Technology Articles

Battle of the Brain: We Want To Feel Safe, But the News Is Full of Panic

Sunday, November 16th, 2014

Battle of the BrainFear is in the air once again: An Ebola epidemic. ISIS atrocities. Another senseless school shooting. What’s going on here?

We want to feel safe. We want our families to be safe. Yet, every time we turn on the news (in all the many forms we receive it today), panic-inducing stories bombard our brains. We feel fear, even when authorities work hard to quell our fears.

Ghosting: I Never Heard From Him Again

Saturday, November 15th, 2014

Ghosting: I Never Heard From Him AgainMore than a decade ago, Carrie Bradshaw was on the receiving end of a modern break-up — on a post-it note.

Nowadays, people don’t even bother with writing something on a piece of paper. Now you’ll get a text, and that will be it. The end of your relationship — and perhaps the end of any further communication with your ex-partner.

If it was wrong a decade ago to break up with someone on something so impersonal as to disrespect the relationship, how much more wrong has it become to act as though the relationship never even existed?

Welcome to 2014 and “ghosting” — ending a relationship with zero explanation… and zero communication.

Was Skinner Wrong? Operant Conditioning & Down-Voting in Online Communities

Tuesday, November 4th, 2014

Was Skinner Wrong? Operant Conditioning & Down-Voting in Online CommunitiesPsychologists have long known that while B.F. Skinner is a founding father of behavioral psychology, some of the foundations he built his theories upon haven’t held up under the scrutiny of modern research.

One of Skinner’s core contributions to modern psychology was a theory called “operant conditioning.” In it, he believed that people could be motivated by four different types of stimuli: negative or positive reinforcement and negative or positive punishment.

Unfortunately, a lot of developers build online tools, services and frameworks that put their pop psychology beliefs into practice. So what did the researchers find when they examined the use of two of Skinner’s most popular operant conditioning tools in a few large online communities?

Panic and the Media: Unraveling the Worry

Monday, November 3rd, 2014

News mediaA Manhattan doctor went bowling in my neighborhood recently and was diagnosed with Ebola the next day. It seems to be the only thing you see on the news anymore and it has people across the country truly frightened.

I got married in early October and my aunt, who’s from a small town in Arkansas, was anxious about flying into and out of New York airports. The 60-something Southern belle who’s in great health watches the news almost exclusively.

Your odds of dying from Ebola in the next year is 1 in 309,629,415, according to the Washington Post. You’re more likely to die in a flood, from a bee sting, or by simply suffocating in bed. But statistics aren’t necessarily enough to make people feel better. I understand that because I’m an anxious person.

The Uproar Over the New Samaritans Radar Twitter App

Thursday, October 30th, 2014

The Uproar Over the New Samaritans Radar Twitter AppEd: We invited Mark Brown (@markoneinfour) to share the perspective from the Twitterverse on a new Twitter app released yesterday by the UK charity, the Samaritans, meant to help people who express suicidal words on Twitter. We also asked the Samaritans for their response to the concerns expressed within this article, but they did not respond to our request.

People are raising concerns about the Samaritans Radar Twitter app launched in the UK on 29th October are coming at it from 6 main angles. At present, the guidance from the Samaritans says that, “Unfortunately, we can’t remove individuals as it’s important that Radar is able to identify their Tweets if they need support.”

The charity has responded by releasing three 1-minute videos to address the concerns, stressing that ‘tweets are public‘.

Prevention: 2 Ways to Stop Schizophrenia Before it Starts

Monday, October 27th, 2014

Prevention: 2 Ways to Stop Schizophrenia Before it Starts

Over the past week, I’ve come across two very different approaches to schizophrenia prevention. I know to some that may sound like an incredulous possibility. But I believe it’s something that’s achievable within our lifetime.

Schizophrenia is uniquely situated to be acted upon by prevention methods. We know it has a larger genetic component than virtually any other mental disorder today. And unlike many other mental health concerns, it has a list of symptoms to watch out for (prodromal symptoms, they’re called) before it turns into full-blown schizophrenia.

Here’s how we may be able to prevent schizophrenia in the future.

How a Schedule Can Help You Sleep Better

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2014

How a Schedule Can Help You Sleep BetterThe fancy digital, pedometer-bracelet thingy around my wrist tells me I slept six hours and 25 minutes with four interruptions. As I struggle to awake, my body can tell you, that isn’t nearly enough.

An estimated 70 million Americans are sleep-deprived, according to the National Sleep Foundation and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Many nights, I am among them.

Aside from the health risks associated with inadequate sleep, such as depression, memory and attention issues, mood disorders, and the higher risk of physical illness, researchers at the University of Oxford now believe a lack of sleep or poor sleep quality may also contribute to brain shrinkage. That thought alone might keep you up at night.

You Are an Idiot if You Still Use Whisper

Friday, October 17th, 2014

You Are an Idiot if You Still Use WhisperWhisper is one of those newer mobile apps that leads you to believe you can share information anonymously online. “With Whisper, you’re free to anonymously share your thoughts with the world, and build lasting, meaningful relationships in a community built around trust and honesty.”

Trust and honesty, huh?

What if Whisper uses your anonymous sharing in ways you never imagined (such as posting your images and texts on a website)? Oh, and what about their promises of not collecting your personal information, such as your geo-location?

Apparently Whisper doesn’t understand what the words “anonymity” and “privacy” mean.

Amanda Bynes: When Celebrity Mental Health Turns Insensitive Gossip

Thursday, October 9th, 2014

Amanda BynesThe 28-year-old actress Amanda Bynes recently told In Touch Weekly that there is a microchip in her brain that allows other people to read her thoughts.

“I want a dollar a day from every person who (is) reading my mind,” Bynes said.

Now TMZ reports that she was allegedly “going full Winona Ryder” – shoplifting from Barneys on Madison Avenue.

“She really should wrap her head in a seven-pound ball of aluminum foil,” wrote Tony Hicks of San Jose Mercury News, later adding, “Sounds like someone’s parents need to fly to New York and get her back to the doctor, before none of this is funny anymore.”

I’m guessing the tabloids are just following her around day and night waiting for her to do something kooky. Personally, I don’t find any of it “funny” at all.

Sharing Responsibly: Grief, Loss and Social Media

Saturday, October 4th, 2014

Sharing Responsibly: Grief, Loss and Social MediaA lot of folks these days are talking about unplugging from social media. Maybe not permanently, but for a period of time in order to have face-to-face connections with people again.

But what if not logging onto Facebook meant you wouldn’t know that your friend had died? That’s what happened to me earlier this year.

7 Ways Smartphones Can Harm Your Relationship

Saturday, October 4th, 2014

7 Ways Smartphones Can Harm Your Relationship“We were texting back and forth about a project we were working on together. Gradually, the texts became a little more familiar. Over time we started sharing more, and … I guess you could say I’m involved in an emotional affair. I want to stay married, but I feel like I love this other person.”

I have heard some version of this explanation several times over the last year alone. In just the last few months, 80 percent of my new couples cases in therapy have centered on emotional affairs perpetuated through electronic communications. In every instance, a smartphone facilitated more frequent and ongoing connection than a traditional computer or laptop.

Facebook Mocks its Users with New Research Policy

Thursday, October 2nd, 2014

Facebook Mocks its Users with New Research PolicyIn any modern, first-world country, the government requires legitimate university researchers to go through an independent review board (IRB) when conducting research on human beings. This is due to past abuses by both governments and organizations who have used the guise of “seeking knowledge” to cover up their efforts to manipulate people for their own means and ends.

But you know what? Facebook isn’t a first-world country. So in an effort to better understand how to best monetize your use of their service, they don’t need an IRB’s approval to conduct research on you.

And now, in my opinion, they are outright mocking their users with their latest update to their research practices.

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