Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Digital Addiction

                         The difference between technology and slavery is that 
                             slaves are fully aware that they are not free – Nassim Nicholas Taleb

Technology is accelerating to make everything easier. Everyone has Internet access, which eliminates geographic, social and hierarchical barriers. People are communicating more than ever before, in real time.  Technological advancement has many unforeseen effects; not just side effects, but major life-changing complications. (1)

Selfish Generation

Technology has transformed interpersonal relationships – more people are reaching more people through social media platforms. People are using their digital media voices to tell sharable stories and stimulate engagement.

Problems are arising in that many people are trying to respond to too many things at the same time, causing themselves stress and anxiety. Some are taking in a lot of information without really processing it. Everyone is creating information and becoming victims of information overload. This generates several problems that need to be addressed.

The people born between the 1980s and the early 2000s are the Internet generation, the group that spearheaded the use of social media in our everyday lives. They are the selfish generation.

Recent polls show that a majority of Americans (71%) think that many 18-to-29-year-olds (millennials) are basically selfish. They are self-absorbed and expect the world to come to them. A quick Google search of “millennials” results in lots of in-depth articles on this topic, calling them self-centered, and even narcissistic.

In 2013, Time Magazine had a story on Millennials: The Me Me Me Generation. (2)  50% of this group now describe themselves as political independents; 29 % are not affiliated with any religion.  They are the first in the modern era to have higher levels of student loan debt, poverty and unemployment, and lower levels of wealth and personal income. Less than 20% of them say that most people can be trusted.

In 2014, William Deresiewicz stepped up the criticism with his book, The Miseducation of the American Elite, which recounts his experiences teaching undergraduates at Yale. He finds young adults to be privileged, incurious, uninterested in exploring the larger questions about the meaning of life, and unwilling to take intellectual risks. They are comfortably bourgeois, caring little about the inner self and the soul. (3)

In his bestseller, The Road to Character, David Brooks is gentler but equally convinced that the young lack an interest in and a language for a discussion of character and virtue. They are, he believes, “morally inarticulate.” (4)

Selfies Self Ease
The word selfie is now in the dictionary. Have you taken a selfie? I have, sometimes, when no one is available to take our photo. A selfie-stick is available to hold the smart-phone a few feet away after a time-delayed click. It turns out that many, including older people and even the elderly, are now take selfies. Some take lots of selfies and post the best one on Facebook or Instagram, which is self-promoting and narcissistic. (5)

Down the Rabbit Hole

Larry Kilham's new book, The Digital Rabbit Hole, imagines today’s version of Lewis Carroll’s classic book, Alice in Wonderland. In the introduction, Alice peeps into a book her sister is reading and wonders about its utility. Why read a book when people see everything in color, with sound, on their smartphone? (6)

The white rabbit appears, takes his smartphone out of a vest pocket and is agitated about being too late for tea. Alice taps her screen, which shows a live video of the Mad Hatter’s tea party. Alice then falls down the rabbit hole into Cyberland.

Larry Kilham says that this is no longer a fantasy. More and more people, and especially almost all of the younger generation, are falling down this digital rabbit hole into the cyberspace of technology filled with smartphones and smart devices. They no longer engage with each other as human beings. Rapidly advancing connectivity and accessibility have combined to create a new digital wonderland with addictive habits.

Says Larry Kilham, “For centuries, social groups, books, libraries, sings, movies and other media were where people found friends, gathered information and made discoveries. Today, the Internet is the rabbit hole into which many fall and cannot escape. The ever-present, ultra-convenient entry into this Cyberland is the smart-phone.”

There are two basic reasons why this trend is becoming pervasive and controlling:

  • The perpetual digital connection to everything provides an easy answer to any question – Kilham’s Knowosphere.
  • People tend to select convenience, answers that are good enough, satisfying emotional feedback, minimal action without distraction or needless social interaction.
 Larry Kilham’s book suggests solutions. It explores how creativity can be stimulated to learn and solve problems, while maintaining humanity. It is good reading, especially for parents and educators who worry about the time that young people spend with smartphones and video screens.

In further chapters of his book, Larry Kilham goes on to discuss other accelerating changes that are enveloping modern society – artificial intelligence, robotics, the all-consuming Internet. Where will the future lead as modern humans fall down this "rabbit hole"? What are the possibilities? Read the book!

Smartphone Use

In 2015, there were 2.6 billion smartphone subscriptions globally. While growth has been leveling off in developed markets, less mature markets continue to generate huge growth. Globally, by 2020, there will be 6.1 smartphone in circulation, which is about 70 % of the world’s population. (7)

In fact, total mobile subscriptions by 2020 will actually be about 9.2 billion, taking into account Internet-of-things and M2M services, mobile broadband and some basic remaining cellular phones. There will be 26 billion connected devices within 4-5 years.

Here are some key themes of a 2015 Pew Research Center report (8):

  • 10% of Americans own a smartphone but do not have broadband at home; 15% have a limited number of options, other than their cell phone, for going online.
  • Smartphones are widely used for many important life activities – staying informed on breaking news, sharing news and views with family and friends, looking for schedules on public transit, using driving directions to navigate.
  • Mobile devices are deeply embedded in the daily lives of most young adults.
  • Smartphone usage often produces feelings of productivity and happiness. However, many users also feel distracted or frustrated after mobile use.
There’s a game that can be played in restaurants. Look around and count how many people are on their smartphones while sitting with others at the same table. You’ll notice couples, each one using their own smartphone. The pleasure of face-to-face dinner-table conversations appears to be obsolete. At home, it’s the parent who forbids texting, though sometimes it’s noticeable that even the parents have succumbed.

Limbic Resonance

An ever-growing number of people seem to prefer screen-mediated social interactions to face-to-face, or even voice-to-voice social interactions. Yet, there are strong correlations between depression and the amount of time spent online. 

Limbic resonance refers to the energetic exchange that happens between two people who are interacting in a caring and safe relationship. Their interaction stimulates the release of neurochemicals in the limbic region of the brain, necessary for full emotional and physical health. Without enough limbic resonance, most people function and feel less and less well. They become depressed and anxious.  

This problem is compounded by a whole childhood spent in front of screens and not enough spent face-to-face. The result is that a young brain becomes wired for digital media use and not suited for much needed face-to-face socializing. Lack of social skills leave a young person inadequately prepared for achieving satisfactory social connections in the real world. (9)  

Indeed, the inability to achieving emotional intimacy leads to social anxiety. This, in turn, increases the likelihood of such a person turning to digital media as an escape. In the virtual world, people can develop online friendship, romance and sexual outlets. The skills needed to be successful in the real world are not required.

Smartphones make people less focused. Constantly checking email and Twitter causes them to be less productive, and more disconnected from their real lives. Social media appears to promote self-absorption and narcissism.

Digital Addiction

For some people, interaction with technology verges on being excessive, and threatens to absorb their attention above all else. This digital addiction may even have a negative impact on their health. Unrestrained use of technological devices has at least some impact upon developmental, social, mental and physical health, with symptoms akin to other behavioral addictions. In recent decades, this has become recognized as a legitimate psychological disorder.

In recent years particular attention has been paid to how the over-use of technology may be affecting the younger generation, teens and even pre-teens. Many children are becoming increasingly reliant upon digital devices for education, social networking and entertainment. With young people spending less time interacting with their peers face to face and more time indoors than previous generations, the direct impact of digital devices on both physical and mental well being is fast becoming a big concern. (10)

Digital Detox

The ability to stay balanced and to create healthy relationships with digital devices, will determine the future. A new code of ethics must be developed to raise awareness about harmful digital habits, creating social etiquette, setting positive cultural norms, and sharing the importance of mindfulness.

“Technology has become the center of our social world, compelling us to always keep checking in to see what we’re missing,” says Larry Rosen, author of iDisorder: Understanding Our Obsession with Technology and Overcoming Its Hold on Us. This leads to the overuse of technology with “iDisorder” where frequent users show signs of everything from obsessive-compulsive disorder to attention deficit disorder. (11)

The solution isn’t powering down completely. As with any addiction-like behavior, the answer is to reset the brain for better control of compulsions to surf, text, or Tweet. 

Larry Rosen suggests 3 simple steps:

  • Set limits.  Having smartphones at ones fingertips acts as brain stimulus that screams, check me. Put your mind at ease with scheduled tech breaks.
  • Keep your brain from becoming overloaded by taking a 15-minute walk outside or flipping through a book with photographs of natural environments. This is attention-restoration, exposing yourself to nature helps restore your brain’s ability to focus by giving it a breather. 
  • Find your pleasure point. Your iPhone can act as a stimulus to your brain, meaning you get a feel-good dopamine rush from checking it, which increases your technology addiction. Retrain your brain by actively doing something else that makes you happy, instead of always reaching into your pocket. 
Let's Engage

Life in the digital age is sucking more people down the digital rabbit hole. Things need to change.

Please provide your own feedback, comments and suggestions. Share our discussion by responding to these questions directly via the blog. If you prefer, send me an email and I’ll insert your comments.

      1. Do you use a smartphone? I confess that I’m addicted. Are you?
      2. Do you take your smartphone everywhere with you?
      3. Do you check email, Facebook or text constantly?
      4. While with others, do you consider texting or email impolite?
      5. Do you use or forbid use of smartphones while at family dinner?
      6. Do you notice digital addiction trends increasing everywhere?
      7. Do you have digital addiction? How are you controlling it?
      8. Please provide your own additional comments and suggestions.


  1. Is Technology Making Our Lives Easier?
  2. Time – Millennials Are Selfish and Entitled:
  3. Deresiewicz Book – Miseducation of the American Elite:
  4. David Brooks Book – Road to Character:
  5. NY Times - The Self(ie) Generation:
  6. Larry Kilham Book – Down the Digital Rabbit Hole:
  7. 6.1B Smartphone Users Globally By 2020:
  8. US Smartphone Use in 2015:
  9. Online Social Experience and Limbic Resonance:
  10. Digital addiction is the world’s next great health crisis:
  11. Yes, You Do Need A Digital Detox:

Jim Pinto
Carlsbad, CA.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

American Political Revolution

For many, the American dream has become a nightmare.
                                                                  Bernie Sanders

Politics is a minefield and I typically don’t take sides. Now I’m making an exception because, in my view, something different is happening.

You’ll note that several of my blogs over the past three years have covered my serious concerns about Political Corruption and Democracy Dysfunction. (1) (2) (3) (4) I wrote, “As it exists today, the American system is entirely incompatible with the democratic ideals upon which it was ostensibly founded. A political revolution seems to be the only solution to the countless problems plaguing America.

I think, I hope, that maybe – just maybe – that Bernie Sanders is part of a political solution for America.  His results after the first two election primaries indicate that that he's right for the times. America’s deeply entrenched problems must be exposed through the political process, failing which revolution is the only alternative.


Bernie Sanders was born on September 8, 1941, in New York. He grew up in Brooklyn as the younger of two sons of Jewish immigrants from Poland. His father worked as a paint salesman. From childhood, as part of a struggling working-class family, he recognized America's economic disparity.

Bernie Sanders started out his career as the mayor of Burlington, Vermont. He served four terms as the leader of Vermont's biggest city from 1981 to 1989. He then moved on to the national political arena by winning a seat in the House of Representatives. From 1991 to 2007, he distinguished himself as one of the country's few independent legislators. 

In 2007, Bernie won election to the U.S. Senate and was re-elected in 2012. He announced his plans to run for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2015. (5)

Democratic Socialism

Bernie Sanders is a self-styled Democratic Socialist, a political ideology advocating a (6)
democratic political system alongside a socialist economic system, involving a combination of political democracy.
Democracy and socialism go hand in hand. All over the world, wherever the idea of democracy has taken root, the vision of socialism has taken root as well. This is embraced everywhere but in the United States, where many false ideas about socialism have developed. Many older Americans have become brainwashed into considering the word socialist to be repugnant. But it doesn’t seem to bother young people.

Bernie Sanders Issues

Here’s what the Bernie Sanders website says about the 21 issues that he considers are important to the American people: (7)

“The American people must make a fundamental decision. Do we continue the 40-year decline of our middle class and the growing gap between the very rich and everyone else, or do we fight for a progressive economic agenda that creates jobs, raises wages, protects the environment and provides health care for all? Are we prepared to take on the enormous economic and political power of the billionaire class, or do we continue to slide into economic and political oligarchy? These are the most important questions of our time, and how we answer them will determine the future of our country.”

If one listens to what Bernie has been saying, it’s evident that he is not radical at all. In many respects, he addresses directly the fundamental concerns that many Americans have about their future.

Iowa & NH Results

Last week in the Iowa caucuses, Hillary Clinton seemed artificial and contrived. By comparison, Bernie Sanders generated extraordinary enthusiasm with his consistent message of political revolution. He fought the supposedly inevitable Democratic winner to a draw and gained just about the same number of Iowa delegates. (8)  

Young, first-time caucus goers came close to carrying the day over the traditional, older attendees. According to the Des Moines Register poll Hillary Clinton was getting 65% of the older demographic (65+) and Bernie Sanders was getting 63% of the under-35 voters. Hillary was terribly damaged by the Iowa result. And things got worse.

This week, at the New Hampshire primary, America witnessed Bernie not just holding his own, but winning by a large margin. (9) American politics is experiencing a revolution led by female voters. Bernie won 53% of the female vote compared to Clinton's 46 %. Among young women, his numbers were even higher: 69% of Democratic women under 45 and 82% of female primary voters under the age of 30 voted for him.

Follow the Money

Fewer than four hundred families are responsible for almost half the money raised in the 2016 presidential campaign, a concentration of political donors that is unprecedented in the modern era.

Political candidates are restricted in how much they can accept from any single donor. The vast majority of the funds backing presidential candidates, approaching $1b this year, are being channeled through SuperPACs that can generate unlimited contributions, enormous campaign war chests, from almost any source. Take a look at the list of funds raised by the 2016 presidential candidates. (10)

Bernie Sanders is the exception. His campaign has raised more than $ 75m, all of it from smaller donations – $ 0.00 from SuperPACs.

During his New Hampshire victory speech Bernie announced, “I'm going to hold a fundraiser right here, right now, across America. My request is – please go to and contribute. Please help us raise the funds we need, whether it's 10 bucks, 20 bucks, or 50 bucks. Help us raise the money we need to take the fight to Nevada, South Carolina and the states on Super Tuesday.” Within a day, contributions jumped $ 6,672,590 – all from separate, small, individual contributors.

Citizens United

After being legitimized in 2010 by the Supreme Court Citizens United decision, corruption of the political system and is now the root of most problems in politics. (11)

These days, immediately upon being elected, the first priority for most politicians is to start to raise funds, huge funds, for the next election. These are usually not dishonest people or evil people; it is simply that if they want to stay in office they have to raise money – big money. The way they do this is selling favors. They don't say openly that this is what they do – but it is indeed what they all do.

After making big donations to politicians’ campaigns through SuperPACs, the lobbyists and large donors write legislation.  Politicians not only allow it, they condone it. It seems they have no choice. No other institution in America is so legally corrupt. It's just not right.

Feel the Bern

Reasonable people have little choice but to support any politician who is openly against this kind of corruption. Bernie Sanders leads the way. One of his stated major issues is to restore Democracy by getting big money out of politics. With America’s support, he can get it done.

Book: Why Bernie Sanders Matters

Missionary. Radical. Hippy. Revolutionary. Pragmatist. Socialist. (12) Jaffe narrates the story of the rise of a scrappy kid from Brooklyn and why he just won’t quit.

Hot from the campaign trail, a vivid new biography by Harry Jaffe goes inside Bernie Sanders’s contradictions, his unusual life, and his electrifying quest to make the American dream a reality for all.

Change Happens

Once in a lifetime a great man comes along that makes a difference. The time has to be right. Great times make great men – Lincoln, Churchill, Gandhi, MLK – their times made those men. These were ordinary people upon whom the mantle of greatness was placed. (13)

In my view, Bernie Sanders has the potential to be one of those game-changers. He may not get his changes through a corrupt congress, but he will expose the problems and, hopefully, move the country towards reasonable progress. 

The present system is so entrenched that change will be difficult. Bernie is proposing huge changes, and for decades the political landscape is littered with those wanting to make changes to the system, only to have them flame out. Eugene McCarthy, Ross Perot, Howard Dean and others championed change. They had lots of great ideas, but none of them ever got the chance to really do anything, because they didn’t – couldn't – get elected.

Bernie Sanders is one of those voices in the desert. Will he be diminished and eliminated like the others before him?  You and I are part of the answer to that vital question. You can help by being a contributor to his campaign, to help him get elected. (14)

Pinto Poem

I cannot complete this blog on Bernie Sanders without waxing poetic:

Look around you to see all the signs
Rich getting richer while middle-class declines
Politicians in the grip of big money donors
Voting like minions obeying their owners

Wall Street and wealthy must pay taxes their share
Not shelter profits with tax dodges not fair
Racial injustice a total outrage
Women’s pay equity, raise minimum wage

Lower prices for drugs and health-care for all
It’s urgent America, we can no longer stall
Save our planet with climate change
Vote for Bernie, he will help us arrange

This rhyme jumped out from my keyboard, inspired by my respect and admiration for this man, for his courage and dogged determination to bring change to America against great odds. Bernie Sanders generates hope and optimism for me and for many.

Let’s Engage

I’ll appreciate your own view on Bernie Sanders. Here are some questions to get you engaged:

  1. Are you Democrat or Republican or Independent?
  2. Who will you (did you) vote for in the primaries?
  3. Will you vote for Bernie Sanders? Why? Why not?
  4. Are you a Hillary Clinton supporter? Why?
  5. Are you a Trump supporter? Why?  Will/can Trump get elected?
  6. If you don’t live in the US, what is your view of American elections?
  7. Add your own observations and ideas.
Please share your comments directly in the blog. Or, send me an email and I’ll insert on your behalf.  You can choose to provide your name, or remain anonymous.


  1. Jim Pinto blog – Next American Revolution:
  2. Jim Pinto blog – Political Corruption in America:
  3. Jim Pinto blog – Corruption of Capitalism:
  4. Jim Pinto blog – Democracy Dysfunction:
  5. Bernie Sanders Biography:
  6. What is Democratic Socialism?
  7. Bernie Sanders on the Issues:
  8. Democratic caucus that (almost) felt the Bern:
  9. New Hampshire Primary: 5 Things That Explain The Results:
  10. Which Presidential Candidates Are Winning the Money Race:
  11. A wealthy oligarchy of donors is dominating the 2016 election:
  12. Book: Why Bernie Sanders Matters:
  13. Gandhi of America - Bernie Sanders:
  14. Contribute to Bernie Sanders Campaign:


Jim Pinto
Carlsbad, CA.

11 February 2016