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).