Don’t Squish The Bread

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Technology Won’t help You To Navigate Communities

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Loneliness for the sake of technology

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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!    

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.

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.

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. 

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.)

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). 

A life of loneliness because of technology

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Even though we have all these technologies available at our fingertips, people are more lonely than ever.

It isn’t uncommon for folks to spend hours on social media and be highly depressed offline. The indices of loneliness in America are so high that many are now looking for a minister of loneliness in order to help them to cope with this very sad reality we live in these days.

Listen to me. All these technologies are making you live a worse life. Lately, I’ve heard people in Cleveland saying things like: “Having a child is too much work. I don’t want to spend time outside social media because it is so much more convenient to chat with people online than to engage in conversations offline. Why would anybody waste their time building a family? It is too expensive!”

I couldn’t believe my ears. Am I living in a nightmare, or is this the society we live in these days? I am afraid that we are living in the second option.

The smartphone is destroying us from within, literally. The number of people who have thousands of “friends” on Facebook who are paying for others to cuddle with them on Friday evenings is increasing by the day.

How ironic, isn’t it? The more social media we use, the less human contact we get, and therefore the more human contact people need.

In truth, what I am writing in this column isn’t that surprising, as a lack of human contact will eventually drive people bananas. We were not made to live in isolation as a species. Only a madman or madwoman would allow himself or herself to live a life with technology this way.

The relational side effects that we are witnessing in social media nowadays are real. I am afraid that our society will grow smaller and colder in personality because of these absurd levels of technology use.

Wouldn’t it make way more sense to use technology less, meet more people offline and grow a family so that when people get old, they have someone to care for them?

Come on people, it isn’t that complicated. Yet, people are complicating their own lives for the sake of technology everywhere, including in our small city. Social media is quickly turning into a cancer on our society. Why are we allowing cyberspace to consume our lives and make us less social?

I don’t know about you, but to me this is all nonsense. Have we gone mad or something? Maybe I am a bit too old-school by believing in God, family and good manners. There is just no way that in my household we are going to fold to the dangers of social media, including this latest trend of loneliness.

I may say “A,” and you might reply with “B” sometimes, but in the end, I argue, we better get along well and live within our community, and advance our innate need to procreate and live in harmony. Isn’t that what God has asked us to do anyway?

Say no to technological isolation and the idea that social media connections are de facto close connections.

Here is my philosophy: Live your life as if there is no tomorrow. Go meet people and expand your social capital offline. Have an online presence and chat with people in social media in moderation. Go to church, meet a mate, work hard and smart, and start a family. Glorify God and help others.

By doing these common-sense activities, you will help yourself in the process, and I can almost guarantee that you won’t be lonely. Remember: You only live once. You might as well be reasonable and don’t assume that your Facebook connections are really your friends.

Listen carefully: It ain’t worth the trouble to believe that all these technologies will make you more popular or together.

Sherry Turkle, MIT professor, coined the phrase “alone together” for a reason. Just because something is permissible doesn’t make it beneficial.

Go meet people offline and live your live to the fullest. As I always say, “Use social media, but in moderation.”

You don’t deserve to be lonely for the sake of technology. Got it?

———

(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.)

‘People think with their eyes’

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We all must watch our visuals very carefully. How you present yourself offline is as important as how you present yourself online.

People think with their eyes and hear what they can see, as the authors of the book “You Inc.” once said. Visuals are powerful and when used carefully and strategically, overwhelm the verbal.

Technology has allowed us to show ourselves visually to hundreds (sometimes thousands) of people every day, and this has both positive and negative effects.

Some of the positive sides include: You now have the ability to produce a personal brand like never before. As long as you present yourself visually in a way people want to perceive you, I bet that you will profit from it.

Hey, a CEO just can’t present himself on Facebook constantly wearing a pair of flip-flops or Hawaiian shirts. Remember: People believe and trust what they see.

The way you present yourself in social media visually has a tremendous impact on how others perceive you outside of cyberspace. I know it is crazy, but people form opinions about who you are based on what they see. Image is almost everything. We might as well better understand the impacts of it in order to better position ourselves.

Some of the negatives are clear-cut: People today are overwhelmed with information. The majority of  us have a Facebook page, some of us have a Twitter account, and some have an Instagram or even a Snapchat presence.

We are present everywhere, and just as important, we are advertising ourselves visually all the time, believe it or not. Technology has now infused itself into your personal life to “help” others form ideas about you, based on what they perceive in social media. Let me share with you a test I did recently.

For 1 1/2 weeks, I decided to change my wardrobe at work to gauge students’ reactions to seeing me dressed in a way contrasted with how I present myself in social media. I didn’t wear anything extravagant. I didn’t have a suit or one of my fancy bow ties. I was dressed with what I like to call “a preppy look,” with dress shoes, professional pants, a formal dress shirt with a fine tie and a fancy vest. Oops, let’s not forget my fancy socks, or what my wife often refers to as, “Crazy Luis’ Socks.” I dressed differently, yes.

This is what I found: Most of the students didn’t change their behavior toward me much, which in itself is an interesting finding which proves to me that they are pretty genuine people.

A couple of them noticed a “change” in Dr. A simply by what they could see. Let me tell you: I didn’t make any changes to my persona. It was just an impression. But hey, we are creatures of habit. When things change, people tend to notice. I don’t think that this will ever change, regardless of how much technology we have in our society.

All this technology has changed people’s perceptions about how people should look based on how they see you online. How one chooses to dress often triggers a stereotype.

Facebook is a visual platform; therefore, stereotypes will be formed and some thoughts about you and me will be shared based on how you look. The way we present ourselves in real life is now tied to how people imagine us in social media, as crazy as this may sound. We need to realize that, move on, and not look back.

People are going to judge you with their eyes, not with their hearts, in this life. Technology is complicating this by enforcing the idea that what is shown online is a reflection of who you are offline.

I don’t like this idea that people “know” others by what they “see” in social media, because  social media so obviously often lacks context. Remember: Not everybody behaves in social media the way that they behave in real life.

We need to be careful with assumptions. However, people will judge others based on what they see. In the age of technology, we all need to be more accustomed to that.

——— (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). 

Technology breeds lack of information

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Let me tell you something. I am a pretty empathetic guy who enjoys giving praise to others.

When somebody hits the jackpot on anything, I am there celebrating with him doing high fives, singing a song, you name it.

Many peers throughout my career have said, “Luis, you are the best cheerleader higher education has ever had!”

I think they are probably right about this one. I get emotional about peoples’ successes. There is no technology that will ever replace the amount of empathy I have inside of me. Sorry motherboard: You will never change the way I treat others, regardless of how fast your processor is.

Not everybody is wired the same way. People have different personalties, likes, dislikes, beliefs and values. Some of us are a blend of what we call introvert and extrovert, whereas others are either one or the other.

Not everybody has the godly gift of exhortation, that’s for sure. A man with common sense must realize this fact. I do believe, however, that some technologies can be used to help others by serving as a mechanism for comforting the distressed to communicate with someone.

When people are down, technology can do wonders for them, as long as there is a caring person on the other side of the fence they can speak with. Texting and Facebook are great examples of these. That’s a good thing.

Paradoxically, technology itself has contributed to many feelings of distress that people experience these days. Our life pace is so fast today because of technology that many people are now forced to ignore others in order to accomplish in life what they themselves want to achieve. As a consequence, some folks have felt left out, which decades ago wouldn’t have even been an issue.

Let me say this: Advances in technology have changed the way we behave in society for the worst, because all of this technology has significantly reduced the amount of free time people have to be more empathetic toward others, and that’s not good.

Am I saying that technology has contributed to the lack of empathy we have in America today? That’s exactly what I am saying. People today have to learn the ins and outs of any system by themselves, most of the time. Fortunate are those who get a life coach in order to assist them with learning the waters of a new system.

I am fine with that, personally. Not everybody is comfortable with this new reality, though. Advances in technology have caused more anxiety as some people need to be nurtured more than others in order to perform to capacity. The moment that we choose technology over people, this begins to happen more frequently.

In my opinion, the award-winning citizen of the present is the guy who gets things done and is also able to put himself in the shoes of others in order to comfort people once in a while. We need to realize, however, that empathy doesn’t always mean agreement.

Time has become a commodity for us all because of the constant development of faster microchips which has created the illusion that we can now work like a machine without experiencing any side effects. No we can’t!

Let me explain: If you overwork a machine, in two years you can replace its mechanical brain by acquiring a new computer. Can you replace your human brain every two years? Think about it. Failing to take this into account is lack of empathy itself! Lack of empathy is a major side effect of technology.

I do realize that I am a rare breed. I tend to easily empathize with people, but I have the common sense to realize that not everybody is wired the same way.

I am OK with people who aren’t as empathetic as me, as long as there is respect involved. People have different personalities, and unless you are in a person’s shoes, never assume that things are the way you think they are all the time. Chances are pretty high they aren’t.

Technology has made us more robotic, making us less warm toward others overall.

That’s all.

———

(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). 

An unseen problem: E-waste is piling up

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Very few people can deny that electronics manufacturing is one of the largest and fastest-growing industries in the world these days.

We are now producing tons of high-tech gadgets all across the world. People are buying these devices left, right and everywhere else, and it’s a trend that is unlikely to be shifted or rolled back.

The business of technology manufacturing is good, there is no question about it. However, all this excessive production of computer devices generates a lot of waste, or what a few of us call  “e-waste.” E-waste is electronic waste, including TVs, computers and smartphones, among others.

 Let’s face it. Our society’s technological turnover rate is staggeringly high, which causes too many of us to change our smartphones every year, even though our work wages have stagnated since the 1970s. People are now upgrading technology devices as often as babies’  diapers are changed.

One day you have an iPhone 6s. Six months from the time you got your brand-new iPhone, you are told your device is outdated and that it doesn’t give you the amenities of the new iPhone 7 model … only to later discover than the iPhone 8 just came on the market because hey, you need what is the newest and the most advanced technology on the market!

Why not release two new tech gadgets a few months apart in the name of innovation? Don’t worry, Android fanboys! You don’t need to be an iPhone user to buy one or two devices a year. There are Android gadgets all over the place for you to buy, many times over, every year if you desire.

Have you thought about what we do with the devices we don’t use anymore? I bet you haven’t.

Throwing away an electronics item is a big no-no. As the device corrodes, the chemical soup inside starts leaking into the ground, contaminating surrounding areas with toxins. Taking your device to an electronics store for disposal doesn’t always work either. Places can use the devices for scrap parts, but then some of the pieces are still thrown away or burned. Burning the device is just as bad. All those toxins are then airborne.

E-waste is a huge problem all over the globe. Waste generated from electronics range between 7,500 tons in Kenya to 60,000 tons in South Africa — all on the African continent alone. E-waste is a much more problematic issue in Asia where the volume of e-waste approached 12.5 million tons in 2015!

China now carries 6.7 million tons of e-waste. Hong Kong and Singapore have the largest e-waste per capita in East Asia, making e-waste a big problem there. What is the e-waste level of Cleveland, Tennessee? Do you know? I don’t, but I bet we have one.

Let me ask you this. Do you know how much future toxic waste you have in your house because you now own all these technological devices? I don’t know exactly how much, but I do know that most of us now have over 50 different types of chemicals and heavy metals in our homes, all because of our obsession with electronics.

Look, computerized devices are toxic and bad for your health. Don’t believe me? Listen carefully: Your smartphone contains heavy metals such as mercury, lead, brominated flame-retardants, polyvinyl chloride and, in some cases, polychlorinated biphenyls. At least, this is what was reported by the Daily Nation.

 Just because we have access to thousands of different gadgets each year doesn’t mean they are free from side effects. E-waste is a problem everywhere, and its consequences must be addressed accordingly.

What do we gain by acquiring all this technology if we destroy ourselves in the long run by contamination? We gain little, if anything.

As I aways say, “We are to use technology in moderation” — NOT completely surrender in our attitudes toward technology. Say “No” to the dangers of e-waste by saying “Yes” to moderation and reasonableness.

———

(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.)

Smartphone addiction real, and dangerous

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We really have a big problem.

In these past three years, I have heard too many folks saying that they want to give up using their smartphones excessively because deep in their hearts they believe the machine is making them and their relatives sick. Yet, they simply can’t.

I don’t blame them for wanting to live a life of techno moderation. Who wants to be a slave to the smartphone, anyway? I don’t. Yet, for some, giving up their smartphone use for a few hours a day is impossible.

 What a tragedy! It is definitely possible for people to give up their smartphone a few hours each day as long as these people aren’t confirmed cellphone addicts. The issue is that too many of our compatriots simply don’t know they have smartphone addiction.

Let me remind you of some important statistics. Do you know that people check their smartphones an average of 110 times each day? Some 40 percent of people use their smartphones while on the toilet, 12 percent use their smartphones in the shower — unreal, isn’t it? — and one in five adults uses their computerized devices while having sexual relations.

I’m not  finished: Some 56 percent of parents check their smartphones while driving and 75 percent of people have admitted to texting at least once while driving. Let me say this loud and clear. Our society is in trouble largely because of the smartphone.

 I’m speaking to anyone who will listen, and especially to the good citizens of our Cleveland community: We must wake up from this modern-day nightmare because if we don’t, we are going to lose another generation of Americans.

We already lost one and can’t afford to lose one more. We can start fixing this problem by identifying that we are in fact conditioned to use these tech gadgets to a point of no return.

Here is my advice: If you see your kid, daughter, grandson or wife constantly connected, sit down with them, have a serious conversation with them about addiction, and make an effort to seek a psychologist and work out a plan to help them to get out of this situation.

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

I wish that our situation was different today, but it isn’t.

Here is what I think, so please read carefully: If you really believe that staying on a machine for nine hours a day is bad for you, then get away from it without regrets. If you can’t, seek help. You only live once! We might as well live a good life of moderation and reason. Doesn’t that make sense? If I heard you say, “Yes, Dr. A, I agree!” … then that’s a good thing.

I know this proposition is complicated. It is common sense, but it will take effort in order to make it work. I don’t know about you, but in my book when I put my mind into something usually I get what I want.

People should be able to get what they want by better understanding their circumstances. You deserve better. Trust me. We have no other option other than fighting against this smartphone addiction epidemic.

I will close this column with my motto, “Use technology, but in moderation.” If you can’t, please realize that you aren’t alone. Millions of people are struggling with a wide variety of technological side effects. Quite frankly, they are in the same boat as you.

The good news is this. We can turn this whole technological addiction around by understanding the need to seek guidance from a psychology professional when required.

That’s what I think.

 ———

(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).

Funny how Bill Gates doesn’t get criticism

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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 things like “Luis, you don’t love technology all the time. Blasphemy!”

Or, “Isn’t it hypocritical to have created the @escthemachine movement and use technology to spread the movement?”

Give me a break!

So, the late Steve Jobs said it is OK 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, OK?

Listen carefully: All this technology isn’t good for you, period. All this fascination with smartphones will only make you more dependent on devices. 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 new level of conditioning, and that’s scary.

It is 10:31 p.m. as I write this, and I am receiving text messages nonstop 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, I could 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 my family and above my health, and I paid a high price for it. I got very sick because of my obsessive use of digital devices back then, and ended up walking with a golf club as a cane for almost a year, my body was so stressed out.

I ended up developing a systemic health problem which led to an inflammation of my middle ear, causing severe dizziness and other heath-related side effects.

No wonder 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 one 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 about 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’ kids were sheltered against all this technology, but mortals like you and I were not. But, who said life is fair?

I am pretty proud to have taken a stance against all this nonsense. This overreliance on smartphone technology, other digital devices and social media isn’t that great for you, in my opinion. Its side effects are as dangerous, in today’s society, as some would have you believe not using them could be.

The answer to all of this is moderation. As I always say, “Use technology in moderation!”

It is not complicated.

——— (Previously Published 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.)

Funny how Bill Gates doesn’t get criticism

Cyber daycare 1.0

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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). 

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.

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).