Somebody has come up with the word "phubbing," meaning using or being distracted by your cellphone while in the company of their relationship partners.
It comes out of a study at Baylor University's Hankamer School of Business which concluded, not too surprisingly, "...When someone perceived that their partner phubbed them, this created conflict and led to lower levels of reported relationship satisfaction. Those "in turn led to lower levels of life satisfaction and, ultimately, higher levels of depression."
The depressing behaviour:
* placing your phone where you can see it when you're with someone else
* keeping your phone in your hand when talking to someone else
* glancing at your phone while talking to someone else
* checking your phone when there is a lull in the conversation
In the study, 46% of respondents reported being phubbed by their partner.
Of course you don't do this, but do you know anybody who does? Why not forward this post to them as a gentle hint? Or maybe the cartoon that's in the next post.
Science Daily reports: "Texting while walking and being cognitively distracted may significantly affect the way a person walks, resulting in a more cautious gait, according to a study published July 29, 2015, in the open-access Journal PLOS ONE led by Dr. Conrad Earnest of Texas A&M University and colleagues from the University of Bath, UK."
Uh, yep. You could have sent that research money to me or anybody else who has ever walked down a busy street. My problem is that people who walk and text don't make their gait cautious enough. I regularly have to dodge them, although it's tempting to stick out an elbow and wait.
That journal seems to be determined to report walking and texting around the world. Last year they reported: "Texting on your phone while walking alters posture and balance according to a study in PLOS ONE on January 22, 2014 by Siobhan Schabrun and colleagues from the University of Queensland."
Last but not least, a study at the University of Buffalo reports, "Texting and walking is a known danger, but an emergency doctor says distracted walking results in more injuries per mile than distracted driving. Consequences include bumping into walls, falling down stairs, tripping over clutter, and stepping into traffic. The issue is so common that in London bumpers were placed onto light posts along a frequented avenue to prevent people slamming into them."
There's the answer for us non-texting pedestrians: wear bumpers!
Want to increase your happiness? Are there any strategies that have been shown to work--not just anecdotally, but scientifically?
Yes, and I'm finding them in an excellent book, :59 seconds, written by Richard Wiseman. It's named that because at the end of each chapter he gives you tips for things you can accomplish in about a minute.
First, what doesn't work:
In a New York Times article about how emails are getting shorter, Teddy Wayne quotes John Freeman (author of "The Tyranny of E-Mail"). Freeman says that even people who don't work in film "know what the 'L.A. no' is: that silence is a reply."
In other words, no reply is the new "no."
That's been the case for a while with publishers and agents. Their websites usually say if you don't hear back, assume they're not interested. The more considerate ones give you a time frame: if you haven't heard back from us within six weeks," for instance.
I suppose in some ways this is no worse than getting the stock rejections they used to send out: "Thank you for thinking of us but your material doesn't meet our present needs. We wish you success placing it elsewhere." It feels worse, though. No matter how insincere that wish that may have been, there was something very civilized about it.
It's one of the many niceties that have been sacrificed in the interests of speed and convenience and cost-cutting. It goes along with another thing Freeman points out: "People are becoming more reactive, and within that context, the concentration required to write a longer, thoughtful email isn't around."
Wayne writes, "Now, hunger to hear from others can often be sated by bite- and byte-size portions of a thousand different petit fours from acquaintances' status updates, rather than an email's intimate candlelit dinner for two."
Not that long ago (although eons in internet time), people were lamenting that emails had replaced the thoughtful, sometimes handwritten, letters we used to receive.
Now the nostalgia is for long emails.
I hear that emails in general are in decline, replaced more and more by texts.
It's only a matter of time before all messages will just be emojis, to which my response is :(
If I don't hear from you, I'll assume you agree. I call that The London Yes.
Here are some actual newspaper headlines recently featured on the Odd Stuff Magazine site:
"Bugs flying around with wings are flying bugs"
"Statistics show that teen pregnancy drops off significantly after age 25"
"Federal Agents Raid Gun Shop, Find Weapons"
"Student excited dad got head job"
"Missippi's literacy program shows improvement"
"Homicide victims rarely talk to police"
and my favorite...
"One-armed man applauds the kindness of strangers"
Here, from socialmediatoday.com is advice on how to attract readers with headlines that lie:
"Good headlines make the content seem interesting and useful. Sometimes a headline might introduce a little mystery. I’m sure you’ve seen the ones that set up a narrative and then a mystery, like this, “A Chimp and a Tiger Met in the Waiting Room at the Vet and You Won’t Believe What Happened Next.” You click on it. And maybe you are not surprised about what happened next, but the headline proved effective nonetheless."
Suppose I offer to sell you a candy bar. It's called, "The Candy Bar So Tasty It Will Change Your Life!" You buy it. You taste it. It isn't tasty.
Success! I got you to pay me for it.
But you're never going to buy from me again.
I guess people are more gullible when it comes to headlines, but surely there'll be a point when they realize that nothing happened next (or the tiger ate the chimp, which isn't surprising), that the ten amazing ways you can lose weight aren't amazing and you won't be shocked when you read number six, and the seven things you don't know about what women or men want in bed are all things you do already know.
Good headlines don't make the content SEEM interesting and useful. Good content IS interesting and/ or useful. Then the headline can be honest.
Honesty: what a concept! Let's hope it catches on.
I've mentioned before that I have an idea for a satirical novel about Homeland Security, but the facts keep getting in the way. They are more ridiculous than anything I could invent, and the latest news adds to the list:
The failure of TSA to be aware that 73 of their staff had terrorist connections. Apparently this happened because the TSA didn't get the complete list of such people from Homeland Security.
After fifteen years and the expenditure of $430 million, Homeland Security has failed to establish communications systems that would allow the more than twenty agencies within the Department to communicate on the same channel.
In fact, the Inspector General's investigation showed that in a test, multiple users from U. S. Customs and Border Protection were not aware that a Department of Homeland Security common channel existed. A radio user from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement was aware there was such a channel, but didn't know how to access it.
As for our alert friends at TSA, the location visited by the Inspector General didn't have the common channel programmed on any of its radios. As reported by NPR, "the (TSA) manager interviewed said transportation security officers didn't need to communicate with other Homeland Security components by radio, and used phones or visited in person."
You couldn't make it up. Unfortunately.
People generally think of satire as a pretty weak weapon, but it still scares or at least annoys despots. The Art Newspaper reports:
"A court in Tehran has sentenced an Iranian artist to 12 years and nine months in prison for criticising the government and 'spreading propaganda against the system'. Atena Farghadani was arrested in August last year for drawing a cartoon that mocked members of parliament...Farghadani depicted Iranian parliamentarians as monkeys and goats..."
Her crime is insulting members of Parliament through her paintings, and insulting the Supreme Leader.
If insulting members of Parliament were a crime in the UK, half the country would be behind bars, not least the members of Parliament themselves.
If you live in a country where the person running things refers to himself as the Supreme Leader, it might be a good idea to start packing your bags.
You may have read by now about artist Richard Price. He took a screenshot of a post from Instagram that included somebody's photo and several comments, added a comment of his own, blew it up to a much larger size, printed it out on a big canvas...and sold it for $90,000. Actually, he did this with a bunch of posts and sold all of them for around that much each, through a gallery.
He didn't ask for the permission of the people who created or were pictured in the posts or whoever took the pictures, and has stated even if they'd said no, he would have done it anyway.
Isn't this a violation of copyright, or misappropriation of somebody's image? His position is that by making changes to the original (adding his comment, blowing it up, including not only the image of the person but also some of the Instagram site around it), he has transformed it into a new work, one that makes an artistic statement (although I couldn't tell you what that he thinks he's saying with it. other than 'KerChing!').
Normally I don't read the comments that follow articles because they tend to confirm my worst suspicions about human nature. However, I was interested to find out what other people thought.
The opinions ranged from 'it's legal so I don't see anything wrong with it,' to 'he should be strung up in public.' What was more interesting, though, was the confident way in which people presented information that was totally wrong.
For instance, one wrote, "The person doesn't have the copyright on her photo. To get copyright, you have to register the work and pay a fee. Otherwise, it's fine for anybody to use it in whatever way they want."
As you may know, that's totally wrong. You get copyright the moment you take a photo, paint a painting, or write a short story or novel. Yes, it can be helpful to register your material with the Copyright Office. For one thing, it helps you prove when you created it, should you take legal action against somebody who you think stole your material.
I won't get into all of them here, but there were a host of other apparently factual statements about copyright, trademarks, and intellectual property that the people commenting expressed as facts; in some cases they reacted indignantly when they were corrected by others (including lawyers who specialize in this kind of law).
I'm thinking of taking a screenshot of those comments, blowing them up, printing them on canvas and calling it The Confidence of Misinformation. I'll charge $90,000 but if you get in early I might consider a discount.
If any additional evidence is needed that I sometimes totally fail to have my finger on the pulse of the book-buying public, the advent of coloring books for adults qualifies. That's definitely one I didn't see coming.
Publishers Weekly reports that "the demand for coloring books in the US continues to surge." One of the books that started it all, Secret Garden, has 1.5 million copies in print around the world. The pitch is that coloring is therapeutic rather than regressive.
One line of books has perforated pages so you can frame your masterpiece. Or you could put it on your fridge door for your kids' friends to admire when they come over.
Maybe it's a drastic response to the perceived need to be available and online 24/7 but I have to say I still find it a little strange. I wonder whether we'll see an upsurge in jigsaw puzzles and paint by number kits, too?
PS: when you're an adult, is it OK to go outside the lines?
Keeping our brains and bodies working well doesn't always require a huge effort. Here are a few tips I've run across lately that might be worth your attention:
A handful of walnuts every day can help improve your concentration and memory, according to a new study published in the Journal of Nutrition, Health and Aging. This seemed to apply to people in all age groups. If you're watching your weight, don't go for more than about half an ounce---one ounce of walnuts contains 185 calories.
Another study showed that older individuals who consumed three servings of milk per day had higher levels of glutathione, which is believed to stave off the effects of oxidative stress on the brain. Oxidative stress may be involved in developing Parkinson's and Alzheimer's. The study was published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
You know you should resist eating that big piece of cake but you feel your willpower draining away fast. Try tensing your muscles. A series of studies found that when you tense your muscles you are better at resisting temptation, withstanding pain, and paying attention to disturbing information. In the case of the cake, follow up by walking away quickly. And remember to tense the next time you start down the snacks aisle at the supermarket.
STICK TO IT!
Another posture tip: if you want to increase your persistence in solving a problem, cross your arms. A study showed that people trying to solve anagrams worked at it twice as long and solved more of them, when they crossed their arms than when they didn't. Does this translate to other tasks that require perseverance? Seems worth a try.
There's English and there's corporate English, as I was reminded this morning when I read this, about an executive who is leaving his job after 18 months:
"He has delivered a number of customer focused initiatives, the company said."
Translation: He tried to get people to buy our stuff, but he failed.
Here are a few more:
"He's leaving to pursue other opportunities."
We fired him.
"She will be announcing details of her new pursuits in due course."
She's looking for a new job.
"He intends to take a well-deserved vacation before seeking a new role."
It's going to take him a long time to find a new job.
"She indicated it was time for a fresh approach to the job she's done so well."
The Board to replaced her with somebody twenty years younger.
This is another real one I spotted recently: "(X) said he had been talking to (Y) for 'some time' about the latter's 'desire to work a flexible week which will give him the freedom to work on fewer projects close to his heart.'"
Translation: We've been trying for ages to get him to retire, but we'll let him stay home and work on some unimportant project part time.
"You're right, it's a fake, but it's a good one. Somebody's gonna find it and think they hit the jackpot. There are a few people I could have given it to. Roy, the guy who brings the Meals on Wheels, or the UPS delivery guy, I don't know his name but he's always friendly. But anybody who's seen me recently knows my situation and I think it would creep them out to be wearing a dead man's watch. I hope it's found by a young guy, somebody just getting his start in life. I hope it makes him feel like he's gonna be rich and live forever."
image: Ryan McGuire
Words: Jurgen Wolff