digital addiction is becoming a major problem

Didn’t think anyone could be addicted to digital? Think again.

The general population is hooked on their phones. It’s almost like a typical extension from their wrists, stuck on the palms, with the thumb swiping up and down, up and down.
The self-obsessed nature of Man results in his eyes naturally fixating itself on their high-tech hands, those big, brown eyes darting up and down, up and down.
And they don’t realise that you might be asking to pass through that narrow corridor on a train; or that you might be yelling out your lungs because they’ve got their foot on yours.

Can’t leave the table without your phone?
Can’t walk to the washroom without your mobile?
There’s always worse.

There’s always those who compulsively check for emails and text messages, even at the loo.
There are those who make so many friends online, only to feel more depressed when they are alone.
That’s internet addiction.

I sometimes wonder if we remember those days when we grew up without Wikipedia – when ‘research’ truly meant walking into a library and begging to borrow more than the limit; when we bought countless lined notebooks to make summaries of our findings. I also wonder if we recall those days when taking the public transport meant staring out of the rain-spotted windows, thinking of how to waddle through the puddles; or painstakingly trying to read under the weak lighting of the bus.

I wish I could walk away from that wretched smartphone – that two wretched smartphones – and the laptop; ok, that three laptops. Maybe I’ll try to break that wifi connection later. But that might drive me to anxiety…

Thoughts from a computer game

Does it seem surprising that sometimes deep thoughts are derived from random activities like playing video/computer games?

This is with reference to a simple computer game called ‘Kelly Green Garden Queen’. This is basically about a girl who heads off to the countryside to start a garden. She plants her crops, packs her own soil, sells bouquets etc. As per all games, the level of difficulty increases as you play on. At the end of the game, Kelly Green uses modernized equipment that automatically refilled and packed soil, speeding up the process of her activities. When I looked back at the beginning levels, I realized that she had started out manually filling soil into pots!  It was such a chore, with multiple steps to complete, It was almost ridiculous for anyone to have to do that!

It suddenly dawned upon me that as Man progresses, we forget how we had started out. Sometimes, so much so that we become over-reliant and handicapped when technology fails.

Have we been too caught up chasing ‘advancements’ that we’ve neglected the basis of our progress? Why are there no more ‘great thinkers’ like Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle? While scientific discoveries in many aspects continue to occur (as with the discovery of Higgs boson), Man no longer experience the revelation of electricity that has changed modern dwelling; or the discovery of anesthesia that brought relief to those who needed medical help. Yet centuries ago, even without the technology we have today, underground cities as massive as Derinkuyu were built, and exploration of the world took place.

How our progress similarly seems to set us back in other aspects escapes me; I guess it’s a matter of give-and-take – we win some, we lose some.

And all this revelation derived from a computer game!

are we missing the point? – Medical vs patient care

As society becomes more educated and technology advances, I think we’ve missed the original meaning of “patient care”.

This thought arose as I read “Shroud of a Nightingale” by P.D. James. The basis of patient care, was to make them feel better. While medical advancements have allowed more cures to be accessible, the element of “care” has been re-defined to what I perceive as incomprehensible. Coaxing isn’t a solution, but the desensitization towards pain today is a curious affair.

A patient is unwell. Let’s run ten over scans. It’ll include a bunch of blood tests, an MRI scan of the brain which you might not be able to do when you’re weak, CSF tests via a lumbar puncture and many others. Let’s go through everything that the textbook taught me to, because everyone that comes within the door is a “case” that can be encountered.

No, I am not medically-trained. Yes, I understand the importance of finding out the cause of a discomfort. Yet time and again, I see people close to me go through this routine only to receive an oddly sanguine response of “the tests are inconclusive”. But hey, doesn’t matter – more wouldn’t kill, so here’s a heap of antibiotics you can try to take to fix your undeterminable issue.

I wonder, sometimes, if it was all necessary. Could a better preliminary diagnosis have resulted in more accurate tests and hence a more effective treatment? That bunch of tests and medication – did it serve to build up or wear down the patient’s immunity? Does the patient’s mental health still matter? I’m not sure we realise that bland food, pain and agony doesn’t motivate anyone to get well. Gone are the days where nurses swallowed feeding tubes consciously, to learn what the patient would feel in the process. Everything is deemed “a simple procedure” and “minor discomfort” today. But – it is not JUST a procedure. Your equipment standards have increased; your emotional standards inversely proportionate.

Medical care is great; patient care isn’t. Here’s hoping that some day someone will look into it again.

does social media make us unsociable?

Something must have happened again. It might be the terrible weather – the stifling heat, warm and uncomfortable – that saps away all the energy for any forms of creative writing.

Having put these off for a few days, I’ve decided to gather my thoughts on some issues I’ve been pondering about and address them briefly over the next few days.

Does social media makes us less sociable? 
Some days I stare at my Hootsuite and the vast amount of information shared across multiple platforms. I think about the articles posted via Twitter, numerous connections on LinkedIn and my close friends on Facebook. Needless to mention, the various email accounts I maintain for work and personal reasons. Seems like I’ve covered all grounds in forging ties, haven’t I? But something’s lacking, right?

Right. I believe that phone conversations are valuable every so often, but I also appreciate face-to-face interactions. The convenience of a re-tweet or “like” has encouraged greater inertia in writing full replies and sometimes, even creating the impression that we have interacted sufficiently to avoid a meet-up. Our habitual screen-facing routine has resulted in less sociable individuals. Calling to check on your availability for dinner can be replaced by a text message or email. Meetings might be replaced by Facebook chats, IMing/PMing and other means that allows for conversational text chats.

I like social media in all its ways that has made our life more invariably intertwined. I see the value of social media in business, and in personal interactions just as WordPress allowed me to meet all of you. Social media helps to transcend borders for greater interaction; it bridges time differences across the globe and keeps the ball rolling in most conversations; it generates buzz with a relatively small investment that encourages start-ups and more. But we really shouldn’t neglect the good ol’ traditional means that have brought us as far as we have come today. Sometimes a snail mail, phone call or knock on the door might bring a pleasant surprise amidst the sea of social interactions.

It is up to the user to draw the line differentiating effective engagement and over-reliance. It cannot go wrong to call up a friend, colleague or even acquaintance to catch up over coffee. A good conversation can inspire greater ideas for work or hobbies – which you can then share as a status update or photo on your favourite social media site too! 🙂

if we could all make a difference with science & art…

I was recently introduced to interesting insights in molecular gastronomy. I learnt about Homaru Cantu, founder of MOTO restaurant and his ideas of ‘miracle fruit’ and a first step to saving world hunger, as well as how it extends our definition of ‘food’. I have my reservations, and I am no scientist or professional chef, but I drew a very positive lesson from Homaru Cantu’s great vision, I thought I’ll share this too.

We often think of things in their preset categories, we place things in silos and we assume exclusivity to many characteristics. We examine in-depth, but not widely. We find aerospace engineers and business gurus, experts in their specific field of studies, but no longer see the great thinkers like Socrates, Plato, Aristotle whose studies span various disciplines. Times have changed, I am well-aware, but I wonder if this change has done more good/harm to our understanding of the world.

I started to think about me – or us. My current job requires me to predict the future – meet consumers’ needs, second-guess what they desire, invent the next best technology that dominates product categories. Sometimes we try so hard to outpace ourselves, we imagine the future and neglect the past that holds the very answer we’re looking for. I recall my first encounter with the ‘History of Science’, or ‘History of Diseases & Medicine’, and realised how historians too, can contribute to scientific studies and technology. My studies of the History of Science showed me how much was known or conceived in the early years. 3D TVs aren’t a brand new thing – people wrote about highly-similar items in the past – in those days 3D TVs were probably classified as science-fiction? We mocked, laughed, and chucked it aside. Instead of re-imagining a brand new product, a close examination of past records could potentially give us new ideas which we could leverage upon. While the concept might have been impossible years back – today’s advanced technology gives us a chance to materialise it. Of course, innovation must precede invention, but science might be enhanced if history is given a chance in its playing field.

I thought about how a molecular gastronomist aimed to transform our understanding of ‘food’ with the help of ‘science’ to achieve a greater humanitarian goal. How many of us are really open to applying scientific knowledge to culinary activity? Yet how often have we associated cooking with artistic qualities? Is this an example of assumptions that may have sidelined greater potential? There are limits to what we can accept in the combinations of food and science, without a doubt – I am not entirely receptive towards ‘edible paper’ etc but sometimes opening our minds a little more can put us in a creative space which we have always strived to achieve.

Maybe, just maybe, I am not a one-dimensional office-bound individual. Maybe if I could apply some of my existing knowledge to other aspects of life, I might be able to make a difference too. I don’t purport that I can make a huge positive impact to the world but we can all start somewhere.

Try this – think about your skills or what you can do, apply it to a field/discipline that you thought was totally irrelevant – maybe you’ll come up with something interesting too! If I do, I’ll be sure to write an update here!

Cheers to the week ahead everyone!

what has happened to the good old days?

I am such an irregular writer I think I’m such an irresponsible creature.

Recently I’d been wondering how the world has changed and how little I knew of the past. Or my past, to be exact. I saw little children on buses playing with iPads or apps; then I recalled how I used to bring a novel on the bus to read and how we were told not to do that.
I saw children with cellphones typing away to their friends; then I recalled how we used to throw little balls of papers around the classrooms to pass secrets around.
I saw teens watching movies on their smartphones during lunch; then I recalled how we used to chat with our dining partners over a meal.
What did I do in the past, I wonder? What was life like before all these technologies sprouted? What was I doing in the past, during the hours that I spend online today? I just couldn’t pin-point an activity which I had done.

I’m not sure what to make of this. While I’m an advocate for mobile marketing and I’m very much into apps development etc, I just don’t think this is the right behavior a young child should portray. It is almost like communicating with machines your whole life.

I guess it really isn’t only the fault of a child – parents play a significant role in shaping their children’s behavior – of which I could never understand how parents would’ve allowed their children to be so overly-engrossed in mobile gaming. Where did the world of soft-toys and Lego go? Even as you enter a toy store now, the toys really aren’t what they used to be – sadly.

I guess the entire environment has shifted significantly, while a sentimental me continues to stand at the very same spot to await the revival of the past …