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Archive for the ‘News’ Category

Man vs. machine.

Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

Technology can be both a blessing and a curse. We are in an age where technology is constantly evolving, but more often than not, we overlook the potentially negative aspects of this rapid development to focus on the convenience factor. Technology has improved our lives in many ways, but we have to stop and think: what are the limits to this newfound discovery? Because modern technology, such as texting, is so new, we don’t know the power it can hold on us as a society.

We often use technology without thinking about the effect it could be having on us as a society. When we are bored, or want to avoid talking to a stranger, we often form the habit of pulling out our phones to dismiss making a connection, rather than having an actual conversation. This type of interaction has become so familiar that we don’t pay attention to what it could be doing to us socially. Are we using technology to escape our lives, rather than actually living in the moment?

The Huffington Post notes that technology could be ruining our ability to communicate in terms of how texting is impacting our social skills at the price of convenience. Is getting your statement across a minute or so quicker worth losing our ability to communicate face to face? As time passes and technology use gains more of our time and energy, it makes us wonder what the world will look like it ten years. Even now, you can look around the room in a crowded restaurant and see couples eyes locked on their screens, and children playing games on devices in the middle of dinner, rather than talking to their family. At some point we have to make a conscious choice to put our phones away and not let good old-fashioned conversation slip away. We should be viewing our daily conversations as “quality over quantity”, rather than the quickest way out.

Technology provides an outlet to stay connected in ways we never thought possible in the past, as well as a platform to express ourselves. It improves our lives in many ways, but it’s all in how it is used that makes a difference. Be conscious about how much screen time you use in a day, and put your phone away to have a meaningful conversation with the person in front of you. Overall the pros and cons of technology can be heavy on both sides, but in the end, we have to decide on our own if the benefits outweigh the risks. What are your thoughts; do you think technology is a blessing, or is causing society to lose value in face-to-face conversation?

Is working from home still the future of business?

Wednesday, June 7th, 2017

A flexible work environment is currently one of the most valued aspects of a job. Employees want to be able to work from home, make their own schedules, and find harmony in work-life integration. In recent years, many companies have made a transition to more flexible work schedules and an increased number of remote employees in hopes of cutting office costs, boosting moral and productivity, and attracting new talent. Although many companies have had success, some are finding there are unforeseen downfalls to this latest business trend.

IBM recently announced they’re discontinuing their popular program that allows employees to work remotely. Ironically, IBM was a pioneer of remote work technologies and structures, so the announcement was surprising to many of its remote employees. IBM believes that bringing employees back to the office will improve collaboration and accelerate the pace of work, and they’re not alone. “IBM may be part of a broader rethink of remote work under way at large companies, as corporate leaders argue that putting workers in the same physical space hastens the speed of work and sparks innovation,” according to The Wall Street Journal.

However, as these companies implement such decisive actions against the remote work trend, they’re taking a risk. Especially when other large companies, such as Aetna, are drastically expanding their work-from-home programs. Many employees, especially younger talents, list flexible work schedules and the ability to work from home as one of their most desired job benefits, putting these companies at risk of missing out on new talent.

However, while employee satisfaction and morale are certainly important, companies must find a balance that ensures work processes are as productive as possible. And while technology allows us to accomplish a lot, it simply doesn’t replace a human connection. Collaboration and communication are more fruitful and productive in person. There’s so much you get out of an in-person meeting that simply doesn’t yet translate on an email, phone call or via Skype, such as body language and the collective energy of progress. So while a remote job position is convenient, it may be a dying trend of the past, instead of the future of business as predicted.

The gift of giving.

Wednesday, December 7th, 2016

As the holidays roll around, the spirit of giving is in the air. Many of us give gifts to close friends and family, cards to the people we want to wish-well, goodies to neighbors, contributions or volunteer our time to local non-profits.

However, with so many requests for donations around the holidays, including #GivingTuesday, Salvation Army bell-ringers in stores, emails, snail mail donation requests, etc., it can be easy to subconsciously glaze over the seemingly endless number of causes. As many of us go about our holiday shopping for gifts, enjoying meals with family, etc., it can be easy to start feeling like the wave of donation requests we’re bombarded with are in support of some distant community, mostly un-related to ourselves.

There’s a food pantry right in your own community, serving neighbors you cross paths with daily. Almost every Greater Cincinnati community has a chapter of St. Vincent de Paul volunteers making home visits to people in need of assistance, from Oakley to Green Township to the West End of Cincinnati. It’s likely that there’s a family living just a few streets away from you who are in need of food, clothing, a bed, or help with utility bills because they recently fell on hard times.

Most people that need help are too proud to reach out directly to a neighbor and ask for help, but fortunately we have a wide variety of non-profits who offer hope and help for these struggling neighbors. Most of these organizations rely on the generosity of the community for funding and support to carry out their work – and in many cases are not funded with government or United Way support. Rather, they rely heavily on holiday donations to fund their services well into the upcoming year, which brings us back to the vast number of donation requests throughout the season. Although the countless requests can feel overwhelming, helping is our duty and frankly an honor. Anyone who is more fortunate than someone else should feel compelled to help others.

If you’re unfamiliar with the non-profit organizations, here is a list of several who are doing great work in Cincinnati to consider supporting in some way this holiday season:

Diagnosis Google.

Wednesday, August 3rd, 2016

The Internet is an always-evolving tool that puts the world at our fingertips. From social media to DIY tutorials and video streaming, it connects us, entertains us and educates us. When we get a flat-tire, need help with a new recipe, or have a leak in the bathroom, it can save us both time and money – with information that’s available instantly. The Internet gives us access to endless amount of information, but should we always utilize it? Or, are some things better left un-Googled?

According to Tech Times, out of all the things we Google, symptom-related searches comprise about 1 percent of Google searches. Many people turn to the Internet for help in identifying illnesses and health conditions behind symptoms that they feel or experience. In response to the popularity of symptom searches, Google even introduced a new feature called “symptom search,” to help users find answers to symptom-related queries more easily.

Unfortunately, relying on search results for a diagnosis based on symptoms, or ‘Google diagnosing’, is often un-useful and frustrating for both health professionals and patients. Google diagnosing can turn even the most basic illness, such as a common cold, into a life-threatening disease like cancer. It can also turn a sane, healthy person into a hypochondriac, by serving up a long list of life-threatening diseases for common adulthood occurrences. For example, the symptoms fatigue, headache and upset stomach entered into a symptom search return a long, frightening list of medical conditions, including diabetes, multiple sclerosis, chronic kidney disease, mumps, Lyme disease and more.

Aside from causing unnecessary panic, Google diagnosing also causes a giant headache for healthcare professionals (… at least the headache is assumed to be from patients who Google diagnose…according to Google, it could also be from a blood clot, brain tumor or carbon monoxide poisoning…). By generating outrageous lists of diseases, Google diagnosing can create impossible, unreasonable patients who really believe they are at risk for serious illness or death, oh my! It can convince every average Joe that they’re more informed and qualified for diagnosing their symptoms than an actual certified, educated doctor.

While Google is informative and helpful for a diverse range of topics, it cannot replace the years of education and experience that healthcare professionals possess.

The true you.

Wednesday, July 20th, 2016

Social media is a tool that allows us to connect and stay in touch with people like never before, from new networking connections to old high-school friends. This makes social media profiles often the most public and widely viewed representations of individuals today. While it’s wise to create social media profiles that make the best possible impression on both old and new connections, sharing information or photos that create a skewed or unrealistic portrayal is futile.

So why do people share old and outdated photos as social media profile pictures that usually show a MUCH younger version of themselves? Realizing that people want to make the best possible impression is one thing, but what happens at the high-school reunion, when people are shocked to see what they really look like? Or, how about running into a virtual business connection at an industry conference and receiving a blank stare because they do not recognize the much older and different looking person standing in front of them?

In addition to younger photos, the content people share is often skewed, presenting friends or the public with an elevated or more accomplished version of a person. People often share only positive information and happy photos, instead of providing real representations of their life.

According to Cambridge psychologist Craig Malkin, even small gaps between social media users’ real and virtual identities can cause people to feel bad about themselves. They know that the images they are building up online aren’t genuine. Hiding less flattering aspects of their lives can damage their self-esteem, he said. The problem: they’re not truly the people who are being rewarded with “likes.” “Whenever we feel like we can’t be fully who we are in order to be liked or be admired, it’s bound to affect our self-esteem,” said Malkin.

Since social media is used, in part, to gain attention, it can be dangerous to equate “likes” or attention with self worth. When we post something that doesn’t get a lot of likes, we can feel rejected, which causes our self-esteem to take a hit.

Despite the prevalent use of social media, eventually people meet in the real world. So what drives people to create misleading virtual personas when they know the authentic version will inevitably be revealed? Are they mistaking social media “likes” as a real measure of self-worth? Instead of creating a hyper-idealistic social media profiles, being authentic is key to enhancing self-esteem and staying true to oneself where it actually counts – in the real world.