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Notification Nation: The Ups & Downs of Your Addiction to Social Media

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Have you ever stopped to wonder what our phones are doing to our psychology?

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Before we dive deeper, I have to admit I find this topic very intriguing, since much of what I have learned and now teach over at Superhero Academy uses social media as a primary vehicle for empowerment.

Growing a social following has, without a doubt, enabled me to make remarkable projects happen, but is there a cost?

As an example, recently I have been learning from an amazing online course that has empowered me and the movements I help craft greatly, but I did start to question… Why?

What is this all for? Why am I truly doing this and is this important?

Today, attention is the new currency.attention is the new currency

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Like counts and followings are also a status symbol of power.

It’s just the truth.

Before solving this existential crisis of whether or not what we all engage in regularly is having a positive impact, let’s gain a little bit of perspective on both sides of the coin.

The Upside of Social Media

Access to Everyone and Anyone

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Being able to reach and connect as well as be influenced by people around the world is no small miracle.

It is important and humbling to remember that, for thousands of years, knowledge was always transmitted directly from person to person. Technology has afforded us much in this regard, and social media has allowed us to be more aware of happenings all over the globe. Everyone from the college student studying upstate to two entrepreneurs working together from different sides of the world can stay connected through the internet.

Instant Access to Information

lightning-speed-5GInformation is the fundamental element behind our technological world. Being able to share things at lightning speed across the globe has made the world and its knowledge much more accessible.

Just think about the beautiful symphony of technology working together to make this very moment of you reading this article a reality. It’s mind-blowing stuff.

It also makes news travel quickly, and that opens up a whole new possibility for large scale global action — protests and movements can now form with unprecedented speed and strength in a way that can truly shake up the status quo.

Empowering Alternative Media

As news travels quickly via the social networks, this opens up the doors to alternative news and gives them a bigger voice and broader reach.

Mainstream media is a form of mind control in the sense that it influences general opinion in one direction or the next depending on how they spin and cover the story (and well, it’s no secret that the mainstream has become an oligopoly).

Without some kind of freedom of the press and alternative grassroots networks like Collective Evolution to keep the truth in check, what would our world descend into?

julian-assange-wikileaks-CEOThere is a constant struggle between the mainstream outlets and the up and comers, and a dose of healthy competition gets us all a bit closer to the truth on any subject — hence the emergence of Anonymous and Wikileaks, as examples.

Feelings of Connection and Discovery of Our Tribe

But more than anything, social media connects like-minded individuals who may have otherwise been isolated.

Tribe-Marketing

The number of people who meet via online dating or apps clearly signals where people are finding connection these days.

When growing up, my friends were the kids who lived within a few blocks from my house and went to my school. The choices were limited, and although I wouldn’t change anything about my personal past, as I truly did have it all, what I can say is that people become influenced by their environment.

The likelihood of someone who grew up in a tough neighbourhood not being influenced to join a gang or commit a crime, when all those around him or her are doing such, is much higher if that same kid can find a more constructive, creative outlet for them to connect with others with similar passions.

Simply put, social media empowers movements and it empowers people. The Valhalla Movement, which I was lucky enough to kick off, is only a reality because I was able to rally friends and strangers to the project immediately through just a few simple posts.

This power is not to be understated and I truly believe it enables far more collaboration and discovery to happen than ever before.

The Downside of Social Media

Internet Addiction is Serious

Internet addiction is no laughing matter.

I personally use things like Rescue Time to track my efficiency online but also to log how many hours I’m spending on different websites or on my computer at all, and well, the numbers are STAGGERING, to say the least…

When was the last time you were more than a few feet away from your phone without feeling slightly uncomfortable or disconnected? Our charge percentage on our phone has become an unintentional signal for our own comfort levels and acts as a technological security blanket for us to deal with “awkward” social situations or any form of “free time” or waiting whatsoever.

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It is said that that anywhere between 5 to 10% of internet users would be considered addicts to the internet, showing signs of irritation and discomfort if disconnected involuntarily or for extend periods of time.

i-took-the-internet-addiction-quiz-and-i-won-371-body-image-1421884358

I definitely qualify within that range, and I think the truth is that a higher and higher percentage of us are slowly falling victim to this addiction.

Unrealistic Expectations

unrealistic expectations

It’s no secret that the media — and nowadays the internet — creates unrealistic expectations and pressures people to be something they are not.

Whether it’s women being targeted to be skinnier and sexier or pornography affecting men’s confidence and sexual desires, social media dictates how we feel about ourselves.

It also shades our world with rose coloured glasses.

We absorb people’s highlight reel moments and the best “perfect” angle of their 72nd selfie and we end up in a world where showing off what can often just be genuine content is still affecting how we feel about ourselves.

Sharing a beautiful moment, a comedic thought, or an intriguing video is in no way malicious and is exactly what social media was created for. However, all of this information compiled together really does weigh upon our personal psychology and opens up the door to being “in character” on social media in the same way an actor is on set.

As much as I love storytelling and believe it is a powerful tool for good, it can set up unrealistic beliefs that damage society through what I would consider a culture war.

Attention Span

our-average-attention-span

Social media has done a number on our attention spans, too.

With the emergence of auto play videos — Snapchat, Vine, etc. — there is no doubt that our ability to stay engaged has drastically reduced. This means that people’s ability to stand up against tyranny or to care for any particular event, whether enraging or not, has also decreased.

What this begins to do is desensitize us to the very nature of our humanity, worsening a major issue we face today: Short Term thinking, which is the antonym to sustainability, if you ask me.

This issue of focus has left many people less committed and less happy, and truly furthered our addiction to short-term gratification.

microsoft-research-on-evolving-attention-spans-100585696-large.idge

Noise and Muddied Waters

patience-and-fact-checking-helping-muddied-waters

What scares me the most about social media is the way it has replaced the traditional newspaper.

With the amount of “noise” that is on our newsfeeds, it is quite terrifying to think that it’s almost impossible to know what is truth anymore — so much so that things like the Onion’s satirical comedy headlines actually get shared as though they were truth, and many never realize it isn’t.

Although the internet can help us find information, it also makes us skeptical about everything, which serves only to muddy the waters and keep us from the truth.

The Verdict?

All this being said, I truly do believe the internet is empowering us more than it is harming us. We can always find excuses for how technology disrupted the status quo and “might be scary,” but that is the exact role of technology.

choose-wisely-600x315Innovation and our ability to apply previously learned skills and ideas continues to empower us as humans and has brought us to a phenomenal moment in time. Although there are many things that are concerning about the state of the world and the grips that the status quo does have on so many cornerstones of our existence, I think it’s also important to note that fast transmission of information is the single most important technology that will allow us to fight back.

And so I guess my verdict is, it depends what you use it for!

If you use this technology to spread an empowering and positive message that tells a story and inspires others to chase their dreams, live in harmony with the planet, or do something selflessly, then, in my books, you are fighting the good fight.

I won’t judge anyone for their own personal use of these technologies, but I do want to hold myself to a high standard of quality, inspiration, and reflective content.

The internet is at the front line of justice, abundance, and human potential, and it will go down as one of the biggest leaps and accelerators of collective evolution ever.

Free Franco DeNicola Screening: The Shift In Consciousness

We interviewed Franco DeNicola about what is happening with the shift in consciousness. It turned out to be one of the deepest and most important information we pulled out within an interview.

We explored why things are moving a little more slowly with the shift at times, what is stopping certain solutions from coming forward and the important role we all play.

Watch the interview here.
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Awareness

Boy or Girl – Baby Gender Selection Issues

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Some parents have the possibility to opt for gender selection; however, being able to decide whether to have a baby boy or girl is a controversial issue.

Many couples expecting a baby do not think it’s a big issue whether they have a boy or a girl; however there are several medical, social, and personal reasons that could influence parents to recur to some form of gender selection.

Like many other controversial practices, the legality of gender selection, also known as sex selection, varies from country to country.

The Legality of Baby Gender Selection

The United States has perhaps some of the most relaxed laws regarding baby gender selection in the world. Most European countries and Australia, on the other hand, have bans on sex selection and only allow it for medical reasons. For example, if a parent is a carrier of a mutation or gene with more chances of manifesting itself in a certain gender, baby gender selection is valid. However, if parents simply wish to balance the ratio of boys and girls in their family, they are not allowed to recur to sex selection.

This has generated a form of medical tourism in which couples from countries where gender selection is illegal, like the UK, travel to the US in order to be able to choose whether to have a baby boy or girl.

On the other hand, sex selection is illegal in the two most populated countries on Earth, China and India. In these countries, baby gender selection has been performed clandestinely for many years and for reasons other than family balancing or avoiding genetic diseases. In these societies, having a baby boy is preferred mainly for cultural and economic reasons. Parents believe that boys have better chances of earning income and eventually support them when they reach an old age.

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Methods of Baby Gender Selection

There are two major types of gender selection methods: the first one is called sperm sorting, and involves separating X-chromosome sperm from Y-chromosome sperm by flow cytometry, a purification technique in which chromosomes are suspended in a stream of sperm and identified by an electronic detector before being separated. Intra-uterine insemination or in-vitro fertilization can then be performed with the enriched sperm. The success rates for this method vary from 80% to 93%.

The other method, called pre-implantation genetic diagnosis, consists in generating several embryos through in-vitro fertilization, which are then genetically tested to determine a baby’s gender. The chosen embryos can then be implanted. This method has a success rate of almost 100%; however, it can be quite expensive, costing up to $15,000.

Issues Regarding Baby Gender Selection

While there are few objections against baby gender selection when it is performed for medical reasons, it has become a highly controversial issue when it is used for balancing the number of boys or girls in families. Some people raise the obvious ethical question of whether people who opt for gender selection are “playing God” by manipulating whether to have a baby boy or girl. Others believe that new parents will raise a baby more appropriately if he or she belongs to their preferred gender.

Gender Imbalance Caused by Baby Gender Selection

Gender selection has caused demographic concern in China and India since it has contributed to generate a gender imbalance in the populations of those countries. In some regions of China, for example, the sex ratio for newborns is 118:100, boys to girls. This phenomenon has in turn been associated with social problems such as an increase in violence and prostitution.

It seems like a logical solution for governments around the globe to legalize baby gender selection but to analyze the personal reasons why each couple intends to select a baby boy or girl. Gender selection for medical reasons should even be encouraged, since it could prevent serious genetic diseases such as cystic fibrosis, Huntington’s disease, and Haemophilia A. Balancing the gender ratio of a family should be accepted if by doing this, a healthy family environment is created. On the other hand, China and India have shown that baby gender selection as a result of a bias towards a particular gender can not only create a gender imbalance in the population, but contribute to social problems as well.

Free Franco DeNicola Screening: The Shift In Consciousness

We interviewed Franco DeNicola about what is happening with the shift in consciousness. It turned out to be one of the deepest and most important information we pulled out within an interview.

We explored why things are moving a little more slowly with the shift at times, what is stopping certain solutions from coming forward and the important role we all play.

Watch the interview here.
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Awareness

Organic Certification: What the USDA Organic Label Means

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    Organic and natural labels mean different things, and various types of labels tells you what percentage of ingredients are actually organic. We'll explore what to look for.

  • Reflect On:

    Do you sometimes buy products thinking they are organic or fully natural based on their wording? Have you later found out that those products aren't natural or organic at all? Read labels more closely at grocery stores to be aware.

Don’t get conned by fraudulent claims of “natural” or “organic.” Learn what to look for, and why it’s important, to ensure you’re getting the quality you are paying for.

The industrial age of the 20th century brought about changing agricultural practices that have generated increasing alarm about the effects of these practices on the environment and health. The use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, antibiotics, hormones, irradiated and genetically altered food and fiber products has created a groundswell of rightful concern. It has led to the growing demand for non-toxic, organic products that many are willing to pay a higher price for to ensure the healthful purity of food and clothing provided for their families.

With such profit opportunities, it’s little wonder that the lucrative organic product market has suffered abuse with so-called “organic” labels being fraudulently placed on products that have not earned the right. As a result of pressure from farming and consumer groups, legislation for the standardization of organic certification was introduced in the 1980s. It has been updated to include more vigorous enforcement and control methods since, with the current standards established in 2002 by the USDA.

The Standards of USDA Organic Certification

Specific standards must be met in order to legally claim a product as USDA certified organic. Organic producers must utilize methods that conserve water, maximize soil health, and reduce air pollution. The specific standards to earn USDA organic certification include:

Free of synthetic chemicals such as insecticides, herbicides, fertilizers, hormones, antibiotics, and additives

Free from irradiation and genetically modified organisms

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Agricultural products grown on land that has been free of prohibited substances for a period of three years

Animals used for meat, eggs, milk or other animal products must be exclusively fed foods that are organically grown, may not be given antibiotics or hormones, and must have access to outdoors.

Clean and sanitized harvesting and processing equipment throughout the process from harvest to finished, packaged product

Detailed chain-of-handling records from the field through final sales

Physical separation of certified organic products from non-organic products throughout the process of production

Regular on-site inspections from USDA-approved inspectors to ensure compliance

Understanding the Certified Organic Label

Once the rigorous process of certification has been completed, organic producers may place the USDA certified organic seal on their products. Currently, there are four levels of certified organic products, with a specific definition of the percentage of organic ingredients the final products contains. They are as follows:

• 100% organic: all production methods and ingredients are USDA certified organic.

• Organic: at least 95% of the production methods and ingredients are USDA certified organic with remaining ingredients included on the National List of allowed ingredients.

• Made With Organic Ingredients: at least 70% of the ingredients are USDA certified organic with remaining ingredients included on the National List of allowed ingredients.

• No organic wording or seal: less than 70% of the ingredients are USDA certified organic and no claims may be made on the front or back of the product.

Manufacturers or producers who knowingly label a product “organic” when it does not meet the USDA standards are subject to fines up to $11,000 per violation.

Why Organic Certification is Important

When you see the official USDA organic certification seal on food, clothing, and bedding products, you can be assured that these products have met the meticulous standards required and are free of chemicals, toxins, antibiotics, and hormones. When you see the USDA certified organic label, you will understand the value of the higher priced organic products as compared to non-organically produced products.

With the current stringent organic certification requirements enforced by regular inspections from USDA accredited agents, the USDA certified organic label has great meaning and importance to the consumer. Look for the label to know that you are getting the quality you are paying for.

Free Franco DeNicola Screening: The Shift In Consciousness

We interviewed Franco DeNicola about what is happening with the shift in consciousness. It turned out to be one of the deepest and most important information we pulled out within an interview.

We explored why things are moving a little more slowly with the shift at times, what is stopping certain solutions from coming forward and the important role we all play.

Watch the interview here.
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Awareness

WHO Finds Global Lack Of Inactivity Rising Especially In Wealthier Countries — What You Can Do

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    Inactivity is on the rise and it's the cause of a wide range of health concerns. Our population is only becoming more inactive, not less, and it's time to change that.

  • Reflect On:

    There are many factors of our modern world that make us less active. Our jobs, driving rather than walking/biking, too much screen time. What can you do differently to bring more activity into your life? What story stops you from starting?

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that more than a quarter of the entire population on this planet are not getting enough physical exercise, this number has barely improved since 2001. There are many factors that contribute to this, but just how much damage are we doing by failing to be active?

The lack of physical exercise raises the risk of many health problems, such as heart disease, type-2 diabetes and various types of cancers.

Interestingly, according to their study published in The Lancet Global Health, higher income countries, such as the UK, were among the least active population. Women were also found to be more sedentary throughout the world, excluding two regions in Asia.

The study looked at self-reported data on activity levels from 358 population based surveys covering 168 countries and included 1.9 million people.

The populations of higher income countries, which include the UK and USA showed an increase in the proportion of inactive people and had actually risen from 32% in 2001 to 37% in 2016, in the lower income countries it remained at 16%.

Those who were classified as inactive did less than 150 minutes of moderate exercise and around 75 minutes of intense activity per week.

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It was found that women were less active than men overall, except for in South and Central Asia, the Middle East, North Africa and higher-income Western countries. The authors believe that this was caused by a few different factors including extra childcare duties and cultural perspectives that may have made it more difficult for them to exercise.

Why More Inactivity In Wealthier Countries?

According to the researchers, in the wealthier countries, many of the jobs have transitioned to more office or desk jobs, meaning a more sedentary type of lifestyle. On top of that much of the population of these countries drive automobiles or take public transit to and from work which in many cases accounts for a lot of their time.

In the lower income countries, many of the jobs require the people to be more active, are physically demanding and people often have to walk to and from their jobs.

The WHO has had a goal to reduce the global levels of inactivity by 10% by 2025, the authors of the study feel that at the rate we are currently going, this target will be missed.

Lead author of the study, Dr. Regina Guthold said, “Unlike other major global health risks, levels of insufficient physical activity are not falling worldwide, on average, and over a quarter of all adults are not reaching the recommended levels of physical activity for good health.”

Regions with increasing levels of insufficient physical activity are a major concern for public health and the prevention and control of non-communicable diseases.”

Co-author, Dr. Fiona Bull added, “Addressing these inequalities in physical activity levels between men and women will be critical to achieving global activity targets and will require interventions to promote and improve women’s access to opportunities that are safe, affordable and culturally acceptable.”

According to the WHO,

Exercise guidelines for 19- to 64-year-olds

How much?

  • at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity every week
  • strength exercises on two or more days a week that work all the major muscles
  • break up long periods of sitting with light activity

What is moderate aerobic activity?

  • Walking fast, water aerobics, riding a bike on level ground or with a few hills, doubles tennis, pushing a lawn mower, hiking, skateboarding, rollerblading, volleyball, basketball

What counts as vigorous activity?

  • Jogging or running, swimming fast, riding a bike fast or on hills, singles tennis, football, rugby, skipping rope, hockey, aerobics, gymnastics, martial arts

What activities strengthen muscles?

  • lifting weights, working with resistance bands, doing exercises that use your own body weight, such as push-ups and sit-ups, heavy gardening, such as digging and shovelling, yoga

What activities are both aerobic and muscle-strengthening?

  • circuit training, aerobics, running, football, rugby, netball, hockey

Final Thoughts

I was surprised to see that the WHO didn’t touch on inactivity due to too much screen time — watching television, Netflix, Facebook scrolling, messaging, texting, browsing etc. Certainly, the increase in screen time plays a roll with the amount of inactivity, especially in the higher income countries. If you are someone who spends too much time staring at a screen, then it is important to consider the above information. Can you limit your screen time and replace it with something active? Or would you consider jumping rope, or rebounding while watching the television? Our health is our greatest wealth and having awareness about an issue is the first way to create change and take responsibility for our lives.

Could you walk or bike to work instead of drive? What about trying a new sport? Could you commit to adding a few hours each week of physical activity? These small decisions could have a profound impact on your health, longevity and overall well-being.

Much Love

Free Franco DeNicola Screening: The Shift In Consciousness

We interviewed Franco DeNicola about what is happening with the shift in consciousness. It turned out to be one of the deepest and most important information we pulled out within an interview.

We explored why things are moving a little more slowly with the shift at times, what is stopping certain solutions from coming forward and the important role we all play.

Watch the interview here.
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