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!

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No room for bullying in today’s cyberspace

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I have little patience for bullying.

Bullying is divisive and promotes anger, which over time leads to uncontrolled aggressive behaviors by those who are belittled.

In some cases, bullying pushes good people away from an organization, which in itself can have a tremendous impact on the morale of that enterprise. Technology has helped us with democratizing our thoughts and opinions, but many times at the price of allowing people to share their bullying thoughts freely.

Let me make this more real for you.

On Facebook alone, we find literally hundreds of thousands of people endorsing bullying all over the place. It is not uncommon for people to see screenshots of people being beaten on Facebook, along with bullying hate speech. Modern-day social media is only a step beyond the laws of the jungle or the Wild Wild West, in a lot of respects.

Let me make something very clear. I have seen a lot of bullying online and it is toxic. Please stop! Let’s get along, shall we?

Bullying, however, is real, alive and well. Technology has empowered millions of people to display and share their acts of hate toward others! I know that this reality sounds crazy, but it happens every day all over social media.

Sure, we can use these social media tools to communicate with family and friends, or to shout bullying remarks at innocent people in this space we call cyberspace. Kids are dying because of cyberbullying. How are they dying? Many are committing suicide. We need to intervene now, don’t you think?

Remember: Just because we don’t actually see each other face-to-face on Instagram doesn’t mean that people can just compose and share bullying messages aimed at others. Let’s not forget there is an actual person in front of that computer screen reading your message.

Truth: Technology is a tool that can be used for good or for bad. Much good is done online, but the amount of bullying I’ve seen on places like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram is borderline illegal.

Why aren’t we censoring bullying speeches on Facebook? I know, I know. Many people are claiming that they have the right to free speech, and therefore can say anything to other people.

Really? False!

The internet is still regulated by the laws of the United States, if you reside in the great U.S. of A. Hate speech is a crime that can send people to jail. Using bullying toward others will eventually backfire, just remember that.

Look, we live in 2018. Technology is available everywhere, which has transformed the way we live and communicate in this country. However, we see bullying everywhere on the internet.

It is time for some of us to make a statement about it and provide an alternative. A nation that is united cannot be divided. A united people cannot be defeated. We are all Americans, are we not? There is no room for bullying online, people.

Next time you see somebody belittling someone on a social media group, say something about it. Do something. Here is the good news. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist in order to treat others with respect, and that is cool. You just need to be reasonable. It isn’t that difficult.

In the end, we are all in this big boat together trying to make it. Life isn’t easy for anybody. Bullying only makes things more complicated for people.

Technology may have given us the tools to communicate across borders, but it also has given voice to a large number of people who should be speechless.

Say no to bullying online.

——— (Posted Previously on 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). 

Caring about everything is techno-dangerous

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

What a curse!

Really? Yep.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Technology is Handicapping Millennials

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Don’t Overextend Yourself

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Put your smartphones down and listen to this! Are you ready? One of main reasons why people working jobs that they don’t like is because they are over extended financially.

The idea that having material positions makes you a more successful professional is an old scam, dangerous philosophy, which in the long run can be quite limiting. We need to set our priorities straight from the beginning. Did you just graduated from school? Don’t buy a house and an expensive car. The answer to professional success isn’t extravagance. People’s decision to live a extravagant life, in the end… tend to handicap them. If you make one hundred thousand dollars a year, you shouldn’t buy a 300K house and drive a brand new BMW 750 Series. The former will most definitely impede you from being fully strategic in the workforce.

The moment your household overhead increases, your job maneuverability decreases… and you become dependent on your current job. What is the consequence? Your professional autonomy is then affected because of poor lifestyle choices. These choices will then “prohibit” you from moving on to another organization when the time or offer is right. Listen carefully though: Compensation is far from being everything that there is about a job. You don’t have to always go from job to job to be free, either. I would argue, however, that flexibility is as important and valuable (if not more valuable) than income these days. In 2017, your ability to engage in job blitzkrieg is a necessity for survival, especially if you haven’t found your dream job yet. Be very careful when buying real estate. Most houses bankrupt employees up front or make them completely dependent on their employer’s salary impeding them from maneuvering when trouble heads their way or if they feel the time for a move is right.

People stay in jobs they hate because of titles. Titles are cool and can make you feel pretty good about yourself. However, losing your title isn’t an humiliation or a set back in your career, necessarily. Any experienced leader understands that leadership isn’t position; Leadership is action, as once stated by leadership consultant John Maxwell. Titles come and go and many times they bounce back. Just because you hold a high title in your HR department doesn’t mean that you should stay in your current position. If you choose to stay in a job simply because of a title… I would argue that money isn’t the only problem you struggle with. You most definitely struggle with ego issues. By the way: Those who are constantly applying the principles of position leadership to others will end up leading the wind. Overextended employees might work for these kinds of “leaders” but they won’t listen to them or are motivated by them.

I get it. An expensive house, kids, titles, a BMW or a Mercedes Benz… along with that “prestige” you got is too much for you to give up, isn’t it? I don’t let money or titles control my life. I make my decisions based on scripture — based in the bible. The moment that you make God the center of your life, the former struggles totally disappear. You will quickly realize that possessions and job nomenclature in this world is meaningless in the long run.

Do yourself a favor. Don’t overextend yourself. In the volatile market we live in these days, having the capacity to maneuver is without question a necessity for long-tern job sustainability. There is tremendous power in calling the shots even if authority resides in the hands of others. You can pretty much control your destiny if you don’t extend yourself financially. Got it?

Do Not Be Anxious About Anything.

Do Not Be Anxious About Anything.

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“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28); “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7); “So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?” (Hebrews 13:6). 

Who are we without God? We are nobody. Prayer is the name of the game, brethren. Ask and you shall receive — “Ask and it will be given to you” (Matthew 7:7). There is no need to worry or be anxious about what lies ahead of you. God is in control and we shall live by faith in this evil world that we live in. Fear? Let it flee away from you yesterday. Why? This is why, “Say to those with fearful hearts, “Be strong, do not fear; your God will come, he will come with vengeance; with divine retribution he will come to save you” (Isaiah 35:4). 

“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matthew 6:34). Live in the moment! Don’t be anxious about anything as you (or me) can’t truly control our lives. Rejoice, pray and keep the faith. God is wonderful and He shall protect you against the adversary. Nobody can be better than God. Thanks be to Him.