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. 

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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

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Smartphone Shot

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.

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.

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.

———

(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.

———

(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.”

———

(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.)

Treat Everybody With Respect

My Response For Why The Student Debt Financial Problem Is Primarily A Parent Issue.

photo-1494797710133-75ad43b1cd95
“AARP is worried about student loans.” 
This is my reply, after reading the post on facebook.
Luis Camillo Almeida Genius, this is an issue, yes. This is what I see though: Everybody under the sun is complaining that college is expensive. I agree, it is. However, there are way too many kids these days who live life as an adult while pursuing a college education. Examples of extra expenses they have that maybe they shouldn’t have are: Adult housing, car payments, insurance, gas, smartphone bills, luxury gadgets, brand clothes, food, fancy trips, beer money… Now, let’s estimate the former and see if this crisis is only a college or student problem. We live in a luxury apartment complex but I have been a college professor for 10 years and can afford that. Some of my neighbors are students. It costs 1K to live in this complex a month. At the bare minimum, these kids are paying $500 per month to live here. That’s $6000 a year. In order to live in our complex, they need a car. Most of the cars I see on most campuses I’ve worked in my life are new or nearly new cars. I estimate a payment of at least $250 a month. Well, that’s $3000 a year. We all know that to be able to drive a car, one must have insurance. Kids driving cars at age 20 will pay high premiums until they reach the age of 25. I bet they are paying 150 dollars or so a month in car insurance a month. That’s $1800 a year. Ladies and gentleman, no car can be driven without gas. I bet they spend 2 to 3 tanks of gas a month. Let’s estimate a $80 a month in gas bill or $960 a year in gas. Smartphones are awesome but they aren’t cheap. I bet most students spend $80 a month on smartphone bills. That’s $960 a year. I see tablets, fancy laptops, DSLR cameras, and name it all over the campuses I’ve worked in my career. These gadgets aren’t cheap. I am going to estimate that students, on average, spend $120 bucks or so in these “extra cool things” each month. That’s about $1500 a year. Now, this one shouldn’t come as a shocker. Most college students these days dress well. Buying that A&E isn’t that cheap. I bet that folks are spending at minimum $25 a month in clothing if we average the yearly clothing expenses. So, $500 for clothe expenses. Food! Yes, this one nickel and dime them badly. Are students cooking their own food to save on this cost? Or are college students eating out (without a meal plan) in most colleges and universities? How about starbucks? and such? Bro, I will estimate $500 in food expenses for the average student and I think I’m grossly under estimating this one. Food total –> $6000.
Luis Camillo Almeida Fancy trips… spring break, studying abroad, going back home away from school many times a year… This one is tough to estimate… on average, I will estimate in $1000 a year. Beer money. I know, not all students drink alcohol but the majority do. I bet that a $200 bill a month on alcoholic drinks wouldn’t cover what kids spend on this these days. So beer expense: $2500.
SO, let’s calculate the total extra expenses: 6000+3000+1800+960+960+1500+500+6000+1000+ 2500 = 24220 a year. Let’s multiple that by five which is the average time students complete a college education: $121,000! There are a three things we can conclude from these simple posts here on facebook. 1) College tuition is far from being the only burden in the contemporary “student loan crisis” rhetoric we have these days. 2) Students are living life as an adult in college and most will be living life a student for life. 3) The actual problem IS NOT a STUDENT problem. It is a PARENT problem for allowing them to make such poor life decisions at this age.
Luis Camillo Almeida I’m going to make this very clear in here. Gen z, millennials… aren’t any different from us when were we young. So STOP BLAMING THEM! The issue, ladies and gentleman, is that most of us (older people) suck at making them accountable for their actions and understand the value of money. The problem is you, bro. Don’t blame the kids or colleges and universities (only) for this serious crisis.

Collaboration and Technology Go Together Well.

Productivity 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. 

Keep Communicating! In 2018, Communicating Is Everywhere Even In Person. :)

Open Your Eyes: Automation Is here To Help You To TechnoModerate.

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In 2018, there is no other way. You must create content, period. But in reality, how can we create content and engage with our audience and not go crazy in the process. I have good news for you. Use Meet Edgar! A bot that helps you with scheduling and managing your content automatically. Listen to Dr. A: You won’t regret.

Social Media Networks: Things Are Getting So Mean.

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No matter which social network app you use, you will find a lot of mean statements in there no matter the platform. Most like most of you, I use these platforms… all of them — On a daily basis. I mean, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn. But I am 44 years old not 13. Parents, be careful when allowing your kids to have smartphones full of social media network apps out there. Unless they have adult supervision, I would recommend them being away from them all.  @polymathprof

PD rating: Low Risk.

Musical.ly: Inappropriate Content Paradise For Teens

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Musical.ly is a a great app for adults wanting to create videos/messages and engage in live broadcasting. The app comes with a number of functions that people can choose from including a great choice of clip soundtracks. Its media filters are also a great feature in this app. I like using this all, personally. A teen shouldn’t use this one unless he/she is under adult supervision. Inappropriate hashtags (porn ones) can pop up which I find it problematic for a teen audience. Great app but not for teens, in my opinion.

PD Rating: Low Risk

 

 

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.”

———

(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.)

ShamChat: Don’t Be Yourself? Well, I have A Big Problem With That.

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I don’t like this app, period. Not even for us adults! Which app you know asks people to not be themselves? I do know one. It is called SHAMCHAT! Look, I can only imagine the type of conversations that occur in this platform, on a daily basis. Research has associated this app with porn chats and sexualized behavior. Go figure. Parents, avoid this one.

PD Rating: High Risk

Snapchat: Ok For You To Use But Not Your Kids.

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All right. Let me start this one by revealing this to you. I use snapchat. Why? Because I can share tidbits of information with my audience at ease, throughout the day, several times a week. However, I’m 44 years of age and know a bit about the consequences of technology overuse. Snapchat, in the hands of 13 year old kids, can be devastating. The first thing that comes to my mind when it comes to this app is cyberbullying. Even though the system is based on a self-destructing media policy, much damage can be done to a child by allowing him to be exposed to hateful messages at age 12 multiple times a day. This is what I think: It is appropriate for you to use. It isn’t appropriate for your kids to use it.

PD Rating: High Risk

Poof: How About Hiding Apps So Your (Parent) Just Don’t Know?

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Poof is an interesting app as it hides apps from your phone. This app literally hides applications’ icons so users can’t find these hidden apps with ease. Hmmm, for an adult, I can see why they would use this app but note for children. I would be quite uncomfortable if I were to find out that my daughter was hiding apps from me. A youngster hiding content from their parents isn’t cool and can be a sign that something isn’t right, don’t you think? Be careful with this one.

PD Rating: Medium Risk

Voxer: Digital Walkie Talkie Used In Cyberbullying.

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Voxer can be a good app for anyone who is trying to exchange short voice messages with friends and family. What is particularly attractive about this app for an adult is that people can leave voice messages to multiple people at the same time with ease. They just have to tap the play button and bingo! people can get your messages. My issue with this app is that it is a playground for cyberbullying. Leaving hurtful messages is way too easy which makes this app inappropriate for kids.

PD Rating: Medium Risk

Tinder: Anonymous Hook-Up Tool… Parents, be Aware!

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Tinder is an app designed to connect people with other people in their vicinities.  However, Tinder has been associated with anonymous hook-ups and dating tool. Many people who use this app is looking for a one night stand in their region especially college students. Although the app is only to be used by 17+ users, there has been indication that younger kids have been using this tool. Parents, be ware of this app. If you find this tool in your kid’s smartphone, uninstall it immediately.

PD Rating: High Risk

 

 

askfm: Don’t Let Your Daughter Use This One For A While.

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I see the value of asking questions anonymously sometimes as an adult. Timid adults may have a more difficult time asking uncomfortable questions to others face-to-face which makes this app good in this area. That’s the good thing about this app. My issue with this app relates to how children are going to use it. This app can be particularly dangerous to teenagers because of cyberbullying and suicide talk and share. askfm has been linked to suicide. My daughter won’t be using this one until she is much older, that’s for sure. I think that yours shouldn’t use this one, either. My two cents.

PD Rating: High Risk

Be Selective: Only The Best Should Join Your Inner circle.

Burn Note: Erasing Messages Away In Their DNA.

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Secret messaging seems to be this app’s second name. Participating in secret chats is part of the culture of this app. How dangerous! I can see this App being used for cyberbully on a global scale. Like any app that erases things overtime, Burn Note erases content after a while but it doesn’t stop kids from capture screens shots of their actions. This app may be good for people who like to share content and let the system erase it after a while. Not sure if this if it is a good idea for kids to use this one.

PD Rating: High Risk.

Vaulty App: Storing Photos And Videos Away from You Parent.

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Vaulty is a good app for protecting your privacy. Hiding things there are easy to do. My issue with this app is that kids can store photos and videos away from their parents. What is your children hiding from you if they are using this app? Not sure if I would be comfortable having my daughter having this app installed in her phone.

PD Rating: Moderate Risk.

HouseParty App: It Can Give You A Lot Of Headaches As A Parent.

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Houseparty is a video chatting app that a lot of young teens use these days. It is a good group video for adults, I would say. For children — No. My issue with this app is that it doesn’t require kids to verify their age, it can be used for sexting and cyberbullying. Even if their private chats are locked, risk for sexual content and privacy issues can be significant.

PD Rating: Moderate Risk.

The Kik App: It Is A Good App But Not For Teens.

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Kik: Any app that allows teens to create anonymous accounts and/or does not require minors to verify their age makes me unease. In addition, Kik comes with web camera capabilities which can be bad when used by 15 year olds under supervision. The app comes with many other functions like a built in web browser and game capabilities.

PD Rating: High Risk. 

 

God First, Family Second, Everything Else After That.

The Only Way To Live A Great Life.

Hard Work + Talent + Success

Smile! You Will Live Longer.

Golden advice: Don’t squish the bread

Let me share something with you: 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 get 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 McDonald’s because machines often perform quicker operations. In grocery stores, the youth are 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 forth.

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 you 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 OK. Youngsters are not as careful with arranging your groceries.

But hey, what would you have the management of a grocery store do? Hire “slower” employees and risk losing its clientele or hire youth, gaining speed but risking 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 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? To me, such a move just isn’t ethical.

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 at 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 18-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.

Read this 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 have been placed in, but thankfully I have a solution. The solution may lie in training. With careful training in customer service, we could possibly fix this particular problem.

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 jobs for them, 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.

Taking one for the team for the sake of humanity is the right thing to do.

It is true that computer systems perform faster than human labor, and that the youth often perform faster than the elderly, but this can have serious consequences to the well-being and longevity of your business in 2018.

——— (Published at the Cleveland Daily Banner 07/28/18

(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.)

Mindset Is Key For Success

It Is Never Easy To Grow Anything Especially Social Media.

Success Starts At The Bottom.

You Can Get Out Of The Hole If You Are Determined

Who Cares If You Fail? Just Make Sure You Fix The Problem.

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Who among you never failed in anything? I was a D student all throughout Brazilian education not because I couldn’t learn but because of immaturity. I had to leave a country to fix my life and I did. Don’t define yourself based on your past. Who cares if you failed before? I did. Did I die or took my life? No. I did something about it. I worked my butt off. That’s the truth. Do you want to turn your life around, do the work! Stop making excuses. Be thankful for the opportunity to achieve. #polymathproftips #personaldevelopment #lifelessons #gratitude🙏 #gratitude #graciousliving #gracious #graciouslivinglifestyle #noexcuses #stopmakingexcuses #nomoretears #justdoit #hardworkpaysoffs #gowork #hardworkwork

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You Meet Great People When You Do Good Work.

Life Is A Transaction.

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No matter which industry you are in, Life is a transaction. The best way to position yourself well in your industry is by understanding your industry. In my industry, the traded commodity is knowledge. What is your transaction? What is your industry’s commodity? Go out there and get better at understanding your environment. You need to answer these questions! This is critical for your success. Remember to be gracious for the opportunity to engage in your quest! #positioning #gracious #personaldevelopment #polymathproftips #graciouslivinglifestyle #gratitude🙏 #understandinglife #understanding #lifequest #lifelessons #successtips #adviceoftheday #knowledgeispower #lifeskills

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Overcoming Obstacles Makes You A Better Person.

Don’t be just strategizing. Do it!

Don’t Overextend Yourself

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One of main reasons why people work in jobs that they don’t like is because they are over extended financially. The idea that having material positions makes you a more successful professional is an old scam, dangerous philosophy, which in the long run can be quite limiting. We need to set our priorities straight from the beginning. Did you just graduate from school? Don’t buy a house and an expensive car. The answer to professional success isn’t extravagance. People’s decision to live an extravagant life, in the end… tend to handicap them. If you make one hundred thousand dollars a year, you shouldn’t buy a 300K house and drive a brand new BMW 750 Series. The former will most definitely impede you from being fully strategic in the workforce.

The moment your household overhead increases, your job maneuverability decreases… and you become dependent on your current job. What is the consequence? Your professional autonomy is then affected because of poor lifestyle choices. These choices will then “prohibit” you from moving on to another organization when the time or offer is right. Listen carefully though: Compensation is far from being everything that there is about a job. You don’t have to always go from job to job to be free, either. I would argue, however, that flexibility is as important and valuable (if not more valuable) than income these days. In 2017, your ability to engage in job blitzkrieg is a necessity for survival, especially if you haven’t found your dream job yet. Be very careful when buying real estate. Most houses bankrupt employees up front or make them completely dependent on their employer’s salary impeding them from maneuvering when trouble heads their way or if they feel the time for a move is right.

People stay in jobs they hate because of titles. Titles are cool and can make you feel pretty good about yourself. However, losing your title isn’t an humiliation or a set back in your career, necessarily. Any experienced leader understands that leadership isn’t position; Leadership is action, as once stated by leadership consultant John Maxwell. Titles come and go and many times they bounce back. Just because you hold a high title in your HR department doesn’t mean that you should stay in your current position. If you choose to stay in a job simply because of a title… I would argue that money isn’t the only problem you struggle with. You most definitely struggle with ego issues. By the way: Those who are constantly applying the principles of position leadership to others will end up leading the wind. Overextended employees might work for these kinds of “leaders” but they won’t listen to them or are motivated by them.

I get it. An expensive house, kids, titles, a BMW or a Mercedes-Benz… along with that “prestige” you got is too much for you to give up, isn’t it? I don’t let money or titles control my life. I make my decisions based on scripture — based in the bible. The moment that you make God the center of your life, the former struggles totally disappear. You will quickly realize that possessions and job nomenclature in this world is meaningless in the long run.

Do yourself a favor. Don’t overextend yourself. In the volatile market we live in these days, having the capacity to maneuver is without question a necessity for long-tern job sustainability. There is tremendous power in calling the shots even if authority resides in the hands of others. You can pretty much control your destiny if you don’t extend yourself financially. Got it?

If you want to book Dr. Luis C. Almeida (a.k.a, Dr. A) as a keynote speaker or consultant, please visit his website and look for the contact page. Why complicate if you can simplify? Dr. A makes the complex easy — Do it now!

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