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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Let Swedish Concept “Lagom” Bring Balance to Your Life

Mindfulness is a pretty trendy lifestyle choice that truly appears to be effective, though of course different people have different takes on it. Some professionals say that living in a fast-paced world where everything is instant exhausts us, and therefore we must sometimes slow things down a bit. For a person with a mental health condition, acceptance and awareness are necessary tools in order to find ways to live with it—though again, what worked for me might not necessarily be as successful for someone else.

There are many opinions on how to find a healthy and functional lifestyle that is most suited to one’s well-being. But if there’s another word to describe this world other than “fast-paced,” I think it would be “excessive.” We work so hard to buy so much stuff, eat so much food to do so many things, take in so much information in order to survive and then so much media to keep ourselves entertained. We need so much and want so much. This is why I find myself rather invested in the balance of one’s life as described by the Swedish concept of “lagom”.

“Lagom” [celebrates] the idea of “just enough.” It’s the space between minimalism and living in excess . . . With lagom, less is more, and instead of buying things we do not need, it is about finding pleasure and fulfillment in moderation. It is the belief that extremes on the spectrum are bad. For instance, exercise is good, but none at all is just as detrimental as too much.

The idea seems exciting, though a bit lofty. So the question now would be: how does one embrace “lagom”? Well, to answer this, you would constantly have to ask another question: is this good enough? Because good enough is the way to go for “lagom”. When it comes to housekeeping, one should learn to keep what’s valuable — don’t hoard every single souvenir, but don’t toss everything out so quickly either.

[B]efore adding anything else to your space, ask yourself if things are good enough already. The point is to find a simpler life that still has room for the things that make you happy.

As for work, you have to know your limits. Decide when enough is enough. Don’t demand too much, but don’t let your employer demand too much from you either.

Accept that work is an important part of life, but find the balance between letting it be the main focus of your life and an unpleasant task you charge through as quickly as possible.

Another compartment of life that “lagom” works wonders with is your diet. This is because the idea of balance and moderation is best when it comes to nutrition.

[T]here is a time for indulging in all the delicious goodies that make a celebration great, but there is also a time to moderate. The first step to eating lagom-style is to eliminate waste.

Not every good meal has to be indulgent and expensive. Buy local. Grow your own produce. As long as it doesn’t take too big a space in your schedule, make time for things that will balance your life.

Like I said, you may read a lot of opinions about the real way to achieve a healthy lifestyle. You may hear from your momma or Aunt Carol about their own take. Then again, every person’s life is so specific, and what you end up doing with mindfulness, slowness, or even “lagom” depends entirely on how you want to live yours. “Lagom’s” only reminder is as simple as this: simple is best.

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How Slowing Down Can Help You Focus

In an era where most of our desires are fulfilled almost instantaneously, it is often hard for us to take a moment to reflect. We strive to achieve our goals at the bat of an eyelash. What we often forget is that slowing down allows us to be more conscious and mindful of our environment.

In our rapidly changing world, we value speed and efficiency.  However, there is something to be gained by being slow if slow can make you more present, more mindful, and more aware of other people’s perspectives.

Ever heard the phrase good things come to those who wait? Apparently, it’s true.

As a more common example today, a slow Internet connection frustrates most of us.  However, it also makes for more mindful searches and more focus and slower consumption of what they yield.

Today, there are parts of our life that emphasize the benefits of being slow, ranging from a “slow food movement” to “slow parenting” to “slow jogging” to the mindful slowing associated with a meditation.

We are always seeking ways to prevent aging–and yet we demand to accomplish things at the drop of a hat (or in this day and age, a Facebook notification). As the saying goes, think of today as a gift because, after all, it is the present.

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