3 questions to help you decide if you should #deleteFacebook.

social media Apr 02, 2018

Government and industry scrutiny continues to grow over the revelations about the data of 50 million Facebook accounts being used by Computer Analytica. Consumer concerns also seem to be at an all-time high, resulting in a #deleteFacebook movement to encourage people to quit the world’s largest social media channel. Although Google searches related to deleting Facebook have tripled since the news broke, it remains to be seen how many people will follow through and delete their account. A recent poll of Canadians showed that only 1 in 10 plans to ‘abandon’ Facebook at least temporarily. With all the apparent outrage, why are so few likely to quit?

Much has been written in the past few years about the addictive nature of social media. Technology designers leverage our psychological vulnerabilities to grab our attention and hold it for as long as possible. So, it’s not surprising that many people find it difficult to break free from Facebook, even with...

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Do you think device-free social spaces are needed?

A local coffee shop has been getting a lot of attention due to their recently imposed weekend laptop ban. The owner cites two reasons for such severe measures. The first being a lack of seating for patrons during their busiest days, which results in lost revenue for the cafe. The second being the antisocial environment created by a room full of individuals wearing headsets and staring at screens for hours at a time. In addition to the ban, the cafe is also limiting use of their Wi-Fi to a half-hour per customer per purchase. Not surprisingly, these changes are receiving mixed reviews from customers.

Restaurants and cafes have been navigating the positives and negatives of our growing digital connectivity for a number of years. On the one hand, the popularity of sharing food and décor photos on social media has helped many establishments grow their business. However, the realities of our device-obsessed culture has also impacted the experience of customers and staff alike in a...

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3 essentials for successfully cutting back your screen time.

unplugging Feb 27, 2018

There’s been so much written in the past year about how much time we are spending online. There’s also been a ton written about how unhealthy it is and how important it is for us to cut back on our screen time.

But, for all the evidence and discussion, many people still aren’t making any changes. For those who want to do something about their screen time but don’t know where to start, I have some thoughts to share based on my own journey.

There are three essential things I think are required if you seriously want to reduce your time online.

1.     Identify Your ‘Why’

In order to change behavior, it’s key to have a motivating reason. For me, it was because of books.

I’ve been an avid reader my whole life. I love getting lost in stories and, although it’s not always easy to find the time, there’s nothing I love more than spending an hour or more with a book.

A few Christmases ago, I sat down...

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How using your digital devices can impact the health of others.

You know how horrible and harmful secondhand smoke is? Even if you’re not the person smoking, it’s been scientifically proven how badly you are affected when you are near someone who is. Well, it looks like technology is also having a negative impact on the people around us when we’re glued to our digital devices. Now, before you call me crazy, let me clarify—not all the effects are physically dangerous. Some are merely annoying but many can actually be harmful from a mental health standpoint.

Most people have heard of the term phubbing by now. It refers to snubbing someone when you’re paying attention to your phone instead of the person you’re with. Sadly, it’s become quite common, to the point where we expect it to happen quite regularly. But it’s a still an unpleasant experience to feel alone while in the company of others. This behaviour has been proven to impact the self-esteem of the person being phubbed, leaving them annoyed,...

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The benefits & limitations of a digital detox.

social media unplugging Jan 31, 2018

My husband and I had a lovely, relaxing four-day getaway last week. We took a ferry to Vancouver Island and spent our time nose-deep in books, laughing over meals with friends and walking through rainy forests. All in all, it was delightful—and not one bit of it was documented on Facebook. In part, this was because we’d agreed to do a Facebook detox while we were away. Although we’ve both reduced the time we spend on social media somewhat, over the past few months, I was curious to see what it would be like if we cut the ties more formally for a specified period of time.

Heading into our trip, I assumed we would find it more difficult than we did. We each thought about checking into Facebook a few times over the four days but we didn’t. In some ways, I was surprised at how rarely we did think of it and then, when we did, how easy it was to resist. But, I should have known that our Facebook detox would not be as challenging as it could have been. Why is that?...

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How I solved my email obsession & improved my productivity.

productivity work Jan 23, 2018

I was a little obsessed by email. Okay, maybe more than a little. It had been growing over the years but I hadn’t done anything about it. Between checking, reading and sending emails frequently throughout the day, I knew I was wasting a lot of time. Not to mention all the interruptions it was creating. And those interruptions were seriously impacting my productivity. This was no longer something I could afford to ignore.

I’m not alone with this problem. In 2017, the average office worker received about 120 emails per day and sent about 40 per day. Assuming we spend just one minute per email, that adds up to over 2 1/2 hours of email a day. An even scarier thought is that emails are projected to grow by another 20 per day in 2018! So, I decided it was time to take the bull by the horns and find a way to improve my email habits and, hopefully, my productivity.

I started by reducing the amount of email I receive. I had numerous email subscriptions that were cluttering up my...

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Why technology’s makers don’t want to be its users.

social media Jan 02, 2018

You know that part in the movie, when the protagonist is served food or drink by someone who clearly won’t touch it themselves? We all know what comes next if the protagonist actually consumes it.  Something very bad will happen to them. 

This warning sign could be applied to other scenarios. Imagine if you had an architect design a house for you but they refused to enter it when it was complete. Would you be hesitant or nervous about living there? I think some would find that concerning and look for ways to validate the safety and integrity of their new home.

Let’s consider yet another situation. What if the people who design social media went on record saying it “exploits human vulnerability” and “you don't realize it but you are being programmed"? Does that raise any concerns for you? If so, how much? Enough to make you rethink your use of social media?

This last situation isn’t one I made up. There have been numerous tech insiders...

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Two words of advice for increasing your productivity at work.

productivity work Nov 28, 2017

It happened yet again last week. I sent someone a short email, about five sentences long with four dates and times I was available to meet with them. They replied, choosing a morning on one of the dates I had included. The problem was, all the options I had provided were afternoons. So, I wrote back, advising I couldn’t meet then but was free that afternoon and they sent another email confirming that worked for them. Now, this isn’t a huge deal but our exchange ended up being two emails longer than it needed to be because of a small missed detail.

I find this type of thing happens all the time, in both written and spoken conversations. People asking questions that have already been answered. People repeating the same thing multiple times. People mixing up information. And when you measure the impact of this over the countless emails, telephone and in-person conversations we have, it adds up to a lot of time wasted. But I have a solution for this persistent, frustrating...

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The one thing that will boost your creativity.

creativity work Oct 31, 2017

Dave woke up to his alarm and hit snooze. After repeating this three times, he finally grabbed his phone and sat up to greet the day. He looked at the latest weather and headlines, exchanged texts with his girlfriend, played a few rounds of his favorite game and then rolled out of bed to get ready for work. The subway was busier than usual so he tucked into a corner and caught up on his social media feeds. When he arrived, he scanned the large open office, filled with rows and rows of desks. Most people were already fixated on their computer screens, many wearing headphones to combat the constant din in the room. He settled into his workstation, opened his laptop and went online. He noticed with a sense of dread that he already had twenty new emails, five marked urgent, and a bunch of questions on the team messenger app. Everyone was asking about his progress on the latest project he’d been assigned. But he was having a tough time with this one. He just couldn’t seem to...

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How to use social media on vacation and still stay present.

social media Oct 07, 2017

Vacations are a wonderful way to take a break from our everyday lives and experience something new and different. And, with the help of technology, we can now easily share our adventures with others from almost anywhere in the world. But at what point does our sharing detract from the richness of the experience we are seeking? Over the last few years, I think I finally reached that point.

I always take my camera with me when I go away so I was shocked to realize I’d forgotten to pack it when we went to Japan a couple of years ago. It turned out alright though, as I had my iPhone and the camera app did a fine job of capturing everything I wanted. Having all my photos on my smartphone made it so easy to share what we saw and did on social media throughout the day. It was great for keeping everyone up to date and I loved reading people’s reactions. Forgetting my camera turned out to be a blessing, I thought.

So when we went to China last year, I purposely left my camera...

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