A Touch Of Humanity Is Necessary

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Talent Is The Differentiator

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Don’t Let Technology Limit Yourself

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Technology Won’t help You To Navigate Communities

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

AlphaZero Our New Opponent

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Technology Is Destroying Golf

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bionic Eyes Coming To A Face Near You

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

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

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

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

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

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

Change In Education Is Eminent

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

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

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

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

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

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

Let Your Kids Speak

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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. 

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.

We’re seeing generational shifts in technology use

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hmmm.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Loneliness for the sake of technology

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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?    

To Work or Not to Work?

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How many times have you come home from a long day of work, just getting ready to sit down and relax, and your phone rings? Or you open your email and half of your inbox is work related? Or your new co-worker or boss or employee left you seven text messages?

Does your blood pressure go up? Can you feel your irritation growing in your chest, the bottom falling out of your stomach, your shoulders tensing? Is reading this giving you anxiety that at any moment just such a scenario is going to happen to you?

Digital depression. Pow! What you feel has a name and is currently being researched. The workforce is so technologically advanced that almost every job requires computer use at some point throughout the day. Work follows us home too. Now that almost everyone has the ability to be contacted through their own phones or computers, work never stops.

Now we throw into the mix the need to socialize over the internet. Friends, family, acquaintances, strangers have access to us all the time. We feel obligated to accept their game requests and look at cat videos. We have to search for ridiculous things, like celebrity happenings, the weather, music videos, TV shows… Feeling bogged down?

Being overwhelmed and overworked by technology is the crux of digital depression.

The American workforce tremendously affects digital depression. Since 1950, American workforce productivity has increased 400 percent. Americans work harder than any other country.  American companies are not required to give paid sick days or give mandated time off for personal well-being. We work 137 more hours than the Japanese, 260 hours more than the British and a whooping 499 hours more than the French. Vacation days are used to catch up on housework, errands, all the things we neglect because we’re at work. Even crazier, we’re the only, the only, industrialized country to not mandate at least a 12 week leave, when we become parents.

Overworking is the force behind employee mistakes at work and insomnia in high performance employees. It leads to irritability, anxiety, digestive issues, high blood pressure, stress and burnout. Perhaps, just maybe, it leads to family dysfunction, to broken relationships.

This behavior is in no way healthy. Breathe a sigh of relief, turn off your phone, don’t check your email. It’s okay to take a break from work. Actually enjoy your vacation whether you’re on your own or with family. I believe, Earl Wilson, says it best, “A vacation is what you take when you can no longer take what you’ve been taking.”

Technology makes you very boring

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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). 

‘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). 

AI Is Here To Stay

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In a recent television interview, Vladimir Putin said, “Whoever becomes the leader in this sphere (Artificial Intelligence) will become the ruler of the world.”

I am afraid he is right about that. We are not taking any chances. The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) currently has 137 pilot projects directly related to artificial intelligence underway.

It seems evident to me that we have reached a point of no return in regard to fully investing in the development of intelligent systems. The former gives me goosebumps and chills.

The United States has always been an empire of ideas, a country that premiums talent and human ingenuity. You got a great idea? Awesome! Let’s develop that idea and take you away from the competitive proletariat ball field.

The great business geniuses of the 20th century, e.g., Sam Walton, founder of Wal-Mart, Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple, and of course, the great Henry Ford — all had two things in common. They were very talented and human, but none of them were able to be omnipresent in their economy.

Modern applied technology changes that. Artificial intelligence reinforces that! You can now be cloned and “work” in more than one industry at the same time by either using or developing intelligent systems.

Historically, our capitalist society worked this way. People who had a brilliant idea and were able to make that idea work got to the top and remained at the top, freeing up positions at the bottom for the remaining of the population.

The development of intelligent systems changes this dynamic by introducing “cyber-cloning” into this midst. These days, we can clone your thoughts and actions and advance other areas of the economy, literally making many compete against your e-persona for a place under the sun.

Let me say it this way. Your biggest competitor might actually be an intelligent robot hosted somewhere in Utah. This is probably what the CIA is doing right now. It is humanly impossible to be working 24/7, yet defense isn’t a 9 to 5 job. Think about it. It gives me chills to think about the number of unqualified workers who will be out of the job market due to advances in technology. Ladies and gents, we’re going to see this sooner than later.

How would you feel about that? There are intelligent systems today that can organize warehouses better than you and your friends. In many parts of the U.S.A., trash is now taken by a robot. Intelligent systems are now doing some of the work which were historically done by lawyers.

A number of the videos that you see on television were done by an automated system. What if I told you that I have an intelligent system promoting my wife’s start-up right now, as I am writing this column?

In the past, Dr. A was only able to be a college professor, opening up opportunities for others to sell their services to us as social media professionals. Today, Dr. A is both a college professor and social media manager at the same time. Part of me is now digital! The former is a huge shift in how our capitalist system operates these days because of technology.

I am going to make a prediction. In the near future, true wealth is going to aggregate among a few big-business conglomerates, offering little opportunity for others less fortunate within the system. We are going to be able to clone our thoughts and ideas and maximize our professional talents in ways that we have never seen in the history of mankind.

Capital, not labor, is going to be the fuel of production. The world that our sons and daughters are going to see when they grow old will be nothing like what we see today.

Artificial intelligence is here to stay and with time, it will only get more intelligent.

–––––– (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.)

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.

Jealousy, gratitude simply don’t mix

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I am grateful for being alive and having the privilege to write about technology for you.

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

Families and friends can now connect and network with each other quite easily on social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram, and that’s wonderful. When I connected with my friend Rodrigo Gracie (yeah, the Jiu-Jitsu MMA fighter) back in 2014, I experienced a true sense of nostalgia. It is not every day that you find a childhood buddy from elementary school who is now a world-renowned celebrity.

Social media developers, kudos to you! From this standpoint, technology is awesome.

Unfortunately, connecting with old friends comes at the expense of losing gratitude. Most of what we read online is a collection of narcissistic, self-centered statements that are rarely directed at the well-being of others. That’s a problem.

If people choose not to be grateful, chances are high that people won’t get living faith, and without living faith people cannot get wealthy. At least, this is what Wallace Wattles states in his book, “The Science of Getting Rich,” published in 1910.

Technology empowered us to express ourselves at the expense of increasing confrontation. Do you really think that people care about what people share? I bet you that writing a post like this, “Today, I just got a promotion at work! Woo hoo!” will do more damage than good.

Look, people get jealous about success. I don’t remember the last time I’ve heard anyone writing the following when visiting Cancun, “I want to thank my peers for covering for me while we take our vacation in Mexico! We couldn’t be here without your help.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

I value gratitude. Valuing gratitude is human, reasonable and required. I am not aware of anybody who got anywhere in life without the assistance of gratitude.

Read this carefully: People get jealous when you constantly share success stories about yourself online. In the end, self-promotion on social media only causes you trouble. The more you do it, the more headaches you get.

If I had to choose between technology and gratefulness, I would choose gratefulness 100 percent of the time. Why? Because it doesn’t backfire.

——— (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). 

Don’t let technology limit what you do

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A lot of people live in a state of denial these days. What they think, and what they believe, are often a reflection of their own alter egos created by all of this technology.

There are so many people today who think they need to use technology to be known as a good speaker, teacher and influencer. Let me reveal something to you: You don’t need to use PowerPoint in order to deliver a great speech!

Let me break this to you, if I may. A star teacher must be God and student-centered, not technology centered. Influencers don’t rely on presentation software in order to be influential!

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

What were the results of that endeavor? My dear compatriots, I think the audience really liked the conversation. They were paying attention, laughed at times, interacted with me and themselves, and more importantly — got the point that we have a technology problem in America.

How did they do it? By not looking at their smartphones or following a collection of keynote slides, but by focusing on the verbal and non-verbal behaviors of a speaker who wasn’t reading from a PowerPoint slide.

Listen to me: The key to communicating with impact isn’t related to how much technology you use or how technological somebody believes you are. Forget this idea that you need to have Facebook to persuade an audience, or that Instagram will make others take action on the things you say at face value because they have an online presence.

What you really need is to have the ability to tell stories and make your audience think about the topic you want them to think about. This is done better without technology, and off-line.

I am getting tired of seeing so many talented young people limit themselves because of technology. We are people, and guess what? People are full of emotions!

Do you really think that you will be able to persuade anyone online without having human contact with them long term? Think again!

Mediated communication has its perks and can be used at times, but it will never replace the good old face-to-face conversation. This is precisely why conferences, events, schools and many other public venues bring trained communicators and speakers to speak to their audiences. Communication skills are still king in the age of Fedor, ladies and gentlemen.

The power of a live speech carries on, I must add. A good keynote speaker, after delivering a killer speech to any audience, without relying on too much technology, is often rebooked by somebody who heard that speech.

An influential teacher who puts students ahead of technology will build an army of followers. The result is quite predictable. These same students will eventually start coming in masses to the professor’s office to learn more.

Keep this in mind: People are relational, especially millennials. If you can’t relate, you won’t influence them. Relationship is built face-to-face, not with technology! A good teacher understands that.

Influencers are a rare breed. If you have them on your team, don’t let them go. Do what you can to keep them. Treat them with the respect they deserve. This breed usually has choices.

Although influencers are often technology literate, they don’t always rely on the latest technological advancements to be influential. Did the Rev. Billy Graham use PowerPoint to influence his crowd during his crusades?

Open your eyes to what is important. Technology is second to humanity.

——— (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). 

Change is coming; technology is the fuel

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Glory be to God, always… Credit for this article is given to the most high. 

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

Get ready!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 We live in a wild world.

——— (Previously punished 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).

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). 

Hidden extremism: Technology overload is impacting so many!

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We live in a world marked by extremism.

At the time of our grandparents, people used to have two maybe three pairs of shoes in their closets. Back in 2013, according to the American Apparel and Footwear Association, Americans bought almost eight pairs of shoes that year. The average American man in 2017 owns 12 pairs of shoes. The average American woman owns 27. Americans on average own 19 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 kids’ 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 6 1/2 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 50 sometimes 60 hours a week, not from 9 to 5 but from 9 to forever. Let’s not forget that answering emails at 9:45 p.m. and waking up at 3 a.m. 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 nonprofit to help with a remodeling or landscaping project. If you like thinking, take a non-credit class in a local college to meet 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.

———

(About the writer: Dr. Luis C. Almeida is an associate professor of communication at Lee University and TEDx speaker. He has been nationally featured for his work in leadership and technology by the Wall Street Journal, ABC-Jackson, TEDxPhoenixville, Pittsburgh Tribune Review, Voice of America and the Indiana Gazette. Internationally, Dr. “A” has been featured in several outlets, including the prestigious O Globo newspaper and Radio CBN. 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.)

Hidden extremism: Technology overload is impacting so many!

As technology fails, activities for the win

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The infusion of innovation changes the composition of any living system forever.

For some reason, we are choosing to ignore the laws of innovation, diffusion and adoption – and all for the sake of technology.

The mighty smartphone may have given us some “superpowers” such as the ability to quickly respond to messages via social media and to share photographs with our kids, but it also has helped kill shopping malls and other retailers all across America, especially in small towns and cities like ours.

Smartphones are not just killing us. They are, as mentioned, killing our malls. When we were younger, people used to go to the mall to walk around, converse, exchange ideas and buy stuff. Today, very few people go to the malls in small towns and cities, and when they do go, they go to walk, not to buy.

Our ideas are now exchanged on social media. We buy our things on Amazon. By the way, did you know that Toys R Us went out of business? Go figure.

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

Here we go with my solution to this whole shopping mall mess in small towns all across America, and small cities like ours:

First of all, trash the idea that malls are places where people go to buy clothes. This retail model is approaching death.

Why don’t we turn these dinosaur malls into activity malls? Seniors are already walking there anyway, right?

Don’t you think that we should expand the offerings and capitalize on what people are asking for? Listen to me: How about if we turn Bradley Square Mall into a facility with a rollerblade hall and an indoor ice skate arena?

By the way, is there a place in town for kids to play, especially during winter and early spring? Let me tell you something: Parents don’t want to buy clothing and toys for their kids every week. Parents want some sanity after working a long week at work.

Turn these dated malls into a kids’ activity place. Maybe mall managers should consider not renewing some of these clothing store contracts (which are struggling to stay in business anyway) and replacing them with a bumper-car enclosure, an old-fashioned arcade, Chuck-E-Cheese, air-bounce, trampoline, billiards, you name it!

We live in a dry county, people. Shouldn’t we make the mall the place for teenagers to go and have date nights? I bet we can turn the finances of these shopping malls around quickly.

Let me say this again: People want an activity mall to take their kids to, have fun and get some sanity. It is the No. 1 complaint I hear from people these days.

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

We need stronger leadership to turn mall operations around. Let’s not allow our indoor malls to become a place for delinquents to hang out.

I tell you this: Turning the current shopping malls into activity malls will help destroy some of the delinquency we now sometimes may see in shopping malls.

Technology may change the composition of a system forever, but our ability to adapt and reinvent trumps the side effects that new technologies have on old living systems.

Let me say this loud and clear: We can turn these malls around. All we need to do is to think differently, have people on board who believe in the vision, and survive the transition.

Are you game to make our town awesome? I am.

——— (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). 

Technology makes you boring

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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 to lose especially if I have the ability to make the first move. All this technology is making people boring and too cookie cutter in so many aspects.

This past week, 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 often premium 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, you know? Yet, technology often complicates what we do. Don’t believe me? How complex is your password? Eight to ten 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? After 44 years of age, I’ve come to the conclusion that people have to project themselves somehow but not always 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!

You now what, 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 PhD, can bounce a golf ball and catch it behind my neck, can talk with strangers if we were besties and can play mean 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 is the following. 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 of the former is that what we gain in production and empowerment we lose in authenticity. I am very concerned that these technologies we have in America today is changing our society to a point of no return 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 gentleman. Say no to technologies and embrace your humanity. In the end, its all you got. 

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). 

Tech users become modern-day gladiators

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We live in a sort of modern-day Rome, where those who control the crowd become invincible.

The gladiators of the past were poor slaves in the eyes of Caesar, but they were the true heroes of the people. They could entertain and temporarily persuade the masses to do whatever they wanted them to say and do in the arena. Although they had no Roman right, as long as they were fighting in the Roman Coliseum, they were free and in control.

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

It is a form of power that can be easily understood by the powers to be. I have to admit, the smartphone has empowered the weak to be seen and valued, and that’s good. Let me whisper this in your ears, and please promise me that you will only tell your mom about it: Evildoers are short-lived in the new age of information.

Trying to oppress others isn’t worth the trouble anymore. Like a Roman gladiator in his day, when the modern slave is given access to technology he or she now has a voice to share in society. And this is because of technology.

In reality, I have pity for those who scheme against the weak, and use positional power to oppress their brethren. That’s because in modern-day America — where most people have the chance to share what they really think to millions of people, and at little expense — being evil against good people with technology access and a crowd will, sooner or later, backfire. Let me explain.

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

Let me make this story short. YouTube allowed vocalist Dave Carroll and his band to tell 17,877,563 different YouTube users about how United Airlines mishandled their baggage and broke his Taylor guitar by composing a country song titled, “United Breaks Guitars.”

The refrain went like this: “I should have flown with someone else or gone by car… cause United Breaks guitars.” What a nightmare for United!

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

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

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

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

The world of communication has changed forever. In the age where sophisticated media users have the ability to control and influence millions of people, the everyday person has a voice, too.

Modern-day gladiators are uncontrollable warriors with a platform on which to share their thoughts. Everybody today has a voice, and a crowd to entertain. A single Facebook post can now make history. Fortunate are those who understand this simple fact.

——— (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.)

 

 

Don’t let technology limit what you do

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A lot of people live in a state of denial these days. What they think, and what they believe, are often a reflection of their own alter egos created by all of this technology.

There are so many people today who think they need to use technology to be known as a good speaker, teacher and influencer. Let me reveal something to you: You don’t need to use PowerPoint in order to deliver a great speech!

Let me break this to you, if I may. A star teacher must be student-centered, not technology centered. Influencers don’t rely on presentation software in order to be influential!

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

What were the results of that endeavor? My dear compatriots, I think the audience really liked the conversation. They were paying attention, laughed at times, interacted with me and themselves, and more importantly — got the point that we have a technology problem in America.

How did they do it? By not looking at their smartphones or following a collection of keynote slides, but by focusing on the verbal and non-verbal behaviors of a speaker who wasn’t reading from a PowerPoint slide.

Listen to me: The key to communicating with impact isn’t related to how much technology you use or how technological somebody believes you are. Forget this idea that you need to have Facebook to persuade an audience, or that Instagram will make others take action on the things you say at face value because they have an online presence.

What you really need is to have the ability to tell stories and make your audience think about the topic you want them to think about. This is done better without technology, and off-line.

I am getting tired of seeing so many talented young people limit themselves because of technology. We are people, and guess what? People are full of emotions!

Do you really think that you will be able to persuade anyone online without having human contact with them long term? Think again!

Mediated communication has its perks and can be used at times, but it will never replace the good old face-to-face conversation. This is precisely why conferences, events, schools and many other public venues bring trained communicators and speakers to speak to their audiences. Communication skills are still king in the age of Fedor, ladies and gentlemen.

The power of a live speech carries on, I must add. A good keynote speaker, after delivering a killer speech to any audience, without relying on too much technology, is often rebooked by somebody who heard that speech.

An influential teacher who puts students ahead of technology will build an army of followers. The result is quite predictable. These same students will eventually start coming in masses to the professor’s office to learn more.

Keep this in mind: People are relational, especially millennials. If you can’t relate, you won’t influence them. Relationship is built face-to-face, not with technology! A good teacher understands that.

Influencers are a rare breed. If you have them on your team, don’t let them go. Do what you can to keep them. Treat them with the respect they deserve. This breed usually has choices.

Although influencers are often technology literate, they don’t always rely on the latest technological advancements to be influential. Did the Rev. Billy Graham use PowerPoint to influence his crowd during his crusades?

Open your eyes to what is important. Technology is second to humanity.

——— (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). 

Talking tattoos? You kidding me?

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It seems that the latest fashion among young adults these days is to get a music tattoo.

Wait, what? Are you serious? Yes, I am. Dude, the world is getting TechnoCrazy.

Soundwave tattoos, as they are called, are an actual tattoo that can be read by a mobile app that will play the sound. They are here to stay, I must add. People now can get a sound wave tattoo and play the song using the skin motion app. Welcome augmented tattoos, ladies and gentleman.

Some people are making the argument that this new technology is awesome because it allows a person to fully express himself or herself using the latest techno art. Others are celebrating this latest development in technology as a means to remember a former girlfriend or to have a quote or a favorite song to be with them forever.

I know, I know. You think that I am kidding, right?

You are probably saying, “Dr. A, that’s enough. For Pete’s sake! Who in the world would be making decisions like these? This can’t be real!”

I wish I could tell you that sound wave tattoos aren’t fashion these days, but they are. Let me make a prediction: The majority of your grandchildren will have one of these or maybe more before they reach 21.

Why is our society silently accepting these kinds of things anyway? Did anyone even question the moral of not having tattoos on their bodies in the first place? Of course nobody is even talking about this old school, dated alternative!

I must admit that I don’t like tattoos of any kind, especially this new strain of app-based tattoos. I wonder what grandparents in Cleveland think about this new TechnoCrazy trend. I’m not sure, but I will ask. I am curious.

Tattooing a music wave on my body would make my grandmother have a stroke, that I know. I can only imagine me going to her house for dinner and saying, “Grandma, look at my new tattoo. It speaks! Isn’t that cool?”

I know exactly what she would have replied back. It would be with a reply like this, “Neuza Neuza (her long-time maid’s name), please get me my heart medi-cine! I think I‘m dying.”

Let me be fair here for a minute. Not everybody has a grandmother like mine. Some of you may be OK with having your grandson’s first cry tattooed onto your son’s forearm. Maybe I am wrong about that. You tell me.

This is really what I don’t understand when it comes to technology. Rather than people using technology for greater things, people use these useless technologies for frivolous things.

Just because we can now tattoo a wave onto our bodies, and play it with a smartphone app, doesn’t mean that this technology is of any major significance to us. I would much rather spend time and money funding better auto-correct algorithms than in creating apps that play sound wave tattoos.

Since I have been typing this column, I had to go back 14 times in order to undo the changes that the computer has made to my writing! Who cares if kids these days can tattoo music waves to their bodies? Which significance does that have in the grand scheme of things? The answer is none. By the way, what happens if the app to read the tattoo is discontinued?

Listen to me carefully: Be a little old school and resist this madness we now call sound wave tattoos. If your grandchildren initiate a conversation on the topic, change the topic. Discourage their efforts, if necessary.

Am I suggesting that you should ignore them for their own sake? Absolutely. Remember: Your grandkids’ brains aren’t developed until they reach the age of 25. Until then, they will be making some of these nonsense decisions. OK, in many cases kids make some crazy decisions after 25, but you get what I am saying.

In 2018, you can be a walking billboard! In order to play your playlist you need an app! Is it a good thing? I don’t think so.

Which benefit would anyone get by being a human full of music tattooed to their skin?

I can’t believe that I’m writing this piece, yet I am.

How can anybody in their right mind think that all things technology are good?

Think about it.

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

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

Fake Overload On The Horizon

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Offering Some Love For The World Of Print

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Public schools help sustain culture

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Technology is Handicapping Millennials

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Videos Games Go Analog!

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Victory!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I have 10 Life Secrets: Let Me Share 1

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

We shouldn’t spend our lives on our smartphones letting life pass by us. That’s a mistake! Most people don’t get what they want or deserve because of silly mistakes. I have met a number of talented college graduates who struggle economically because of the bridges they’ve burned along the way, experienced professionals who get stuck mid career because of pride, and near retirement employees who are anxious to retire so that their fear of unemployment stops consuming them. Clearly, nobody told these folks that jobs are now partnerships and that burning bridges, pride and fear are only going to slowly transform their true talent into perishable mediocrity. You don’t want to fall under these categories. What you do need is to control your life by maneuvering the game of life in ways that makes you totally unpredictable. By the way, how are you positioning yourself these days? Are you engaging in careful planning?

Undeniably, everybody loves doing the kind of work that they have a talent for. Based on this logic, the million dollar question then becomes, “What do I need to do in order to work on my talent?” Ladies and gentleman, I am going to reveal to you one of the ten life secrets I’ve learned right now. The secret actually comes from Napoleon Hill, one of my “deceased mentors” and author of the book “Think and Grow Rich.” Just realize that his secret has seven steps. Are you ready for this? Put that smartphone of yours away for  minute and enjoy the show!

First: Decide exactly what kind of job you want. If this job doesn’t already exist, perhaps you can create it.

Second: Choose the company or individual from whom you wish to work for.

Third: Study your prospective employer, as to policies, personnel, and chances for advancement.

Fourth: By analysis of yourself, your talents and capabilities, figure what you can offer, and plan ways and means of giving advantages, services, developments, and ideas that you believe you can successfully deliver.

Fifth: Forget about a “job.” Forget whether or not there is an opening. Forget the usual routine of “have you got a job for me?” Concentrate on what you can give.

Sixth: Once you have your plan in mind, arrange with an experienced writer to put it on paper in neat form and in full detail.

Seventh: Present it to the proper person with authority and he will do the rest. Every company is looking for men who can give something of value, whether it be ideas, services, or “connections.” Every company has room for the man who has a definite plan of action which is to the advantage of that company.

Careful planning is at the core of this secret. Failing to influence others is a capital mistake. Never, under any circumstances, criticize others because the moment you do you lose them. Who knows if you are going to need them in the future or not? Don’t burn bridges! Control your pride. Life is about God, not you or me. Why are you so afraid? Life is full of surprises. You might as well join the team and make yourself indispensable to whoever you work for. Your anxieties will decrease… trust me.

It is all about careful planning, dude. By the way, what are you doing about that? Don’t let others choose what you should do. You should take ownership of your destiny perhaps with the consultation of a close ally. The former can help you tremendously, that is for sure.

The Smartphone Is The Vice Of Our Time

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Technology Overuse Is Eating Our Society’s Soul

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

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

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

Really.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In the tech age, to err is still human

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We Need To Survive The Transition

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

Get ready!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 We live in a wild world.

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

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

You Need To Equip Yourself With Knowledge

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