Adonis Diaries

Archive for July 23rd, 2013

Are you an IDIOT? Have Impulsive Digital Isolationist Obsessive Tendencies…?

We live in a world where titles and labels play a major role in helping us to identify who we’re interacting with and to understand where we sit in relation to others.

When Shawn Parr‘s son was diagnosed with attention-deficit disorder (ADD), he realized that he had a good dose of it, too.

Shawn Parr, of The Guvner & CEO of Bulldog Drummond, posted “Are You An IDIOT?”

I dislike the label ADD with a passion since it contains two negatives indicating we have a deficit and a disorder.

It assumes that we choose to be disorderly because of this deficit, which can be pretty depressing if you’re sensitive to labels.

As I researched the condition, I realized that some of the most creative and constructive people through history have had ADD or attention–deficit/hyperactivity disorder, aka ADHD (that term has hyper thrown in for good measure), like Einstein, Picasso, Van Gogh, Hemingway, Michael Jordan, and Spielberg, just to name a few. We are in good company.

“Years back when we were deciding how we’d build our brand, business titles were an important indicator of our role in the company. I wanted my teams to reflect function and a sense of British humor, so my professional title became the Guvner, as opposed to CEO. It’s supposed to indicate authority with a healthy dose of playfulness.

Whomever I meet almost always calls me the Guvner, and often times it’s with a smile. It’s memorable and cuts through the formalities.

Professionally, I like to think I’m part cultural voyeur mixed with a splash of aspiring behavioral scientist, business therapist, executive coach, innovative design thinker, and wannabe motivational speaker.

When reality kicks in, I realize I have a massively inflated, completely misinformed view of my professional position in life. However, I am skilled at framing the challenge, spotting the opportunity, and saying what everyone else is thinking (and afraid to say) to solve big problems using a healthy dose of collaborative common sense.

While I know I’m late to the game commenting on this one, it’s a subject we’re going to be hearing even more about and deserves a new, memorable label.

With the excessive amount of traveling I do over the course of the year, I spend a majority of my time in airports, on planes, and in public meeting spaces where I often find myself observing people and their behaviors. As I go about my business, I’m both intrigued and disturbed by people’s (and my own) dependence on digital devices.

Do you have Impulsive Digital Isolationist Obsessive Tendencies?

It seems wherever you go, people are consumed with their smartphone and all it has to offer, including texting, talking, gaming, Instagraming, tweeting, Facebooking, and more. Generally, there is a look of urgency, importance, and disconnection from the immediate world around the user.

People talk into their phones or into the air with little regard for others around the user.

Next time you’re in a restaurant, look at how many couples and families spend more time looking at their phones than each other.

Next time you’re in a meeting, count how many times people check, text, or type on their phones rather than pay attention. When you are stopped at a light, look over to the other lane and you’ll likely see people texting or talking on their phones.

The term for the fear of, and obsession with, losing and/or being without a smartphone is Nomophobia (No-mobile-phobia), which was coined by U.K. researchers in 2008.

This growing dependency and addiction to smartphones is very similar to substance addiction or other compulsive behaviors; and according to a Baylor University study in the Journal of Behavioral Addictions, it revealed that impulsivity and materialism are key drivers of mobile phone and instant messaging usage.

We are becoming a society of IDIOTs.

Couples would rather text each other than talk to each other, people avoid eye-to-eye contact, and much of the younger generation can’t hold a conversation longer than a few minutes without reaching for the phone.

It’s clear from all of this that we’re becoming a society of IDIOTs (Impulsive Digital Isolationist Obsessive Tendencies) distracted by technology and disconnected from our human relationships. We are fooling ourselves that impulsive and superficial digital connections are better than in-person conversations and connections.

What the Internet is doing to our brains and our behavior?

The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brain, by Nicholas Carr describes the same phenomenon. According to Carr, the Internet is a system that might as well have been designed to foster distractedness.

When you read a book there’s nothing there but the physical pages to dive into without distractions.

Reading on the Internet is a different matter. He describes how the brain is constantly switching tasks with all the distractions being so prevalent. My newfound storytelling heroes at Epipheo put this superb video together to make the same point.

Warning Signs that you are becoming an IDIOT?

As you go about your day, take note of your behavior, dependency, and compulsive usage of your smartphone. If you’ve developed more than one of the following behaviors, there’s a good chance you are, or you’re becoming an IDIOT.

Do you look at your emails from your phone in bed?

Do you take your phone to the bathroom?

Do you DWT (Drive While Texting)?

Do you jump between email, the news, project documents, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter?

Do you eat dinner with your family with your phone in your hand?

Do you compulsively check to see if you have new messages and LIKES on your latest post?

Do you post everything you do, every moment of the day?

Do you go out for dinner and midway through take photos of what you’re eating and post them immediately?

Do you go out for dinner and spend more time looking at your phone than your date?

Do you sit in a meeting and check your phone every few minutes?

Here are 5 simple tips to avoid being an IDIOT, some of the time:

1. Find at least an hour in the day and turn off your phone.

2. Unplug for at least one day on the weekend.

3. If you’re in a meeting, turn your phone off.

4. If you’re at dinner with others, turn your phone off.

5. Do not text while you’re driving.

Note: Shawn Parr is the The Guvner & CEO of Bulldog Drummond, an innovation and design consultancy headquartered in San Diego whose clients and partners have included Starbucks, Diageo, Jack in the Box, Adidas, MTV, Nestle, Pinkberry, American Eagle Outfitters, IDEO, Virgin, Disney, Nike, Mattel, Heineken, Annie’s Homegrown, The Michael J Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research, CleanWell, The Honest Kitchen and World Vision. http://www.BulldogDrummond.com

Is Political Islam at Odds With Democracy? What types of democracy again?

 Egypt’s top military commander, Gen. Abdul-Fattah el-Sisi, went on the air Sunday to defend the army’s decision to oust Mohamed Morsi, the country’s first democratically elected president, on July 3.

“The armed forces remained committed to what it considered the legitimacy of the ballot box until this presumed legitimacy moved against its own purpose,” General el-Sisi said. “The Egyptian people were concerned that the tools of the state could be used against them. The armed forces had to make a choice, seeing the danger of deepened polarization.”

The general said that the military had offered Mr. Morsi the option of a referendum on whether he should stay in power, but that the deeply unpopular president had refused.

YOUSSEF RAKHA published  on the Opinion Pages of the NYT this July 15, 2013 “Egypt Shows How Political Islam Is at Odds With Democracy”

CAIRO — Painful as it was to see the democratic process interrupted so soon after the revolution that overthrew the longtime autocrat Hosni Mubarak in 2011, the military’s action was necessary. At its most blatant level, there was no way that Mr. Morsi and his affiliates in the Muslim Brotherhood were going to leave power willingly, no matter the severity of the civil discontent over the president’s efforts to consolidate his power while mismanaging major problems from fuel shortages to rising inflation.

Like it or not, the military is the core of Egypt’s deeply bureaucratic state apparatus.

But the army, always a major political player, has seldom interfered with politics unless forced to. Just as the army pushed out Mr. Mubarak in 2011, so it forced out Mr. Morsi when it seemed like the Egyptian state might very well cease to exist. At risk were not only basic amenities but also control of the borders, notably with the Hamas-dominated Gaza Strip, and diplomatic failures regarding Ethiopia’s plans to build a new dam on the Nile, Egypt’s long-term water supply.

The Brotherhood managed to antagonize every arm of the state as well as much of the business sector. In seeking office, it sold subsidized foodstuffs and fuel at reduced prices, or distributed them free of charge. It seemed clueless as power cuts and gas shortages became the norm.

The wiles and guile of Islamic fundamentalism were given free reign as never before, threatening not only republican norms but the spiritual wellbeing of the average moderate, and presumably pro-democracy, Sunni Muslim on the street.

The legacy of the Morsi episode may sadly be that in the Middle East, democracy and political Islam “don’t mix.”

They don’t mix not only in theoretical terms — the Umma (or community of believers) vs. the modern nation state; the sect vs. the citizen; Islamic morality vs. individual liberties — but also because political Islam gives political cover to all that is undemocratic in an Arab society.

Under Mr. Morsi, jihadists blew up the export gas pipelines on the Sinai Peninsula with relative impunity.

Indeed, when militants went so far as to abduct military personnel, Mr. Morsi expressed concern for both the abductors and abductees. (The kidnap victims were later released.) Members of unofficial Saudi-style religious police forces could kill a young man for taking a walk with his girlfriend. Women who did not wear the hijab could be subjected to discrimination and sexual harassment — not to mention having their hair forcibly cut with scissors on public transportation and in school. The despicable practice of child marriage threatened to resurge.

In the dysfunctional Parliament, Islamist members focused on such issues as legalizing female genital mutilation and banning the teaching of foreign languages in state schools.

A controversial Salafi preacher, Abu Islam, defaced a Christian Bible to make his sectarian point. (He was ordered to pay a fine.) Meanwhile, in southern Egypt, a Coptic Christian schoolteacher, Dimyana Abdel-Nour, was tried on trumped-up charges of attacking Islam in the classroom. She paid a much larger fine, and her case is still open.

(Four Egyptian Shias were thrown from their balcony and dragged in the street…)

A glaring example of the Brotherhood’s sectarianism occurred at a Syria Solidarity Conference convened by Mr. Morsi on June 15. What at first seemed like a fascist-style pro-Morsi rally quickly devolved into a hate-speech bonanza against the Alawite regime of President Bashar al-Assad of Syria. A number of popular Wahhabi preachers, like Mohamed Hassan and Mohamed Abdel Maqsoud, not only complained of Mr. Morsi’s earlier, tentative rapprochement with Iran, but also frothed at the mouth as they openly identified the Shiites with all evil. Mr. Morsi may not have been directly responsible, but he did nothing to prevent it.

On June 23, a mini-pogrom took place in which Hassan Shehata, a leader of Egypt’s tiny homegrown Shiite community, was dragged through the streets in his village outside Cairo, and then killed, along with three of his followers. Not a peep from Mr. Morsi.

To say that the events of the past month cannot be described as a coup — contrary to the position of some Western democratically obsessed political observers — should in no way imply a pro-military position. The generals are not eager to govern directly and they fear Western censure (and the possible cessation of American military aid), as well as the Islamists’ continuing political power, as demonstrated by ongoing pro-Morsi protests. What happens next is an open question.

What is no longer an open question is how Washington’s role in propping up political Islam is more likely to result in the death and discontent of Muslims. The Obama administration, which has largely stayed on the sidelines as our crisis has unfolded, must recognize that Islamic fundamentalism will always be more of a problem than a solution.

Youssef Rakha, a writer, journalist and photographer, is the author of the forthcoming novel “The Crocodiles.”

Note: I disagree that the US stayed on the sideline https://adonis49.wordpress.com/2013/07/16/why-the-usa-is-playing-it-fuzzy-in-egypt-after-the-upheaval-of-2011/


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