Category Archives: Grand Rapids

Here’s Why It’s so Important to Unplug ~ by Emma Bracy

Here’s Why It’s so Important to Unplug

It’s 2015, and there’s no denying it: We live in an era of hyper-connectivity. We are constantly being bombarded with information—text, image, and video sweep into our consciousness night and day, flowing at us from our many screens. We’re pinged for urgent emails and random miscellany alike. Every buzz has the potential to be the day’s most important message. Usually, though, it’s nothing.

No matter. Our devices are like technological extensions of ourselves, and as such, we have a really hard time putting them down.

RELATED: YOU NEED TO STOP TAKING YOUR SMARTPHONE TO BED

Young woman in a crowd checking her phoneFLICKR/SUSANNE NILSSON – FLIC.KR

Fifty-four thousand words: that’s how much textual information—in the form of digital content—is dumped on the average social media user per day.

When that measure is expanded to include emails, digital imagery, web browsing, and the like, it increases dramatically. According to a 2011 study reported by the Telegraph, we receive about 200 newspapers-worth of information everyday.

RELATED: HOW MUCH DO YOU CHECK YOUR PHONE EVERY DAY?

And how much information does the average person produce? About six newspapers-worth. Whether you’re sending messages via text or Tinder, it all adds up.

That same study also found that there were 295 exabytes of data floating around the world—that’s 29,500,000,000,000,000,000,000 pieces of information. Three-hundred and fifteen times the number of grains of sand on Earth. That was in 2011; we’ve no doubt surpassed that count by now. Talk about information overload.

WHAT DOES THAT DO TO OUR BRAINS?

Graphic of the brain MACROVECTOR – BIGSTOCKPHOTO.COM

“Our brains were never designed to be always on and permanently connected with the amount of stimuli that we get [today],” Max Blumberg, a research psychologist from Goldsmiths, University of London, said in a recent interview.

“Our brains haven’t evolved to handle that level of high activity yet,” he continued. “And that’s a problem.”

The science of how always-on technology impacts human behavior hasn’t been extensively explored—maybe because we’re still in the dawning of the information age. But some studies have been done, and the results are distressing. Researchers have found that social media might promote narcissism, smartphones could be causing insomnia, and screens seem to be making our kids less empathetic.

“Our brains will always be seduced by the high stimuli [of constant connectivity] because of the dopamine that it provides,” Blumberg explained in another interview. “It’s really similar to having ADHD.”

“People with ADHD, their big problem is that their cortex—the outer part of your brain that does the executive function like making decisions—doesn’t function in the way that it is supposed to,” he continued. “Unlike animals, who are distracted by every stimulus they encounter, human beings have the cortex, which is supposed to help them weigh up whether what they are currently doing is more important than whatever the new stimulus is—whether it’s a Facebook notification, phone call, or email.”

Essentially, we’re over-stimulating ourselves. Constant connectivity makes it hard to sustain attention on one task at a time. It can make us get all willy-nilly with our focus, giving our attention to whatever is right in front of us, without thinking about whether or not what is in front of us is truly worth our time. As a result, it’s harder to engage in deep thought, critical thought, and creativity.

Blumberg thinks this is going to have a serious impact on society:

“In fact, what I think we’re going to see is a society that is even more divided into the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’. And we’re already starting to see that the kids from richer backgrounds are really restricted in the amount of TV and internet that they are allowed to use because their parents who built these big companies know that that is what is required to be able to achieve such things, so those kids are going to end up building the big companies of the future.

“And the kids from poorer backgrounds, who are online all the time and have a very reactive brain, will end up being the consumers and customers of the other kids’ companies. There will be a huge market where people will buy anything because the brand is flashed up without having any critical thinking about it because their brains are not used to deep thinking.”

BUT THERE IS A SOLUTION.

joshua-tree-landscapeFLICKR/DON GRAHAM – FLIC.KR

Sounds pretty bleak, but there is a solution: Turn off. Unplug. Go on a digital detox.

Daniel J. Levitin,* Ph.D., is the director of the Laboratory for Music, Cognition and Expertise at McGill University and author of the book “The Organized Mind: Thinking Straight in the Age of Information Overload.” According to him, unplugging is a practice, not just a one time special event. And it’s not as hard as you may think. He explained how to hit the reset button for your brain in an article for the New York Times last year:

“Every status update you read on Facebook, every tweet or text message you get from a friend, is competing for resources in your brain with important things like whether to put your savings in stocks or bonds, where you left your passport or how best to reconcile with a close friend you just had an argument with.

“If you want to be more productive and creative, and to have more energy, the science dictates that you should partition your day into project periods.”

Levitin suggests doing your daily activities (even digital ones, like social networking and emailing) at designated times. Your brain—and output—will be better for it.

“Increasing creativity will happen naturally as we tame the multitasking and immerse ourselves in a single task for sustained periods of, say, 30 to 50 minutes,” he wrote in the Times. And when you’re not plugged in? “Several studies have shown that a walk in nature or listening to music can trigger the mind-wandering mode. This acts as a neural reset button, and provides much needed perspective on what you’re doing.”

That’s helpful when the goal is being able to disregard a stimulus that isn’t that important. Even what might feel like doing nothing gives our brains the much needed break from technology required for problem solving and making an impact on the world. Levitin explains, “daydreaming leads to creativity, and creative activities teach us agency, the ability to change the world, to mold it to our liking, to have a positive effect on our environment.”

Picture of a guy using his phone before he goes to sleep MINERVA STUDIO – BIGSTOCKPHOTO.COM

Using unplugged time to pursue your hobbies or passions can have enormous benefits, too. Levitin says that “music, for example, turns out to be an effective method for improving attention, building up self-confidence, social skills and a sense of engagement.” You might want to reconsider those guitar lessons you’ve always wanted to take.

Music isn’t the only way. The ultimate goal is to increase our human potential, and to do that all we have to do is pause. Put down the iPhone, stop staring at the screen, and ignore the timeline for a bit.

RELATED: ONE APP IS TRYING TO UNDO YOUR SMARTPHONE ADDICTION

“Taking breaks is biologically restorative. Naps are even better,” Levitin concludes. “In several studies, a nap of even 10 minutes improved cognitive function and vigor, and decreased sleepiness and fatigue. If we can train ourselves to take regular vacations—true vacations without work—and to set aside time for naps and contemplation, we will be in a more powerful position to start solving some of the world’s big problems. And to be happier and well rested while we’re doing it.” So go ahead. Give yourself a vacation. You deserve it.

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Wikimedia Cannot Be Bought

Open Source – Self-Governing WIKI Now Deals
With The Free Market As Hoped

Wikimedia_family

Promoting is sometimes sleazy, but you don’t have to lick the bottom of the ashtray when the product is truly quality.  Granted – there are a lot of Wannabees out there, but it is nice to know that they can be identified.

Check this recent report from IT News:  http://www.itnews.com/internet/95945/wikipedia-blocks-381-user-accounts-dishonest-editing

What is the BEST Marketing Tool around?  Word of Mouth.  The Valid Mouth.

Objectively Speaking…………….

There is no principle by which genocide—a crime against a group of men—can be regarded as morally different from (or worse than) a crime against an individual: the difference is only quantitative, not moral. It can be easily demonstrated that Communism means and requires the extermination—the genocide, if you wish—of a particular human species: the men of ability.

~ Ayn Randaynrand-ideal-2

Note:  How do you feed and employ millions when you’ve outlawed production <by capitalism and fair trade>? You don’t. You exterminate the excess population which cannot be sustained by a system that rewards need instead of competence.

Making Equality Easy To Understand

When the Mainstream media wants you to believe that American standards discriminate against the poor and downtrodden – hoping to break Federal funding away for humanitarian works – who do you think really gets the benefits?

voterfraud

If Mexico thinks that Voter ID is necessary for a fair and just election, what does that say for American Politics?

Butter is Better

You just need to know how Margarine was created and you will never eat it again

margo

Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte (nephew and heir of Napoleon I) or simply Emperor Napoleon III of France offered a prize to anyone who could make a satisfactory alternative for butter. The goal was to manufacture something that’s suitable for long military campaigns. However, margarine originated when the French chemist Michel Eugène Chevreul discovered margaric acid, in 1813. French chemist Hippolyte Mège-Mouriès later invented a substance he called oleomargarine, which achieved little commercial success. In 1871, he sold the patent to the Dutch company Jurgens, now part of Unilever and the rest is history.

As you probably figured out, margarine is no different than plastic or any other product invented by humans in a laboratory.

Margarine contains two different types of fat: the fat from the vegetable oil and the forms of fat created during manufacturing.  The vegetable oils are exposed to chemicals, additives, heat, emulsifiers and God knows what else.  Each stage in the manufacturing process creates several unwanted by-products.

To sum it up, margarine contains trans fats which:

  • Increase the risk of coronary heart disease.
  • Lead to unbalanced levels of Omega-3 and Omega-6 fats – more susceptible to cell mutation which can lead to various health problems, cancer being one.
  • Decrease the body’s immune response.
  • Increase cholesterol – increase the bad cholesterol (LDL) and lowers the good cholesterol (HDL).
  • Increase triglyceride levels.
  • Lower breast milk quality.
  • Increase blood insulin levels – higher risk for diabetes.
  • Decrease fertility.

Margarine is at the top of the list when a low fat diet is prescribed, but remember that it was designed as a cheap substitute for butter – it was not designed to be either healthy or nutritious.

Unauthorized reproduction – Courtesy:  Diet.st Magazine

Copyright © 2015 www.diet.st

 

French Fries Can Kill You, I’m Afraid

So much for the Love Affair which Americans have with French Fries.  A new report out of the University of Alabama says that a ‘Southern Style’ diet increases the risk of heart attacks due to the prevalence of fried foods.  The journal “Circulation” published by The American Heart Association did a six year study and confirms it.

french_fries_with_ketchup

This is not totally new thinking.  And there is no denying that french fries are an amazing food that brings many taste sensations that top the list of our favorites.  But they are somehow seen as healthier than sugar loaded dishes and even potato chips (mostly also fried) and eaten often in abundance to ‘fill’ that hole in your stomach.  Why is it that we cast away common sense and indulge so heavily?

However – the wonderful creation brought by US Soldiers back to the USA after WWII from Belgium are even worse for you as once believed.

More evidence that fried food raises heart attack risk