful of people who profit from this technology we call social media. All these advances in social media have made branding and advertising work very tedious and expensive. I doubt that anyone will join your social media team for free to help you to advance your social media accounts long-term.

I strongly suggest that you work with a communication professional who knows how to craft a social media plan if your goal is to grow a brand on-line. You are going to need to invest in human resources and have a budget for producing quality advertising and copy. Just because social media technology is free doesn’t mean that it is actually a free service. Be careful to delegate your whole social media campaign to a kid. It is unlikely that he will be staying long-term anyways. If I was in your shoes, I would start by reading everything there is about your social media of choice and saving funds for advertising. That’s what I think.

The Future of Savings

Technology has helped our society in a number of different ways. We now drive more economical cars, have more economical house windows, and we can now speak across borders with our relatives in different states and many times in different countries. I still remember the time when we had to pay for long distance calls in order to speak with people living out of state. I have to admit that from this standpoint, I really like technological developments especially in telecommunications. There are other reasons for why I really am a geek with personality who enjoys what is modern and technological. Not sure about you but I actually enjoy my car’s backup camera and turbocharged engine. I can’t live without them. By now, after reading my provocative column here at the Banner, you can probably deduce what is coming next. You got it! Although we have seen so many advancements in technology that sometimes makes us take for granted what we have, there are a number of side effects that we experience, as well. Let me give you an example. Let’s talk about savings and handling cash.

When I was young, I used to get money from my parents to go shopping or to go to a local burger shop down in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil where I come from. My parents used to give me something like 20 bucks to have fun every Friday evening at least four times a month. Despite the former, I have always been a frugal and calculated individual; therefore, I rarely spent all of my money at once which frequently resulted in me bringing some change home after my pinball adventures. I religiously put my coins and change in a piggy bank after coming home. Why? Because I wanted to have available cash more than four days a month! 

It didn’t take long before my piggy bank would get full which often resulted in me asking my parents to go to our local bank to cash in my money. I’ve learned a lot about handling cash savings with my piggy bank system, starting at age 11 to a point that when I was 12, I got this 6 foot talking “piggy bank” system which I felt was the coolest thing in the world. It was the best year of my teenage life, 1986. I was able to save the equivalent of 50 dollars with that massive piggy bank which back then made me feel like a billionaire.  What is the moral of the story? I have learned to manage my money by saving my change using piggy bank systems. Today some banks offer a change round up savings. They will round up your transaction amount and put the change into a savings. But how do we teach our children, who are too young for their own account, how to save? Let me start with the obvious. Do you own a piggy bank today? Are you showing your children the value of money by having them actually see “real life” currency?

All these innovations in the credit system has changed the way we now handle money. As a matter of fact, I wonder if kids today know how to handle cash at all. Look, I understand. We shouldn’t be saving our money in piggy banks all throughout our house as adults because we understand the value of interest. We must be able to own checking and savings accounts in order to build our personal financial empire. I am just skeptical that all this technology will teach our children how to handle cash and how to save money in the long run.

Let’s make this long story short. I know that my piggy bank system is outdated and old school but I trust what makes sense to me. We have lost a lot of life skills especially in cash handling and savings which is a shame. I love technology for what it is but when it comes to teaching someone to save money, I would much rather have that rudimentary piggy bank system that we all have used in the past versus all the plastic we carry now. 

How to deal with cyberbullying

An old U.S marine once told me that going to war is sometimes necessary. Despite all the advances in technology, we can say with certainty that human behavior is predictable and that cyberbullying will never be fully eradicated. If you love your child, you must train them to standup for themselves when a bully confronts them and tell them that facing a bully head on is okay. In the new age of information, we need to teach our kids more life skills than anything else.

Why so many parents are afraid to speak about serious matters with their kids is beyond me. Cyberbullying isn’t going to magically go away but teen suicide rates because of bullying can decrease. We need to help our kids to defend themselves face-to-face rather than making them believe that young and immature kids will stop bullying them especially behind the walls of a social media platform. Kids need to develop strong social skills at an early age and not doubt themselves by what others say on-line. Tell your child: You are so much more than what others say in these social media environments.

All this technology is handicapping our children socially and making talented young minds be scared for life because of cyberbullying. We need to do something about this issue in a meaningful way. Here is my solution. First, start communicating with your children early on about the importance of developing courage and the inevitable reality that they one day will face opposition in life. Explain to them that technology will never protect them from the dangers of cyberbullying or any other bullying. Make sure you tell them that in this world, what they do with technology, not technology itself, is what will help them to be somebody one day.

Second, develop a TechnoModeration strategy for your kids. Enable them to use technology for a few hours each day for educational purposes up to 5th grade. Don’t give your kid their own smartphone before they reach the age of 13 under any circumstances. Install and tell your kids that you have installed TeenSafe on their smartphones and that you will be checking on their smartphone activity once in a while because you are the parent, period. If they give you a hard time about it you tell them, “Ok. You won’t have a smartphone then because I am the parent.” Remember, you are not your kid’s buddy. You are their parent.

Third, when your kid reaches the age of 15, have a conversation with them about sex. Explain that in this life there are tons of predators who want to take advantage of them including those who will bully them for self gratification. Affirm to them that chances are high that one day, somebody inevitably will say something on-line that they won’t like. Give them the assurance that they can and probably should let you know when that happens. Make a vow with them! As long as they use technology moderately, you will pay for their smartphone bill. If you have a difficult time conveying your message to them when they reach puberty, ask someone you trust, a close adult friend, to intervene.

Lastly, before they turn 18 make a deal with them. If anyone attempts to cyberbully them, tell them to ignore the message and ask them to come home. Have a chat with them about the situation and remind them that sticking to themselves is okay. Help them if necessary. The goal is to train them that they, not technology or any other person, control their lives and that you are there for them if they need help. I bet that our indices of suicide in teens among those who experience cyberbullying would decrease exponentially.

Ladies and gents, we can make great strides in cyberbullying by being involved parents. Helping our kids with conquering these cyber challenges is part of our job descriptions as parents. Be ready to coach your son or daughter in this highly technological world we live in these days. Cyberbullying is a problem but we can fix it. All we have to do is to be a bit more involved and pay attention to the early signs of abuse.

Good Try Technology

If you have updated your iPhone’s operating system yesterday, you then got a message from Apple notifying you with the following message, “Do not disturb while driving. Your iPhone can silence incoming notifications whenever you appear to be driving.” It is kind of cool but how ironic, isn’t it? It seems that a group of technology gurus have just attempted to use technology to “cure” the massive technology addiction problem that they have created in the first place for the sake of innovation diffusion. On the surface, this is great news for some. Insurance agents are probably loving this new iPhone feature. 

Agents are probably saying, “Hey, you can now control your life and avoid a car accident! You can now choose to whether accept text messages while you are driving or not.” Wow! See? technology is wonderful. Let me help you to save some money because of that. Well, this new “do not disturb while driving” function on the iPhone is good. It serves a small purpose but in the grand scheme of things… its relevance is dismal.

I am hearing someone near Ocoee Street screaming, “What are you talking about Dr. A? This new technology is going to stop us from overusing technology! It has just cured the problem it created with technology.”  By now, you know me. I am skeptical about this new development. Let me explain.

This whole idea that technology can “cure” technological problems is overrated because most of our problems are human problems caused in large part by the technology. What if I told you that this technology will do very little, if anything, to help you with your life pursuits unless you work in the insurance business. If you do, then you probably will profit a bit from it. Managers now expect you to work more and be on call. You now are used to hearing from your family on the way back from work. Your teenage daughter now communicates with you via text message. By the way, do you really think that people will activate this function anyways?

Our society along with the smartphone have created the modern day superhero worker. Most companies today premium these superman-like people in the modern world who put in an average of 60+ hours a week of work, who are able to accept a wide variety of extra responsibilities for little compensation, who perform their job tasks all the time and accepts incoming calls from a client or a fellow co-worker while on vacation for the advancement of the enterprise. Do you really think that the Captain Americas of the new era will engage in self-sacrifice and stop using their devices (not receiving texts while driving) at the price of losing face with their overworked supervisors? I doubt they will.

Ladies and gentleman, in the grand scheme of things, all of this fuss about technology stopping text messages coming in to our phones while we drive will prove to be quite irrelevant to the majority of us. It is undeniably a great tool for insurance agencies as driving while distracted costs them millions of dollars each year in car accidents. What is there for you is nothing more than an expensive function added to your smartphone and maybe a reminder that you should be looking at the road not at your smartphone. Do you really need a tech tool to take your eyes off the road? You may but do you really?

This is what I think — people need to realize that whenever a new technology is infused in any system, changes will inevitably occur in that system. When the smartphone went mainstream back in 2007, the smartphone didn’t just serve as a new gadget on the market in isolation. In practice, smartphone technology has changed the way we operate in society in a number of respects. I honestly don’t think that a computer blocking text messages going to your phone will change your machine habits much in the same way that aspirin will never cure headaches only temporarily alleviate its symptoms. Technology has changed our world because it has redesigned our living systems. This new smartphone function won’t do much for you or me.

The Future Of Savings.

Technology has helped our society in a number of different ways. We now drive more economical cars, have more economical house windows, and we can now speak across borders with our relatives in different states and many times in different countries. I still remember the time when we had to pay for long distance calls in order to speak with people living out of state. I have to admit that from this standpoint, I really like technological developments especially in telecommunications. There are other reasons for why I really am a geek with personality who enjoys what is modern and technological. Not sure about you but I actually enjoy my car’s backup camera and turbocharged engine. I can’t live without them. By now, after reading my provocative column here at the Banner, you can probably deduce what is coming next. You got it! Although we have seen so many advancements in technology that sometimes makes us take for granted what we have, there are a number of side effects that we experience, as well. Let me give you an example. Let’s talk about savings and handling cash.

When I was young, I used to get money from my parents to go shopping or to go to a local burger shop down in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil where I come from. My parents used to give me something like 20 bucks to have fun every Friday evening at least four times a month. Despite the former, I have always been a frugal and calculated individual; therefore, I rarely spent all of my money at once which frequently resulted in me bringing some change home after my pinball adventures. I religiously put my coins and change in a piggy bank after coming home. Why? Because I wanted to have available cash more than four days a month! 

It didn’t take long before my piggy bank would get full which often resulted in me asking my parents to go to our local bank to cash in my money. I’ve learned a lot about handling cash savings with my piggy bank system, starting at age 11 to a point that when I was 12, I got this 6 foot talking “piggy bank” system which I felt was the coolest thing in the world. It was the best year of my teenage life, 1986. I was able to save the equivalent of 50 dollars with that massive piggy bank which back then made me feel like a billionaire.  What is the moral of the story? I have learned to manage my money by saving my change using piggy bank systems. Today some banks offer a change round up savings. They will round up your transaction amount and put the change into a savings. But how do we teach our children, who are too young for their own account, how to save? Let me start with the obvious. Do you own a piggy bank today? Are you showing your children the value of money by having them actually see “real life” currency?

All these innovations in the credit system has changed the way we now handle money. As a matter of fact, I wonder if kids today know how to handle cash at all. Look, I understand. We shouldn’t be saving our money in piggy banks all throughout our house as adults because we understand the value of interest. We must be able to own checking and savings accounts in order to build our personal financial empire. I am just skeptical that all this technology will teach our children how to handle cash and how to save money in the long run.

Let’s make this long story short. I know that my piggy bank system is outdated and old school but I trust what makes sense to me. We have lost a lot of life skills especially in cash handling and savings which is a shame. I love technology for what it is but when it comes to teaching someone to save money, I would much rather have that rudimentary piggy bank system that we all have used in the past versus all the plastic we carry now. 

We’re seeing generational shifts in technology use

A weird phenomenon is happening right at this moment in Cleveland, and beyond.

I’m seeing some of you on your smartphones more often than the students in my classes, especially the freshmen. No, I’m not kidding, and yes, you heard right.

I’m not saying, however, that students aren’t going to their iPads or laptops to surf the net … because they are, but some of you are really using your devices to unreasonable levels and are starting to be where they were about two years back: Approaching the Robotic Stage of the Human Robot Cycle Model.

How do I know this? I’m watching you! Well, let me explain.

First of all, most of you now have a smartphone, maybe two. What was old technology is now being adopted even by people like you, my dad and my mom. By the way, my parents are baby boomers and use their smartphones more often than a college student.

My mom, for example, posts five times a day on Facebook and comments on people’s posts multiple times a day, six days a week. Thank goodness she takes the sabbath off!

My dad has six smartphones, three tablets, four laptops, and wants to buy more electronics because, you know, it is the right thing to do these days. He is semi-retired as a corporate executive. I wonder what will happen when he “retires.” Well, I doubt he ever will.

“How can that happen?” you may be asking. “Why are older people getting so addicted to the same tools their grandkids are using these days?”

Hmmm.

See? When we produced propaganda campaigns to assist teenagers and young adults with using technology in moderation, we left you out! Why? Well, because you are baby boomers and baby boomers just don’t use technology. At least, that was the assumption.

Yeah, right. Of course you do, but you were much more reasonable than the kids back in 2015. Things are changing, though. Most of you aren’t addicted to technology, but I’ve seen a big increase in technology use among the baby boomers and beyond.

Is it a bad thing? I think it is a bit bad, yes. In the Human Robot Cycle, we know that the more a subject interacts with a computerized device, the more robotic they become without even realizing it. You were not made to be a robot in behavior! Therefore, using all these technologies excessively can be quite bad for you.

You know me. I’m not against technology. I like to use technology, but in moderation. That is, using technology isn’t a bad thing, as long as technology is used in moderation.

Listen to me: Technology can be addictive, and you aren’t free from its threats. Remember: We are what we do many times. If people choose to be on the computer all the time, even if that person is you, chances are very high that the user will suffer the consequences of technology overuse, no matter what.

We live in a weird world where advances in technology are making even the old young again.

Second, we do live in a technopoly. In the U.S. of A., we pride ourselves on being technologically savvy and for being innovators in everything we do. There’s some truth to that, but just don’t forget that we all pay a price for being connected all the time, even after retirement.

In a technopoly, where technology is seen as a god, people are living longer and consequently many are working until death, in part because of technology. Don’t believe me? Ask your neighbor if he is really retired! I bet he isn’t, completely. Technology extends our working days until we die – for the sake of technology.

You may agree or disagree with how I’m going to end this column, and that’s fine. But many baby boomers today are a byproduct of modern technologies because use among your age group has increased exponentially because the “no-tech use” propaganda wasn’t directed at you.

I’m concerned, I must add. What will happen if a critical mass of  55-plus year-olds start spending six hours a day on a smartphone, wasting time?

Look, our kids need you to help them to be better people. Please don’t lose track of what is important! Use technology but in moderation. Your grandkids will thank you.

——— (article previously published in the Cleveland Daily Banner)

(About the writer: Dr. Luis C. Almeida is an associate professor of communication at Lee University and a TEDx speaker. He is the author of the book “Becoming a Brand: The Rise of Technomoderation,” and a devoted Christian. He can be reached via his website at  luiscalmeida.info.)

Developing Your Brand In Social Media

Developing and growing your brand in social media is a daunting task. It requires a strategy, a team of people, time, effort, tactics, techniques and a way to measure the overall campaign. In theory, social media enables us to reach a large number of people on-line and when promotional campaigns are well implemented, social media technology can really make a difference in the way others perceive brands in cyberspace and in real life. Let me break something to you, ladies and gents. Doing social media is both a lot of work and it requires an advertising budget which can be quite costly in order to work to its capacity. Delegating your social media tasks to an intern with zero to little budget will backfire, don’t even think about it.

Let’s start with the obvious. I don’t know anybody who can dedicate 30 hours per week to help anyone to grow their social media campaigns for free or for cheap. Composing social media messages is complicated, expensive and stressful. It takes a particular kind of communication professional in order to do the work right. This person must have the ability to write with a tone that represents your organization, have the discipline to post frequently on your accounts and, at the bare minimum, this person is to interact with other users when required.

I get it. — You have a brand and can’t ignore your brand’s social media presence when either developing or growing a business. You need social media labor and capital but have little to no money to spend on both. Listen carefully: Because of all these uncontrolled advancements in social media, people are now between a rock and a hard place because they need to do the work of three people and have funding to have their voices heard in this “free” media platform. Good luck with that!

You won’t find anyone who will manage your social media brand for you for free long-term because it’s too much work. Let me break this to you. You shouldn’t take this approach anyways because the youth doesn’t know as much about social media as you may think they do. I think you will realize that doing advertising using google or Facebook ads isn’t bad or anything but you absolutely need to invest some money in order to reach your audience. Our contemporary social media algorithms assume that you are going to invest some cash in order to have your message out. 

By the way, how much money have you gained by spending hours on end on Facebook? Have you made any profit from your Instagram posts? I have met only a handful of people who profit from this technology we call social media. All these advances in social media have made branding and advertising work very tedious and expensive. I doubt that anyone will join your social media team for free to help you to advance your social media accounts long-term.

I strongly suggest that you work with a communication professional who knows how to craft a social media plan if your goal is to grow a brand on-line. You are going to need to invest in human resources and have a budget for producing quality advertising and copy. Just because social media technology is free doesn’t mean that it is actually a free service. Be careful to delegate your whole social media campaign to a kid. It is unlikely that he will be staying long-term anyways. If I was in your shoes, I would start by reading everything there is about your social media of choice and saving funds for advertising. That’s what I think.

I Wish I Was Bill Gates

Bill Gates and Steve Jobs raised their kids tech free, according to an article written by Entrepreneur Magazine. Let me share something else with you. Bill Gates didn’t give his daughter a smartphone until she was 14 years of age fearing the effects of too much screen time. What I find so ironic is the backlash that sometimes I get for promoting techno moderation in society. Some folks have said to me, “Luis you don’t love technology all the time. Blasphemy!” Isn’t it hypocritical to have created the @escthemachine movement and use technology to spread the movement? Give me a break! 

So, Steve Jobs says that it is okay to use computers in moderation but when I say it… many people go crazy on me, especially my own colleagues in my field when I attend certain national media conferences. Maybe I should change my name to Bill Gates and enjoy the perks of being a big celebrity in computing rather than a critic of technology with big aspirations. I kind of like his position. Please call me Bill from now on, okay?

Listen carefully: All this technology isn’t good for you, period. All this fascination with smartphones will only make you more dependent on it. By the way, how much more money have you made because of all of this technology?

Do you remember how fascinated people used to be with cigarettes? The smartphone took the place of cigarettes in this regard with the exception that we are now conditioned to using these tools 24/7. People didn’t use to smoke 24/7, did they? Technology took addiction to a level of conditioning and thats scary.

It is 10:31pm right now and I am receiving text messages non-stop on my iPhone right in front of me. Shouldn’t I have the right to rest from work on a Friday evening prior to homecoming? I need to wake up very early tomorrow and yet… my phone is constantly blinking with new messages. Of course that I choose to ignore these messages but you get the point. Smartphones aren’t always good for us especially because they can be an intrusion in our lives. 

I don’t know about you but I like to rest a little bit once in a while, especially on a Friday evening. Back in 2011, I had a different philosophy I must admit. I made technology first above family, making my health third and I paid a high price for it. I got very sick because of technology back then and ended up walking with a golf club as a cane for almost one year because my body was so stressed out. I ended up developing a systemic health problem which lead to an inflammation of my middle ear causing severe dizziness and other heath related side effects. No wonder why the inventors of all of these technologies protect their children or say we should block these technologies from reaching them until a certain age. Good for them! Now that you know this, what are you going to do to protect your kids? I protect my daughter by limiting smartphone use to 1 hour a day. She is only 4 years old, I must add. She doesn’t need to be on that smartphone for long. She needs to learn from daddy about the need to love others, play and treat everyone with respect, not make her life around what is playing on youtube.

I don’t know about you but using these technologies in moderation makes complete sense to me. Bill Gates and Steve Jobs’s kids were sheltered against all this technology but mortals like you and me were not but who said that life is fair? I am pretty proud to have taken a stance against all this non-sense. All this smartphone technology isn’t that great for you, in my opinion. Its side effects are as dangerous as not using them in society today. The answer to all of this is moderation. As I always say, “Use technology in moderation!” It is not complicated.

The Darth Vader Next Door

Elon Musk, the genius behind PayPal and Tesla motors, once said that technology can potentially be more dangerous than nuclear weapons. When speaking about artificial intelligence, Mr. Musk added that with AI, people are calling on the devil. Listen carefully to me Cleveland, Tennessee — The idea of machine learning, or the techniques that enable machines to learn by themselves is already an old topic of discussion. Deep learning, or algorithms that allow software to teach itself to do more sophisticated tasks without the input of a human being is in motion at the beta level. These emergent technology developments aren’t really that new and much progress has been made in this “new” area especially because of the hundreds of high profile projects that have been carried out by our government and FEDOR, a humanoid robot produced by the Russia Federation. FEDOR can drive a car and fire a gun. Holy cow, you may be thinking! Do you see why artificial intelligence will dominate our economy in the future? Let me make this long story short. Our enemies are taking advantage of AI technology for defense purposes. We have no option but to have an AI race against them. The AI race is the new nuke race, compatriots.

By the way, have you seen these image recognition apps that pop up on Facebook once in a while? Let me reveal something to you. They are examples of deep learning applied utilizing multilayered social networks possessing big data. Natural language processing is here to stay and quantum computing, which by the way operates at 100 million times faster than your Mac or PC, will allow these machines to increase their processing speed exponentially only resulting in what Artificial intelligence researchers call singularity. Welcome to Star Wars on earth! Machines will fight people. Darth Vader, or a blend of a machine and human being, will eventually coexist with us, as well as functional robots.

You may be thinking and probably anxious to ask, Dr. A, what in the world is singularity? Ok, let me tell you. Singularity can be understood as an estimated time or day when intelligent machines will reach a point of advancing themselves without your input or mine eventually surpassing the human race. Let me put all of this into perspective. I am 43 years of age. Many scholars of technological singularity are estimating that the “age of singularity” will occur somewhere in the 2040’s. Dude, it is likely that you and I will be alive to see this mega technological evolution which will change our lives forever. If their predictions are correct, you are going to adapt your human body to become more mechanic. Expect to wear add on technological devices to your body and without questions… Be ready to consider the idea of implanting an RFID chip in you. Oh my! This is scary, isn’t it? Well, it can be for us but I bet that these ideas won’t be scary to your grand kids. Life in the future will be different. You can be sure about that. 

Remember the following and don’t get sidetracked: Our great republic is in the process of adapting AI to our military functions because of necessity. We are going to see a logistical transformation in every industry of our great country because of that. I wonder how our little city will be affected by all of this. I honestly don’t know. Do you have any idea?

Some people are already dreaming about what tomorrow will be. Some are speculating about a concept called universal basic income or the idea that the government will give a paycheck to its citizens to spend as they wish because the robots took over. I don’t know about that but this option has hypothesized as a solution to the mega unemployment that the machine might cause. Can you imagine life without work? I don’t.

One thing is for sure. The future won’t be like the past. We are heading towards the unknown and unpredictable now. AI is here to stay and the goal is singularity. God in heaven is probably planning His return soon, brethren. I don’t think we have much longer.

Heart Attacks Could Be Next

Ladies and gentleman, I’m afraid that way too many people in our society will suffer heart attacks because of technology. What do I mean by that, you may be wondering. Well, let me explain. Screen time use in our society is at an all time high but listen to this: We are only at the beginning of this mess. We are going to be way more connected to the “screen” than many think.

Well, in reality we are already using computerized devices way too much as it is. How many hours of screen time are you using everyday? Do you know? How about your sons, daughters, and grandkids? Let me reveal something to you. If you have an iPhone these days, you can track how many hours you or your relatives are using on their smartphones everyday. In a recent keynote I gave for the Cleveland Media Association, I asked the audience who were iPhone users this question, “How many hours were you on your screen yesterday?” Those who had the function open — Screen time — answered on average, four and a half hours a day. That’s a part time job in smartphone!

By the way, what can you do with twenty extra hours each week? Let me see. Exercise, start a side photo business, play with your kids, watch ten 2 hour movies, play three full rounds of monopoly, or my favorite: play a game of chess with Dr. A for a full week! Hey, I do think deeply and always like to strategize my moves in everything I do in life. Don’t judge me. Anyways! You can do a lot with 20 extra hours on anything and let’s not forget: Twenty hours a week times fifty-two equals one thousand and forty hours a year. I’m coming to the conclusion that Americans don’t have a weight problem. Americans have a technology use problem.

Many of you won’t like to hear what I’m going to say next. I don’t even think that most people know that they are on their smartphones that much. The people at CMA were shocked when I asked the question to them. My friends on social networking sites always find the most absurd reasons to justify why they aren’t always connected. It’s shocking, even comical to read their comments sometimes on facebook. If you think that your kids and grandkids aren’t half robots in behavior, think again. I bet they are and frankly, I think they can’t see they are which can be quite scary. This lack of self awareness of computer use may cause your kid and grandkids to over stress, have hypertension and consequently have a heart attack.

This is really what I think. We are going to start seeing people having heart attacks on a large scale especially because of social media network use and tech productivity because what is being asked of us is literally impossible for a hearty person to attain. The social media network algorithms expect people to engage with others in order to grow their accounts. Bosses are expecting his or her employees to be on call 24/7 many times during vacations. The stress of not replying to an important email overnight in some, causes millions to be so stressed to a point of having to see a psychiatrist once maybe twice a month. Consumption of valium and opioids is at an all time high. Colleges and universities are clogged with kids suffering from anxiety and depression!  Heart attacks are next.

Human beings were not made to be slaves of technology. Use technology but in moderation! I don’t care which method you use to get away from these devices but please do. You don’t want to suffer a heart attack in order to wake up from all of this. I’m afraid that this petition is already happening a bit too late but hey — I’m a believer. Next time you see your family members so engaged with their iPhones, ask them: Did you check the screen time function on your iPhone in your settings lately? How many hours a day is it saying? Tell them that Dr. A is warning people in Cleveland about the dangers of heavy smartphone use and hearth attacks. I think they will understand. What do you think?   

Good Try Technology!

If you have updated your iPhone’s operating system yesterday, you then got a message from Apple notifying you with the following message, “Do not disturb while driving. Your iPhone can silence incoming notifications whenever you appear to be driving.” It is kind of cool but how ironic, isn’t it? It seems that a group of technology gurus have just attempted to use technology to “cure” the massive technology addiction problem that they have created in the first place for the sake of innovation diffusion. On the surface, this is great news for some. Insurance agents are probably loving this new iPhone feature. 

Agents are probably saying, “Hey, you can now control your life and avoid a car accident! You can now choose to whether accept text messages while you are driving or not.” Wow! See? technology is wonderful. Let me help you to save some money because of that. Well, this new “do not disturb while driving” function on the iPhone is good. It serves a small purpose but in the grand scheme of things… its relevance is dismal.

I am hearing someone near Ocoee Street screaming, “What are you talking about Dr. A? This new technology is going to stop us from overusing technology! It has just cured the problem it created with technology.”  By now, you know me. I am skeptical about this new development. Let me explain.

This whole idea that technology can “cure” technological problems is overrated because most of our problems are human problems caused in large part by the technology. What if I told you that this technology will do very little, if anything, to help you with your life pursuits unless you work in the insurance business. If you do, then you probably will profit a bit from it. Managers now expect you to work more and be on call. You now are used to hearing from your family on the way back from work. Your teenage daughter now communicates with you via text message. By the way, do you really think that people will activate this function anyways?

Our society along with the smartphone have created the modern day superhero worker. Most companies today premium these superman-like people in the modern world who put in an average of 60+ hours a week of work, who are able to accept a wide variety of extra responsibilities for little compensation, who perform their job tasks all the time and accepts incoming calls from a client or a fellow co-worker while on vacation for the advancement of the enterprise. Do you really think that the Captain Americas of the new era will engage in self-sacrifice and stop using their devices (not receiving texts while driving) at the price of losing face with their overworked supervisors? I doubt they will.

Ladies and gentleman, in the grand scheme of things, all of this fuss about technology stopping text messages coming in to our phones while we drive will prove to be quite irrelevant to the majority of us. It is undeniably a great tool for insurance agencies as driving while distracted costs them millions of dollars each year in car accidents. What is there for you is nothing more than an expensive function added to your smartphone and maybe a reminder that you should be looking at the road not at your smartphone. Do you really need a tech tool to take your eyes off the road? You may but do you really?

This is what I think — people need to realize that whenever a new technology is infused in any system, changes will inevitably occur in that system. When the smartphone went mainstream back in 2007, the smartphone didn’t just serve as a new gadget on the market in isolation. In practice, smartphone technology has changed the way we operate in society in a number of respects. I honestly don’t think that a computer blocking text messages going to your phone will change your machine habits much in the same way that aspirin will never cure headaches only temporarily alleviate its symptoms. Technology has changed our world because it has redesigned our living systems. This new smartphone function won’t do much for you or me.

Step Back From Techno Side Effects

The answer to stop this technology use epidemic is using technology in moderation not idolizing new technologies and seeing them as a cure to the problem it has created. Don’t even start — I love technology! I am not a TechnoHitler but a TechnoModerator who believes in TechnoReason in this TechnoCrazy world. We may be living a better life today in a lot of respects but in many others, our lives have taken a big turn for the worse. Take for example, the case of anxiety and depression among the youth.   

Heavy use of social media and automation is destroying our kids’ lives right under our noses and we aren’t doing anything about it. This social media madness is negatively impacting our kids as it pertains to connecting to others, quality of interpersonal conversation, illusion of popularity, and the idea that more friends on social media outlets means that they are more social. The number of research studies linking heavy social media use and issues relating to anxiety and depression are overwhelming. “Facebook Depression” is now a variable studied by researchers all over the globe. Why are we allowing these unhealthy, uncaring behaviors to destroy our children? I won’t believe you if you tell me that we need to sacrifice God’s gift to us, our children, for the sake of technology.

Let me say this straight. More technology use, especially those we find in social media, won’t help your kid or mine to be safer to the dangers of depression. Self-Harm and feelings of sadness, self-pity or “beautiful suffering” are real problems that the youth struggle with these days because of technology. By the way, it is well documented that kids who take their own lives, take it to end their pains. Look, there are a lot of benefits about social media including one’s ability to keep in touch with distant family and friends but to say that we need more technology to cure social media anxiety is non-sense to me when we know that more frequency and exposure of social media use increases the rates of depression 2.7 times.

It isn’t that complicated people. Explain to me how any technology intervention will help an envious teenager, who is seeking to be popular on YouNow, to be more popular without this teenager having to spend a considerable amount of time and money in this endeavor. It isn’t possible. This is why, ladies and gents, that many are caught in this illusion that social media will solve the problem it has created. Let me say this loud and clear. We are losing a whole generation to depression and anxiety because of social media use.

There is nothing wrong with acting responsible, people. We don’t need technology in order to communicate or entertain on-line. What we do need is to have a sit down conversation with our kids, listen and explain to them that all this technology isn’t required for them to live a good life.  I believe that is possible for us, responsible adults, to guide our children to have a more moderate life on-line and to realize that social media is simply a tool of communication. We need to do what we can to help our kids where they are so that we don’t risk losing them in the process. Depression and anxiety are real issues that we must deal with nowadays. 

Why should I, as the head of my household, allow anything including technology to influence my family for the worse? It won’t happen. I suggest to you that you take the moderate stance and protect you kids from one of the major dark sides of technology, depression and anxiety. Your kids deserve better. They don’t need anxiety or depression. They need you, not that smartphone. Got it?

Internet algorithms and brand allegiance

I am afraid that top fashion brands such as Guess, The Limited, and Abercrombie & Fitch might go bankrupt in the near future and therefore be obligated to close their operations because of artificial intelligence technology. Let me say this differently — These former companies may be on their way to extinction because of the way we are thinking about our underlying human assumptions of what makes us profitable and functional which is a fundamental change in how things have been done in the past. Artificial Intelligence is changing us maybe unconsciously which will have a tremendous impact on the retail industry.

This article is about artificial intelligence and how AI may financially impact top fashion brands in the coming years. I am predicting that a number of well established luxury fashion brands will close their doors by 2025 because of technology. I hope that I am wrong about this but the signs seem clear cut to me. IBM is predicting almost 90% of customer interactions to be handled on-line without a human agent. This is very bad news for luxury fashion brands because their main sales point is selling their name. Millennials and younger do not have brand allegiance to these “old school” brands. They don’t know they exist! No wonder why stores like Macy’s and Sears are in the position that they are today. Those department stores are one of the main dealers for luxury brands.  Think about it — When was the last time you saw or you personally bought a luxury brand item from a department store? How about when it wasn’t a holiday? In the new age of information, these traditional brands may be at a disadvantage because there will be app algorithms that will find customers the best, cheapest items but those items will be tailored to what they are watching or clicking on. These luxury brands can no longer ride the coattails of success because brand allegiance is based on internet views not how long a brick and mortar store has been in existence.

Let me share something with you. My wife and I used to own a small business back in Pennsylvania prior to moving to the south. We learned, through experience and the science of observation, that customers will only buy from a local business if the prices are cheap or if the item is handmade. People are only trusting in the reviews from YouTube celebrities, bloggers, and vloggers. Younger and younger generations will turn to the internet and turn away from the customer service experience, being taught by older generations that the “salesman” is trying to sucker you. So, who will the new buyers trust?

The human side of their business, which has been at the center of their business model for decades, will prove to be irrelevant in the new age of intelligent machinery. We are going to see the birth of reinforcement learning where autonomous agents will maximize rewards. The traditional luxury brands will fight this war with “horses” where emergent e-retail giants will annihilate them with intelligent algorithms from behind.    

The old fashioned way Guess used to sell expensive clothing to you and me will mean very little in 2025. Is there a solution for them? I don’t know… I don’t think so. I am very skeptical that these companies will be able to adapt to this artificial intelligence mindset. Even if they could adapt to this upcoming reality, I don’t even think that there is enough time for them to make the transition even if they wanted to. I am afraid that these luxury company’s days are counted.

This is what I believe. We are going to see more and more intelligent systems that will help us to buy products at the cheapest price and tailored just for us. The machine will only get better at learning what you like the most and dislike the least. I do think that new e-brands will emerge in this transition. I also think that the adoption of AI in e-retail will also prove to be the “Analog” companies biggest nemesis. Tomorrow, I bet, will prove to be nothing like the past. Life changes. Retail is no exception.

“Dr. AI”

I don’t know about you but when I am sick, I like going to see the doctor and speaking with a person. There is something natural about seeking medical advise from a fellow human being. After all, they themselves also struggle with some of the many issues I struggle with like  fighting a cold, having a headache or how to deal with allergies. What if I told you that technology has the potential to make physicians a thing of the past and change the former patient-doctor dynamic forever?

Deep learning, or networks that are capable of learning unlabeled unsupervised data, is already impacting the practice of medicine. Do you know that there are a number of startup companies already able to analyze radiographs and MRi scans with a higher degree of accuracy? Let me say this again — There is a fully mechanical medical system named entilic that is able to detect and classify lung nodes as either benign or malignant in human beings without the consultation of a physician. 

Holy cow! We now have sophisticated self diagnosing medical algorithms that detect early tumor stages. In which world are we living in? Even the untouchable medical field is now being affected by advances in modern technology. Well, I have to admit that I am uncomfortable with the idea that a machine could be my next family physician. Maybe I am just too old school to accept this possibility. I trust physicians much more than any machine. I am not saying that I don’t trust a medical computer system, though. There is room for that, for sure. However, the moment the we start accepting fully automated computer based care I think we have gone a bit too far.

What if the machine is wrong and you die? I am not sure if I can trust a deep learning system that claims to be able to calculate patient’s rates of medicinal drug recovery. It doesn’t seem right to me. How can we really know that these systems are right anyways, I ask. I don’t deny that some computer systems already have the capability of examining hundreds of 3D molecule images and provide quite sophisticated outcomes for a trained physician. What I am not sure is if we should be constantly celebrating advancements in technology from startup heath tech organizations for the sake of advancing technology. I see the value of a machine helping us with detecting cancer from blood samples but at what cost? If physicians are then downgraded to the role of an assistant, I think this is a bad idea.   

The former is the scary part to me. Investors of ground breaking medical technology have argued that the machine will be capable of having the brainpower of thousands of doctors in the near future and should help rather than hurt patients seeking a doctor’s expertise. I bet that many doctors believe otherwise.

Which impact will these upcoming technologies have to our local medical offerings? Is it going to bring better care to our communities? I honestly don’t know. What I do know is that we are going to experience, in our lifetime, a major shift in how we engage in the logistics of medicine consumption in Cleveland and beyond. Many claim that artificial intelligence will never fully replace doctors. I am skeptical about that. AI will replace many doctors because as AI algorithms become more sophisticated, the need for human intervention to work side-by-side with these computer systems will sharply decrease.

Medicine is on its way to becoming a human computer interaction experience for the majority of the people. Many MD’s will be replaced with these AI technologies overtime and the ones who manage to survive the transition will find themselves stretched professionally. I hope that my predictions prove to be wrong. I just can’t see we deviating from this obvious technological trend. Machine learning is here to stay and they will eventually mass infiltrate our system of medicine when we least expect. Be ready!

The value of speaking

“You cannot not communicate.” Some of us communicators live by the former statement. Whenever we engage in interpersonal communication endeavors, even when we don’t verbally exchange messages, we are still communicating even if is only through body language. When I give a public speech, my hands and body move in coordinated ways that are both predictable and understandable by most Americans. I am constantly engaging in communication. In fact, we are all communicating constantly.

Thousands of years of human evolution have helped man to be better communicators through necessity. By communicating well, rewards are given and achieved. If a speaker fails to communicate eloquently, he will inevitably be judged and possibly punished for his own speaking pitfalls. It pays off to communicate well, that’s for sure. We often see evidence of the former by critically investigating those individuals who hold a position of leadership. Anyone who is given the privilege to lead others must communicate effectively in order to both establish rapport and earn credibility. Being a great communicator is a requirement if one is to lead people; it comes with the territory if that makes sense.

I am not seeing evidence that the youth has bought the idea that they must be able to communicate interpersonally. What I often see is this obsession with smartphones and the need to text and engage in mediated environments. There is nothing necessarily wrong with communication via text messaging if used in moderation. The problem is that all these “fake” communication maybe causing more problems than good. Are our smartphones destroying a generation of fine speakers? In the end I think they are.

In order to be a great speaker, you need to do what great people do — practice! In order to speak well people need to write well, I would argue. A cable TV giant has made a prediction that America is going to become a nation of adults who have the writing skills of an 8 year old because of technology. I wonder how our children are going to end up speaking in the future because of the smartphone. My prediction is that the levels of communication apprehension among adults will increase exponentially overtime because pupils aren’t practicing enough public speaking in order to reach competency. How good is all this technology if our sons and daughters lose the ability to eloquently give an eulogy? Cleveland has a lot to lose by having its  youth handicapped by technology. When we fail to communicate interpersonally, we lose an opportunity to influence others. If you can’t influence, you will be influenced. Doesn’t that go against your own model of leadership?       

Mastering the art of communication is an ideal that should be achieved by us all. When I was in college, everybody was obligated to take a class in public speaking. I am glad I had to take one. This speech class, along with the two other acting courses I took in the theatre department, have served as a foundation for studying and developing my own style of communication which I literally use now five days a week, multiple times a day.  As a person who make his living speaking to others on a college campus, I cannot afford to lose this public speaking skillset unless my goal would be to teach courses for an on-line educational institution. I have no desire to join such organizations.

I have taught in a number of universities where public speaking wasn’t a requirement for graduation. However, classes in micro computing are often mandatory for students to take. I don’t have anything against students taking courses in technology but failing to recognize that a course in speech might have unintended consequences to a student’s life concerns me. When we train our kids to speak better, without technology distractions, they inevitably become better speakers. Students versed in public speaking have a higher chance of becoming unit heads which can work out to be a financially rewarding career. Be one of them! Put that smartphone away and get a class in public speaking! You won’t regret. 

Media Dependency: We can reverse this trend.

In the field of communication, we have a number of well established theories that we can use as lenses by which we see the world when conducing research studies. Some of these theories include information processing, hypodermic needle theory, agenda setting and media dependency. Media dependency operates a little bit like this. The more dependent a person is with a particular media device to fulfill his needs, the more crucial having that media device will be to him.  People today, differently from when we didn’t have smartphones, are dependent on all of this technology to understand the world around them. 

I can’t stop thinking about what is happening down in Puerto Rico because the media is estimating that our Caribbean territory may not have electricity for six whole months! I am surprised that the media isn’t reporting on that too much as millions of people down there aren’t able to go online and have conversations with family and friends on Facebook. By the way, can you survive six months without having cell phone access? I have to admit that living without my iPhone for six days stops my professional life. Without needing to sound very dramatic yet being reasonable, I don’t think I can function without a smartphone these days. Part of how I communicate with my students is via text messaging. If no cell towers are available for me to chat with them, I become severely handicapped professionally. 

As a matter of fact, Dr. Joel Kailing, Chair of the Department of Communication Arts at Lee and I were chatting about the challenges that the people of Puerto Rico could potentially suffer because of the devastations caused by Hurricane Maria. I cannot imagine what is passing through the minds and hearts of the Puerto Rican youth and its young professionals. We are so dependent on the media these days that having no exposure to it can even cause some people to experience a withdrawal. What a tragedy!

As I am writing this piece, Fox just made the announcement that a few Puerto Rican citizens made contact with their friends and family here in the United States. They were able to use their media devices for a very short bit. Access to cell phone service down there can only be attained in a very tiny part of the Island, according to the report. The lucky few who were able to connect with their relatives had to drive for hours in order to reach the island’s hot spot. They were lucky if they could get a bar of service and a few seconds to talk.

I wonder if they are using CB radios to communicate back and fourth with the authorities and each other throughout the day. This whole situation in Puerto Rico reminds me of what happened during hurricane Katrina back in 2005. We were so dependent on cell phone technology back then that when we lost it, a disaster of great magnitude occurred. People couldn’t communicate because they rarely had cell phone reception. We invested in all these new systems but when the system failed, we had no defense. Over a thousand people died because of this dependency on new media and lack of traditional infrastructure. See? Dependency on technology can makes us much more venerable if we decide to discontinue our old yet reliable systems. As I always say, “use technology in moderation.” It is okay to not be so dependent on “new media.”    

We are, in one way or another, dependent on the media. I am not sure, however, if we should rely on all these new technology to communicate with friends in the United States, Puerto Rico or in our own town of Cleveland, Tennessee. I wonder if we should bring back the old landline phone system rather than always relying on voice over IP phone lines or cell phones. Just because we maybe dependent on a variety of media doesn’t mean that we should always trust in it. As my great grandmother once said, “When you don’t know about something or someone, always trust distrusting.”  Remember: Media is only powerful because of our dependency in it. We can reverse this trend.

Artificial Intelligence And Robots Might Change Banking Forever

According to Pandit, 30% of bank jobs may disappear in the next five years. Who is Vikram Pandit anyways? Well, he was Citigroup’s CEO at the height of the great recession between the years 2012-2017. He is claiming that artificial intelligence and robotics are going to be the technologies that may slash back office bank jobs. I think he is right on, by the way. Think about it. Why would any company extend you a job offer if they can produce a technology that makes your job obsolete? 

Citizens of Cleveland, Tennessee…I’ve said this once and will say it again. Modern technologies are stealing your jobs! Before we make the decision to adopt these things, we need to think about its systemic consequences. Here is how I make my decisions about upcoming technologies, being cognizant of our community as a whole versus just me as an individual. If the technology will make our lives better overall, then we should use it, support it and even defend it. If technology won’t make our lives better, we should stop using it, boycott it, and be vocal against it.

Listen carefully: Artificial Intelligence is likely to take your jobs away. Machine learning and cloud computing will automate back office banking job functions and will impact their overall operation. If you work for a bank in town, consider this when celebrating all these advancements in artificial intelligence. You may be the next in line to lose your job.   

Commercial banks are going to adopt advanced technology in order to reduce costs at your expense. Researchers are estimating almost 800,000 bank jobs to be cut because of these upcoming AI technologies. In Europe, the number is higher. I wonder how many jobs AI will cut in emergent markets like India and Brazil. How can this be good news for anybody, by the way? The robots are coming to replace you! But many, including thousands who work in the bank industry, worship all these advancements in technology. Do you see the irony?

Pandit is not alone with his predictions. Axel Lehmann, UBS’s COO seems to agree with him claiming that artificial intelligence will literally change the banking industry’s operation. In an earlier article I’ve written here at the Cleveland Daily Banner, I have described how the new production equation attempts to eliminate its labor portion in an attempt to make production equal capital rather than production equaling labor plus capital. Perhaps, the former might be the way banks try to keep afloat because of all this infusion of technology in their living systems. No matter which industry you are in, most enterprises I know operate under a well thought out business model,  a clever business strategist should maximize the uses of technology (AI, robotics, and such) in order to maximize profit. I get it… In the end it is about money or shall we say, making a lot of money. I am convinced of one thing, introducing a new business model maximizing artificial intelligence and robotics will reduce labor in the new age of information.

I predict that the new banking model using artificial intelligence and robotics will end up imploding in the long-run.  Banks are going to end up shooting themselves in the foot by believing that labor is irrelevant to their operation. The question is whether we should invest in people or in technology. Having served in the capacity of interim department chair in two public institutions before joining the faculty at Lee University, where I had to make some of these decisions, I have always opted to keep good people. I don’t really think that artificial intelligence or a robot can do the work of an experienced banker. Do you really want to call a 1-800 number to get support about that deposit you did on Friday that didn’t go through? I don’t think you do. Do you? 

Bots 1… People 0.

I do action research in artificial intelligence as it pertains to the media. Some of the things I like to investigate include the use of automated systems and its impacts on consumer engagement and social media likability, the impacts of bots for the growth of social media accounts, and the upcoming big data software tools used on the market today by media companies. I am interested in business intelligence and how the former has an impact on how we communicate and advance the business of media. We need to know what is coming towards us in order for us to be able to act and strategize accordingly.

By better understanding innovation, we give ourselves the chance to predict human behavior and corporate response. Understanding where we are in the adoption and acceptance of artificial intelligence tools, I would argue, is critical for our survival in 2017 and beyond. My fellow citizens of Cleveland, Tennessee, we better get on the ball and start paying closer attention to how these tools will impact our lives because we will see, in the near future, an explosion of artificial intelligence artifacts in our communities. Well, it is already happening in the media but it will be more mainstream in your industry, as well.

Let me share this with you — I have been conducting a pilot study on the impacts of what I call hybrid robotic generated content versus human based keystrokes. For about a month or so, I have been working with an artificial intelligence system that is able to co-generate short blog articles for mass consumption. The scary part, or exciting one if you are a TechnoGroupie, is that I am finding no significant differences in engagement and likability between my own articles and the ones I co-write with a robot! With things being fair — I serve as both writer and editor with the robot. Without my inputs, the bot stories are nothing but a non-sense piece. My human touch is still required to make the computer generated artifact ready for media consumption.   

I find the former pretty disturbing because as this technology develops, we run the risk of seeing less articles written by human beings. That means less jobs and less taxes being paid to support local communities. Let me clarify one important thing, though. Newspapers that have a local reach, like ours, shouldn’t be affected by this upcoming era of self writing systems. Relationships and identification within the community can’t be easily replaced by a bot. Big media conglomerates, however, will operate differently. In fact, they are already operating differently. Have you heard about the 100 anchors, reporters, analysts and production staffers who lost their jobs lately at ESPN?

Do you know that the New York Times uses machine-learning technology in order to identify patterns in financial campaign data? The Associated Press is now using Automated Insights, an artificial intelligence tool that generates stories with big data ranging from public company earnings to minor league baseball games. Artificial intelligence will revolutionize the media business as we are going to see an explosion of articles using sophisticated artificial intelligence big data technology which will probably reverse the current societal belief that news is fake. The former will come at the expense of the little man working in these big media conglomerates. Media validity will resurge.

From a business sense, investing in both labor and capital where artificial intelligence serves as both don’t make too much sense to me because sophisticated machines can act “like” a human being if programmed correctly overtime. Because of advances in AI, many media professionals will be forced to retire from places like CNN or ABC which would cause a significant impact on how these organizations operate. Institutional knowledge isn’t something that an intelligent machine can replace with ease. I predict a lot of managerial turbulence in the media industry ahead because of the implementation of artificial intelligence tools. Machines are learning! The use of bots for social media growth will only get more sophisticated. Organizations that ignore the use of big data systems will be left behind. The robots are winning! I am concerned. How about you?

Within social media, ‘fake’ is everywhere

Let me disclose something to you. I spent two years of my life infiltrating social media communities to literally find out what these kids were up to.

This column is going to be about what I’ve found in this investigation. It will focus on the social media platform Instagram, for simplicity. Are you ready for this? Here we go.

Kids and others are “faking,” or shall we say cheating, their way into fame. There are systems out there that can give “immediate fame” to those who are willing to buy it.

Let me give you an example. I’ve met at least 100 people in social media who are using the app “autolike,” and celebrating the fact that their accounts now receive thousands of purportedly legitimate “likes” per post. This app gives some people in social media the impression of being popular without having the “popularity” they’re seeking.

How do I know it works, or is real? Because I’ve tried it with my account a number of times to test this thing. It is real. It works.

Be very careful with what you see out there. I say this because, honestly, all this technology has made me distrust what I personally see online. People are faking everywhere.

Conglomerates are forming to collaborate on spamming techniques. Yes, you heard that right. People are getting together to engage in spamming to grow their accounts and make themselves more popular.

DM groups, as direct messaging communities are referred to, are now being used extensively by millions of accounts on Instagram, in order to trick the system’s algorithm into believing that these spam accounts are more populated than they are.

These communities meet six times a day, under different names, and possess a wide variety of characteristics that you must meet in order to join them. They operate on a kind of “The more, the better” mindset.

Do you have a 100K fake follower account? We want you! Jeez, this is the reality out there, fellas. Organized spamming happens on Facebook, Telegram and many other public applications. How do I know it works? You know it, right? I joined them and played with their systems. Does it work? Oh yeah.

Secrecy is at an all-time high online. The good stuff is only being shared by a few. Nobody wants these secrets to be revealed in great detail, and most want you to be clueless about it.

Why? Well, because they can say to you, “I can make you go viral! Give me $150 a month and I will make this work for you.” The more ignorant you are about this new stuff we call social media, the better for them.

There are millions of people making a living with this garbage, I must add. Some are even making a living writing books about this stuff. How do I know this? I bought a “secrets” book for $19.95. It was all there. I mean, the main ideas.

Before I forget, let me tell you about an app that reveals the amount of fake followers an Instagram account has, and also provides the expected likes and comments an account should have. It is called IG audit. Inflated numbers of likes and comments against the expected value of engagement, as we say, indicate participation in these suspect activities I’ve just mentioned.

This is also what I’ve found out in my quest to better understand the social media community.  A degree of “fake” is expected – and considered acceptable – by these groups, because the “like factor” tends to generate more likes. Let me put this another way: The more popular someone appears to be tends to result in more social media site or platform visitors thinking that these posters are indeed popular. I know, it is weird. It actually reminds me of how life is in Brazil. It is all about rumors. It really is an “If it appears to be, then it must be,” type of thing.

There are too many communities forming out there to make them appear popular/likable to you. Question them first before accepting the information at face value. Chances are very high that their accounts are being inflated.

Like anything in life, it takes time to build anything of value. Social media is no different. False (or “fake”) information, group spam and secrecy are running wild in cyberspace.

Here is my advice to you: Doubt first, before believing what you see in these social media communities.

———

(About the writer: Dr. Luis C. Almeida is an associate professor of communication at Lee University and a TEDx speaker. He is the author of the book “Becoming a Brand: The Rise of Technomoderation,” and a devoted Christian. He can be reached via his website at  luiscalmeida.info.)

Are You Ready To Be Cloned?

In a recent television interview, Vladimir Putin said, “Whoever becomes the leader in this sphere (Artificial Intelligence) will become the ruler of the world.” I am afraid he is right about that. We are not taking any chances. The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) currently has 137 pilot projects directly related to artificial intelligence underway. It seems evident to me that we have reached a point of no return in regards to fully investing in the development of intelligent systems. The former gives me goosebumps and chills. 

The United States has always been an empire of ideas; A country that premiums talent and human ingenuity. You got a great idea? Awesome! Let’s develop that idea and take you away from the competitive proletariat ball field. The great business geniuses of the 20th century, e.g., Sam Walton founder of Wal-Mart, Steve Jobs co-founder of Apple, and of course the great Henry Ford — all had two things in common. They were very talented and human but none of them were able to be omnipresent in their economy. Modern applied technology changes that. Artificial intelligence reinforces that! You can now be cloned and “work” in more than one industry at the same time by either using or developing intelligent systems.    

Historically, our capitalist society worked this way. People who had a brilliant idea and were able to make that idea work got to the top and remained at the top freeing up positions at the bottom for the remaining of the population. The development of intelligent systems changes this dynamic by introducing “cyber-cloning” into this midst. These days, we can clone your thoughts and actions and advance other areas of the economy, literally making many compete against your e-persona for a place under the sun. Let me say it this way. Your biggest competitor might actually be an intelligent robot hosted somewhere in Utah, citizens of Cleveland, Tennessee. This is probably what the CIA is doing right now. It is humanly impossible to be working 24/7 yet defense isn’t a 9-5 job. Think about it. It gives me chills to think about the number of unqualified workers who will be out of the job market due to advances in technology. Ladies and gents, we’re going to see this sooner than later. 

How would you feel about that? There are intelligent systems today that can organize warehouses better than you and your friends. In many parts of the USA, trash is now taken by a robot. Intelligent systems are now doing some of the work which were historically done by lawyers. A number of the videos that you see on television were done by an automated system. What if I told you that I have an intelligent system promoting my wife’s start-up right now, as I am writing this column. In the past, Dr. A was only able to be a college professor, opening up opportunities for others to sell their services to us as social media professionals. Today, Dr. A is both a college professor and social media manager at the same time. Part of me is now digital! The former is a huge shift in how our capitalist system operates these days because of technology.

I am going to make a prediction. In the near future, true wealth is going to aggregate among a few big business conglomerates offering little opportunity for others less fortunate within the system. We are going to be able to clone our thoughts and ideas and maximize our professional talents in ways that we have never seen in the history of mankind. Capital, not labor, is going to be the fuel of production. The world that our sons and daughters are going to see when they grow old will be nothing like what we see today. Artificial intelligence is here to stay and with time… it will only get more intelligent.

Technology is overrated!

Some have argued that technology has created more jobs than it has destroyed. I am skeptical about this socially accepted romantic TechnoLove cult. I am starting to believe that technology is doing more damage than good for us. If you have been reading my column here in the Cleveland Daily Banner these past few months, you can probably attest that I am not a “TechnoGroupie” or a “TechnoPhobic” but a TechnoModerator — a person who enjoys a chat about reasonable uses of technology in society. I am not sold on this idea that job applications are always to be completed on-line.

Ladies and gentleman, application tracking technology has made job applications more democratic but it certainly didn’t make them any easier or more effective,. In America today, there are millions of unfilled jobs despite all this technology we enjoy having.    

What a nightmare for many! Do you need a retail job? You need to go on-line and apply! Are you interested in working for a big accounting firm, “check out our application on-line.” We shall contact you if you are a “fit.” Good luck! Who is a better fit? You or the other 500-1000 applicants you are competing against?

Let’s start with the basics. Have you ever experienced troubles with an on-line job application system? Well, I have. Last year, when I was looking for professorship positions in the southern region, I came across this quite elaborated and interesting university’s job application system.  The main problem with this system was that only God was good enough to fit the position! What a waste of my time and probably theirs. Sometimes I wonder what organizations are thinking when they put together these websites to attract star employees.

With things being fair, applicant tracking software has made the job of many big corporations  and university hiring committees much easier because these systems help organizations with controlling information management, application storage, and organizing and accessing relevant data. From that standpoint, advances in recruiting technology have revolutionized the way we collect applicant data. However, like with all types of innovation, there are side effects. Although these technologies assist leaders with planning, implementing and managing the hiring process, it also creates a number of challenges for good candidates. By the way, I am not aware of any high paying position today that doesn’t require applicants to spend a considerable amount of time filling out these on-line job applications. If you are looking for a new job, expect filling out 40-50 of these applications.

My wife has spent nights on end submitting job applications in this past few months. I witnessed her spending two hours to complete one single on-line application! She got denied the next day. Holy cow! What a waste of time. Thankfully, due to hard work and social capital, she found a position in Ooltewah as a beauty consultant. What a blessing for our family! We kind of needed it.   

Look, I get it — Advances in technology has helped companies with storing, organizing and accessing hundreds, sometimes thousands of digital job applications. From a logistical standpoint, that’s great. The problem with the automation of the application process is that millions of people apply for jobs everyday but employers only scan the resumes. It seems to me that all this technology has forced us to hire resumes rather than hiring people. We seem to have lost the human component in the application process. What a shame!

Back in the day, when people didn’t have to apply for jobs on-line to be a store associate at a retail location, speaking with a manager would increase your chances of getting hired. No wonder why job turnover is so high these days. People are sick of this tedious data entry nightmare. So the question stands —Is technology making our lives better or worse? Probably worse. “TechnoLove” maybe overrated!    

TechnoLove is Overrated!

Some have argued that technology has created more jobs than it has destroyed. I am skeptical about this socially accepted romantic TechnoLove cult. I am starting to believe that technology is doing more damage than good for us. If you have been reading my column here in the Cleveland Daily Banner these past few months, you can probably attest that I am not a “TechnoGroupie” or a “TechnoPhobic” but a TechnoModerator — a person who enjoys a chat about reasonable uses of technology in society. I am not sold on this idea that job applications are always to be completed on-line.

Ladies and gentleman, application tracking technology has made job applications more democratic but it certainly didn’t make them any easier or more effective,. In America today, there are millions of unfilled jobs despite all this technology we enjoy having.    

What a nightmare for many! Do you need a retail job? You need to go on-line and apply! Are you interested in working for a big accounting firm, “check out our application on-line.” We shall contact you if you are a “fit.” Good luck! Who is a better fit? You or the other 500-1000 applicants you are competing against?

Let’s start with the basics. Have you ever experienced troubles with an on-line job application system? Well, I have. Last year, when I was looking for professorship positions in the southern region, I came across this quite elaborated and interesting university’s job application system.  The main problem with this system was that only God was good enough to fit the position! What a waste of my time and probably theirs. Sometimes I wonder what organizations are thinking when they put together these websites to attract star employees.

With things being fair, applicant tracking software has made the job of many big corporations  and university hiring committees much easier because these systems help organizations with controlling information management, application storage, and organizing and accessing relevant data. From that standpoint, advances in recruiting technology have revolutionized the way we collect applicant data. However, like with all types of innovation, there are side effects. Although these technologies assist leaders with planning, implementing and managing the hiring process, it also creates a number of challenges for good candidates. By the way, I am not aware of any high paying position today that doesn’t require applicants to spend a considerable amount of time filling out these on-line job applications. If you are looking for a new job, expect filling out 40-50 of these applications.

My wife has spent nights on end submitting job applications in this past few months. I witnessed her spending two hours to complete one single on-line application! She got denied the next day. Holy cow! What a waste of time. Thankfully, due to hard work and social capital, she found a position in Ooltewah as a beauty consultant. What a blessing for our family! We kind of needed it.   

Look, I get it — Advances in technology has helped companies with storing, organizing and accessing hundreds, sometimes thousands of digital job applications. From a logistical standpoint, that’s great. The problem with the automation of the application process is that millions of people apply for jobs everyday but employers only scan the resumes. It seems to me that all this technology has forced us to hire resumes rather than hiring people. We seem to have lost the human component in the application process. What a shame!

Back in the day, when people didn’t have to apply for jobs on-line to be a store associate at a retail location, speaking with a manager would increase your chances of getting hired. No wonder why job turnover is so high these days. People are sick of this tedious data entry nightmare. So the question stands —Is technology making our lives better or worse? Probably worse. “TechnoLove” maybe overrated!    

Virtual Reality Side Effects Unknown

We, Americans, often celebrate the many new advancements in modern technology. Our society has grown used to seeing so much new technological artifacts introduced into the market that when we don’t see them introduced and advertised, we tend to question the validity of the media reporting. In these past few years, people have celebrated the advent of 3D printing, self-driving cars, drones, and virtual reality (VR) goggles with much enthusiasm and hope. I myself have purchased a number of these gadgets and have enjoyed using them sporadically, especially my virtual reality goggles. I have to say that riding a rollercoaster in the comfort of your own home is both safe and fun. Here is the kicker, ladies and gents, these great new technologies have long-term side effects that are unknown to us. Let’s take the example of VR goggles.

What happens to your brain when this new technology starts tricking your brain about heights?

Many researchers are claiming that VR technology is re-wiring our brains, affecting our eyesight, and impacting our hippocampus functions. Researchers at UCLA have found that VR technology helped rats with being fully immersed in a virtual world. Repeated use of VR technology has demonstrated that this technology tends to shut down neurons and create “corrupted” maps in rats’ brains. Well, these former claims seem pretty disturbing to me, especially because being able to navigate in the world is what makes us productive members of society to a large degree. Can you imagine working somewhere in Cleveland and not knowing how to get around town? I don’t want to lose my ability to self navigate, do you?

By the way, how is that GPS technology treating you? Have you lost track of where things are in town because you are constantly using google maps? VR technology is having similar effects in that regard.

Let me say this — I don’t want to grow old and start having schizophrenic attacks or develop Alzheimer’s disease because of technology. Do you? My brain is more important to me than any microchip! Severe stiff necks and eye strain are two conditions that I wouldn’t enjoy having at age 60. Reality is more important than virtual reality.

It is not all. Optometrist researchers have claimed that nearsightedness can develop in subjects due to use of VR technologies which eventually can result in people having a higher chance to develop retinal diseases. Holy cow! Give me a paper and pencil. I just want to live in an analog world and breathe calm!  Now, with things being fair, VR technology has also shown to be a great tool to assist pre-teens with improving eye sight in England. I am skeptical about these VR benefits, I must add. Although playing a VR rollercoaster video game is fun, I have to admit that I leave the game a bit disoriented. On a few occasions, I have experienced a headache and sensitivity to light.

What makes this whole discussion pretty disconcerting to me is the fact that we cannot claim with any degree of certainty yet that these tools are really causing all of these former conditions. Some of us, teacher scholars, understand the impacts and limitations that an experiment can have on what we call subjects. I am concerned about these technologies, people. Part of why I own some of these gadgets is to better understand their side effects and point them out to you so that you at least have an idea about what is it like to use these “beta” tools. It is fun to ride a rollercoaster vicariously but at what cost? Let me disclose something to you! I don’t use my VR goggles anymore because I got sick of developing headaches. I am not looking forward to potentially develop schizophrenia! I would rather live in reality than in virtual reality. What is more fun to you?

Generational Shifts In Technology Use

Ladies and gentleman, a weird phenomenon is happening right at this moment in Cleveland, TN and beyond. I’m seeing some of you on your smartphones more often than the students in my classes, especially the freshman. No, I’m not kidding, and yes, you heard it right. I’m not saying, however, that students aren’t going to their iPads or laptops to surf the net because they are but some of you are really using your devices to unreasonable levels and are starting to be where they were about two years back — Approaching the Robotic Stage of the Human Robot Cycle Model. How do I know this? I’m watching you! Well, let me explain briefly.

First of all, most of you now have a smartphone maybe two. What was old technology is now being adopted even by people like you, my dad and my mom. By the way, my parents are baby boomers and use their smartphones more often than a college student. My mom, for example, posts five times a day on facebook and comments on people’s posts multiple times a day, 6 days a week. Thank goodness she takes the Sabbath off! My dad has six smartphones, three tablets, four laptops, and wants to buy more electronics because you know, it is the right thing to do these days. He is semi-retired as a corporate executive. I wonder what will happen when he “retires.” Well, I doubt he ever will.

How can that happen you may be asking. Why are older people getting so addicted to the same tools their grandkids are using these days? Hmmm…

See? When we produced propaganda campaigns to assist teenagers and young adults with using technology in moderation, we left you out! Why? Well, because you are baby boomers and baby boomers just don’t use technology. At least that was the assumption. Yeah right… Of course you do, but you were much more reasonable than the kids back in 2015. Things are changing, though. Most of you aren’t addicted to technology but I’ve seen a big increase in technology use among the baby boomers and beyond. Is it a bad thing? I think it is a bit bad, yes. In the Human Robot Cycle we know that the more a subject interacts with a computerized device, the more robotic they become without even realizing. You were not made to be a robot in behavior! Therefore, using all these technologies can be quite bad for you.

You know me. I’m not against technology. I like to use technology but in moderation. Using technology isn’t a bad thing as long as technology is used in moderation.

Listen to me: Technology can be addictive and you aren’t free from its threats. Remember: We are what we do many times. If people choose to be on the computer all the time, even if that person is you, chances are very high that people will suffer the consequences of technology overuse no matter what. We live in a weird world where advances in technology are making even the old young again.

Second, we do live in a technopoly. In the US of A, we pride ourselves on being technologically savvy and for being innovators in everything we do. There’s some truth to that but just don’t forget that we all pay a price for being connected all the time, even after retirement. In a technopoly, where technology is seen as a god, people are living longer and consequently working until death because of technology. Don’t believe me? Ask your neighbor if he is really retired? I bet he isn’t completely retired. Technology extends our working days until we die for the sake of technology.

You may agree or disagree with how I’m going to end this article and that’s fine but many baby boomers today are a byproduct of modern technologies because use among your age group has increased exponentially because the “no tech use” propaganda wasn’t directed at you. I’m concerned, I must add. What will happen if a critical mass of  55+ year olds start spending 6 hours a day on a smartphone wasting time? Look, our kids need you to help them to be better people. Please don’t lose track of what is important! Use technology but in moderation. Your grandkids will thank you.

Say NO to self aggrandizement on-line

Great adversity is a pre-requisite to greatness. Enduring strong opposition, being able to recover from a direct knockout, and believing the most and the longest even if the odds are against you are all elements of what make great leaders truly great. I am not impressed by anyone who is constantly bragging about his latest accomplishments especially when these statements are shared on social media. Anybody who is great in what they do understand that being successful isn’t a solo sport! Greatness doesn’t need to be a contact sport necessarily but it most definitely has elements of team work. I am afraid that social media is enforcing a dangerous ideology — The idea that “I” can make my world perfect and that “I” don’t need you. 

One of the most important leadership lessons I’ve ever learned in my career came from a former Director of Analysis and Planning at Ohio State University and former Associate Provost. He once told me, “Always look at the law of opposites: The moment that somebody says that they are great in something, be aware.” “Nobody who is great at anything need to tell others that they are all that great,” my mentor once said. The former is a wise statement, indeed. Why are we allowing our kids to behave the way they do on social media?

My fellow Americans, I am afraid that all these social media walls and mediated spaces are allowing children to practice bad communication habits especially among kids between the ages of 14 and 18. It is shocking the content that we can see and hear in apps like YouNow or Yik Yak. Compatriots, your sons and daughters and quite possibly your dear grandchildren aren’t really using Facebook or twitter that much if at all. Facebook and all these “old school” social media tools are for old people like you and me. If you decide to log into the YouNow app, the bragging that occurs on Facebook sounds like kinder garden. The “I” culture of these new contemporary social media tools are reaching very high levels of ridicule to a point of no return.   After momentarily visiting a “celebrity” on a popular social media tool back in July, I felt obligated to create a lesson for college students about the danger of these new and upcoming social media apps and how they impact the lives of our loved ones.

How uncomfortable would you be to see your teenager daughter speaking with an Iraqi Soldier on YouNow? I’ve seen a person in her 50’s giving what I consider to be very poor advice about life for teenage girls on an app system. Maybe I am being overly defensive and skeptical about having fifty year old mature adult speaking with teenagers about the importance of doing “what you like” as a youngster. I don’t think I am, though. I can see many of you being uncomfortable with such scenarios, as well.  I had to say a prayer about the whole situation and de facto I did.

I am currently teaching a Lee University course titled, “Innovations and Social Media.” In that class, I teach students how to use social media responsibly and how to understand both the positive and negative effects of innovation in society within the scope of the course’s objectives. Why are we so shy about condemning this culture of “I” in our society these days? It is time for us to take the lead and break this idea that bragging on-line is acceptable and that anything goes in social media. My daughter’s life matter to me and I know that yours matter to you. Say no to self aggrandizement on-line. Say yes to God and the future of your children.

Everything Stops For The Eclipse, Even Technology!

We are fifteen minutes away from the total eclipse here at the Lee University campus and let me share something with you — What an awesome experience this is! What is as awesome to witness are hundreds of college students and dozens of couples having fun and holding hands and walking together with special eclipse filters instead of perishable machinery in their fingertips. There are kids playing together and smiling at one another. I see interpersonal conversations everywhere on campus, regardless of gender, nationality, or religious affiliation. It seems that everything stops for the eclipse to pass by, even technology! I wish that we had more total eclipses here in southeastern Tennessee. What a Lord’s blessing we are experiencing today.

It is now 2:19pm. There are more people coming and taking a seat in front of the Communication Arts building on the south part of our campus. Celebrate!!!! I see no smartphones on their hands. I see, however, a number of college kids playing frisbee and too many old timers walking around and enjoying their Monday afternoon. They’re now starting to stop. No wonder why since it is 2:26pm. They are now putting their eclipse glasses on and waiting tirelessly to see this rare event of God. With things being fair, not everybody has ISO glasses. Some are chatting and holding  their smartphones in their hands but today they are the minority. Some are trying to take a photo against the sun but are having a difficult time due to its brightness.

One thing is for sure. It seems to me that many families and professionals took the day off to enjoy this once in a lifetime outdoors experience with their children. I am glad, putting smartphones away once is a while is a good thing. As I always say, “We need to use technology but in moderation.” It is evident to me that people are using their smartphones much less today. What a wonderful Cleveland, Tennessee. It is now 2:30pm! Holy cow it looks like a summer evening in the middle of the day. I hear screams on my left and celebrations on my right. I hear whistling and my wife saying, “Luis!!! Luis!!! Look at the sun. It is safe now!” The eclipse is here. I did!!!! What an amazing experience I must add.

I couldn’t resist but to speak with some local residents who decided to come to Lee University to watch the eclipse. Brad and Deiley Wilson, a very nice couple I must add, were among the people who I had the privilege to speak with. They both shared two very interesting insights about the eclipse and technology.  Attorney Brad Wilson shared, “If it wasn’t for the eclipse, I would be at work right now. I would definitely be in front of my computer screen.” His wife Deiley adds by saying, “If it wasn’t because of the eclipse, I would be in front of the computer for 8 to 10 hours today.” I had also the opportunity to speak with Ernesto Perez about the eclipse and technology. He kindly shared the following with me when I asked him about his interactions with his smartphone today. He shared, “Today, I am using my smartphone less since our family is trying to enjoy the eclipse experience.” How cool I say! The eclipse today has served as a catalyst for escaping the machine!

Where Do You Stand In The Human Robot Cycle?

There has been a lot of talk about the side effects of technology and innovation in our society these days. Conversations relating to tech addiction, eye sight issues, stress and anxiety due to the excessive use of smartphones in our society are literally happening everywhere regardless of culture or town size. Human-machine conversations and concerns seem to be happening with frequency in the aisles of New York City to suburban Los Angeles and everywhere in between, including in our great town of Cleveland, Tennessee where we live. I have lost count on how many TV reports have been aired on this topic. What we haven’t talked about too much in the media is why are we so attached to smartphones.

What if I told you that the former is happening all over the world because the more people interact with smartphones, the more they become like one without noticing. People are becoming like a computer but are unable to “see it.” We are on our technological devices many hours on end and using sometimes unconsciously.

What if I told you that there is a brand new model of human behavior that explains why we are behaving this way. It is called the Human Robot Cycle. This model has four phases and operate in a cyclical and predictable fashion. The phases are: The State of Equilibrium, Obsessive Computer Use Phase, Burned Out Phase, and the Post-Burned Out Phase. Let me explain.

Every person is born in the state of equilibrium because human beings are not exposed to smartphones in the womb during gestation. As we get acquainted with technological innovations and are consequently given smartphone access in order to satisfy our contemporary technological needs, people unconsciously experience what I call a “process of transformation” which is the first transitory stage of the cycle. In this intermediary state, human beings aren’t in equilibrium but aren’t in the obsessive computer use phase either. I would argue that a person living in this state is engaging in true technomoderation since the person is using as much technology as they are putting technology away, for the most part.

The danger is to eventually develop an obsession with smartphones, pads and video games. With time, people eventually reach the Obsessive Computer Use phase which is the first deep level of human disequilibrium. As more technology is infused in our lives, we pass through what I call “the human robot syndrome” period where we become even more obsessed with computer use which leads us to behave literally like how a machine would. Examples of these behaviors include a tireless call for immediacy, multi-tasking, and production. People are always doing something — chatting with their friends on Facebook while at dinner, updating their Instagram accounts while in class, broadcasting their life events on youtube live while driving to work, you name it. 

Eventually, after more exposure and frequency of computer use, people reach the Burned Out phase or colloquially spoken the Robotic Stage. The moment you reach this second phase, technology is the least thing you want to see in front of you. An intervention then needs to take place in order for you to regain your humanity. I call the stage “the human reversal.” Eventually, you will reach the Post-Burned Out phase where computerized device use is minimal. The goal of the Post-Burned Out phase is to bring people back to the equilibrium (first phase) stage where things are just fine and dandy. Typically, individuals who are in this stage would purposely use technology minimally as a means to retrain one’s body to the dangers of technology. The cycle never stops and keeps repeating itself throughout the subjects whole life. 

The Human Robot Cycle isn’t sexist or ethnocentric. Gender and nationality seems to have little to no impact on how people interact with their machine. Regardless of cultural background or nationality, tech addiction is impacting your lives maybe for the worse.  It is only by better understanding the Human Robot cycle that we finally understand where we all belong in the continuum.

You Are A Tech Gladiator

We live in a sort of modern day Rome where those who control the crowd become invincible. The gladiators of the past were poor slaves in the eyes of Caesar but they were the true heroes of the people. They could entertain and temporarily persuade the masses to do whatever they wanted them to say and do in the arena. Although they had no Roman right, as long as they were fighting in the Roman Coliseum, they were free and in control.

The modern day gladiator, or the small guy who now interacts with a crowd on-line in order to make a living with his craft may not be fighting lions in a stadium to entertain Caesar and the Roman citizens; however, technology has empowered them to display their talents to thousands of followers on facebook and truly entertain and influence the masses much like Roman gladiators.   

It is a form of power that can be easily understood by the powers to be. I have to admit — the smartphone has empowered the weak to be seen and valued and that’s good. Let me whisper this in your ears and please promise me that you will only tell your mom about it. Evil doers are short lived in the new age of information. Trying to oppress others isn’t worth the trouble anymore. Like a Roman gladiator, when given access to technology, the slave now has a voice to share in society because of technology.     

In reality, ladies and gentleman, I have pity for those who scheme against the weak and use positional power to oppress the brethren because in modern day America, where most people have the chance to share what they really think to millions for cheap, playing evil against good people with technology access and a crowd will, sooner or later, backfire. Let me explain.

Have you ever heard about the United Breaks Guitars campaign? I bet that most of you never heard about this modern day corporate nightmare because the campaign was targeted at the youth. After United Airlines baggage claim employees mishandled and broke an unknown country artist’s guitar, United refused to admit their mistake and replace the guitar. Uh oh. 

Let me make this story short. YouTube allowed vocalist Dave Carroll and his band to tell 17,877,563 unique YouTube users about how United Airlines mishandled their baggage and broke his Taylor guitar by composing a country song titled, “United Breaks Guitars.” The refrain went like this: “I should have flown with someone else or gone by car… cause United Breaks guitars.” What a nightmare for United!

Almost overnight, an unknown figure became a hero to the masses, like a gladiator.

Here is the reality, folks. People today are empowered by technology. Decision makers need to think twice before assuming that a person is powerless in the new age of information. A simple facebook post can cause tremendous stress to any organization and consequently cause the crowd to cheer. In a sense, we are all modern day gladiators!    

Organizations must be aware that we have democratized technology. Access to technology has given the masses a voice and a large audience to entertain. Social media platforms are now modern day Roman Coliseums where we fight and look for audience support. The crowd is now being entertained, persuaded and influenced on-line as well as in real life.   

The reality is that we live in an evil world where powers aren’t evenly distributed. We have the haves and have nots, much like in ancient Rome. Advancements in technology have allowed the modern man to become a gladiator with a crowd. For very cheap, campaigns can now be made and shared with millions of people per one post. Social media is a weapon my friends.   

The world of communication has changed forever. In the age where sophisticated media users have the ability to control and influence millions of people, the everyday person has a voice too.  Modern day gladiators are uncontrollable warriors with a platform to share their thoughts. Everybody today has a voice and a crowd to entertain. A single facebook post can now make history. Fortunate are those who understand this simple fact.

AI: Finishing Your Thoughts

The smartphone of the future will act much like how google search suggestions work today. When we type the word “screen addiction” on google, the search engine shows us four options — “Screen Addiction, screen addiction test, screen addiction statistics and screen addiction child” and then we choose among these options without doing too much thinking or typing. Be ready citizens of Bradley County and beyond! Our future daily decisions will be automated by an artificial intelligence algorithm inside of an upcoming new gadget that is unlikely to resemble what we call a smartphone today. Artificial intelligence will become a dangerous commodity.

Use predictions and tailored notifications will be a part of “us” a few years from now. Be ready to accept that a part of you and me will be stored in a foreign country yet available at your fingertips on an immediate basis. Let me illustrate logistically how this system will operate in practice. Let’s for a minute assume that one of your friends want to know whether you will be going to participate in the upcoming 5K marathon in Cleveland. Rather than typing a response to him, your communication device will show you options already made based on your previous responses while texting. If you haven’t talked about marathons before, I bet that this system will use the most used pre-programmed responses about marathons among the huge global big data database that is already being developed for your convenience.

The system becomes intelligent overtime meaning that as you pick certain preferences, the computer system starts to better understand who you are and consequently is able to better predict your responses. The machine will be more aware of your lifestyle overtime with tremendous accuracy. Ladies and gentleman, we are going to laugh about how we used to communicate with others in the past. Your children and grandchildren one day are going to ask you, “How do you know what to say?”

In a recent article published by Fortune Magazine, they call this phenomenon the virtual version of you. What is crazy about this whole thing is that some of the elements I have written above are already being developed by startup companies in the San Francisco area. I don’t know about you but having a computer system collecting all my data so that it can generate individualized content specifically designed to make me respond to others without doing too much thinking seems to be a dangerous idea to me yet its not that far away from being a reality in America today. The near future will be a weird one and I recommend that you start getting used to being uncomfortable with issues of artificial intelligence. Technology can be designed to be invasive and many times revolutionary. Being revolutionary may be a good thing but not at the expense of our ability to think critically. I wonder what this upcoming artificial intelligence tech trend will do especially to the sons and daughters of the generation Z. I am deeply concerned about how they will be able to do any thinking of their own. I am predicting, based on this boom of artificial intelligence, that the post-millennial generation will be characterized as the “irrational” generation. What a tragedy!

Artificial intelligence is here to stay. Algorithms will be, as Marshall McLulan once said, a part of you. What was impossible for the old generation is now possible today. If you think that all this technology makes you uncomfortable today, wait until you have a script telling you how to respond to a work supervisor and then the message is intercepted by a hacker. Security will be huge along with message encryption. I wonder what people are going to say about technology then. Only God will tell.

Can Technology Take Over Churches?

Social media will never fully replace brick and mortar churches in Cleveland or any other small city in America. The reason why I am so convinced about this is because God isn’t always about technology. The Lord is all about people and His kingdom. The idea that on-line communities will destroy the church establishment will prove to be false as long as we focus on the message of God and the development of people instead of the financial desires of man. By the way, I am not saying that technology initiatives shouldn’t be taken seriously or should be totally ignored. When push comes to shove, supporting “real-life” church establishments is better than having a “virtual” church.

A church is meant to be a community. God didn’t make Adam and a smartphone. He made Adam and Eve to coexist together and live and speak with each other for a reason. As part of the body of God, they both were made to exchange ideas and live in harmony with the real world. When we go to a “real church,” we do a lot of that. We speak with friends and other believers, we laugh and cry together, we celebrate God and coexist in the same environment, testifying the love of God with many others in church. Overtime, we tend to start caring for each other and serving in projects for the Lord in our real communities. I am not sure if the former is able to be done in a “virtual church.” 

We are church goers because we believe in the principles of our church denomination, the weekly activities of our congregation, and the message that is delivered by our pastor every Sunday morning. I don’t foresee our family compromising on our core religious beliefs, what our social activities should be and in ignoring the teachings of our pastor because of technology. I am not saying that technology can’t be a part of what we call “the church experience” in the near future but to assume that perishable “machinery” will replace an important and necessary establishment, the brick and mortar church, is overrated.

With things being fair — The advent of cyber live streams have helped tons of believers and unbelievers to hear the word of God which advances the idea that parts of the church could be done on-line. I totally agree that social media posts on twitter are here to stay and will continue to have an impact on how we share the gospel in our communities and beyond. I just don’t think that an internet church is ever going to replace the essence of what we belief, the way we engage in play and how leaders of the church use their gifts to influence others in a godly way. The former has to be done in a brick and mortar church.

Maybe some principles can be taught using video sharing technology but do you really think that we can explain salvation to unbelievers without the many non-verbal communication codes that we know about? How about explaining the gift of charisma to someone over a smartphone?

When I was a kid, I used to go to soccer games in my former country of Brazil. The feeling you experience when going to the stadium can’t be replicated by watching an on-line feed. When 150 thousand people are simultaneously jumping in a soccer stadium, especially after a goal, the feeling? You never forget. Things shake, you sweat in happiness, scream and smile! When we “attend” church over the internet, the music doesn’t touch us the same way, we can’t experience what others are experiencing, and the atmosphere of worship is never the same. The church experience simply isn’t there.

I would argue that believing that technology can always replicate reality can have disastrous consequences in the lives of many, especially troubled people. Belonging to a real church is part of what “living a good life” is all about.  Social media may be a great tool for sharing photos and keeping in contact with old friends and family but when it comes to developing good morals and raising a family, a brick and mortar church is a necessity.

Dark Side of Smartphones

I can only imagine how parents feel when their kid commits suicide. It must be a horrible feeling that nobody should ever experience in their lives. Yet, in the United States alone, there is a suicide every 12 minutes. According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, there are 121 suicides per day making suicide the second largest cause of death among people ages 44 or younger. According to a recent study published at the Atlantic Magazine, the suicide rates have doubled since 2007 and suicide among girls ages 15-19 increased by 40%. What is going on?

Nobody really knows as of yet because suicide is such a complex condition to study which often occurs after a number of things that could go wrong go wrong including lack of belonging to a caring church, finances, thinking that they are a burden to others, hopelessness and many other factors. I can’t comment on what makes good people take their own lives because I am not a psychologist. All that I can do is to speculate and provide potential insight based on what I know. Could it be that the rate of suicide is increasing at very high levels in America because of technology? Let me ask this question differently. Do you think that there is a positive correlation between smartphone communication and use and the increasing rate of suicide among teens in this country? Well, I think so! Let me explain.

Mediated communication, or the communication that uses information communication technology, is still communication. It isn’t categorized by communication scholars as face-to-face communication but it can be argued that it has the same qualities of traditional (face-to-face) communication at least from an operational standpoint. Communication works a little bit like this — Messages are sent from a sender to a receiver regardless if that message is sent through interpersonal means or via texting or a Facebook post. People tend to forget that just because technology has evolved, it doesn’t grant us to right to change years of solid communication theory and application tested and re-tested continuously by communication scholars. No matter which era we live in, people will feel goofy if the message has what communicators call “noise” or is decoded in a way that is detrimental to the receiver. Technology will never change the fact that we are humans and have feelings and these feelings play a role on how we act and react in life.

Let me be practical. When a girl in her teens decodes a message sent by someone, she will inevitably have her own perceptions about the message that she just received. If her “feelings” are good, she is likely to smile and feel great. If, however, her feelings aren’t good, problems are likely to start occurring. Problems are defined loosely in this case. If these “problems” occur frequently and daily, then one must wonder what will be the ramifications for such exposures. We are using smartphones an average of 6-8 hours a day. Statistically speaking, I would argue that the chance for “bad communication” to occur in a teens life is pretty high simply by association. Do you remember when you were a teenager and thought that if your boyfriend broke up with you it would be the end of the world? Well, technology makes these “feelings” a reality because our lives are now so public and visual. Look, there are people in my home country of Brazil who I haven’t communicated with interpersonally in years who knows more about my life than my dear 90 year old grandmother! Although the way communication occurs doesn’t change, the way we “experience” communication has changed dramatically.

The intersection between what is and what should be perceived by a teen on social media is what I think is causing this increase in suicide rates among them. About 75% of teens own a smartphone. They use these devices constantly everyday of the week. Communication is experienced differently but it has the same elements regardless of form. At 15, drama is high. When combined with other factors like loneliness, problems are more likely to occur. This is my take on it.

Does Your Industry Have a Future?

Our society is not adapting to the needs and wants of the millennial generation. It seems to me that we are still living in the past and let me tell you — It can be quite dangerous to the overall sustainability of our great American republic. It seems that youngsters along with technology, will redefine the meaning of what the “good life” is in the United States and abroad once again, whether we want them to or not. This time, however, the side effects of technology will be felt by more people because of the types of the industries that will be affected.

Some of these industries include: Real Estate agencies, car companies, and restaurants.

I don’t know of any better societal symbol to talk about than the automobile. Regardless of what you like, whenever we buy a car, it somehow comes with a societal status associated with it. We often define ourselves by the cars that we drive. Millennials don’t really care about cars overall! According to researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, millennials prefer on-demand mobility services instead of car ownership. By the way, do you know that British, French and German teenagers are failing driving licensure tests at record rates? Maybe they don’t value a drivers license as much because these days they can rely on Uber drivers to take them around town. Maybe millennials don’t care about being licensed as much because of everything that is associated with having one including a car payment, insurance, and gas. I wonder what information technology will do to well established industries like the car industry. If I was an executive working in the automobile industry, I would be concerned about the overall sustainability of the industry. Millennials don’t want to spend time in their cars because it takes them out of the internet.

If millennials don’t even want to own cars why would they like the idea of home ownership? Many don’t want to acquire one because of the high costs! Millennials often want to live in a dense urban landscape rather than large houses in suburbia partly due to cost and convenience. Have you thought about what would happen to the many houses we have in suburbia? Its effects on the local real estate market can be disastrous. Maybe millennials aren’t buying too many houses in the suburbs because they want to be more connected. From that standpoint, on-line activities are starting to have unintended consequences in our local real estate markets. Commuting equals less time millennials spend on social media. They don’t like that. 

In-home virtual activities are more popular among millennials these days than eating at a casual dining restaurant. Millennials like cooking at home and eating quick meals. They don’t have a problem with eating out in quick-serving restaurants so that they can quickly go back to social media to chat with their friends. I am not totally sure about the full-scale technological side effects that restaurants will experience in the near future because of that. One thing is certain: Casual dining restaurants are going to struggle to attract millennial customers. The ones that will survive will start offering convenience and cash options such as home delivery and discounts. I am concerned with the future of casual restaurant whose business model is to attract people to “experience” a prolonged night out. Millennials don’t really care about the former because of perceptions of cost-benefit and lack of technology access. Reality: They chose to be connected first before going out to eat with a mate.

Things are changing as quick as the production of new computer chips. I am very concerned about the side effects that we could potentially experience due to predictive millennial behaviors in regards to technology. Can you imagine what would happen to our town if real estate agencies, car companies, and restaurants struggle to attract clientele? I don’t even want to start thinking about it. Fellow residents of Cleveland Tennessee, we need to realize that the unintended side effects of technology are real and here to stay. Maybe, controlling our rates of technology use would do us good, don’t you think? Think about it.

Success In The Age Of Automation

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, people possessing a bachelors degree still make more than people who only complete a high school diploma or an associates degree in full-time work. A talented masters degree recipient makes on average 15% more than those who hold a four year degree, as long as both are over the age of 25. Professional degrees tend to generate 50% more return over a person’s investment against a bachelors degree. Clearly, pursuing formal education is worthwhile statistically but not in the way you may think. 

The majority of people would agree that when a person combines a solid college education with hard work, it is nearly impossible to fail. Although this has been the case for many years, I don’t think that we are operating under the same criteria anymore. A college degree and hard work isn’t enough for you to succeed in the workforce anymore — at least not in the long run. College students must work with professors who understand where the economy is going and how to anticipate the effects of automation in their fields during academic advising and work together to come up with a strategy to deal with these challenges overtime.

I would even argue that strong interpersonal and cross cultural communication skills are also required for graduates to succeed over time in 2017 due to the fact that we now belong to the world economy. Being able to interact with others will prove to be an indispensable skillset for millenniums to have because it will be a commodity. As more automation is introduced in the workforce, we are going to find ourselves relying more on these systems yet leadership will do business as usual, interpersonally.   

We live in a society that is fast paced, driven by expertise and hard work, where investors want to get immediate return over their capital investments so that more innovation is then infused back in the workforce in order to maximize profit, even if your job is at stake regardless of your work ethic. If we ignore how technology is evolving in our industries, we run the risk of putting ourselves out of business before the first quarter!

Where is Kodak today? Do you remember CompUSA? I don’t believe that the employees who worked for these companies were all incompetent. I am also skeptical that they may have all been lazy and therefore their mother companies either ceased to exist or significantly reduced their operations. Maybe there was another reason for why they all lost their positions within the American corporate world. To me, the differentiator that has made them move from a leader to being a player or no player in the American business landscape was how they calculated rates of automation in their own industries overtime.

A college graduate must understand this reality not after years working for Amazon but while they are in high school. As a parent, you must tell your kids that life today is in many respects more difficult than life was for you as our economy now has more people competing for positions, less jobs available and has an increasing amount of automation impacting these former dynamics which can only result in one inevitable outcome — potential unemployment for those who aren’t experts in their field of study or who have poor work ethic and ignore the predictable changes that automation will bring to their industries.

I may appear to be overly cautious about the systemic side effects of innovation in the American workforce sometimes but I find it difficult to believe that my concerns for the sustainability of small town living and progress for the middle class isn’t grounded in sound principles of what makes companies successful overtime. Perhaps if companies like Sears and Borders were more sensitive to the automation that was occurring at Wal-Mart and Amazon, they would still be with us today.

We live in a world market by change and automation. Failing to compute its impacts on our long-term economic sustainability seems juvenile to me. We need to be proactive and increase our awareness of the inevitable impacts of automation so we can keep achieving the American dream.

Where Do You Stand In The Human Robot Cycle?

There has been a lot of talk about the side effects of technology and innovation in our society these days. Conversations relating to tech addiction, eye sight issues, stress and anxiety due to the excessive use of smartphones in our society are literally happening everywhere regardless of culture or town size. Human-machine conversations and concerns seem to be happening with frequency in the aisles of New York City to suburban Los Angeles and everywhere in between, including in our great town of Cleveland, Tennessee where I live. There have been numerous television segments produced in mainstream media condemning the excessive use of technology among the youth and thousands if not tens of thousands of articles written on the subject, published in newspapers and magazines all over the globe. I have lost count on how many artifacts have been written on this topic in blogs across the internet.  Everyone is talking about it quite frequently, as a matter of fact. 

What we haven’t talked about too much in both the traditional and informal media yet is why we are so attached to the smartphone and where do we stand psychologically in relation to it. Why are people insisting on using their smartphones rather than taking a break from it when they know that the overuse isn’t good for their eyesight. Why are intelligent people risking spending time in prison in order to hopefully capture the perfect selfie at the expense of not calling 911?

Why do professionals need to be on their smartphones “multi-tasking” during a business meeting for years on end without having anybody demanding that they put their device away? How about moms who are spending less quality time with their daughters after work in order to converse with strangers on twitter at 8:45pm? The former realities don’t make too much sense to a lot of people. It makes a lot of sense to me. I bet it will make a lot of sense to you, as well.

What if I told you that the former is happening all over the world, regardless of culture, color or creed because the more people interact with smartphones, the more they become like one without noticing. What Marshall McLuhan theorized back in 1960’s in his work, “Understanding Media: Extensions of Man” was right. As McLuhan points out, in the “global village” is definitely “numb” to the effects of technology in our society which results in many people not seeing what smartphones do to them. People are becoming like a computer but are unable to “see it.” We are on our technological devices  many hours on end and growing. It seems that smartphones the new soma substance a described in the classic book, “A Brave New World.” Elaborate… 

Here is the good news, though. There is a brand new model of human behavior that explains what might be really happening to you and others friends and family members. It is called the Human Robot Cycle. This model has four phases and operate in a cyclical and predictable fashion. The phases are: The State of equilibrium, Obsessive Computer Use Persons, Burn Out person, and the Post-burned out phase. Let me explain.

Every person is born in the state of equilibrium because human beings are not exposed to smartphones in the womb while gestation. As we get acquainted with technological innovations and are consequently given smartphone access in order to satisfy our contemporary technological needs, people unconsciously experience what I call a “process of transformation” which is the first transitory stage of the cycle. In this intermediary state, human beings aren’t in equilibrium but aren’t in the obsessive computer use persons phase either. I would ague that a person living in the state is engaging in true techno moderation since the person is using as much technology as they ae putting technology away, for the most part.

The danger is to eventually develop an obsession with smartphones, Pads and video games. With time, people eventually reach the “Obsessive Computer Use Persons” stage which is the first deep level of human disequilibrium. As more technology is infused in our lives, we pass through what I call “the human robot syndrome” period where we become even more obsessed with computer use which leads us to behave literally like how a machine would. Examples of these behaviors include a tireless call for immediacy, multi-tasking, and production. People are always doing something — chatting with their friends on Facebook while at dinner, updating their Instagram accounts while in class, broadcasting their life events on youtube live while driving to work, you name it. 

Eventually, after more exposure and frequency of computer use, people reach the “Burn Out person” or the colloquially spoken the Robotic Stage. The moment you reach this second phase, technology is the least thing you want to see in front of you. An intervention then needs to take place in order for you in order for you to regain your humanity. I call the stage “the human reversal.” Eventually, you will reach the “Post-burned out phase” where computerized devices use is minimal. The goal of the post-burned out phase is to bring people back to the equilibrium (first phase) stage where things are just fine and dandy. Typically, individuals who are in this stage would purposely use technology minimally as a means to retrain one’s body to the dangers of technology. The cycle never stops and keeps repeating itself throughout the subjects whole life. 

The Human Robot Cycle isn’t sexist or ethnocentric. Gender and nationality seems to have little to no impact on how people interact with their machine. Regardless of cultural background or nationality, tech addiction is impacting your lives maybe for the worse.  Eye sight issues, stress and anxiety due to the excessive use of smartphones in our society is a real problem. We need to be aware of that. Using a smartphone to record somebody’s death at their own expense seems immature and dangerous in our society these days. It is only by better understanding the Human Robot cycle that we finally understand where we all belong in the continuum.

Automated Take Over

In any capitalist society, productivity is an important variable for calculating a country’s Gross National Product (GDP). Productivity is a function of an economy’s output over the total number of hours worked by labor. One could argue that by automating the workforce, productivity would decrease as less workers would then be working to complete a job task. What we are seeing today, however, is that the more technology we infuse in any industry, the more productive that industry becomes and the less compensation workers tend to receive. The uncontrolled infusion of technology in our society has changed the rules of how many hours a day we have to work and how much money we bring home each month to feed our families. Let me say the former differently — Automation has had a direct impact on why you have to work longer hours a week to make ends meet and don’t often get an increase in salary each year to account for inflation.

In the past 50 years, automation has taken millions of blue collar jobs away from Americans. Automation is now invading white collar job territory. Automation has also been responsible for the decline in worker’s overall disposable income levels in both white and blue collar jobs which in itself has had a devastating impact to our local economies. Do you remember when you used to go to work, be there for eight hours each day for five days a week, have dinner with your family, and enjoy buying small gifts for your friends from a small business owner without a credit card? Today, I bet that most of you can’t do that anymore yet technology advancements reached record highs!  No wonder why running a profitable business in small communities these days is so tough.

Most small business owners struggle to make ends meet because of the uncontrolled technological advancements that were infused in their local systems, such as the overall access to the internet. Innovative systems have taken away a substantial amount of our community’s good solid jobs and left us with low wage unskilled vulnerable ones. How can anyone buy the products and services that we offer when most people’s income is spent on daily living necessities? Well, if you own a food franchise, you may be immune to the impacts of automation and are probably benefiting from these technological advancements. For the rest of us, life has been very rough.

Most economists agree that productivity only measures how much an enterprise produces not what it could produce overtime. Productivity should be impacted by demand at least in theory. If demand is low, then by logic worker productivity should be low. Let me say the former differently: If less people are capable of buying your products and services, then businesses should produce less not more and employees should work less for sure. We have seen evidence of decreased productivity on the part of small business owners. We haven’t seen the former happening to big businesses, though.

Think about it — Why should any firm produce more goods or offer more services if there are less clients buying what they produce? Productivity should decrease, right? Therefore, consumer demand should dictate company output. In reality, though, the former doesn’t always work that way. Could it be that the aggressive automation agenda has forced many of us out of a job, and has deskilled our work operations overtime impacting the pool of people who can actually buy products and services to advance our economy? No wonder why car companies make more money financing their cars than by building them.

Automation is a reason for why you don’t feel that you are getting a break from this unstoppable work marathon. I don’t think we are going to stop being productive despite the fact that the demand for what we produce may not be there. Automation has deskilled our workforce maybe for the worse, if you depend on selling your labor for a living. Automation has cut too many jobs. I am not seeing a correspondent amount of jobs created, especially in our local communities. Maybe we need to reconsider the uncontrolled automated agenda. It might be our only path to long-term sustainability.

Put Some Glitter On It

Sometimes being moderate is very bland. You don’t stand out. You blend in. You are neither good nor bad. However, moderation isn’t always so bland a topic. As my wife says, “Put some glitter on it.”

In a world of techno-obsessions, techno-addictions, and techno-phobics be techno-moderate. Neither good nor bad, just very bland. Why? Because it will save you from the extremes. In this world we need both human speech and information technology.

I am a full believer in the power of human speech. What the great orators have done to their respectful societies is literally amazing. In 300 BC, statesman Demosthenes persuaded Athenians to become more patriotic. The French Priest Peter the Hermit, in the middle ages,  influenced over one hundred thousand pilgrims to go on a crusade to Jerusalem in order to rescue the holy land from the followers of Mohammed. In modern times, the words of Martin Luther King, Junior inspired many to “dream” of a more equal society during pre-civil rights times. Very few Americans can deny that Ronald Reagan was a highly influential American leader especially because of his ability to speak well in public. However, the times are changing. Speech isn’t the only powerful tool that both men and women can use to influence anymore. Ladies and gentleman — In contemporary America, we have information technology or shall we say more directly, “social media.’

In 2017, a man without the ability to engage in what communicators call “mediated communication” is handicapped. There is little doubt that technology has assisted the human race with its communication and life pursuits beyond speech. Today, there are over 200 million internet blogs where folks share unique ideas and it’s growing. Currently over 80% of companies hire new talent using the social media tool, LinkedIn. Back in 2010, 12.5% of couples met through a social media site. More than one billion people today have active Facebook accounts. Because of technology, millions of people are able to share their thoughts and beliefs to the masses, are able to find jobs and mates, and to compliment it all, technology has been assisting us with keeping in contact with former friends, family, and co-workers on social media sites like Facebook. So, technology isn’t always bad or evil and much can be gained because of its existence.

Back in 2013, I had the misfortune of falling from a motorcycle and getting a severe concussion. If it wasn’t because of the “impact test” and all the technologies that physicians can use to treat patients suffering from traumatic brain injuries (TBI), I would probably have been an mentally incapacitated somewhere in the outskirts of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. I can attest to you that technology saved my life! Not to say that I was wearing a helmet, which in itself, is technology. If anyone tells you that technology is not a good thing, don’t believe them. With things being fair, though. Much like water, too much technology can make you very sick sometimes causing you to experience severe side effects. This is why moderation is key! Please realize that moderation isn’t synonymous with elimination.

I like information technology and all the benefits that it gives us. By the way, can you imagine banking without computers? How about retail stores operating without credit card machines? Do you enjoy the benefits of having bluetooth and wifi? I do and I bet that you enjoy these luxuries, as well. Now, the former isn’t to say that we should completely ignore human communication. Nothing can be further from the truth. More than ever, we need to be trained in public speaking these days as communication off-line is as important as having good mediated communication abilities. 

I have to admit that my deep appreciation for the great orators of antiquity will never die. What they have done for us has changed the way we live and operate in society. However, the power of human communication can only go so far. Technology, from this standpoint at least, enables some of us to go from being voiceless to being vocal, to share, cry and celebrate.

The Automation Blind Spot

I am deeply concerned about the future of the American middle class and the long term sustainability of healthy capitalism in the land of baseball, apple pie and backyard barbecues. The reason why I am so concerned about the former is because of the inevitable and uncontrolled yet highly celebrated mass adoption of automation in our society. I just don’t see how the internet economy will generate enough peripheral jobs to sustain our standard of living and our off-line communities in the future because the majority of the jobs that the cyberspace sector produces tend to benefit only a small number of people. When you think about buying a book on-line, where do you think about buying it from? Amazon, right? If you need to sell a product on-line, which place do you go to to sell it? Amazon, maybe eBay?

Some bloggers make a living on-line with their writings. However, chances are pretty high that “professional bloggers” work off-line somewhere in order to maintain their on-line empires because blogging alone won’t pay the bills. Some folks believe that creating a smartphone app is a ticket to modern social mobility. I am skeptical! Do you know anyone who has made five hundred thousand dollars in profit selling an app? Maybe you are luckier than me. I haven’t met even a single soul. If we are relying on these activities to sustain ourselves in the future, rather than working on a traditional off-line establishment, we are in deep trouble, don’t you think?

The auto industry generated peripheral jobs that benefited the middle class, like body shops, insurance agents, oil changing stations, DOT workers, rental car companies, and many more. I am not so sure about this new wave of internet job creation. Martin Ford, the author of the book, “The Rise of Robots” talks about this topic in greater detail and presents the argument that the internet economy won’t work for many of us because this new business model tends to generate what he calls, the “Winners-take-all” effect. Rather than everyone benefiting from the advancements of technology, only a few will in fact benefit from and acquire sustainable long-term gains. Most players of this new economy win very little to nothing. I fully agree with him about that.

Let’s think about the former for a minute. If our jobs are being replaced by automation (which they are) with the justification that information technology will produce peripheral jobs to sustain ourselves when they might not, how are we going to contribute to the economy and sustain our communities? By risking losing our dependable middle class income for the sake of technology, we might lose more than a salary or a career. We risk losing what we all stand for in the United States — Freedom. Some may argue that the former isn’t an issue but I bet they either have enough wealth to sustain themselves or are benefiting from the upcoming system. For the remaining of us, the threat of automation seems to be pretty real.

I don’t think that full automation will happen tomorrow or next year but in five to ten years, I predict that the majority of our warehouse functions will be automated. Fast food restaurants will have ordering kiosks which by themselves will reduce the number of available jobs in small-town USA by at least thirty percent. If these predictions come true, it could change our local economies substantially, not necessarily for the betterment and goodwill of the people. I am a proud capitalist who believes in the market economy. We may not have a choice but to somehow control the adoption of new technologies in our communities for our survival’s sake.

Adam Smith once said, “All for ourselves, and nothing for other people, seems, in every age of the world, to have been the vile maxim of the masters of mankind.” Technology seems to be the fuel that is driving this revolution. We need to be cautious about such advancements and think systemically about its consequences before fully supporting new initiatives. At least this is what I think.

Technology Is Stealing Our Jobs

In our society, we are conditioned to celebrate technological advancements almost blindly. A large number of Americans have celebrated technologies that increase the efficiency and effectiveness of agriculture, automobile production and maintenance, household goods and medicine. From the standpoint of “making things function quicker and more accurately,” technology has revolutionized and will keep revolutionizing the way of how we live and do business in this country. How can anybody deny that we drive safer, more efficient and more comfortable cars today than back in the 1940’s? Don’t we enjoy the many technological advancements that we have seen in the field of medicine? Thank God for antibiotics! Having the ability to share photos with relatives through social media 24/7 is pretty sweet, isn’t it?

But what if I told you that most (if not all) technological advancements have a life changing flip side to them. When we talk aspirin, we can bleed internally. Modern farm equipment has contributed to increases in environmental pollution leading to more allergens. The automobile has created “traffic” and is a major contributor of accidents — America’s 4th leading cause of death. The television, smartphone and video games can be quite addictive, can’t they? Addictions can be lethal. 

We are now celebrating automation and robots, or shall we say robotics, as if we should absolutely support everything they have to offer. We talk a lot about drones these days, don’t we? Look, I can see the immediate financial benefits of automation especially in the fast food industry — replacing waiters and cashiers with touch screen kiosks will save any fast food restaurant a large sum in operational costs. Perhaps, fast food restaurant owners will eventually use robots in order to help with hygiene as investing in machines will require less employees, consequently leading to lower levels of food contaminants. It is likely that we are going to see a mass adoption of robots automating production of fast food restaurants and warehouses in the near future due to the reasons presented above. In fact, robotic automation is already happening to a degree. What are the consequences of the former, though?

I wish that we could look at automation and adoption of robotics in isolation from society. The problem is that we just cannot. If we decide to celebrate technology to a point of mass adopting warehouse automation systems, at the expense of its labor force for example, the side effects we are going to feel in our society may be too drastic and irreversible. If you are what I like to call a “TechnoGroupie,” your foundations will be shaken simply because the side effects of such implementations are too much for any humane society to absorb. Let me elaborate.

Automating retail warehouses with robots and fast food ordering systems can have devastating impacts to our local economy. Replacing fast food restaurant employees with automated ordering kiosks might eventually cut fast food operation by 50%. The Wall Street Journal estimates that  the use of robots will eventually cut fulfillment costs by 40%. How many of these retail jobs do we have in Cleveland? Technology is stealing our jobs.   

What would that do to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’s estimation of 700,000 new jobs by 2020 in the general retail sector?  Isn’t the uncontrolled adoption of technology a threat to our national security? I might be going a bit too far with my assumptions but nobody can deny that the flip side of automation and robots is scary maybe irresponsible.

Blockbuster used to have 9,000 stores and 60,000 employees. Netflix destroyed them. Redbox introduces the kiosk movie rental concept using automated restocking machines. Redbox employs a fraction of the employees. No wonder why receiving a pay increase is becoming a utopia for many these days. When the supply of jobs decrease, its demand increase leading to jobs paying less many times not readjusting pay at all. You can partly thank the flip side of technology for your family members’ and friends’ frozen wages. It is economics 101.

Be careful with believing that technology is always good. Sometimes, technology has dire consequences. Maintaining local economic sustainability should be our goal not blind adoption of technology.

We live in a world marked by extremism

At the time of our grandparents, people used to have two maybe three pairs of shoes in their closets. Back in 2013, according to the American Apparel and Footwear Association, Americans bought almost eight pairs of shoes that year. The average American man in 2017 owns twelve pairs of shoes. The average American women owns twenty-seven. Americans on average own nineteen pairs of shoes these days. That’s a lot! 

When we were young, a birthday party would maybe cost parents $150 with presents included. According to a recent consumer survey, parents now spend on average $450 on their kid’s birthday parties without calculating in the $250 they spend on presents. It isn’t uncommon for families to spend at least $500 on their children’s birthday celebrations in 2017.

According to BBC, kids today spend on average six and a half hours of screen time a day, which is a drastic change from the three hours they used to spend in front of computerized devices back in 1995. We have also seen a widespread adoption of multi-screening practices which has influenced the youth to demand connectivity! Will children own a virtual reality device in the near future? I bet they will own two maybe three of these pieces of hardware if not more.

Why are things so extreme today? It is difficult to isolate one single reason for why this is all happening. I think I have the answer for why so many kids (and parents) spend hours on end on computerized devices in Cleveland, Tennessee or Ohio and anywhere in between the states of New York and New Delhi. Folks are exhausting themselves for the sake of technology because when humans interact with multiple computerized devices on a daily basis, they become more like a “computer” without realizing.

Computer use is maybe conditioning us to be more extreme. We see evidence of the former in how we live our lives in relation to the actual traits of modern computer technology. Computers, even when they are on stand-by mode, are technically active in the background because computer processes have to be operational for the computer to be on stand-by. We seem to have inherited some of these computer traits by being so ingrained with them.

It isn’t uncommon for a number of us to work fifty sometimes sixty hours a week, not from nine to five but from nine to forever. Let’s not forget that answering emails at 9:45pm and waking up at 3:00am to solve a problem that we couldn’t solve the night before is an extreme measure. Our computer use behaviors today are quite extreme and some might even categorize them as borderline irresponsible. The human brain was not made to operate in constant information overload mode yet we are challenging our mental capacity limits by being in front of computer screens for several hours a day.   

Remember: Your family members and friends only have one brain. Overuse of technology is an epidemic, it’s alive and well and is everywhere. Adults are also experiencing the same extreme side effects that kids exhibit, due to the extreme interactions with computerized devices, as well. There was a time when extreme levels of computer use was a “kid” thing. It isn’t anymore. The vast majority of us are now on our computers for too long. We need to break from this habit.

The good news is that we can break free from technology once in a while. My recommendations for temporary breaking from computer use extremism is the following: Join a local church and volunteer your time every week for the Lord. If you like to sing, join a community choir or theatre. If your talent is labor, donate some of your time to a non-profit to help with a remodeling or landscaping project. If you like thinking, take a non-credit class in a local college to met new friends. Read a book, go for a walk, pray! In the end, you will thank the good God for living a life of moderation. It makes all the difference. 

When Technology Swoops In Like A Superhero

Technology is a funny thing. It can be used for good or it can be used for bad depending on how we decide to use it. You may be wondering, okay Dr. A, where are you going with this one? 

Let me get straight to the point ladies and gentleman. Even though smartphone technology can make us psychologically sick due to overuse, at the same time, it can also be used as a great anti-corruption tool to be used to bring justice to the masses.

Let me write something that I thought would have never happened in my lifetime. For the first time in the history of Brazil, corruption is being fought by millions of people because of the availability of the smartphone and social media, especially YouTube. The corrupt in Brazil could have never imagined that technology would evolve to such high levels, that their evil schemes would one day be made available to millions across the world. Ladies and gentleman, technology is cleaning up a country that is the epitome of corruption! That’s extraordinary. 

Have you heard of the Operation Car Wash? Or shall I say, “The biggest corruption scandal ever” in the history of the world? The “system,” as it is often referred to, was a massive system of money laundering involving 232 people, over 10 billion dollars in bribes, 16 companies, and made Watergate sound like kindergarten. So far, 160 people have been arrested and 179 people indicted. It literally broke the state oil company Petrobras.

The success of Operation Car Wash is evidence of technology being used to clean up the corruption. The “system” was discovered by very clever federal police officers due to irregular practices tracked down by technology algorithms. Audio technology has played a role in this investigation. Former President Luis da Silva went to prison because technology exposed his evil plans on YouTube. We may hurt our eyes when constantly looking at YouTube videos at home but in the new age of information, these videos can be catalysts for big changes.

The federal judges, as part of the guilty sentencing for the criminals, used YouTube as a means of public record keeping. The judges mandated that the documents, evidence and interrogations be presented to the public through YouTube videos. Sometimes, technology can be used for good.

Let me tell you something. People down there are sick of being oppressed and technology is their means of communicating their feelings and thoughts. It isn’t unusual today for workers, honest families, Christians and many other oppressed groups to express themselves through video technology.

Technology has, without question, given power to the oppressed in Brazil and that’s good. It has also given the regular person the ability to discern whether media conglomerates are controlling the people or are reporting on what is the truth. In the media world, we know that good journalism exposes both sides of an issue. The availability of smartphone technology did precisely that down in Brazil, organically, which some have called this a living miracle. 

What has happened and is still currently happening in Brazil is unfolding via YouTube videos. This is unprecedented and has opened the eyes for the poor. The poor finally know why they are so destitute. Who knew technology could swoop in like a superhero?

I still believe that technology has more bad than good under traditional circumstances. But hey, you kind of knew that. However, technology when used in moderation and with good intention can revolutionize any system. The Brazilian corrupt got caught and paid the price for their evil schemes. Can we refine our broken systems with available technology? Likely, I say.

Cyber Daycare 1.0: A growing reality

Technology has caused way too many side effects in our lives. Some of these side effects include eye strain, anxiety, neck pain and, of course … self-centeredness.

It is very common for us to hear the following rhetoric (or something similar) these days on Facebook: “I must work on my social media presence,” “I am heading out again,” or “I am going to make my life better.”

We hear the word “I” everywhere, much like when we were babies. Could it be that all these social media technologies are turning our society into a big cyber daycare? Absolutely! Think about it.

The beginning of wisdom is the recognition that God is in control of our lives. Glory, ladies and gentlemen, is to always be given to God. At least, this is what Christianity teaches us, right? This is the beginning of wisdom and maturity.

Not sure if this “I” business is doing us any good on Instagram, Vine and Twitter. It most definitely isn’t making people more mature, that’s for sure. Have you read what so many people write on these platforms nowadays? Do yourself a favor: Log into Facebook tonight, read and pay attention to how childish most of the posts are. It’s an epidemic of immaturity forever recorded and often elevated online. It is kindergarten 2.0.

Social media enables us to prolong our childhood, thanks to technology! Meaningless.

Are we going mad? No. Maybe we’re going way too secular, or shall we say, non-Christian. What good are we doing by spending hours on end writing frivolous things about ourselves online? Let me break this to you: We are doing very little good.

Life is about glorifying God and showing love toward your neighbor. When was the last time that any of you read the following on Facebook, “Thank God for His mercy. We aren’t anything without Him,” or “To God goes all the glory.”

This big international kindergarten we call social media is distracting us from what matters the most in our lives: God!

Open your eyes to reality.

Listen carefully: It isn’t uncommon to read social media posts and witness people calling each other names, being vain, and ignoring some to get approval or gain access to a special little group at others’ expenses, which is really infantile.

Stop! Wake up! God is the center of your life, not you or me or your dad. All these technologies are destroying us from within and impacting how we communicate with our soul. Life is so much more than a collection of tweets about you or me.

The Bible teaches us in 1 Corinthians 13:11 that, “When we were children, we thought and reasoned as children do. But when we grew up, we quit our childish ways.” Why are so many  grownups and organizations, many of them religious-based, literally saying, “Look at me! I am wonderful. Come see me!”

It is getting old, people. It is cute to see a baby growing up and thinking that life is all about them when we know better. It isn’t cute witnessing people in their 50s saying how great they are and the games they play with others for self-gain without giving any glory to God, when many of these same braggarts claim to be believers. In the old days, we had a different method for fixing wrong attitudes — by telling people, “Grow up.” We lost that.

You are not that important. If you die tomorrow, how many people will attend your funeral? Social media many times gives us the illusion that we are great when in reality, we aren’t. And in fact, those who claim that they are wonderful are often less paramount than you and me.

Look, it isn’t that complicated. We are to make God the center of our universe and to keep subordinate technology where it belongs.

Our society is becoming a colossal kindergarten because of all these technologies. Let’s stop this madness and grow up, people.

First grade is around the corner! It is time for us to realize that we aren’t the center of anything and that social media use isn’t all that great for us, either.

Remember: You aren’t 5. You are an adult. Act like it.

———

(About the writer: Dr. Luis C. Almeida is an associate professor of communication at Lee University and a TEDx speaker. He is the author of the book “Becoming a Brand: The Rise of Technomoderation,” and a devoted Christian. He can be reached via his website at  luiscalmeida.info.)

You Are A Tech Gladiator

We live in a sort of modern day Rome where those who control the crowd become invincible. The gladiators of the past were poor slaves in the eyes of Caesar but they were the true heroes of the people. They could entertain and temporarily persuade the masses to do whatever they wanted them to say and do in the arena. Although they had no Roman right, as long as they were fighting in the Roman Coliseum, they were free and in control.

The modern day gladiator, or the small guy who now interacts with a crowd on-line in order to make a living with his craft may not be fighting lions in a stadium to entertain Caesar and the Roman citizens; however, technology has empowered them to display their talents to thousands of followers on facebook and truly entertain and influence the masses much like Roman gladiators.   

It is a form of power that can be easily understood by the powers to be. I have to admit — the smartphone has empowered the weak to be seen and valued and that’s good. Let me whisper this in your ears and please promise me that you will only tell your mom about it. Evil doers are short lived in the new age of information. Trying to oppress others isn’t worth the trouble anymore. Like a Roman gladiator, when given access to technology, the slave now has a voice to share in society because of technology.     

In reality, ladies and gentleman, I have pity for those who scheme against the weak and use positional power to oppress the brethren because in modern day America, where most people have the chance to share what they really think to millions for cheap, playing evil against good people with technology access and a crowd will, sooner or later, backfire. Let me explain.

Have you ever heard about the United Breaks Guitars campaign? I bet that most of you never heard about this modern day corporate nightmare because the campaign was targeted at the youth. After United Airlines baggage claim employees mishandled and broke an unknown country artist’s guitar, United refused to admit their mistake and replace the guitar. Uh oh. 

Let me make this story short. YouTube allowed vocalist Dave Carroll and his band to tell 17,877,563 unique YouTube users about how United Airlines mishandled their baggage and broke his Taylor guitar by composing a country song titled, “United Breaks Guitars.” The refrain went like this: “I should have flown with someone else or gone by car… cause United Breaks guitars.” What a nightmare for United!

Almost overnight, an unknown figure became a hero to the masses, like a gladiator.

Here is the reality, folks. People today are empowered by technology. Decision makers need to think twice before assuming that a person is powerless in the new age of information. A simple facebook post can cause tremendous stress to any organization and consequently cause the crowd to cheer. In a sense, we are all modern day gladiators!   

Organizations must be aware that we have democratized technology. Access to technology has given the masses a voice and a large audience to entertain. Social media platforms are now modern day Roman Coliseums where we fight and look for audience support. The crowd is now being entertained, persuaded and influenced on-line as well as in real life.   

The reality is that we live in an evil world where powers aren’t evenly distributed. We have the haves and have nots, much like in ancient Rome. Advancements in technology have allowed the modern man to become a gladiator with a crowd. For very cheap, campaigns can now be made and shared with millions of people per one post. Social media is a weapon my friends.   

The world of communication has changed forever. In the age where sophisticated media users have the ability to control and influence millions of people, the everyday person has a voice too.  Modern day gladiators are uncontrollable warriors with a platform to share their thoughts. Everybody today has a voice and a crowd to entertain. A single facebook post can now make history. Fortunate are those who understand this simple fact.

Don’t be Anxious About Anything.

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28); “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7); “So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?” (Hebrews 13:6). 

Who are we without God? We are nobody. Prayer is the name of the game, brethren. Ask and you shall receive — “Ask and it will be given to you” (Matthew 7:7). There is no need to worry or be anxious about what lies ahead of you. God is in control and we shall live by faith in this evil world that we live in. Fear? Let it flee away from you yesterday. Why? This is why, “Say to those with fearful hearts, “Be strong, do not fear; your God will come, he will come with vengeance; with divine retribution he will come to save you” (Isaiah 35:4). 

“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matthew 6:34). Live in the moment! Don’t be anxious about anything as you (or me) can’t truly control our lives. Rejoice, pray and keep the faith. God is wonderful and He shall protect you against the adversary. Nobody can be better than God. Thanks be to Him.

Millennials Are Not Computer Geniuses

This is perhaps one of the biggest myths of our times — The idea that the millennials are geniuses of technology and that they know everything there is to technology. The reality is that they don’t actually know  the very basics of longitudinal productive technology as this kind of knowledge base requires significant internal rehearsal which is a fancy name for practice through repeated behavior. The Millennials can rarely recognize their own limitations with modern technique which in itself should serve as evidence that something just isn’t right.The former is perhaps one of the biggest problems we face in society today. The idea that millennials know everything about computers. Well, they don’t.

They “know” how to use social media but social media fluency doesn’t equate into being capable of producing an elaborated spreadsheet, C++ programming expertise, or even HTML 1.0 code understanding.  I even argue that the millennials don’t even have the necessary tenets of building a legitimate group of organic followers on social media either as such endeavors require time and effort. I have worked with a number of clever social media students to help promote some of my initiatives and in every instance, even the very best student wizards of technology, couldn’t make anything go viral for me. Why is that? Well, you tell me. Let me tell you…

Most youngsters of today don’t have the “time” and don’t want to put the effort to build such social media empires. They are too busy wasting their time with themselves rather than learning how to produce artifacts or advance any social media initiative overtime as such endeavors require a combination of rest, reflection, and hard word. This is why TechnoModeration and rest are critical elements to meaningful production. Most millennials are consumers of technology not producers of any kind. Most don’t rest to be able to contribute to their highest potentials. Looking for the easy way out under a constant state of frazzle won’t cut and this is perhaps why most millennials simply don’t produce novel artifacts despite the numerous techniques available to them.

This is perhaps why a smart group of entrepreneurs developed a number of smart applications to help the busy generation to get more followers, likes, comments… I like to call them the “industry of fake” who offer a solution to what I call the egoistic me at all costs clientele. I have to admit — these internet entrepreneurs are brilliant! They understand their target audience!  They produced modern media artifacts to satisfy the Millennial hunger of wanting to be popular and as a value added fool their parents with the idea that they are geniuses of technology because they can buy popularity.

The price of fake is decreasing by the year as do most innovations. So, NO! Millennials Don’t Know Everything About Computers. They probably know very little, in fact. They know how to fake what they know. If you take their smartphones away, they know even less and would probably get severe anxiety.

Don’t be fooled by what you hear. If it appears too good to be true… did you remember that phrase? Pay attention, investigate and look for the undeniable evidence that is found out there.  They need as much help as we do with technology.

Technology makes you very boring

In this life you need to be fascinating.

Do you have an accent and come from Greece? Cool! Fascinating!

I hope you didn’t choose to live life without taking any risks, because in this world those who don’t take risks live both a boring and a dangerous life.

I don’t know about you, but unless I am playing with black pieces in a chess game, my best defense is always the offense. I don’t play not to lose, especially if I have the ability to make the first move.

All this new technology made possible by the microchip is making people boring and too much like cookie cutters, in so many respects.

Recently, I decided to skateboard on campus as a means to connect with our students in a way that they would understand. I doubt that many people my age would even consider skateboarding, because our technological society doesn’t place a premium on those who deviate from the norm that much, even though you can be quite captivating when you listen to what your heart is telling you.

Who cares if we have all these technologies but we fail to influence? Being boring and “old school” isn’t always the best way to connect with the youth, if you know what I mean.

Some people have said that to be more cool, we have to emulate what Apple does. Yes, they are a tech company, but what amazingly makes them fascinating is their ability to take risks and  deviate from what others are doing. They lead by celebrating their differences in contrast to others.

People need to simplify. Yet, technology often complicates what we do. Don’t believe me? How complex is your password? Eight to 10 characters, which must contain a special character, two numbers and nothing that repeats itself or resembles your Social Security number?

Look man, don’t be boring like everyone else. Be yourself and celebrate your differences because in this technological world … trust me, you will need it.

You must invest in you, not always in technology. Will that make some people uncomfortable? Absolutely. But hey, life is about dealing with ambiguity and finding ways to control the uncontrollable without having technology controlling what we do.

You know what? Now at age 44, I’ve come to the conclusion that people have to project themselves somehow, but not always by using technology. In a society where most people tend to make decisions before thinking, many people need to be reminded that being human and perceptive makes us much more fascinating.

I like making myself uncomfortable for the sake of growth. How about you? Please don’t tell me that you get afraid of displaying who you really are for the sake of technology! Remember: Life is about living with enthusiasm in a fascinating way. Live and let die!  That is, live your life and let technology’s control of you die away.

Let me say something to you: I am cool, perhaps the coolest professor higher education has ever seen. Hey, I’m not being humble today, all right? I hold a Ph.D., can bounce a golf ball and catch it behind my neck, can talk with strangers like we were “besties,” and can play a mean game of Ping-Pong!

Thank goodness technology doesn’t control me. My life would have been way too mundane if I allowed the smartphone to control me. My recommendation for you follows. Are you ready?

Life is what you make of it. Don’t allow cheap machinery to control or dictate how you live. Technology is helping us to be more productive and empowered. The irony is that what we gain in production and empowerment we lose in authenticity.

I am very concerned that these technologies we have in America and elsewhere today are changing our society to a point of no return, one where homogeneity will be seen as the norm.

What has made this country what it is today was partly based on the risks we took in order to be more fascinating. Technologies are changing this by asking us all to be more uniform and predictable. How boring!

Live and let die, or shall we say … carpe diem: Live your lives to the fullest, ladies and gentlemen. Say no to technologies and embrace your humanity.

In the end, it’s all you’ve got.

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(About the writer: Dr. Luis C. Almeida is an associate professor of communication at Lee University and a TEDx speaker. He is the author of the book “Becoming a Brand: The Rise of Technomoderation,” and a devoted Christian. He can be reached via his website at  luiscalmeida.info). 

Within social media, talent differentiates

Let me start this column by saying this: I believe in the use of technology, but in moderation.

I don’t hate technology and I do think that we cannot live without it. All that I’m saying is that we need to be careful to not have technology tools and platforms take over our lives for the sake of technology use alone, just because it is sexy to be a YouTuber.

The internet and everything social we hear about it, are here to stay. We need to embrace these things because this is where modern society is heading. In this column, I will tell you what I think is OK to do in terms of this tech-driven world.

Let me make a strong statement. It is unlikely that you will become a YouTube superstar, because being a superstar is statistically improbable.

Now, let me elaborate.

First, it is OK to use social media and all the new digital tech. But please consider the following, if you may. It is OK to use all this social media stuff as long as you spend enough time producing quality content and engaging with your audience. Creating good content, along with seeding your posts into a niche done continuously and over time, can be beneficial for you or your organization.

Going to Facebook to share unfocused messages in an attempt to gain attention from others is time-consuming and meaningless.

Be smart. Use your time wisely when using these platforms. My suggestion is that you write a blog from Monday to Friday, or write articles to be included in publications like LifeHack, where your expertise in being human has much more value. I bet you will get much more attention this way than sharing photos of smiling cats at the North Pole with your friends who probably don’t care about your shares.

Second, be skeptical about uncontrolled social media use. Use doesn’t guarantee success!

I believe that uncontrolled use of anything is bad. Making a person look bad because they don’t use social media for hours on end each day is irresponsible. Not everybody is able to produce quality content “at speed” seven days a week, regardless of training.

By way of explanation, I’m currently doing an Instagram campaign within the motivation niche. I post content on a daily basis which literally takes me approximately five minutes to produce, and which I then share with the masses.

I engage with followers three times a day for 15 minutes a pop. I give myself an extra 30 minutes to advance my mission online. I spend less than two hours a day on this process. This past month, I received 5,429 post likes, 3,242 comments and hundreds of visits to my profile. However, I happen to have a talent for media.

Let’s not forget that Dr. A is a professor at Lee University who teaches four classes a semester in the Communication Arts Department.

Using technology all the time because it “might” be the right thing to do may backfire. Read this carefully: Talent is as variable in social media as it is in football.

Please realize that I’m not saying that I don’t like technology. I love it, as you know. But, we must be reasonable and realize that not everyone has the time, resources or the talent to be a YouTube superstar.

Lastly, it is OK to reveal who you are. The internet exposes things. You can’t fake it.

My recommendation is for you to start embracing the internet – within reason.

In the end, it will be better for you and me to say what we really think than to pretend to be something we aren’t.

Back in the day, faking was easier and it wasn’t network-bound. In 2018, being fake backfires. Everything is connected to everything else. Being two-faced in the age of social media will damage your reputation. Don’t do it.

In summary, we aren’t crabs who go through life moving backward. Social media is here to stay. That’s where we are headed.

By 2020, your grandsons won’t watch TV anymore. Smartphones will totally replace the TV’s role in society.

Just be aware that being an online personality requires a lot of work and talent. Having a web presence is all right, as long as it doesn’t control your life.

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(About the writer: Dr. Luis C. Almeida is an associate professor of communication at Lee University and a TEDx speaker. He is the author of the book “Becoming a Brand: The Rise of Technomoderation,” and a devoted Christian. He can be reached via his website at  luiscalmeida.info.)

I have 10 Life Secrets: Let Me Share One.

Most people don’t get what they want or deserve because of silly mistakes. I have met a number of talented college graduates who struggle economically because of the bridges they’ve burned along the way, experienced professionals who get stuck mid career because of pride, and near retirement employees who are anxious to retire so that their fear of unemployment stops consuming them. Clearly, nobody told these folks that jobs are now partnerships and that burning bridges, pride and fear are only going to slowly transform their true talent into perishable mediocrity. You don’t want to fall under these categories. What you do need is to control your life by maneuvering the game of life in ways that makes you totally unpredictable. By the way, how are you positioning yourself these days? Are you engaging in careful planning?

Undeniably, everybody loves doing the kind of work that they have a talent for. Based on this logic, the million dollar question then becomes, “What do I need to do in order to work on my talent?” Ladies and gentleman, I am going to reveal to you one of the ten life secrets I’ve learned right now. The secret actually comes from Napoleon Hill, one of my “deceased mentors” and author of the book “Think and Grow Rich.” Just realize that his secret has seven steps. Are you ready for this?

First: Decide exactly what kind of job you want. If this job doesn’t already exist, perhaps you can create it.

Second: Choose the company or individual from whom you wish to work for.

Third: Study your prospective employer, as to policies, personnel, and chances for advancement.

Fourth: By analysis of yourself, your talents and capabilities, figure what you can offer, and plan ways and means of giving advantages, services, developments, and ideas that you believe you can successfully deliver.

Fifth: Forget about a “job.” Forget whether or not there is an opening. Forget the usual routine of “have you got a job for me?” Concentrate on what you can give.

Sixth: Once you have your plan in mind, arrange with an experienced writer to put it on paper in neat form and in full detail.

Seventh: Present it to the proper person with authority and he will do the rest. Every company is looking for men who can give something of value, whether it be ideas, services, or “connections.” Every company has room for the man who has a definite plan of action which is to the advantage of that company.

Careful planning is at the core of this secret. Failing to influence others is a capital mistake. Never, under any circumstances, criticize others because the moment you do you lose them. Who knows if you are going to need them in the future or not? Don’t burn bridges! Control your pride. Life is about God, not you or me. Why are you so afraid? Life is full of surprises. You might as well join the team and make yourself indispensable to whoever you work for. Your anxieties will decrease… trust me.

It is all about careful planning, dude. By the way, what are you doing about that? Don’t let others choose what you should do. You should take ownership of your destiny perhaps with the consultation of a close ally. The former can help you tremendously, that is for sure.

 

Divide and Conquer By Being ‘TechnoModerate’

It is very difficult for a person to  simultaneously “technomoderate” and also build a brand on social media.

That is to say, those who profit from any social media platform are constantly using it, which makes it very difficult to demotivate them from using these tools in the first place.

The more people use Facebook, the better they tend to get at using it, and the more rewards people tend to achieve from these systems. Therefore, asking kids who dream of having their own brand to use social media less often will hurt them. What do I do? I’m stuck!

I know that building brands online requires countless hours of dedicated work, along with the offline sweat. It is ridiculous what you need to do today in order to build a name in social media.

People spend too much time engaging support groups, managing bots to help with social media engagement and creating great media content to be shared. Limiting how often you share your stuff isn’t an option anymore. It is a requirement to share, and share often, if your goal is to build any type of brand in cyberspace.

Thankfully – at least from my “moderating” perspective – having too many social media messages released each day tends to backfire. I suspect this is related to the fact that producing quality content is difficult and expensive, and to the fact that posting too much content a day acts like a divide-and-conquer type of thing. People divide their own efforts, which tends to decrease what we call social media engagement.

People tend to remember what they hear more frequently, though. Social media professionals know this and therefore keep developing their image in cyberspace on a daily basis. But again, too much creation may do you more damage than good.

Bingo!

This is where Dr. A comes and says, “Kids, let’s build our brands in social media, but remember: Trying to build your brand too quickly will backfire. You need to engage in this process with moderation.”

Listen to me: Clever will be the ones who don’t abuse the social media system, because if they do, they will end up losing what they built. People tend to get sick of being bombarded with multiple messages because we are constantly receiving messages from hundreds, if not thousands, of people every day. There is hope for some technomoderation, I’m glad to say!

Building a brand, online or offline, is tough. It is time-consuming. Attracting a loyal clientele isn’t that simple. Now add in having to engage with them online on the top of that! Dude, I know that practice makes perfect, and in the world of social media, things aren’t any different.

A person’s social media IQ is directly related – like anything else – to use, but a degree of rest is a requirement for things to work.

Playing the game with frequency pays off, but there is a price or two to be paid. There is a physical and financial price to it, I must add.

Can you imagine building content on a 3-by-4 inch canvas, hitting tiny buttons at a rate of one keystroke per millisecond constantly for a good five minutes per session, four times a day, with the hopes of being rewarded by complete strangers 24/7? This act can be pretty physical, don’t you think?

And there is a cost! In a previous column, I revealed that spending $150 in social media services alone each month is only a fraction of the cost to build an image online. Are you ready to commit the equivalent of a car payment dedicated to growing your Instagram account? There is a price to all this madness.

As a professor who teaches social media and innovation, and believes in the moderate use of technology, this reality is — at a bare minimum — disturbing to me, unless “technomoderation” is adopted. By not using the tools, people lose by not playing the game. By overusing them, there goes your health and finances. What’s in the middle? I know, you love me … technomoderation!

Please keep this a secret.

Dr. A says, “Those who use social media tools within reason enhance their knowledge of the medium, and can build a brand over time with reason. I don’t think those who decide to ignore this advice will win,  ultimately.”

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(About the writer: Dr. Luis C. Almeida is an associate professor of communication at Lee University and a TEDx speaker. He is the author of the book “Becoming a Brand: The Rise of Technomoderation,” and a devoted Christian. He can be reached via his website at  luiscalmeida.info.)