Caring about everything is techno-dangerous

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In this Facebook world we live in nowadays, it seems that people care about everything, everywhere, all the time, across cultures.

What a curse!

Really? Yep.

What if I told you that all this technology people use today in Cleveland is driving them bananas because it has reinforced this idea that people should seek to be perfect, care about everything, be happy, social, wealthy and right all the time in order to achieve higher heights in society? All, of course, nonsense.

Let me say it again. All nonsense! Why? This is why.

The moment people choose to care about everything, like how many friends your classmate has on Facebook compared to you, the more people realize that they actually don’t care about anything.

It is weird, yet quite predictable how this works. The happier people want to be, the more they discover how unhappy they are. The more social people seek to be on these social media platforms, the more people find out how lonely they actually are.

Now, this is the kicker: The more fame and money people seek, the more people realize how little money and fame they have!

This is why I believe that technology is causing so many kids to be depressed, anxious, and in some cases to commit suicide at record rates these days. Technology has allowed you and me to seek happiness, but the irony is that by seeking happiness, technology reveals how unhappy many of us are in actuality.

Don’t believe me? OK. Read existential philosopher Albert Camus for confirmation. Even better, go get yourself a copy of Mark Manson’s latest book. You won’t regret it. Just realize that his book is R-rated.

It is shocking how people today feel they need to know everything about cats or the Kardashians, and constantly trying to find ways to get more friends than their cousins on Facebook. People are getting a lot of media stimuli at the expense of living a worse life. You can thank technology for encouraging you to care about everything.

Let me tell you something. I don’t really care if I ever write an academic article again in my life as a college professor, regardless of how much technology we have available at our fingertips. I have written enough articles for my satisfaction.

I do care about writing commentary articles, like these columns I write for the Cleveland Daily Banner, because speaking with you at Food City or in church about matters of technology matters to me. Technology will never dictate how I live my life and I recommend that you do follow the same philosophy with yours. Be careful with caring about everything in life just because you have access to technology.

I am now a much more practical and common-sense type of person than I was back in graduate school and in my later days at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. Back then, I was fascinated with all the latest technology, and lived as if failing was a capital sin, and that error was equated with shame.

I was incapable of seeing the obvious. I was caring way too much about everything, especially technology.

Too many schools advance the idea that if people aren’t perfect in everything they do, they lose. Nonsense! By losing you win. I don’t really care if I make a mistake. I do care about fixing it, though. By the way, why do you care about everything under the sun?

In this life, you will screw up. If you are clever, you will do and redo things. Everybody faces adversity. You are not alone. Happy are those who choose what they care about, and don’t let technology dictate how they live. Our society is addicted to unrealistic positive expectations, and technology has served as the fuel for making many believe in achieving these impossible standards.

You don’t need to be a psychopath, meaning not caring about anything, in order to live well in our great technopoly. What you do need to do is to care about some things using technology moderately, in order to live the good life.

Be cautious with caring too much about the things society is asking people to care about in order to be happy. Chances are these things will make you unhappy.

——— (Column published previously 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). 

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Fake Overload On The Horizon

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Let me make this one short and to the point. If you think that we have a huge fake crisis today, think again because the fake crisis of the future will make the problems of misinformation we have today pretty much kindergarten. Today, our “fake extent” relates to journalistic articles, targeted ads on facebook, and website traffic. People fake how they look with photoshop and when buying fake friends on instagram. Tomorrow, fake will be on steroids, as content manipulation techniques will be so elaborated that the content people produce will be replaced by content the system wants you to see.

Let me say this loud and clear. Around 2025, bots will manipulate your media without you being aware of it. The videos you produce will be manipulated by a system replacing your original content with theirs. These videos will have your face speaking about topics you didn’t speak about when you recorded. Manipulating your perception of reality will be common place.

Isn’t the former a dangerous line of thinking? I think it is.

Let me give you an example: If buying social media views persuade people to spend more money running these bogus campaigns, then so be it even if these campaigns don’t give people a good return on their investment. Remember: The whole fake agenda isn’t about sharing what is real or the truth but to advance deception. The former isn’t a new concept, of course. Third party companies have been selling fake twitter likes and followers since its inception. Is it ethical? I don’t think it is yet many people subscribe to such methods of growing their social media accounts.

I have tried some of these tactics before as part of my research in this area. It is an ugly world out there dude. There is fake everywhere. That’s how these systems operate. Pay me 10 dollars a day and I will make sure that accounts follow you. This is the reality today. How fake! Tomorrow, we are going to see artificial intelligence learning ways to manipulate a part of who we are on-line and potentially distort the views that others have about us by what they see in a video. I know, this is literally crazy but we aren’t that far away from having a machine being able to replace your video’s audio track with other content that resembles your voice with a high degree of accuracy with something you haven’t said. Wait! What? Dr. A, are you saying that bots will eventually have the ability to manipulate recorded videos about us and include content we haven’t produced in order to trick others to believe what they want others to believe in, using people as scapegoats? Yes.

I am convinced that our lives will be much more complicated in the future because of technology. In a period of 5 to 10 years, we won’t be able to distinguish between facts and fiction online very easily or accurately check the credibility of our conversations in cyberspace because of technology advancements in AI. The machine will learn a way to trick others into believing what the machine wants you to believe. People will see videos being manipulated by an algorithm saying things that people haven’t said yet many will believe because they won’t be able to differentiate between what is real and what is fiction.

Advertising and propaganda won’t cease to exist. I wonder how companies will maximize the use of such tools for profit.

The “good” news today is that we can still control what we put out there and can track what is being shared about us in social media. In the near future, things will change drastically in this regard.  Get ready to having to deal with intelligent technologies that will manipulate reality in ways you can’t control.  These intelligent systems will evolve so quickly that your ability to control its intents will be severely diminished. At least this is what Mr. Ovadya, Knight News innovation fellow at the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia has predicted.

Listen carefully: We are seeing the beginnings of fake online. Can you imagine what will happen to sharing truthful content on-line in 10 years? I don’t even want to know.

Offering Some Love For The World Of Print

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There is a new study out there that claims that students learn better by reading paperback books than e-books. It is about time for us to be talking about this undeniable fact.

I am for using technology in the classroom with reason, but if given the option to buy print versus e-books, I will always defend print because of what I have read, seen and tested in my career as a college professor.

Getting right to the point: Assuming that students will learn better by using e-books because they grew up with a computer is irresponsible.

All right, fasten your seat belts because what you are about  to read isn’t popular, and will probably leave some people very confused. Technology in the classroom is important and, to a degree, necessary. What we must avoid is believing that everything that is technologically advanced is, by default, better for you.

Students will always learn better from print because of the following factors:

First and foremost, books are printed at 300 dots per inch; images and text are displayed on screens at 72DPI. This, in itself, concerns me as our eyes get more eye strain when reading content at lower DPI. Have you noticed that you get headaches more frequently when reading that iPhone of yours, compared to a book?

Part of the reason why you feel that way is because the medium with the highest resolution today is paper, not the screen! The lower the media resolution, the higher the side effects. It’s no wonder Barnes & Noble has stacks and more stacks of print books for sale. Paper sells, or shall we say, “Screens give us headaches?”

Look, there is so much more to this discussion than DPI and resolution. Did you even know that your smartphone messes with your radio frequency exposure? What do you think higher RF exposure will do to your learning? Now I bet I  am scaring you! Let me get technical now for your benefit, and then we will tie this all back to education.

Electronic devices emit radio frequency waves. Specific absorption rate, or SAR, which is a fancy name for explaining the rate that your body absorbs radio frequency electromagnetic field waves, must be monitored closely in order for subjects to avoid getting deadly conditions, including cancer.

In the United States, the limit SAR value, set by the FCC, is 1.6 watts per kilogram of tissue, as I understand. That iPhone of yours transmits a lot of RF signals and that’s why the device offers many of us the option to talk hands free or using a headphone. Don’t believe me? OK. Go to your iPhone device, click “General,” then hit “About.” Scroll down the screen until you reach the option, “legal.” After that, click the option, “RF exposure.”

Now, relating this with education, as promised. Could it be that higher levels of SAR in the human body due to exposure and frequency of use of these devices affects the way we process information from our short-term memory to our long-term memory?

I don’t know the answer to that. What I do know is that higher RF exposure in your head results in higher electromagnetic radiation. Books don’t emit any RF waves.

Question, “Who do you think will learn best: The student who is reading a book in print or the one who reads that e-book emitting RF waves?” Sure, not all students will put that e-book reader against their heads, but will they put that device against their bodies? Uh-oh.

It is not over. When people are reading on a cellphone screen or another computerized device including the Kindle, people’s brains apparently only skim over the material. When people read a physical book, people’s brains connect both its hemispheres together. This  phenomenon does not occur when people read books on smartphones. No wonder people remember more content when reading from a book than when reading from an e-book.

As I always say, “Use technology, but in moderation.”

When it comes to education, print books are preferable for the reasons I just told you.

Responsible educators take into account the potential side effects that technology has on the development of their students. I certainly do. You should do the same.

——— (Column published previously 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). 

Public schools help sustain culture

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This fall, my daughter Sophia will be attending one of our local elementary schools.

Why am I putting her in public school, you may be asking? The main reason why Sophia will be going to one of our county schools isn’t because she will have access to computers in the classroom. Although I believe that kids should use technology in moderation for learning, Sophia will attend a Bradley County public school in order to learn more about people.

In life, people must be prepared to get along with other people in order to live in a community, deal with adversity, learn how to behave in public and communicate, and fight injustice when required; also, in order to be comfortable and stick up for themselves when required.

Stop! Think! Reflect! Be a good father or mother.

Before putting politics ahead of common sense and reasoning, think about what is best for your children. I hold the position that people who are prepared to deal with different types of people will eventually have the upper hand in life.

I honestly don’t think that nurturing children to a point of protecting them from facing adversity is a good idea. Eventually, these kids grow older and become clueless about how the world actually operates.

Here’s a caveat. There is no technology that will solve the problems of your grandchildren when they are bullied later in life because the parents decided to protect them from the evil of this world. Kids who don’t experience interpersonal conflict tend to become severely handicapped in the workforce later in life unless they realize that they are behind, unless they read self-help books extensively and unless they are mentored by someone who actually understands how the world operates and is willing to share.

My parents have always protected me. I was given every technology you could dream of back in the day. The problem is that technology doesn’t teach kids about people.

What I got with technology, I lost in understanding verbal communication, facial cues and body language, and the basic tenets of culture. I had no concept of privacy and space back in Brazil. So I question, how good is technology if you don’t gain the basics of your culture? Avoiding conflict isn’t the answer, either.

Going to a public elementary school helps kids to better understand the role of authority, and helps them to learn how to deal with situations that kids dislike. Yet, they have to learn how to act accordingly.

Kids in public schools also learn how to face and handle conflict. Sometimes, saying something back or retaliating will stop the nonsense, even if the kid loses the battle.

At least, this is what my dear old friend Kurt Dudt once told me. He was a publicly educated former U.S. Marine who trained the South Vietnamese to fight the Viet Cong. There is honor in facing a bully, even if you lose, he used to say.

Look, allowing your grandchildren to hide behind a computer screen won’t protect them later in life. Often, it transforms great kids into cowards, which in itself has some serious consequences. I woke up, came out of the shell, and now people think twice before making me mad.

Your children deserve to know how to defend themselves when necessary against anyone, as well. Virtual schools don’t teach your kids how to handle these things.

Technology is good for assisting kids to learn, but it falls short on enabling children to develop themselves in society.

We need to prepare our kids to be ready to respond appropriately in life so that they can succeed. I hold the position that kids must be able to decipher between good and not-so-good people, and find mechanisms to cope with them.

We live in a diverse world, ladies and gentlemen. Kids should be exposed to other ethnicities and realize that not every family raises their kids the same way.

We can’t always rely on a computer to tell us how to think or advise us on what to do.

Your grandkids need to know about people. Schools, not technology, are a playground for it.

——— (Column published previously 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). 

Technology is Handicapping Millennials

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One of main traits that makes us human is our ability to communicate. Whenever we live a healthy communal life, we engage in conversations face-to-face, care and respect others, and we pay attention to important principles of etiquette which then helps us to live in conjunction with each other without engaging in too much discord. I am not aware of any critical mass of individuals living in a society in any time in history that has survived the times living in total isolation from their immediate community, its values and communication practices. And as importantly — the ability to learn from his own mistakes over time. The smartphone has been handicapping the millennial generation in this regard.

The Smartphone Has Been Handicapping The Millennials. You have heard it right. You might be asking… Why do you say that professor? Let me explain why by giving you a real life example that has changed the way I interact with human beings of the opposite sex.

When I was a kid, I struggled to converse with girls face-to-face. I was so shy and literally afraid to speak with a girl one-on-one… I had a terrible fear of rejection back then. Even though these feelings are not totally foreign to young boys, I know today that my levels of shyness (and therefore my inability to speak with a person of the opposite sex) back then were probably higher than most boys who were shy in my generation.

Like most kids in their teenage years, I was unprepared to engage in interpersonal communications with a female. I still remember this beautiful girl named Peggy which I truly had the hots for. She was beautiful, nice, and to my fortune… she seemed to like me. The fact that we never ended up going out on a date had nothing to do with her interpersonal ability. It had everything to do with mine. I failed to initiate a meaningful conversation with her to have the chance to ask her out on a date. My total loss… and I knew it. However, my inabilities to break the ice and carry on a honest conversation with a girl made me stop and think about why I wasn’t being successful in my love endeavors. I spent some time thinking about this question and then BINGO! Eventually, I’ve learned what girls like out of my struggles. “They like to talk,” for the most part. I figured… Well, if girls like to talk, then I need to be a good listener. The rest my friends, is history.

Look, I didn’t need to have a smartphone to make me feel better or learn how to speak with a girl. My humanity helped me with enjoying my later teenage and young adult years simply by stopping and thinking about the obvious. For most of my teenage years (up to the age of 16), I struggled with speaking with girls. Some might consider the former as being a “bad” life experience. Well, I see these former struggles differently today. I thank God for how things ended up working out in my life in that regard and for having the ability to face the problem and find a possible solution like a man.

When I was 16 years old, there were no smartphones. My parents happened to have cell phones back then, which was unusual for Brazilians back in the 90’s, but they were not smart.  I didn’t have the opportunity to go on-line to make me feel better for my inability to speak with a girl. Because I had NO technology, I had to face the problem and develop a two very important life skills — Critical thinking and Listening.

Kids today are handicapped because of technology. Too many millennials face a problem with a girl and rather than facing the problem head on to find a solution… They often go to their smartphones and text! Can’t talk with a girl tonight? Go to a smartphone, watch a video with girls and feel better. Can’t find a date to go to prom… Go to the smartphone, chat with girls on Tumbler, and move on… Don’t have any friends? Go to the smartphone and log into Facebook and and chatting! The problem is that text messaging won’t teach a kid how to speak with a girl like a man. Avoiding (or the inability) to speaking with a real girl can’t be replaced by watching a video about girls. Not having a date for prom can’t be replaced by chatting with strangers on Tumbler…

What if I told you that if a person faces a problem in life and decides to ignore the issue and move sideways, eventually they will walk in a circle and be bossed around for life? With or without technology. All this technology that is supposed to make our lives better is having a tremendously negative impact in the lives of millions of teenagers and young adults today. It is, in fact, handicapping them by discouraging them to face real life problems for the sake of technology.

Don’t Overextend Yourself

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Put your smartphones down and listen to this! Are you ready? One of main reasons why people working 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 graduated from school? Don’t buy a house and an expensive car. The answer to professional success isn’t extravagance. People’s decision to live a 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?

Videos Games Go Analog!

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Victory!

Today is a day of celebration and relief for many of us Techno Moderators.

You see, there is hope for a more moderate world with technology. Nintendo Corporation just introduced a brand new game console that is fundamentally a blend of electronic- and paper-based video-game accessories.

Listen to Dr. A: Nintendo went low-tech with its latest Nintendo Labo Kit. Even the giant video game-maker is folding to a new trend in society — the idea that we should Techno Moderate and build toys that advance this agenda. If modern video-game accessories can be made of cardboard, then we should use less modern technology in our lives.

It is true the latest Nintendo Labo Kit isn’t the first paper accessory that the company has ever produced in its history. Back in the 1970s, Nintendo invested in low-tech gaming approaches as an attempt to gain marketshare. The difference, at least from what I can see, is that we now live in the age of the smartphone where most of us are connected to a computerized device for hours on end every day, seven days a week.

Back then, people didn’t have social media or anything that resembles what we have today in technology. Even though technological tools and devices existed in the ’70s, they were 25 years behind what we found in the first generation of the internet back in 1995. The tech tools in the ’70s were kindergarten-like when compared to what we have today.

Is Nintendo’s decision to use low technology a good idea? I think it is. Young people these days need to realize that not everything in life, including play, needs to occur online, in social media or anywhere in cyberspace. They need to understand that playing with analog toys is as fun as playing with their latest tech gadgets.

It is OK to play a cardboard piano key and actually feel what it’s like for people to play that key and hear a music note being played outside of the dimensions of a smartphone app.

I know many of you will relate to this. Some of us grew up playing with low-tech toys and such. Many people were raised on toys with little technology.

Do you remember when you used to play with a spinning top? Wasn’t it fun? It was a lot of fun for me too, I must add. It was as fun as building a Revell model car kit with actual paper, plastic and glue.

People without computer chips turned out to be OK in life, you know? How awesome! A little bit of analog playing isn’t bad for anybody. Way to go, Nintendo! You are proving again that nostalgia sells, and that companies don’t have to only develop techie products in order to make a profit in 21st century America.

The idea that kids now can make their own markers and stickers, and combine them to make their accessories in real life, is both a brilliant move made by Nintendo and also a great way to reintroduce the idea of imagination to the millennials.

This new development indirectly conveys that not everybody needs to have the ability to use the latest app in order to have fun and smile. It is OK to foster people’s imagination with paper-based products. It pays off to be a Techno Moderator! I mean, financially, I bet that Nintendo will make a billion dollars on this “new” innovation.

I am happy. One of the most technological companies in the world just decided to invest in paper technology. I must admit that this one, I wasn’t expecting.

Predicting that Nintendo would invest in cardboard would have been like believing that desktop computers would one day return to their “glory days” of the Pentium I with only 24MB of hard drive.

If we really think about it, what Nintendo has done is totally improbable. Well, they have done it, and I love it!

——— (Column published previously 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). 

I have 10 Life Secrets: Let Me Share 1

Dr. A After Delivering A Keynote to 18 Secretaries at Lee University.
Dr. A After Delivering A Keynote to 18 Secretaries at Lee University.

We shouldn’t spend our lives on our smartphones letting life pass by us. That’s a mistake! 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? Put that smartphone of yours away for  minute and enjoy the show!

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.

The Smartphone Is The Vice Of Our Time

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I grew up in a traditional Brazilian family where piercings, long hair on males, drugs and alcohol were heavily forbidden, especially for the oldest grandchild of the family.

Under no circumstances was I to be near such things or get together with people who made the choice to approve of any of these four things.

Looking back, I am glad that my parents raised me the way they did. I have no desire to have facial piercings or long hair or drink rum and smoke pot. The vices of my youth are probably the same vices you had as a kid, with little variation.

What if I told you that the new generation has one additional vice among these four things. It is called the smartphone!

Of course, the smartphone isn’t just a vice for the youth. It can be a vice for you and me, as well. The difference is that many of us grew up without a smartphone and we kind of know what it’s like to live without one. Your child or grandchild hasn’t experienced a life without these devices, which in many respects makes it more difficult for them to disconnect.

Do you remember when you were young and everybody used to smoke cigarettes? I do, and I hated being beside anybody who did. The good news for me was that I could just get away from smokers and live my life in peace. Today, kids can’t really disconnect that easily, because our society has made heavy phone usage the ideal.

Look, let me share something with you. I have lost a number of friends for believing in what I believe: TechnoModeration.

In the age of the smartphone, when the political left curses the right, and vice versa, and politicians fail to compromise, heavy use of computerized devices is without a doubt the ideal for many. How dare you or I say anything otherwise?

I am starting to believe that the smartphone is very much like a drug or a vice. Much in the same way that my family would disapprove of me having long hair, many today disapprove of others for those others being lesser fans of technology! People today go the extra mile to completely cut contact with you because of your stance on technology!

Listen to me: If you are not a TechnoHitler (in lockstep with blind worshippers of all things new-tech), many today may “disown” you for what you believe. How do I know? Because it has happened to me, repeatedly.

You may not believe this, as it can be a bit hard to fathom. Can you believe that some of my closest acquaintances don’t speak with me today because of my position on technology use? Sounds hilarious, doesn’t it?

Maybe I should start a telephone game with anybody who decided to give up chatting with me online because of my position on defending humanity over the machine. I would start the game with the following phrase, “It is OK to believe in technomoderation even if you are a technologist.”

In no time, many of these people — who are now so consumed by this drug we call the smartphone — would change my message to, “Ignore Luis. He talks about technology in moderation, but we — technologists — must resist him at all costs.”

What a crazy world we live in these days. From what I have read about drug use, the effects of such things make people a bit delusional. Are druggies that different from folks who suffer from the many side effects of the smartphone? Delusion is definitely a side effect of using the machine in excess, I defend.

Listen carefully: Every generation is cursed with a societal vice. The vices from the high culture of Brazil were having long hair, piercings, drugs and alcohol. Today, in middle class America, it seems that our vice is technology.

I have no problem losing friends for taking the position of technological moderation. Why? Because it is the right thing to do, and let’s face it … we lose friends there, but make new friends here.

Let me finish this column by saying this to you: “There is only one God, and His name isn’t smartphone.”

Be bold and join the movement! You don’t need to be a tech druggie to live a good life.

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

(About the writer: Dr. Luis C. Almeida is an associate professor of communication at Lee University and 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.)

Technology Overuse Is Eating Our Society’s Soul

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Technology is destroying our society from within. In this world, only a combination of discipline, along with great mentorship and an in-demand collection of skill sets, takes you places.

I am not aware of anybody who truly accomplished anything in life without having these three prerequisites.

Question: What are your grandsons doing right now to develop them? I bet they are not developing these three entry behaviors, because of technology overuse.

Really.

What have your grandsons done lately to develop discipline? I know the majority of them are not joining the military because the armed forces are shrinking dramatically. According to Politico, the U.S. Army is in a 75-year low which can have some serious consequences to the well-being of this country in the near future.

I wonder if our grandkids these days are preferring to stay at home and be on social media versus joining the military to better themselves.

Another question: Are your grandsons being mentored about navigating the intricacies of life? I don’t think so. How do I know this? Well, because only a few come to my office seeking true life mentorship. Most of them are tweeting their lives away and believing the internet can be their doctor, YouTube their teacher and Instagram their social club.

The irony is these same kids will, in the future, lead organizations. What do you think will happen to our systems and institutions 10 years from now? Pretty scary, isn’t it?

When I was 18 years old, I had to serve in an elite unit of the Brazilian Army for a period of time, even though I played on the country’s national golf team the year before.

In my 20s, my father put together a mastermind group to teach me how to win in life in an apprenticeship format. I spoke with the members of that team on a weekly basis, one-on-one. Every time I had a question about life, I was to speak with them. Thinking back, that experience was a university to me. Lucky me, I guess.

Which skill sets have they developed after high school or college? I mean, what are the things they know that will get them jobs? Today, I see kids submitting CVs to entry-level positions.

We hear that 18- to 25-year-olds are computer geniuses, yet I only know a handful who can actually program in C++ or C#.

Look, technology may be making us live longer because of advancements in medicine, but one cannot deny that our new generation’s quality of living is diminishing drastically due to a lack of skill sets. Do I think that technology is the cause for this half tragedy? Absolutely yes.

Let me share one more thing with you. When people come to the United States as foreigners, they need to go through additional hoops in order to find their place under the sun.

Even today, I still experience occasional backfire, especially when I score a big victory. People are jealous, you know? I know it, I ignore it and I live my life.

I have the discipline to write two, sometimes three, columns each week. I am humble enough to seek mentorship still today. Having the ability to handle conflict and strike back with finesse, when required, is a skill set that I have that your grandkids are lacking these days.

Do you know what I think? Technology has been a leading force in making your grandkids very educated, yet having little discipline, few mentors and diminished skill sets.  There are exceptions to the rule, but they are in the vast minority.

Let me end this column by saying this. I am concerned about the future of the United States. Technology has infiltrated our systems too deeply. We are aging. Too many adults are still living in their parents’ houses or are just barely getting by. Many grandkids are growing clueless about life, due to all these technologies that they idolize.

Read this very carefully: Technology overuse is eating our society’s soul. We are starting to see its side effects right now. They will get progressively worse unless we stop believing that technology is always the answer to our problems.

——— (Column published previously 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). 

In the tech age, to err is still human

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I don’t know about you, but I am imperfect. This fellow here isn’t always right, has faults like anyone else, and is above all — human.

Have you heard the phrase, “To err is human.” I am that human.

Why am I saying this to you here in the Cleveland Daily Banner, a public outlet that is read by tens of thousands of readers? It is because I want you to know something. Machine thinking is so ingrained in us that even when a person makes a little tiny error, some are quick to point out, “Hey, you made a mistake!”

It’s much like when computer programmers misplace a semicolon in a system and get a syntax error.

Look, I get it. Not everybody points out other people’s faults or pitfalls out of jealously. Some do, but not all. The majority of people who can’t stand an incorrect comma on an essay or a person mispronouncing “let’s pray” in a public event probably say it out of pride and because of technology overuse. Some might actually be ignorant and socially inept, but they are a minority.

Read very carefully: We live in a technopoly. Machine thinking is a widespread phenomenon in America. The machine has, in a number of domains, achieved perfection.

Every time we use a calculator we get an exact and accurate response. We can now create a word cloud online perfectly based on word frequency. I play chess with a machine that knows the very best move among the many that are available.

No wonder people are so picky about making things so perfect. After all, this is how a computer behaves. We need to forgive them and help them to realize that only the Lord is perfect. We are imperfect.

Let me go a bit deeper about this topic. Let me see if I can convey a quite complex issue to you quickly using simple words. Here we go.

Since computerized devices are a human creation, it is only fair to assume that some machine functions will be performed in a very human way. I am not aware of a totally secure network out there. Even the most secure systems can be infiltrated by a back-door protocol. They have vulnerabilities! They are imperfect. No wonder. These systems were created by people.

Let’s not forget the fact that we created the machine, not the other way around. Of course, even computers have imperfections. Just because some people perceive the machine to be perfect doesn’t mean that machines are.

In 2018, there is a driving force to produce computerized systems that can think like humans, in order to replace us. Nobody is saying the upcoming American Fedora will be a perfect robot, though. Even in the realm of emerging technology, there is room for error and revision.

Don’t believe me? Have you installed an operating system patch lately? How about an update on your smartphone?

What we are experiencing right now is machine revenge. Since the machine is almost perfect in many areas, we are then asked to be like one and operate under similar standards of perfection.

How ironic, isn’t it? It is comical. Man created the machine and made microsystems work to perfection, like a calculator.  Man surrounded himself with machines. These machines made him more like one, yet he can’t be one. The perfect ideal isn’t attainable. What a tragedy, I must add.

Consequence: Some now judge the work of others based on an algorithm that is humanly unattainable. Are people going mad these days? I think people are going insane, actually.

Do this for me: Next time somebody comes and points out one of your many faults, tell them that life is imperfect — that you enjoy being imperfect because it makes you unique. I am boldly unique, but full of faults.

Dr. A is not God. He loves the Lord and believes that only through the blood of Jesus he will be clean from his imperfections.

To summarize, Dr. A believes that to err is human. What do you believe?

——— (Column published previously 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). 

We Need To Survive The Transition

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Let me break some news to you: We are approaching the fourth industrial revolution. Energy, transportation, health and communication will change drastically in the coming years.

Get ready!

The life of tomorrow won’t be anything like living how we live today in 2018. Our living systems are evolving at light speed. Isn’t it true that we now have alternative methods for generating energy, new ways of transporting ourselves, receiving health care and communicating? Open your eyes. The future of humanity is already here.

We are going to witness a boom in smart power, or the technology that is able to self-manage, in our lifetime. Don’t be surprised if you get a smart roof next time you change yours.

Some of the ways we have traditionally moved tangible products in the past is already changing. We are seeing a peak in the adoption of labor robots in companies like Amazon and Walmart, and a plethora of self-driven cars being introduced into the market. This trend won’t go away, by the way.

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

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

Get ready for the idea of wearing third-party mechanical parts in your body. People are going to need them in order to make a decent living in the future. Some are predicting that we are going to increase our economic growth in the years to come, probably because of wearable technologies. I don’t know about that.

Sure, technology in this instance is good because it may help us to make a better living. Would you be comfortable wearing an RFID chip in your arm? I’m not comfortable with that. How about you?

I am skeptical that human labor alone will be a big part of this boom in productivity. We may see an overall increase in our gross national product because of technology advancements, but in an age where the natural and the artificial are merging, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to predict that companies will look for the superhuman employee or the perfect robot.

The employee of the future is going to perhaps be a merge of digital and biological.

Klaus Schwab, founder and chairman of the world economic forum, goes further to state, “The fourth revolution won’t change what we are doing. It changes us.” I concur.

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

 Change is imminent. Citizens of Cleveland, you will eventually be affected by the fourth industrial revolution and everything that is associated with it. Four of our most fundamental systems we have — energy, transportation, health and communication — will evolve.

You will be transformed in one way or another. You may become a hybrid of man and machine, for your own sake.

The machine is expanding its lead. We are becoming an obsolete commodity in this old world of ours. I am not sure if the future will be necessarily promising for us. It will certainly be a technological one.

 We live in a wild world.

——— (Column published previously 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).

Eye Strain And Computers: A Real Problem

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“First and foremost, books are printed at 300 dots per inch; images and text are displayed on screens at 72DPI. This, in itself, concerns me as our eyes get more eye strain when reading content at lower DPI. Have you noticed that you get headaches more frequently when reading that iPhone of yours, compared to a book?”

You Need To Equip Yourself With Knowledge

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“Sorry, technology won’t help you with differentiating between great leadership and simple manipulation. You need to equip yourself with knowledge in order to do that. Our children need to be equipped with skill sets that help them to differentiate between great leadership and manipulation – like understanding non-verbal communication skills and different speech patterns and emotions.”

Technology Isn’t Always The Solution.

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“Are your grandsons being mentored about navigating the intricacies of life? I don’t think so. How do I know this? Well, because only a few come to my office seeking true life mentorship. Most of them are tweeting their lives away and believing the internet can be their doctor, YouTube their teacher and Instagram their social club.”