Friday, April 27, 2012

Addiction or Expectation

[ “Pushed by technology and job evolution in the service economy, fewer American workers know what “quittin’ time” is.”  Diane Stafford, Kansas City Star,  April 2012 ]

This entire spring semester at NDSU I have been blogging on tech addiction.  As I was thinking about what to blog about this week, this thought crossed my mind: “I am in the technology field; staying on top of technology is what I do.”  As the United States becomes more and more technologically advanced, so will I.  With time, everything advances and our so-called “normal” lifestyles change.  And sometimes those lifestyle changes mean more work, and less play. 

I sat down and made a list of all of the technology I need to stay competitive in my job field:

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1.       A laptop – needed to sit down with clients to go over designs in remote locations, as well as just work from anywhere but home or my office. 

2.       A desktop computer – used as my powerhouse main station. This is where all of my designs get hammered out and ready to be taken off to meet clients, ready for production, or else stored on my 2TB hard drive. 

3.       An Ipad – used to show quick and impressive slideshows of completed work, for apps, and for taking pictures of future projects, adding dimensions, and uploading to my server back at the office.

4.       A smartphone – used to communicate with all of my clients through phone, text, email, and to access our company server.  

Some of you may think that I am crazy, and that these are not essential for being in the graphics/sales field.  You are right, they are not essential to do the job.  However, they are essential in today’s market if I want to stay on top of sales and beat out my competitors. If I let technology pass me by, I could be out of a job in the future. 

I started out as a graphic designer.  Now, I am a graphic designer, web designer, photographer, saleswoman, estimator, vinyl specialist, as well as a digital printing specialist, and am working on finishing up a public relations and advertising degree. 

Just because I do all of this doesn’t mean I like it.  There is no shut-off period.  I am getting phone calls, text messages, and emails, work related all hours of the day, 7 days a week.  Customers and employers won’t hesitate to call you while you are laying on the beach in Mexico.  Diane Stafford, of The Kansas City Star recently wrote “pushed by technology and job evolution in the service economy, fewer American workers know what “quittin’ time” is.” I don’t like to spend as much time as I do with technology, and would love to say “adios” some days, but I guess I will have to wait until I retire.

Friday, April 20, 2012

“Facebook Official” or Officially Addicted to Facebook?

“Facebook has some decided benefits, but it can also, apparently, mess with our minds, drawing us into dependence and luring us to make unhealthy comparisons between ourselves and others”  - Alice Walton, April 2012

Since the launch of Facebook in 2004, it has transformed from a college networking sight to a major part of everyday life.  With user numbers in the two hundred million range and growing every day, Facebook has shown the world that it can be both harmful and harmless.

For those of you who aren’t familiar, Facebook is a social networking site that launched in February of 2004.  It was founded by college student Mark Zuckerberg and fellow Harvard students.  The initial intentions were to make a site for only Harvard students with the sole purpose of meeting other college students.  As it became more and more popular, Facebook was opened up to Ivy League schools, followed by any student that had a college email that ended in .edu. By 2005, high school students were allowed to join, and by 2006 anyone over the age of 13 could create an account.

I personally, have been an avid Facebook user since 2005 and can fill you in on some key parts.  The first thing: It’s not official, until its Facebook official.  Meaning that whether you are in a relationship, engaged, married or divorced; it is not official until your relationship status changes on your profile. The next important term to know is “status.”  The status is where most women vent, and men talk about how epic their men’s night was.  Some people rarely fill this out, and some fill theirs out way too often.  And the third important term being the “like button.”  This is the button you push when you like someone’s photo, status, or comment.  Unfortunately, Facebook has not invented a dislike button yet.

As you see Facebook is very simple, yet complicated.  As it has become increasingly popular, it has started to develop harmful effects.  “Facebook has some decided benefits, but it can also, apparently, mess with our minds, drawing us into dependence and luring us to make unhealthy comparisons between ourselves and others” says Alice Walton, April 2012. In the same article Walton explains that women spend 30% more time on the web than men, and the avid female users were more likely to be less happy and less content with their lives than others.  Danielle Pelkey, of North Jefferson News April 2012, explains that "people can take anything to the extreme and make it a bad thing.  The thought of going a whole day without getting on their social network is almost paralyzing to some.”   I could continue to go on about the side effects of Facebook, but they aren’t all bad.

Pelkey also states that “like anything, when used wrongly, it can be dangerous and hurtful, but when used correctly, it can be insightful and uplifting.”
I like to use Facebook as a networking site for my business.  I think of every one of my “friends” as a potential sale or a prospect to refer a potential sale to me. I have considered deleting my account on numerous occasions, and that is the one thing that has always held me back. It is also nice to stay in touch with old friends and family.   

My 4 tips for Facebook users or potential Facebook users:
1.       Don’t stay up all night “creeping” on other profiles.
2.       Don’t Facebook stalk your ex’s new lover.
3.       Don’t let yourself get distracted from what needs to be done.
4.       Restrict yourself from checking your phone or computer every 5 minutes to see if you have any “notifications.” 

Happy Facebooking!

Friday, March 30, 2012

Tech Addiction |Behind the Scenes|

“Never mind the built-in surveillance function of cell phones, the risk of brain cancer, the fact that--like all the rest of the technological ensemble, they are built on the systematic destruction of the natural world. What is the human toll, and can there be an alternative to the fixation on such “wonderful” things?”  - John Zeran / New York Daily News

In my previous posts I explain some of the effects of tech addiction.  In this post I am going to talk about a different effect, one that many people overlook or aren’t aware of:  E-waste.

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E-waste is short for electronic waste.  It is discarded electrical or electronic devices such as cell phones, computers, monitors, televisions and more. Most of us may only come across a pile of these old devices in thrift stores, but behind the scenes these devices are being shipped off to other places including third world countries where children burn the outer plastic to try to get the copper inside the devices to sell.  This is extremely hazardous to the children as well as our environment. National Geographic has a chart on their website that is very educating on the amount of devices that are disposed of and the amount that are actually recycled.  The number of devices disposed yearly huge. 

Technology is continuing to grow while falling in price. The more dependent that we become on technology, the more we feel the need for the newest and fastest product on the market.  And the more new devices we get, the more old devices we have to dispose of. 

The video below explains in a little over a minute the toxic effects of e-waste along with some helpful hints on how to properly dispose of your devices.  

Friday, March 9, 2012

The Awkward Silence of Mobile Phone Addiction

"Some warning signs to watch out for are: obsessively checking for your mobile device, constantly worrying about losing your phone, even when it is in a safe place, never turning the device off, and anxiety when reception is lost. " Anna-Lysa Gayle of

While riding the bus to class on the North Dakota State University campus I was caught off guard by a growing trend. As I sit in the back of the bus and look forward, every single person was on their mobile phone, and they were not having voice conversations.  I continued to observe as the bus stopped and picked up another person.  The first thing that student did was sit down in the first open spot and whip out her mobile phone. Are mobile phones and technology making us anti-social?

Photo Credit: Alexandra Lund
 It is almost as if the students on the bus were avoiding interacting with others by hiding behind the screen of their phone.  Thank God for the extra-talkative bus driver or I would have gone nuts. Being anti-social is not the only side effect of mobile phone addiction. According to a recent article by Vicky Kung, of CNN, this addiction can now by classified as "nomophobia" which stands for "no mobile phone phobia."  I laughed a little at the name, as it reminded me of something to be included in a rap song back when I was in junior high. Unfortunately nomophobia really isn't a laughing matter.

As the popularity of smartphones grows, so will the cases of nomophobia.  People start to feel anxious, lonely, bored, and insecure without their main squeeze(their mobile phone). Adolescents and children seem to be hit the hardest, as their phone has become their security blanket, it has replaced their teddy bear, and has become their new best friend. If you take away your children's phones, would they know how to entertain themselves?

Anna-Lysa Gayle of explains that some warning signs to watch out for are: obsessively checking for your mobile device, constantly worrying about losing your phone, even when it is in a safe place, never turning the device off, and anxiety when reception is lost.

If you sleep with your phone, take it with you to the bathroom to entertain your 5 second visit, pull it out to check it numerous times while in class or at work, or completely miss the entire dinner conversation because you couldn't put it away, you may want to look a little closer into the topic of nomophobia.

Friday, March 2, 2012


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It may no surprise to many of us that social media websites can easily become addictive. We plan to go on, check things out for a set amount of time and then be done. Well, that set time likes to slip away from us and turn in to quite a bit longer than we had planned. A recent study by PR Web states that 82% of respondents admitted to staying online for longer than intended. One third of those respondents said they gained a high level of satisfaction from being online.  One of the hottest social media sites to surface since Facebook is a site called Pinterest

For those of you who are not familiar with Pinterest, I will give you a quick run down.  Pinterest was thought up in a coffee shop and sketched out on a napkin.  It is a giant online virtual pin board.  The first catch tactic is that you cannot just "sign up" you have to be "invited."  That right there is a thrill inside itself, the fact that it seems to be exclusive.  Once the Pinterest sorority decides you are worthy, they send you an acceptance email.  Once accepted you will see at the top there are categories, some of these being: Architecture, Fitness, Food, Home Decor, Humor, Women'a and Men's Apparel, Outdoors, Photography, Science, Sports, Technology, Travel, and Weddings.  

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You can select what interests you most out of that list, and from that Pinterest gives you a news feed on your main screen showing you what others are pinning in those categories. Next, you get a message reading “Happy Pinning.”  The only problem is, how happy are users after they have realized 20 minutes as turned into hours.  

The states that a recent study by Sharaholic showed Pinterest drove more referral traffic last month than Google plus, Youtube and Linkedin combined.  Most husbands will complain and tell you that their wives spend way too much time on Pinterest.  Don’t be mistaken husbands, you too, will find things you like on Pinterest.  My husband didn’t believe me, so I showed him. Big mistake.  I have even read Facebook posts stating “Great, they blocked Pinterest at work, now what am I supposed to do all day?” This is when someone should probably suggest they have themselves a little “pintervention.”

Friday, February 17, 2012

Do You Feel the Phantom Vibrations?

"Moodoff Day is designed to stimulate the much-needed awareness about the potential dangers of excessive smartphone use, including addiction,"

What will you be doing Sunday, February 26, from 5am to 10am? A non-profit organization out of Sydney, Australia, is asking that you spend those morning hours without using your smartphone.

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This unique campaign is already receiving support world wide. This event is to be called "Moodoff Day." Why a goofy name such as Moodoff? Well, it was named after the effect it will likely have on the participants. When people are asked to stop browsing or checking their spartphone, it usually turns their mood off.

Smart phones have turned into an essential part of modern day society. Right away it was nice to just be able to check your email on the go and respond to co-workers and clients. Now in a phone world flooded with compulsive internet browsing, social network updates and unlimited apps, these devices are making our lives more stressful.

In a recent article from Vancouver's Globe and Mail, they discuss that smartphone stress arises mainly from the urgency that the users feel to keep tabs on their virtual social lives. After performing a study on 100 smartphone users the study reported that some users were so hooked that they felt "phantom vibrations" from non-existent text messages. I have to sadly add that I too, have been guilty of these phantom episodes.

Not only have smartphones been linked to stress but now have worked their way in between families, friends, and even marriages. I was walking through the North Dakota State University's Memorial Union dining area recently observing lunch time activities, and it was no big surprise to see the amount of tables that were full of students, yet no conversation. This has been a trend on the rise with family settings as well. Children do not want to spare time away from their phones to have any sort of discussion with their parents.

Yvonne Lim, of the Star Online, explains that being preoccupied with your smartphone when you are with other people can send the message that they are not important. It also stops you from responding to non-verbal signals and this could potentially lead to a communication breakdown.

"Moodoff Day is designed to stimulate the much-needed awareness about the potential dangers of excessive smartphone use, including addiction," as explained at So what do you think? Can you wake up, go to the bathroom, brush your teeth AND eat breakfast before checking your phone? I have faith in you!

a true best friend story from Siona Steinacker on Vimeo.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Which Way to Internet Rehab?

Are you suffering from impaired individual psychological well-being, academic failure and reduced work performance?  If these symptoms describe you, there is a good chance you could be addicted to things such as cigarette smoking and alcohol abuse, or worse, the internet.

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If you are all wondering how in the heck I could even begin to compare internet addiction to smoking cigarettes and drinking too much alcohol,  I assure you; I have not fallen completely off my rocker. Alice G Walton, of Forbes explains that in a recent study researchers found changes in the brain very similar to those involved in other types of serious addictions.

The study shows that the brain of young people, who are addicted to the internet, shows destruction in the volume of certain areas of the brain and in its white matter as well as the highways of connection between brain cells. What researchers found interesting in these results is that the brain changes mirror the ones in people who are addicted to drugs such as heroin.   

How can the internet be this addicting?  I hear people say all the time, “I could stop if I wanted to,” or “it’s a choice, not an addiction.”  Helen A.S. Popkinof MSN Today quoted, "Desires for media may be comparatively harder to resist because of their high availability and also because it feels like it does not 'cost much' to engage in these activities, even though one wants to resist."  She makes a good point that had never even crossed my mind. It doesn’t ‘cost much’ to spend countless hours on the internet.  We don’t pay per click, we don’t pay per Facebook or email log on, and we don’t pay for most of our everyday internet use.

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Jaak Pankseep,a Washington State University Neuroscientist, explains that the dopamine system is activated by finding something unexpected or by the anticipation of something new.  If the rewards come unpredictably, such as emails, texts or updates do, we get even more of a dopamine high.  Instead of paying insane amounts of money to get drugs to obtain the high, or spending every last penny on vodka, we spend next to nothing for wireless internet and can get a high that seems to be just as satisfactory, a dopamine high.

If you still think I have fallen off my rocker, sit back and take a look at your internet habits.  When you check Facebook, what are you looking for?  Could it be the possibility that someone may have liked your status, commented on a photo or sent you a message?  If they did any of the above, you should be tied over for at least another 5 minutes before you want to “use” again.