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Social media’s ironic and desperately lonely outcome

(SOCIAL MEDIA) Social media has the power to connect people from all over the globe. Yet, there is an unprecedented amount of lonely people lurking on the screen.

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Social media has supposedly made us more connected than ever. We can keep up with family milestones, see pictures of our loved ones, and say hello to an old friend with the click of a button. So why does social media seem to make us feel so lonely?

Studies linking depression and poor emotional health to social media usage have been around for a while. However, these studies have been somewhat limited to surveys in which subjects self-report that using social media makes them depressed, as well as studies that correlate depression with social media without proving causation. In other words, a study might show that people who use social media more often and for longer hours are more likely to experience depression – however, such a study is a sort of chicken-and-egg question. Are people prowling the internet late at night because they’re bored, lonely, and depressed, or are they bored, lonely, and depressed because they’re online? Correlative studies can’t answer that question.

For the first time, researchers seem to have made a hard, causational link between social media use and emotional well-being. TechCrunch reports that Melissa Hunt, a researcher in the Penn State psychology department, has published a study in the latest Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology that suggests that limiting your exposure to social media improves your emotional well-being.

The study compared control and experimental groups of students. For three weeks, the control group continued using social media as they normally would, whereas the experimental group limited their social media usage to 10 minutes per day for three apps – Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat. The study tested students for their “baseline” emotional health before the experiment, then tested them again afterward.

The results were clear. The group that limited their social media use “showed significant reductions in loneliness and depression.” Interestingly, both groups showed a decrease in anxiety and FOMO (yes, they actually tested for “fear of missing out,”) over the three weeks, suggesting that even being more aware that you’re using social media a lot led to self-monitoring that improved emotional health.

The study didn’t dig into why social media makes us sadder and lonelier, but previous studies suggest that using social media encourages “social comparison” that make us feel bad about ourselves. Seeing a constant feed of other peoples’ perfect vacations/cats/boyfriends/breakfasts makes us feel crummy about our own lives.

Even more importantly, using social media may give us the illusion that we’re engaging in a social activity when in fact we’re literally sitting alone in front of a computer. Limiting social media time forces us back into the present, into interacting with people IRL and engaging in the hobbies and activities that actually make us happy.

So if you’ve been feeling a little blue, you might want to start by logging off social media. Personally, I deleted all of my social media accounts years ago and saw a significant decrease in anxiety. I know I’m unlikely to convince anyone to take this bold move; Hunt was unable to research longer-term effects of limiting social media because she couldn’t compel enough subjects to come back for a second round. But this study lays the facts bare – at least limiting your daily intake of social media is a pretty surefire way to feel better.

The Penn State study did not find that limiting social media improved self-esteem or social support. In other words, logging off is just the first step. But once you’ve wrenched yourself away from the screen, you’ll actually have time and energy to spend time with friends face-to-face.

So remember next time you log in to Facebook to keep up with your “friends” – you’re only making yourself more lonely.

Ellen Vessels, a Staff Writer at The American Genius, is respected for their wide range of work, with a focus on generational marketing and business trends. Ellen is also a performance artist when not writing, and has a passion for sustainability, social justice, and the arts.

Tech News

Earbuds that are noise cancelling hit the market just in time for the holidays

(TECH NEWS) There are no shortage of earbuds on the market, however, Nuheara’s noise cancelling, bluetooth earbuds are sure to top everyone’s wish list.

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Noise cancelling earbuds are efficient for blocking out the world around you – when all you want to hear is your music and nothing else. However, for those who want a smaller, sleeker alternative, Nuheara is the perfect fit.

Nuheara are wireless audio earbuds that are customizable to your hearing needs. Even though they have the same power as noise cancelling headphones, they can be adjusted to amplify or minimize sound based on each situation.

You can choose to blend the sounds of the streets and your new favorite album in order to be aware of the world around you. The earbuds are ideal for any situation.

The noise cancelling earbuds use SINC (Superior Intelligent Noise Control) technology, which lets every user create their custom hearing experience.

There are numerous times when it’s hard to hear because of the noise around us. This may be in crowded restaurants, concerts or even when you’re at home trying to avoid the noisy neighbor in the apartment above you.

The SINC technology applies a frequency filter to sounds you choose to hear or want to avoid. Additionally, the left and right earbuds have their own settings, so that they can be customized individually. Everything is customized through the app, so it’s up to each user to decide!

Prior to founding Nuheara, Justin Miller and David Cannington worked in the oil and gas companies creating industrial strength hearing headsets.

The feedback they received during these experiences paved the way for inventing Nuheara. People wanted a sleek headset that they could wear in everyday life, not just at their job.

The earbuds will set you back a few hundred bucks, but they come with accessories like a battery charger, carrying case and 8 different silicone tips. The battery charger provides three full charges. Nuheara earbuds are also sweat and water resistant, but they are not yet waterproof.

As wireless headphones, Nuheara are also compatible with most Bluetooth connected devices. The earbuds also use tap-touch control to make hands-free phone calls, control music and adjust settings.

There is no need to connect Nuheara to external devices to use their noise cancelling capabilities.

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Tech News

Turn your FAQ page into a chatbot without knowing how to code

(TECH NEWS) An easy way to add a chatbot to your site and automate some of your work is through this new simple tool that doesn’t require any tech know-how.

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Reduce your workload and personalize customer service engagement with Faqbot, the tool that turns your online FAQ into a customized chatbot.

Co-founded by Denny Wong and CEO Mathis André, Faqbot uses machine learning to streamline frequently asked questions into a handy chatbot pal.

Based on your existing FAQ content, Faqbot builds a database that learns from every conversation to improve responses. Faqbot can also be used to automate sales and lead generation.

You get to design the conversation flow, mapping out a custom path to guide users to a desired outcome. Set predefined choices or free text, customize the bot’s responses, and determine what leading questions the bot should ask.

For example, on the Faqbot site, I was given two pre-set choices to click after each response from the bot. Clicking “Thanks for helping” gets the polite response “You are welcome! ;-)” complete with an old-school emoji featuring a nose.

If you select “not my question,” Faqbot uses its general response to any unanswerable question: “Sorry, I’m a chatbot. I am constantly learning and have answers to frequently asked questions. Thank you for leaving your email and we will get back to you shortly.”

Choose your own responses based on already defined FAQ or come up with new messaging to better engage and inform your customers as needed. The free text option is also available if customers wish to continue asking questions.

Of course, I had to try out some less than frequently asked questions. When I asked Faqbot “are we friends?” it kindly replied, “Absolutely. You don’t have to ask.” So I’m smitten.

However, when I tried to take it to the next level by asking “Do you love me?,” which seems to be the internet’s favorite way to harass a bot, I got the “Sorry, I’m a chatbot” response.

That’s okay. I’ll recover. Faqbot isn’t here to love, it’s here to answer questions.

You can easily install the chatbot by either copy/pasting the snippet of codes directly into your webpage, or connect Faqbot to your company’s Facebook page. No coding skills required.

Pricing is based on number of users per month, but all levels include the same service offerings of FAQ database management, messaging interface, a ticketing system, and DIY guided conversation flow. You can try out Faqbot free for 14 days by signing up on their site.

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Tech News

This note-taking app is perfect for the creative mind

(TECH NEWS) The newest app for note-taking could be a tremendous asset for a very specific type of creative that tools like trello and evernote fall short on… not all apps work for all people.

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If you’re like me, you’ve had many phases in your idea-having, note-taking life. There was the AP History period, where I decided the quality of my notes would be judged based on the tininess of my handwriting and the number of innovative abbreviations coined. There was the “song collection” period, in which I wrote down song and band names with reckless abandon, on any scrap of paper or non-paper within reach, and promptly scattered the scraps everywhere. There was the post-it era, in which every single idea was carefully documented on a “Sticky Note” that tiled over my Windows desktop and was impossible to find thereafter.

And then, there was Evernote, and Trello, and I thought my evolution was complete. I had neatly organized “Notebooks” and “Cards” and I felt very structured and efficient and spiritually done with my note-taking journey.

But a whisper of rebellion called out to me. It sounded musical, colorful, whimsical. It asked me whether I wouldn’t like to liberate myself from those neat lists and stacks, let my ideas flow, visualize my thoughts?

It introduced me to Milanote – the note-taking app truly made FOR images, not just tolerant of them.

Milanote markets itself toward creatives: “For the research, thinking and planning behind your next great piece of work.”

But the strengths of this app could benefit anyone who could use a more freeform space to collect their thoughts. A blank page resembles a peg board, and users can add images, notes, links, and more in any configuration their hearts desire. You can also link any elements together with a web of lines, or leave them on their own.

This could be a great app for early-stage brainstorming and planning, when you need to play around and be flexible.

Milanote can be collaborative, like Trello, or individual and personal, like my always-evolving grocery list in Evernote. Milanote currently works in any web browser, and iOs and Android apps are coming soon.

For up to 100 notes, Milanote can be yours free of charge. More than that, though, and you’ll have to pay $9.99 for the pro version.

Something tells me infinity should cost much more, but the organic, customizable concept is something to hold on to.

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