Tag Archives: negative

Digital Sheep – Grazing on the Internet

imageWith the Internet and social media providing instant satisfaction and entertainment, it’s very easy to get caught up in consuming an absurd amount of information. Instead of being spoon fed commercials and media from a handful of television channels, now it is coming from everywhere and directly to your person at all times. Though people still have the freedom to comment and believe what they will, the vast majority of internet users have simply evolved into digital sheep devouring content constantly.

In the modern age, digital sheep are information technology users (more specifically, Internet users) who are happy and satisfied to “graze” off the vast information fields available on the web. In other words, they’re just consumers, not bothering to produce anything—but more importantly, are unaware of the potential consequences of their attitude and behavior.

“But, wait, now,” you might say, “haven’t most people always preferred to be consumers rather than creators? Isn’t it true only a handful of people have written books, magazines and newspapers for the general population?”

For sure, media from the beginning has been lopsided—i.e., the many have always consumed what the few have created. The Internet, however, has greatly changed the playing field, and not just in terms of aesthetics or of professional responsibilities.

The Internet is a place where people come to not only be entertained, to socialize and to be educated, it’s also a place where they come to work, to share information and to connect with other people in ways that go beyond “socializing.” In other words, people now have an opportunity to participate more meaningfully in the process called “media” than ever before.

Beyond that, being just a consumer carries with it a few negative connotations and dangerous burdens. For one thing, it means that people are accepting what they read, often without analyzing it for accuracy and acceptability; it also means that they are following rather than making any attempt to lead or to at least participate meaningfully in the process.

The question everyone has to ask is, “Do I want to be ‘digital sheep,’ or do I want to actually participate in the information creation and evaluation diaspora?”

The fact is that few people, given the chance, would formally elect to be “digital sheep.” In fact, one might say that this is one of the mishaps of the information age—i.e., having people who have fallen into the role, without having been given much of a choice. On the other hand, everyone has a choice. The problem is that some people aren’t exercising it.

If you wish to avoid becoming (or presently being, as the case may be), digital sheep, these suggestions may be of use:

1. Become aware of the burdens and responsibilities inherent in Digital Asset Management (DAM) marketplace. By becoming better aware of the technology, you might better avoid becoming a victim of its intricacies and demands.

2. Don’t fall into the “follow the information Pied Piper” syndrome. Always look at what you read closely, deciding if you really want to follow, challenge what you read, or build on what is offered.

3. Listen to peers on your own level or beneath you (in position or training), not just so called “A-list” experts and pundits.

4. Don’t just attend networking events attended only by big shots—you can get important information from other venues as well.

5. Expand the quality and versatility of your reading material. Sticking, for example, to technical blogs or certain news sources may hamper your intellectual growth.

6. Read material beyond what you catch on the Internet. And don’t just focus on the material on the first few pages put there by search engines. Search engines have their agenda—it shouldn’t necessarily coincide with your yours.

7. Strive to write blogs, articles or even responses to materials you read. By doing so, you’re engaging with, not just consuming, material on the Internet.

8. Strive to become more technologically savvy. Find out, for example, what’s going on within the phone app developing industry. This will help to keep you educated within one of the fastest growing industries: the mobile device industry.

9. Become more of a risk taker. Digital sheep are content to just exist and don’t want to take any unnecessary risks. Well, risk is usually involved in any great achievement opportunity.

10. Meaningfully connect with people, establishing relationships that will mutually enhance lives. When you connect with people, you’re less likely to treat them like sheep; by the same token, people are less likely to treat you as sheep if they look up to you and respect you.

This guest post is contributed by Grady Winston. Grady is an avid writer and Internet entrepreneur from Indianapolis. He has worked in the fields of technology, business, marketing, and advertising – implementing multiple creative projects and solutions for a range of clients.

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Filed under Guest Writers, Interconnectivity, Point of View, social networking

“Officer Bubbles” Blows Threats At YouTube

imageI’m very supportive of the police (in most circumstances), and I’m well aware that they do courageous work. But, that support stops when unlawful petty tyranny is used to intimidate those who are engaged in exercising their right to protest against public policy.

The freedom to express an opinion, on public issues, is one of the most important foundation blocks of western democracy. That includes the right to protest against policies that some might consider pro-corporate policies of their government.

While Canadian Forces are fighting in Afghanistan, in defense of the right of the people of Afghanistan to choose democracy as their representative form of government, Canadians were recently exposed to their own government’s hypocrisy, writ large.

During the G20 summit held in Toronto in late June of this year, democracy took a beating – leading to the arrest of more than 1,100 protestors (including members of the media), who were then held in cages, open to the weather, for periods ranging from hours to days. All those held in these conditions, were denied access to legal counsel.

Common complaints by those who were held included – being left cold, hungry, without water, and without proper toilet facilities. A number of female protestors subsequently revealed, they had been sexually threatened by the police, strip searched, and taunted with threats of rape.

Virtually all of the caged protesters were released without charge, after having spent as much as several days in these conditions. Of those left facing charges, 6 have pleaded guilty to minor infractions, leaving 17 individuals still to be dealt with by the courts.

There are now a slew of ongoing lawsuits (totaling in excess of 200 Million dollars), claiming assault and battery, unlawful arrest and detention, malicious prosecution, and violations of constitutional rights under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. As well, police conduct is now being investigated by no fewer than three separate government inquiries.

A reasonable person could conclude that the Toronto police overreacted, and engaged in the wholesale suppression of democratic rights during the G20 summit. A powerful representation of this overreaction was illustrated by the now infamous “Officer Bubbles” incident, in which a Toronto policeman threatened to, and then subsequently arrested, a young woman for blowing bubbles.

The cell phone video of this incident “Officer Bubbles”- From Bubbles to Bookings, has proven to be a big hit on YouTube.

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As well, this incident has led to the creation of some rather pointed cartoons, staring Officer Bubbles, which are widely available on the Internet.

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Taking things from the sublime to the ridiculous, Officer Bubbles – Adam Josephs – has now launched a Million dollar defamation lawsuit against YouTube, in an attempt to force YouTube to divulge the identities of those who made a series of negative online comments. According to the lawsuit, there are 24 identities being sought.

In a show of resistance to this patently absurd situation, scores of new comments (including the one below), have been posted – many of which challenge Josephs to add their names as defendants to the lawsuit.

Hey officer bubbles.

It’s James Piper. Kitchener, Ontario.

Free speech reigns.

I suspect that this lawsuit will never make it into court, and should it do so, it will be dismissed. Hopefully, Officer Bubbles will be reminded by the courts, that attempting to suppress an online community through bully tactics, is a non starter.

I can’t imagine, that in a democracy, the right to comment on public issues would be infringed. But then again, that’s where this article started.

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Filed under Interconnectivity, Opinion, Recommended Web Sites, YouTube

Computer and Internet Related Addictions

Guest writer, Rick Robinette, writes a thoughtful article on computer and Internet addiction, and what overindulgence might mean.

Overindulgence, in anything, (including computers and the internet) will result in devastation of some form.

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Have you lost your connection with the real world as a result of excessive computer usage and what the internet has to offer (e.g. video games, chatting, texting, social networking, blogging, gambling, buying, pornography, compulsive surfing, etc…)?

Do you know someone personally, as a result of excessive use of the internet, whose:

marriage has been devastated?
career has been shattered?
family has been broken?
health has been affected?
financial ruin has occurred?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you are witness to someone (or yourself) of a computer or internet related addictive behavior.  Here in the U.S. we are just starting to recognize these addictive behaviors and are taking steps to provide help and resolution.

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One such place to seek help is called reStart: Internet Addiction Recovery Program. reStart is the first program of its’ kind in the U.S. designed to specifically help internet and video game addicts overcome their computer or online dependencies. reStart is a 45 day in-patient (therapeutic) program, 6-bed facility (family style retreat), located in Fall City, Washington.

Current research suggests that anywhere from 6-10 % of the online population is dependent on one or more aspects of cyber technology and the internet. Among gamers, those playing multi-user games (like World of Warcraft) appear to be addicted at much higher levels. Both China and South Korea have designated Internet Addiction as their #1 public health danger and have responded by developing multiple treatment programs. The United States, by contrast, has been slower to recognize and respond to the problem but now is beginning to take some active steps.  This program is part of that process.

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Another great resource is the Center for Internet Addiction Recovery, located in Bradford, PA. You will find treatment services for:

Cybersex/Cyberporn

Studies show that men are more likely to view cyberporn, while women are more likely to engage in erotic chat.

Online Affairs

Partners engaged in an online affair go through several personality changes and often rationalize that an online affair isn’t really cheating.

Online Gambling

At an alarming rate, people in recovery from gambling addiction have relapsed because of the availability of virtual casinos, as they use the Internet as another vehicle to satisfy their addiction.

Online Gaming

Like a drug, gamers who play almost every day, play for extended periods of time (over 4 hours), get restless or irritable if they can’t play, and sacrifice other social activities just to game are showing signs of addiction.

Compulsive Surfing

Internet Addiction is an impulsive-control problem and five subtypes have been defined:

  1. Cybersexual Addiction
  2. Cyber-Relational Addiction
  3. Net Compulsions
  4. Information Overload
  5. Computer Addiction

eBay Addiction

Online auction houses create a stimulating place where users can conquer others as the highest bidder, which can be intoxicating as one beats out others in the last precious seconds to win the desired prize.

Take a Test

Cybersexual Addiction Quiz
Internet Addiction Test (IAT)
Quiz for Obsessive Online Gambling
Quiz for Compulsive Online Gamers
Quiz for Online Auction Addiction
The Partner’s Addiction Test
The Parent-Child Addiction Test

I have personally witnessed the evolution of computers and the internet from the very beginning. On a personal level, I have witnessed the devastation that can occur as a result of overindulgence in the various avenues that computers and the internet has to offer. The internet, in a sense is a virtual world, where your soul and mind can become consumed, if you let it. If you need help, please seek it!

In connection to this article and information, I also encourage you to read A Look At Our Newest Addiction at Tech-for Everyone.

Note: To read my personal contrary take on computer or Internet addiction, please read “Internet Addiction – Do You Qualify?”, on this site.

This is a guest post by Rick Robinette, who brings a background as a security/police officer professional, and as an information technology specialist to the Blogging world.

Why not pay a visit to Rick’s site at What’s On My PC. Like me, you’re sure to become a frequent visitor.

If you enjoyed this article, why not subscribe to this Blog via RSS, or email? It’s easy; just click on this link and you’ll never miss another Tech Thoughts article.

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Filed under addiction, Guest Writers, Interconnectivity, Internet Addiction, Living Life, Mental Illness, Personal Perspective, pornography, Windows Tips and Tools

Internet Addiction – Do You Qualify?

image According to Dr. Jerald Block, M.D., in an editorial published on The American Journal of Psychiatry website, Internet addiction is an “increasingly commonplace compulsive-impulsive disorder” and should be included in psychiatry’s official guidebook of mental disorders, the DSM-V.

The DSM-V (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders), is an American psychiatric handbook that lists categories of mental disorders, and the criteria for diagnosing them.

Despite its controversy in certain quarters, controversy in part caused by a perceived need to add new mental illnesses, ( and why not? More “sick” people equals more money), it is used worldwide by clinicians and researchers, as well as insurance companies, pharmaceutical companies and policy makers.

So how do you determine if you, a family member or someone close to you qualifies as an Internet addict? How do you determine if its real?

Well according to Dr. Block’s statistics, if you exhibit any of the following symptoms while online or offline; excessive gaming, sexual preoccupations or excessive email or text messaging, you meet at least one or more of the criteria needed to establish Internet addiction.

Hold on now, before you become concerned with “excessive email or text messaging”, (I wonder who defines excessive and under what circumstances), apparently you must also  exhibit the following:

Withdrawal – including feelings of anger, tension, and/or depression when the computer is inaccessible. (I can see how some people might feel mildly depressed when their system goes down – I do.)

Tolerance – including the need for better computer equipment, more software, or more hours of use. (I qualify here, I am always upgrading to better equipment, and I test upwards of 400 applications annually.)

Negative repercussions – including arguments, lying, poor achievement, social isolation, and fatigue. (I might qualify here – there are days when I definitely get fatigued, after hours of looking at a computer screen.)

When I was reading this editorial, naturally, I began to compare my normal daily email activity with that of my friends – I generally get up to 100 or more emails daily (excluding spam), and at least 35 or more frequently require a personal response. Is this excessive? Who says so? Should I be concerned that I might run the risk of becoming an Internet junkie?

I know I’m being facetious regarding my email, but there is a larger problem here.

My problem with this issue is not Dr Block’s research, since he does go on to say that 86 per cent of “internet addicts”, also have some other form of a mental disorder.

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I know that mental illness is a complex and mystifying subject that includes a multitude of variables. And mental illness is the issue that needs to be addressed here. Lets not confuse this important issue with the “red herring”, of Internet addiction.

Interestingly, in the footnotes to Dr Block’s article the following statement is appended: Dr. Block owns a patent on technology that can be used to restrict computer access. Dr. Freedman, has reviewed this editorial and found no evidence of influence from this relationship.

We now live in a highly reactive society; one in which there are individuals, groups, and organizations willing to find fault, in some form, with technological progress and technological change. Generally, for their own monetary gain. The Internet, and addiction, seems to be the flavor of the week.

I wonder if you, like me, have noticed the huge increase in television adds for addiction “cures”, or the number of reality television programs focused on addictions. Not surprisingly, these adds or television programs, do not deal with so called “Internet addiction”. Why would they – Internet addiction, as a standalone issue, is a myth. Mental illness leading to addiction is not.

It would be foolish to suggest that “Internet addiction” does not need to be studied more thoroughly – it does. We need to resolve this issue that the popular press would have us believe is a serious problem.

Or, is it that the media, for the sake of sensationalism, takes isolated instances of computer addiction (in their view), and creates a frenzy of concern that is unwarranted, and not supported by the facts? The media and the “facts” – an oxymoron if there ever was one!

Let me give you an example of the outrageous controversy (in the media), surrounding this contentious issue. The best way to illustrate this, is to offer you a recent quote published in the Toronto Star, from Dr. Bruce Ballon, a psychiatrist with the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) in Toronto.

“We’ve been receiving at least a couple of calls a week asking, ‘How do you deal with Internet addiction?” Ballon goes on to say, “(Society is) just starting to realize – oh my God, it’s so huge. This is why people have been afraid to open the doors.”

I think you’ll agree, there seems to be a major disconnect here. Consider, “a couple of calls a week” versus “oh my God, it’s so huge.”

I’m not a mathematician, but I do know this, given that Toronto is a city of 3 million people +, the number “two” is hardly “huge”. In fact, its not even significant. As my old English professor would say, this is “balderdash”. Or as my friends, who are much more down to earth would say, “what a load of bullshit”.

Despite the possible negative psychological effects of Internet usage for those who already struggle with some form of a mental disorder, overall, the many positive effects associated with the Internet would be hard to overstate.

It’s always important for us to remember that there are lies, dammed lies and then there are statistics.

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Filed under Interconnectivity, Internet Addiction, Living Life, Mental Illness, Personal Perspective

Video Game Addiction – True or False?

Let’s cut to the chase immediately – video game addiction is a real addiction, just as Internet gambling is a real addiction; just as an addiction to Internet pornography is a real addiction.

The question that needs to be explored more thoroughly however is: is video game addiction the kind of serious problem that the media would have us believe?

Or, do the media, for the sake of sensationalism, take isolated instances of computer addiction and create a frenzy of concern that is unwarranted and not supported by the facts?

The media and the “facts” – an oxymoron if there ever was one!

This past week, in a small city just outside of Toronto, Canada (where I live), a fifteen year old boy, Brandon Crisp, disappeared following an argument with his parents over his access to his Xbox, and the video game Call of Duty 4.

According to the boy’s father, Brandon was exhibiting what some psychiatrists consider classical signs of addiction, since he reportedly began to skip school, stay up all night, and steal money.

This tragic case is still unresolved, and the boy remains missing as of today’s date – October 25, 2008, despite a massive effort by both Police, and hundreds of volunteer searchers.

According to the CBC (one of Canada’s national television networks), Microsoft (the developers of the Xbox), has now become involved, and has added $25,000 to an existing reward pool of $25,000 bringing the total to $50,000. In addition, reports indicate that Microsoft is cooperating with authorities in providing information regarding the 200 or so Xbox gaming site contacts, that may be relevant to the investigation of Brandon’s disappearance.

I have a problem however, with how this tragic story has been reported in the mainstream media. Uninformed news reporters, and editors (both print and T.V.), who have little experience with the Internet or technology, except perhaps as casual users, have used this story as an illustration of how video game addiction is a major hidden problem.

For example, according to news report in the Toronto Star, Bruce Ballon, a psychiatrist with the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) in Toronto, is quoted as stating “We’ve been receiving at least a couple of calls a week asking, ‘How do you deal with Internet addiction?’ Ballon goes on to say “(Society is) just starting to realize – oh my God, it’s so huge. This is why people have been afraid to open the doors.”

Sorry Dr. Ballon, but there seems to be a major disconnect here. Consider, “a couple of calls a week” versus “oh my God, it’s so huge.” I’m not a mathematician, but I do know this, the number “two” is hardly “huge”.

A more balance reporting of the facts surrounding Internet, computer, or gaming addiction, would have included those of Dr. Jerald J. Block, M.D., who, in an editorial published on The American Journal of Psychiatry website earlier this year, made the point that 86 per cent of “internet addicts”, including gaming addicts, also have some other form of a mental disorder.

Dr. Block goes on to say, in his editorial, that Internet addiction is an “increasingly commonplace compulsive-impulsive disorder” and should be included in psychiatry’s official guidebook of mental disorders, the DSM-V.

For those who are unfamiliar with DSM-V, it is an American psychiatric handbook that lists categories of mental disorders, and the criteria for diagnosing them.

Despite its controversy in certain quarters; controversy, in part, caused by a perceived need to add new mental illnesses, it is used worldwide by clinicians and researchers as well as insurance companies, pharmaceutical companies and policy makers.

There is no doubt that mental illness is a complex and mystifying subject that includes a multitude of variables. My real problem is with those people (including the mainstream media), who use, or more properly misuse, isolated examples of tragic events to achieve their own ends. In this case, to generate additional readership in the guise of providing a public service i.e. computer gaming addiction is a major hidden problem.

We now live in a highly reactive society; one in which there are individuals, groups, and organizations waiting in the wings ready to pounce with great gusto on established, or emerging technologies.

If you think that statement is excessive, then consider this published comment (just one of many like it), I came upon recently, regarding computer gaming:

“I have a direct experience with the subject and can tell you that with this opponent you can not win. Online gaming industry is investing a lot of money to find the most addictive ways to hook their customers as addiction = profit.

It is even more problematic then other addictions as it is not recognized as a vice by the general public. Parents easily succumb to requests to allow it and peer pressure is enormous as it is not controlled in any way. I see only radical solutions to this, either tax it so it becomes uneconomical as a source of entertainment or ban it all together”.

Computers/connected devices will always be the target of modern day Luddites – a term used to describe those opposed, in some form, to technological progress and technological change.

Despite the possible negative psychological effects of video game playing for those who already struggle with some form of a mental disorder, overall there are many positive effects associated with video game playing, but that’s an issue for a future article.

If you’re a concerned parent, how do you determine if your child qualifies as an Internet, or computer gaming addict?

It is generally agreed that exhibiting any of the following symptoms while online, or offline; excessive gaming, sexual preoccupations or excessive email or text messaging, meets at least one, or more, of the criteria needed to establish Internet or gaming addiction.

However, the following symptoms must also be in evidence:

Withdrawal – including feelings of anger, tension, and/or depression when the computer is inaccessible.

Tolerance – including the need for better computer equipment, more software, or more hours of use.

Negative Repercussions – including arguments, lying, poor achievement, social isolation, and fatigue.

For another view on this topic check out “Is Your Inner Child Addicted to the Internet” by my good buddy, TechPaul.

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Filed under Interconnectivity, Internet Safety for Children, Online Gaming, Parenting Help, Personal Perspective, Windows Tips and Tools