Technology Doesn’t Have to Make Us Less Human

Recently, I featured the EMINENT (EMN) token — a token that would get us all started on creating kindness in the world — in an article that talks about how technology and compassion could meet. To be honest, what fascinates me about technology is not just how it makes things convenient and efficient for our daily lives, not just how it gives us so much information and immediate access to everything in the blink of an eye, but also how it could improve our humanity.

I know it seems like a paradox. Facing a computer or phone screen all day could surely make you less human, right? My mom likes to say that we are all slowly becoming less human and more robot in this day and age. But I beg to disagree. So for this one, I will list down some of my favorite apps and how their functions actually encourage, promote, and deepen our sense of humanity.

1. Seek

We’ve all probably seen movies or read books that describe a technological dystopia as a world less human, dominated by robots, androids, cyborgs and other metal stuff. No more organic or natural. Everything is machine. But what’s so interesting about Seek, an app developed by iNaturalist.org, is that it shows the very opposite side of technology.

iNaturalist.org is a virtual community of nature lovers where people share information on nature-related projects in their respective cities, post observations of animals and plants around them, and contribute to archives of scientific data. The app Seek offers the same thing, except gamified. It “encourages outdoor exploration and learning by harnessing image recognition technology” where you could earn badges as you capture photos of more species and learn cool trivia about them afterwards.

Now who’s to say technology will take us away from nature?

2. DailyArt

My mom also likes to complain that today’s generation doesn’t know how to appreciate culture the way previous generations did. The pleasure of reading is reduced to clickbait. Our passions all just revolve around video games and social media. Even our music sounds electronic. There might be truth to those statements, but again, I don’t think it’s necessarily the case.

DailyArt is a good testament. By providing a daily dose of art history, it inspires a whole new generation of prospective artists and art critics through technology. It features one classic masterpiece everyday (you can make it part of your morning routine), loads and loads of fascinating stories about painters and their paintings, and even create your own gallery of your favorite ones. Plus, you can also share them to your friends on social media.

Point is, being very invested in online participation doesn’t really have to distance us from human pursuits such as art. Sometimes, we can even improve our skills and interests through virtual means.

3. Calm

Awarded by Apple as 2017’s App of the Year, Calm offers meditation techniques for sleep, relaxation, and stress reduction. It teaches you how to be mindful and release anxiety, reflect your emotions, be in touch with your body and your senses, relax your muscles, and many other methods.

Contrary to popular belief, technology doesn’t always bombard us with excessive activity or push us into being crazy busy; sometimes it also provides us avenues for feeling rejuvenated and refreshed.

4. BeepBeep Nation

Soon to launch, the BeepBeep Nation app will offer people opportunities to get help and give help to others in need. With just one beep, you can request for whatever type of help such as getting a ride home or reading restaurant recommendations. Underneath that function, however, what BeepBeep Nation really aims to do is make the world a better place by encouraging face-to-face social interactions and a strong culture of kindness. By helping others, you get to meet new people and widen your circle of friends, or even just have a healthy, engaging conversation.

Again, who’s to say technology will keep us apart and make us less human? It might just bring us closer together.

Some apps nurture and promote human interests such as love for nature or the arts. Other apps help us towards reflection and introspection, letting us deeper into ourselves. Others can even help us build personal relationships with others, and not only on a virtual level, but face-to-face.

A lot of these apps, though only made possible through technology, surpass our preconceived ideas of a digital future. Rather than decrease our humanity, technology might even have the ability to make us feel even more human.

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5 Amazing Health Benefits of Lending a Hand

I don’t know about you, but providing help to those who need it is an fulfilling experience for sure. Whether it’s helping an old lady reach a food item at the top of the grocery shelf, volunteering at a nearby animal shelter, or organizing my own fundraising event, acts of kindness make me feel super good. If you feel the same, have you ever asked yourself why?

Well, there are probably many reasons — social, cultural, philosophical, spiritual, and the like. But did you know lending a hand also has some amazing health benefits? Let me list some of them.

1. Kindness makes you happier (through your brain chemicals!)

There’s something called the helper’s high, which is typically identified as a state of euphoria after doing something good. Charitable acts usually raise your dopamine levels, which gives you the same feeling you have after an intense exercise. Kindness also boosts the production of serotonin, which calms you down and lifts your mood.

2. Kindness lowers the risk of heart disease.

This one can be credited to a hormone called oxytocin which, when transmitted to the brain, facilitates social bonding and emotion recognition.  This means that when you’re in love, for instance, you’re producing oxytocin. Now interesting research has found that oxytocin also has a huge role in the cardiovascular system; it is also produced in the heart. Once it travels through our blood vessels, it supposedly increases nitric oxide production which reduces your blood pressure.

So yeah. I suppose making a stranger smile today can keep the cardiologist away.

3. Kindness boosts your immune system.

Some experiments proved that even just thinking kind and loving thoughts towards people around you or watching other people show compassion have some great health benefits. It helps you have better heart rate variability and also raises your protective antibodies, both of which mean enhanced immune responses. Amazing, right?

4. Kindness makes you less anxious.

Doing good deeds have been proven to lower social anxiety. People who are socially anxious are not only shy, they tend to fear social interactions. But kindness helps them break these barriers. Some experiments have this cool conclusion: after trying to perform kind acts, anxious people tended to view social interactions in a new light.

5. Kindness can literally ease pain.

We already know that giving and receiving help makes us feel good because we realize that we are not alone when we suffer, that people are there for us. But medically speaking, kinder people also tend to have lessened physical suffering. People who volunteer tend to report less body aches and pains. And interestingly enough, those volunteers aged 55 and above have also been noted to have a 44% lower likelihood of death i.e. longer, healthier lives. I mean, wow.

I guess what’s surprising about researching all of it is this: contrary to popular belief, helping actually seems more beneficial to givers or helpers than to receivers. There might not be any obvious reward when you act kindly, but these health benefits far outweigh anything material and instant that you could get in return. So don’t worry, just keep doing kind things. It’s good for your heart. Literally.

If you’re looking for more ways to offer or receive help, check out the BeepBeep Nation App and this video on how to get started. You might not profit immediately, but these health benefits will surely be good for you in the long run.

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Mom’s Viral Post On Depression Breaks Stigma On Mental Health

I suffer from paranoid personality disorder and find that the worst piece of advice I’ve been offered was to, “Just be happy.” With frequent bouts of unrelenting mistrust and anxiety that are oftentimes sporadic and unexplained, “just be happy,” is not something I can do. My family, who are in-the-know, are generally supportive of the fact that I take medication–but often verbalize that I should no longer be on them, due to “how much I’ve improved.” Laura Mazza, the voice behind “Mum On The Run”, in a recent FaceBook post, reminded us that “it’s okay not to be okay.”

Mazza describes the multitude of reasons to take antidepressants. Depression and anxiety affect everyone differently; one person’s suffering may look completely different from another’s and no one should feel shame about it, yet shame is part of the stigma.

Mazza gets candid about antidepressants as form of treatment, and how beneficial they can be to those who need them.

Comparing the “invisibility” of mental illness to purely physical diseases and conditions may help everyone better understand that sometimes, medication is necessary for people to survive just like any other life-threatening condition.

In this day and age, asking for help seems a foreign language to us. But Mazza concludes her post by battling this notion of fear.

“You don’t have to be strong all the time. You don’t have to sweep it under the rug, and carry on smiling for everyone else. It’s not a problem to not be okay, it’s only a problem to pretend to be okay when we are not. So, you need to take antidepressants… and there ain’t nothing wrong with that.”

You never know what it takes to save a person.

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