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.

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Bionic Eyes Coming To A Face Near You

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

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

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

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

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

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

Let Your Kids Speak

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Loneliness for the sake of technology

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Intrapersonal Communication Trumps Technology

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Digital Appearances Are Deceiving Too

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

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

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

  

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How to deal with cyberbullying

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Developing Your Brand In Social Media

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

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

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

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

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

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

Heart Attacks Could Be Next

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

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

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

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

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

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

Step Back From Techno Side Effects

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bots 1… People 0.

I do action research in artificial intelligence as it pertains to the media. Some of the things I like to investigate include the use of automated systems and its impacts on consumer engagement and social media likability, the impacts of bots for the growth of social media accounts, and the upcoming big data software tools used on the market today by media companies. I am interested in business intelligence and how the former has an impact on how we communicate and advance the business of media. We need to know what is coming towards us in order for us to be able to act and strategize accordingly.

By better understanding innovation, we give ourselves the chance to predict human behavior and corporate response. Understanding where we are in the adoption and acceptance of artificial intelligence tools, I would argue, is critical for our survival in 2017 and beyond. My fellow citizens of Cleveland, Tennessee, we better get on the ball and start paying closer attention to how these tools will impact our lives because we will see, in the near future, an explosion of artificial intelligence artifacts in our communities. Well, it is already happening in the media but it will be more mainstream in your industry, as well.

Let me share this with you — I have been conducting a pilot study on the impacts of what I call hybrid robotic generated content versus human based keystrokes. For about a month or so, I have been working with an artificial intelligence system that is able to co-generate short blog articles for mass consumption. The scary part, or exciting one if you are a TechnoGroupie, is that I am finding no significant differences in engagement and likability between my own articles and the ones I co-write with a robot! With things being fair — I serve as both writer and editor with the robot. Without my inputs, the bot stories are nothing but a non-sense piece. My human touch is still required to make the computer generated artifact ready for media consumption.   

I find the former pretty disturbing because as this technology develops, we run the risk of seeing less articles written by human beings. That means less jobs and less taxes being paid to support local communities. Let me clarify one important thing, though. Newspapers that have a local reach, like ours, shouldn’t be affected by this upcoming era of self writing systems. Relationships and identification within the community can’t be easily replaced by a bot. Big media conglomerates, however, will operate differently. In fact, they are already operating differently. Have you heard about the 100 anchors, reporters, analysts and production staffers who lost their jobs lately at ESPN?

Do you know that the New York Times uses machine-learning technology in order to identify patterns in financial campaign data? The Associated Press is now using Automated Insights, an artificial intelligence tool that generates stories with big data ranging from public company earnings to minor league baseball games. Artificial intelligence will revolutionize the media business as we are going to see an explosion of articles using sophisticated artificial intelligence big data technology which will probably reverse the current societal belief that news is fake. The former will come at the expense of the little man working in these big media conglomerates. Media validity will resurge.

From a business sense, investing in both labor and capital where artificial intelligence serves as both don’t make too much sense to me because sophisticated machines can act “like” a human being if programmed correctly overtime. Because of advances in AI, many media professionals will be forced to retire from places like CNN or ABC which would cause a significant impact on how these organizations operate. Institutional knowledge isn’t something that an intelligent machine can replace with ease. I predict a lot of managerial turbulence in the media industry ahead because of the implementation of artificial intelligence tools. Machines are learning! The use of bots for social media growth will only get more sophisticated. Organizations that ignore the use of big data systems will be left behind. The robots are winning! I am concerned. How about you?

Within social media, ‘fake’ is everywhere

Let me disclose something to you. I spent two years of my life infiltrating social media communities to literally find out what these kids were up to.

This column is going to be about what I’ve found in this investigation. It will focus on the social media platform Instagram, for simplicity. Are you ready for this? Here we go.

Kids and others are “faking,” or shall we say cheating, their way into fame. There are systems out there that can give “immediate fame” to those who are willing to buy it.

Let me give you an example. I’ve met at least 100 people in social media who are using the app “autolike,” and celebrating the fact that their accounts now receive thousands of purportedly legitimate “likes” per post. This app gives some people in social media the impression of being popular without having the “popularity” they’re seeking.

How do I know it works, or is real? Because I’ve tried it with my account a number of times to test this thing. It is real. It works.

Be very careful with what you see out there. I say this because, honestly, all this technology has made me distrust what I personally see online. People are faking everywhere.

Conglomerates are forming to collaborate on spamming techniques. Yes, you heard that right. People are getting together to engage in spamming to grow their accounts and make themselves more popular.

DM groups, as direct messaging communities are referred to, are now being used extensively by millions of accounts on Instagram, in order to trick the system’s algorithm into believing that these spam accounts are more populated than they are.

These communities meet six times a day, under different names, and possess a wide variety of characteristics that you must meet in order to join them. They operate on a kind of “The more, the better” mindset.

Do you have a 100K fake follower account? We want you! Jeez, this is the reality out there, fellas. Organized spamming happens on Facebook, Telegram and many other public applications. How do I know it works? You know it, right? I joined them and played with their systems. Does it work? Oh yeah.

Secrecy is at an all-time high online. The good stuff is only being shared by a few. Nobody wants these secrets to be revealed in great detail, and most want you to be clueless about it.

Why? Well, because they can say to you, “I can make you go viral! Give me $150 a month and I will make this work for you.” The more ignorant you are about this new stuff we call social media, the better for them.

There are millions of people making a living with this garbage, I must add. Some are even making a living writing books about this stuff. How do I know this? I bought a “secrets” book for $19.95. It was all there. I mean, the main ideas.

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

This is also what I’ve found out in my quest to better understand the social media community.  A degree of “fake” is expected – and considered acceptable – by these groups, because the “like factor” tends to generate more likes. Let me put this another way: The more popular someone appears to be tends to result in more social media site or platform visitors thinking that these posters are indeed popular. I know, it is weird. It actually reminds me of how life is in Brazil. It is all about rumors. It really is an “If it appears to be, then it must be,” type of thing.

There are too many communities forming out there to make them appear popular/likable to you. Question them first before accepting the information at face value. Chances are very high that their accounts are being inflated.

Like anything in life, it takes time to build anything of value. Social media is no different. False (or “fake”) information, group spam and secrecy are running wild in cyberspace.

Here is my advice to you: Doubt first, before believing what you see in these social media communities.

———

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

Within social media, talent differentiates

Let me start this column by saying this: I believe in the use of technology, but in moderation.

I don’t hate technology and I do think that we cannot live without it. All that I’m saying is that we need to be careful to not have technology tools and platforms take over our lives for the sake of technology use alone, just because it is sexy to be a YouTuber.

The internet and everything social we hear about it, are here to stay. We need to embrace these things because this is where modern society is heading. In this column, I will tell you what I think is OK to do in terms of this tech-driven world.

Let me make a strong statement. It is unlikely that you will become a YouTube superstar, because being a superstar is statistically improbable.

Now, let me elaborate.

First, it is OK to use social media and all the new digital tech. But please consider the following, if you may. It is OK to use all this social media stuff as long as you spend enough time producing quality content and engaging with your audience. Creating good content, along with seeding your posts into a niche done continuously and over time, can be beneficial for you or your organization.

Going to Facebook to share unfocused messages in an attempt to gain attention from others is time-consuming and meaningless.

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

Second, be skeptical about uncontrolled social media use. Use doesn’t guarantee success!

I believe that uncontrolled use of anything is bad. Making a person look bad because they don’t use social media for hours on end each day is irresponsible. Not everybody is able to produce quality content “at speed” seven days a week, regardless of training.

By way of explanation, I’m currently doing an Instagram campaign within the motivation niche. I post content on a daily basis which literally takes me approximately five minutes to produce, and which I then share with the masses.

I engage with followers three times a day for 15 minutes a pop. I give myself an extra 30 minutes to advance my mission online. I spend less than two hours a day on this process. This past month, I received 5,429 post likes, 3,242 comments and hundreds of visits to my profile. However, I happen to have a talent for media.

Let’s not forget that Dr. A is a professor at Lee University who teaches four classes a semester in the Communication Arts Department.

Using technology all the time because it “might” be the right thing to do may backfire. Read this carefully: Talent is as variable in social media as it is in football.

Please realize that I’m not saying that I don’t like technology. I love it, as you know. But, we must be reasonable and realize that not everyone has the time, resources or the talent to be a YouTube superstar.

Lastly, it is OK to reveal who you are. The internet exposes things. You can’t fake it.

My recommendation is for you to start embracing the internet – within reason.

In the end, it will be better for you and me to say what we really think than to pretend to be something we aren’t.

Back in the day, faking was easier and it wasn’t network-bound. In 2018, being fake backfires. Everything is connected to everything else. Being two-faced in the age of social media will damage your reputation. Don’t do it.

In summary, we aren’t crabs who go through life moving backward. Social media is here to stay. That’s where we are headed.

By 2020, your grandsons won’t watch TV anymore. Smartphones will totally replace the TV’s role in society.

Just be aware that being an online personality requires a lot of work and talent. Having a web presence is all right, as long as it doesn’t control your life.

———

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

Social Media Networks: Things Are Getting So Mean.

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

PD rating: Low Risk.

Veer away from social media for self-promotion

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Life is a riot.

The other day, I was working on a scholarly journal in my office at the Lee University Communication Arts Building when a United Way of the Ocoee Region coordinator emailed me inviting me to deliver a keynote for their interns on the topic of communication.

I gladly accepted the invitation, made the necessary arrangements, and later delivered a two-hour workshop on the topic of winning in life through creative communication.

We had a blast, I must add. We laughed, we learned, we played, we thought. We exchanged understanding! Mutual respect was immediately attained by all parties. I liked them and they seemed to have liked me back.

I simplified and clarified, which in 2018, is a strong skill to have in the midst of all of these new technologies. Being human pays off. I didn’t have to compliment myself and put it all over social media. They did that for me, which ended up being a wonderful feeling.

Due to the nature of social media, people all over the world are engaging in way too much self-promotion, which in the long run can be quite damaging.

For a short period of time, I would argue that engaging in some form of self-promotion is required if one is to attract a sizable audience to buy into their personal brand’s goals and objectives. After all, how can anybody believe that people are experts on anything if they don’t tell you that they are?

Our society has grown used to hearing people saying how great they are, reasonably. Repeatedly claiming that you are the next Steve Jobs because you have wonderful entrepreneurial or technicals skills can, and probably will, give you more headaches than rewards.

Making other people happy face-to-face can do wonders for you. There is just no way that an ordinary computer-mediated conversation would do what my face-to-face keynote delivery did for United Way of the Ocoee Region and its employees. Playing the harmonica in front of a computer screen and failing to make eye contact with your audience will simply destroy any attempt to deliver a remarkable keynote or training presentation.

We are growing used to believing that we can emulate the real world with cyberspace. I don’t think we can. Complimenting yourself too much, regardless of the medium you decide to use, will result in negative audience reactions. People want to see you speaking charismatically and emphatically with them, sometimes singing a song when they least expect. At least, this is what I do. It works wonders every time.

As Harry Beckwith once said, “Being able to listen makes you captivating.” The opposite is also true, “Failing to listen makes you boring.” I would even go further to say that those who don’t listen end up not being heard by others.

Online communication is at best mediocre, and won’t have the same impact a person has when speaking with another person. Understanding is something that we strive for and expect when speaking with others.

Do we really understand everything we are being told these days in social media, text messaging or even email? Maybe we understand more than I want to admit, but I bet you would agree with me that your smartphone auto-correct has made you uncomfortable a few times this past month.

When we try to emulate something, we rarely do it with perfection.

Life is a sale, as Christine Clifford once taught us. Every time we try to communicate with somebody, we are trying to sell our ideas, thoughts and beliefs, values, you name it. The computer puts a barrier between you and the receiver of your message.

I am so convinced that face-to-face communication is so important for you that I am writing this column presenting many arguments for why mediated communication may not be the best way to communicate with people.

Be very careful not to believe that the computer will always make your life more paramount. What makes you outstanding is your ability to communicate with other people, and let me tell you, it is best done live and in color.

Got  it?

——— (Column 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). 

Revealing yourself using social media

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We can learn a lot about people based on their social media behaviors.

In 2018, there are power games being played on Facebook by power-starved people all over the place. Frequency of postings, over- or underengagement, “Likes” and “Dislikes,” “Shares” or a lack of them, are the means by which power games are seen on Facebook alone.

Technology may have made us more connected, but it also has — without question — empowered people to use power over others while hiding their cowardly ways behind a screen. The evidence of this is overwhelming. Researchers call it “face validity,” which means that people can see that assertions are valid and correct.

To make a long story short, a lot of evil is done in the land of apple pie and baseball through smartphones.

In 2013, I went to Harvard University to study leadership. It was one of the very best decisions I’ve made in my life. I was then getting ready to serve as department assistant chair of a large academic unit with 750 students, back in Pennsylvania.

I went to the university to better understand people and to learn different models to manage them. We learned through case studies and simulations the many games that people play in every kind of organization, from universities to  corporate America.

It is ugly what people do to people, both in real life and online.

If you happen to be a minority, these games are played with much more frequency. Dude, I’ve seen a lot in my career in higher education, and have developed skill sets to identify, early on in the game, the people who use their power for evil.

I have to admit that technology can be quite helpful with making inferences about power in organizations. Cyberspace, in this context, is an extension of our real lives. I know, I know … we live in an evil world that is dominated by self-centered people. Technology will never change this fact. I would even argue that technology can only exacerbate this problem.

Here is a cool test you can use to determine whether people are with you or against you. How often do your “friends” like your postings on social media? Are they commenting on your successes or feeling your pain when you lose a family member? Or, are they ignoring what you do because they are afraid that other people may value your contributions more than theirs?

Sure, these aren’t easy questions to answer, especially on Facebook, because the Facebook algorithm is constantly changing. But overall, it is pretty easy to make assertions about people’s behavior on social media over time.

I most definitely pay attention to it and link my findings to what happens in real life. You should also do it. It is amazing what you find.

Technology can be helpful with finding who is playing power games against you. Read this carefully: You can identify a person who wants to exercise power over you face-to-face and online, by examining his or her actions and by paying attention to detail.

Remember: Technology is simply a tool that we can use to better ourselves. In the end, we are our best judges of character and, with the appropriate training, can better understand our surroundings by simply mixing computer-mediated interactions with observable, real-life behaviors.

Keep this in mind. Power is exercised in a variety of ways, but these two ways are usually pretty revealing. Most people, regardless of whether they are using technology to make you look small, disdain your efforts or delay gratification. These are defense mechanisms and clear indicators that someone is trying to exercise power over you. Now, think about this and how they are related to your Facebook (or Instagram) feed. It is pretty revealing.

Now that we have adopted social media in our lives, paying attention to people’s social media behaviors is necessary. It is amazing what people find when they pay attention.

Hey, I like this game. Back in the day, I wanted to be a secretive CIA agent. Be cautious: I am watching you.

———  (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).