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72 hours in Australia – making the best of your layover

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Having only a few days in one of the world’s most beautiful countries is nothing close to ideal, but making the best of your short time down under can be effortless. Choosing activities and tours that will make the most of your time is essential! As long as you steer clear of the Vegemite and pack a GoPro, your days are bound to be unforgettable.

Day 1: Whitsunday Islands

All aboard! You are headed towards 74 magnificent islands connected by a massive stretch of reef swarming with marine life. No automatic alt text available.You can snorkel, dive, enjoy a beverage and explore the endless white-sand beaches.

The Whitsunday Islands are among the world’s most eco-friendly beaches and plan to stay that way! The views here are breathtaking so taking upwards of 200 pictures is recommended!

 

Day 2: Surfing in Byron BayImage may contain: 1 person

It’s easy to see why Byron Bay is known for its surfing. It boasts nearly 365 days of warm water, consistent waves and the best surf schools. Your instructor will teach you the basics on land before taking the salty plunge. If it’s your first time surfing don’t worry, bruises are sign you’re improving. Just relax and let your hair down, the feeling of catching that first wave is unlike any other.

Day 3: Scuba Diving

Once you’ve shed a few tears knowing this will be your last day, step on board a boat headed towards the Great Barrier ReefThe crew will brief you on safety and diving practices during the trip as to not waste any precious dive time. Screen Shot 2017-01-26 at 5.03.07 PM.png

You’ll get suited up in a fancy scuba suit and all the matching gear – don’t worry, everyone looks like an idiot, not just you. You are guided to the reef by a crew member and get to explore its many wonders, you might even get up close and personal with a fish as big as you!

 

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While three days in Australia may seem less than perfect, investing your time in these activities will guarantee only the best memories and experiences. Let’s be honest with ourselves, is there any better way to spend 72 hours!

 

 

 

 

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Daydreaming of Disconnection

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A common topic of discussion in today’s news circles around the idea of technology addiction. The inability to live daily life without a computer, smartphone, tablet, or iPad has become increasingly prevalent in today’s world. Technology is now acting as a crutch rather than as a tool to enhance our quality of life. Everything we once thought about technology is now being turned upside down. But what about those of us who aren’t willing to be overcome by technology? Is there still hope for us? Although it sounds impossible, there are people who exist that are reaping the constant rewards from shutting down and disconnecting from the technological world on a daily basis. These are the people who are reaping the benefits of solitude, privacy, and ultimately a more satisfied life.

You’re Doing More Harm Than Good!

More and more studies are being conducted in order to test just how negative technology can be for us.  James Taylor, a professor at the University of San Francisco, has compiled a body of evidence which concludes that technology is having more than just a psychological effect on humans.  It has been proven that the overuse of specific types of technology has the same neurochemical effects as many more serious addictions.  Gambling, drug abuse, sex addiction, alcoholism – all of these emit a shot of dopamine which is the hormone of reward.

Give this simple test a try and be as honest as you can!

  • Do you check your phone the moment you wake up in the morning?
  • Do you commonly check your phone variously throughout the day?
  • Is there a screen present throughout the day more times than not?
  • Is there a constant flow of emails, texts, and messages throughout the day?
  • Do you have feelings of anxiety or depression when you become disconnected?
  • Are you ever panicked if you suddenly can’t find your cellphone?
  • Is technology always accessible to you throughout the day?
  • Do you check your phone right before bed time or even while lying in bed?

Although it may seem hard to actually classify yourself as an technology addict, if you answered yes to most of those questions, this is your first step.  Once you have recognized that you spend too much time attached to your cell phone or computer, you can begin the process of rehabilitation.  Obviously this is a different type of rehabilitation that we would see for drug or sex addictions, but nonetheless, it is a personally gratifying type of rehab. For example, here is a list of common things in your life that have the ability to improve greatly if you disconnected from technology:

 

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Tips & Techniques to Help You Disconnect 

First PictureNow I understand that it is nearly impossible to disconnect completely, but here are some suggestions that might help you start your journey on becoming more actively involved in your own life by disconnecting to the world of technology.  An article by David Steger promotes simple ways and subtle changes you can make in your everyday life in order disconnect.

1. Power Down – overnight, weekends, or quiet days, turn off as much technology as possible.

2. Create a No Technology Night – make sure your family is involved in this detox by playing board games, reading, or just catching up!

3. Make a Social Media Break Schedule – set aside time in your day to check social media, but try not to check it aside from this.

4. Give Reading Print a Try! – it may seem prehistoric now, but try reading a book or article written on actual paper!

5. Never Sleep Near Your Phone – you’ll sleep much easier and be less tempted to check it if you grow restless.

6. Get Outdoors – this is such a simple way to promote solitude and increase worldly perspectives without technology.

7. Don’t have Cellphones at the Table – have the ability to enjoy both your company and your food without this distraction.

All of these suggestions sound simple enough, but I personally feel that I would struggle to complete more than half in a single day! This just proves how addicting technology can be.  So challenge yourselves, see how much you can cut down checking social media an hour.  Keep it simple, but over time you’ll see that your habits can change and that you have a greater appreciation for disconnecting. Image 2

Digital Detox  

To get a better understanding of just how far we have come in the digital era, I want to introduce you to the lengths being taken to avoid this digital takeover.  In the United States, camps have been created in order to help people disconnect from technology and detox from the digital world.  One of these camps being Digital Detox Camp.

This is the mission statement of the camp:

“Digital Detox is an organization dedicated to creating balance in the digital age. We produce device-free events, lead workshops, host retreats and summer camps, run corporate trainings + seminars and bridge the gap between disconnecting and connecting.”

This highly innovative camp was created in order to create a healthy balance in the digital era. They aim to slow down the constant need to connect and share information with the world.  Understanding that we are part of an age that endlessly networks, has a fear of missing out, are highly technologically driven, and have constant screen time – they offer assistance and healthy ways to disconnect while inspiring and empowering people to create more meaningful and balanced lifestyles.

But how exactly does a camp like this work? Through various facets and creative outlets, the camp works it a community level in order to create individual understanding and growth.  A serious of events and retreats are available to members of the camp that suit each individual’s needs and wants.  Some of these are:

Digital Detox Retreats             Camp Grounded – Camp for Adults

Phone Free Parties                   Analog Zones & Festivals                    Corporate Workshops 

Reap the Rewards!

I fully understand just how difficult it may be for some people to disconnect to technology in their lives.  It has become a constant and present piece of daily lives.  As people, we enjoy that boost of dopamine our body receives when receiving a text or getting a friend request on Facebook.  We live in a world that fears the idea of entertaining one’s self without technology.  Unfortunately for us, this has left us seeming like a race of robots.  So why not try disconnecting, what’s the worst that can happen?  If anything, you’ll realize that you have an obsession and can go from there!  Once you get used to the idea I guarantee that you will find the benefits begin to outweigh costs.

Finally, to help gain more perspective on this issue, please watch this short video below.  Being a university student myself, this video really hits home about just how addicted students can become and how disconnecting can be so beneficial!  We are missing out on the beauty of life because of our reliance on technology.  Disconnect to Connect!

 

The Various Faces of Facebook

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Although it seems like just a short time ago we were all hopping onto the Facebook train, much has transpired in the wake of a drastic increase in social media outlets.  How the website works, its various facets, the possibility of becoming addicted, anxiety surrounding it, and even how to be a successful Facebook user are all topics that have become increasingly important if you plan on being part of the Facebook world today.  Living in a time that seems to be changing faster than we can keep up with, it’s difficult to keep track of every little thing that happens.  This is of course the time that we are turning most to our various social media outlets in order to try to stay informed and educated, one of the most popular outlets being Facebook.  While this social media site boasts many benefits, it’s also carrying with it a hefty amount of negative attributes as well.

Let Me Lay it Out for You 

Just as popular as Facebook has become, I understand that there are still a few of you out there that are completely opposed to or not quite ready to hop onto the Facebook bandwagon.  So before I start throwing the pro’s and con’s at you I think it’s best that we are all on the same page about what exactly Facebook is.

What is FB

Facebook was initially started to help connect Harvard students.  As it became more and more popular, Facebook began to expand its horizon’s throughout the Boston area to eventually include all universities in the USA.  By September of 2006, the width to which Facebook reached included anyone with a home address and registered email address.

QUICK FACTS:
  • As a new user you can register with Facebook using your name and email address.
  • A personal profile will then be made where you can upload pictures, add friends, and exchange messages.
  • Anyone who is 13 or older has the ability to register to Facebook.
  • Over 70 languages are available.
  • Facebook is proven to be the most useful social networking site used worldwide by a 2009 study.
  • Facebook currently brings in a approximately 4.27 billion dollars US.
  • Facebook as a company has a current net value of somewhere between $75 billion – $100 billion dollars.

But How?

Take at look at the diagram below, it helps to easily demonstrate just how Facebook has infiltrated the media so quickly in the recent years.  As you may have guessed, phones are the target device to get Facebook circulating at such a rapid pace.  Essentially, companies have made is impossible not to be a part of Facebook.  By making it virtually free to access the site from your phone, Facebook has increased its growth by a large margin each year.   

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Facebook Causes

Now that You’re Informed, Let’s Start with Cons

As time progresses, as does the increase of Facebook users.  With this increase of users, comes with it an increase of issues and negative circumstances due to the nature of the social media outlet itself.  The reasons that people join Facebook are endless, many hoping it will bring them popularity and happiness.  Unfortunately for many, the happiness and friendship they thought they might find, is non-existent.  A recent study from the University of  Michigan has proven that Facebook actually has the ability to increase loneliness and feelings of depression.  Researchers have studied the ways in which the internet can be alienating.  Facebook was also proven to have had a negative affect on relationships because it increased feelings of jealousy and distrust among couples.  The reason behind all of these negative feelings – people are spending more time observing life rather than being engaged with it.  It makes honest sense if you think about it figuratively.  I would be jealous if I spent hours on end looking at friends pictures of vacations, holidays, and time shared with family.  Although this isn’t the typical reaction for every user, the fact that Facebook has the potential to increase unhappiness is an unsettling thought at best.

So Now that We’re Unhappy, Let’s get Jealous!

Breathtaking Facebook Jealousyvacations, statuses about how amazing a friend’s love life is, getting a friend request from someone you admire, posting pictures about life and its many successes… It can all get a little overwhelming when your news feed is filled up with piles of amazing stories and your just sitting at your desk waiting for lunch to come.  This is where the newest Facebook con has come into play, known as the powerful act of social comparison.  A German study suggests that humans have the capability to observe and feel instantly dissatisfied with their lives after visiting Facebook.  Getting more likes on a status or birthday greetings posted to a wall is triggering people to feel frustrated and even angry about their social standing.  Facebook is allowing for unprecedented amounts of comparison and turning people into the green monster of jealousy.  

Alright…So There are Some Benefits

As so much information has been circling in the media surrounding just how detrimental Facebook can be, it’s hard to imagine what positive traits it could possess.  Well, for starters, a lot of research has been done surrounding the promotional benefits of the website.  Although it is easier to imagine how Facebook is negative, much research has been done to prove that Facebook is an asset to our world.  This list below demonstrates various social benefits to becoming a member of Facebook.

  1. Because it is viewed by such a huge demographic of people, companies are taking advantage of advertisement space and having success in doing so.
  2. It has been proven to slow down and improve heart rate.  Studies have shown that time spent on Facebook can actually reduce stress, slow heart rate, and enable for deeper levels of relaxation.
  3. Facebook has the potential to help find jobs and increase the job market.  It has the ability to help companies determine the best candidates for specific positions.
  4. Self-Esteem can be boosted for some people by spending time on Facebook.  A study by Cornell University helped to prove this psychological benefit.
  5. A companies’ popularity on Facebook can drastically determine their level of stock prices.
  6. Research has been shown to prove that employees who take small Facebook breaks during work hours have increased productivity in the workplace.
  7. Facebook can help you earn your degree.  A study proved that students who were engaged in Facebook had less chance of dropping out of school.
  8. It has been noted that Facebook has the potential to increase your love life because of the likelihood of communication between friends and new people.

Facebook Evolution

My Thoughts, Conclusions, and Advice  – Whether You Want it or Not 

As Facebook continuously evolves it becomes more and more critical that we evolve with it.  As demonstrated above, it is very easy to get trapped in the negative effects of misusing Facebook.  Each day I find out more and more about social media and in turn I only want to move further and further away from it.  As many benefits as it may boast, it is my true belief that living your life is far more important than documenting it.  I’m not saying not to have Facebook, or Instagram, or Twitter, but just be mindful of the world around you and try not to get too caught up in the drama surrounding these various social media facets.  After all, as Eleanor Roosevelt once said,

“The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.”

Signing Off
– TB

World War Four – Cell Phones vs. The World

ImageCell Phone Addiction

It may seem a slight bit drastic to describe the ever-increasing cell phone debacle as World War Four, but in my honest opinion, nothing seems more appropriate.  Over the past decade, the increase in cell phone usage has been drastic.  The age that children receive their first cell phone is lower than ever, and the amount of young adults who possess a smart phone is now higher than ever.  It has become almost essential in today’s society to own a cell phone.  Words like selfie have even been added to the dictionary because of their association with smart phones.

Everyone has one, so what’s the issue?

Unfortunately, with the increase of cell phones, comes with it various ramifications that not everyone is aware of.  Health concerns ranging from increased radiation exposure, short-term memory loss, damage to eyesight, and even cell phone addiction, are issues becoming more and more prevalent in today’s top news stories.  One of the main demographics being affected by this cell phone addiction is teens and young adults.  Take a look at the picture below that demonstrates just how shocking the statistics behind cell phone usage is.

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The Shocking Demographics of Cell Phone Use

So just how bad is it? Let the numbers speak for themselves.

A study conducted by Google this past summer demonstrated just how addicted people were to their phones.  An amazing 8 in 10 people claimed that they would not leave their home without their cell phone on their person.  Google has also claimed that a shocking 78% of cell phone users accessed social media from their cell phone at some point throughout the day.  80% of people not being able to even leave their home without their cell phones.. if this isn’t an addiction I’m not sure what is.

Apps.. What are they and what do they do?

This brings me to my next point.  Why are smart phones and cell phones just so addicting?  In my personal opinion, it’s because of what is on the phone that has everyone so interested.  Applications like Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, Facebook, and Vine have users obsessed over what’s going on around them.  I know at times I have suffered from something loosely known as “fomo” which stands for fear of missing out.  This fear might be based upon the constant need to check these various social facets to make sure we are not missing out on activities and updates made by our list of friends.  All of these cell phone based applications circulate pictures, videos, status updates, and more that can be accessed through a cell phone.  Teens and young adults have even been known to rate popularity and reputation off of these very applications.

It’s obvious that people who use these social media outlets have a purpose, but each person’s purpose differs ever so slightly.  It is very interesting to understand just why people flock so readily to these social media applications.  Harvard recently conducted a study to find out exactly why people were so emotionally attached and ready to share every detail of their lives over these various apps.  They were able to conclude that people associated shared experiences through pictures, videos, and other facets.  These shared experiences are perceived by the feeling of pleasure, much like we take pleasure in enjoying certain foods.  The addiction to these varying apps is centered around parts of the brain that perceive reward and enjoyment.  This helps to explain why so many people can’t go a day without checking their news feeds and application logs.

Alright so I might be addicted; how can I tell?

So you think you might just suffer from this so-called ‘cell phone addiction’ everyone is so concerned about.. how do you know for sure.  Although there is no actual disorder that can be diagnosed in this case, there are some tell-tale signs that indicate you could be spending just a little too much time with your device.  A study by the University of Washington worked to analyze people’s behavior who were classified as being ‘cell phone addicts’.  The four characteristics they concluded as being most relevant to this addiction are as follows:
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I find it hard to believe that anyone who owns a cell phone hasn’t experienced one of these feelings at some point in their life.  And don’t feel bad if you can relate to any of these either, like I said before, this is a common and increasing problem!  Honestly, I would be lying if I said I had never experienced any of these, but that alone demonstrates just how much of a problem cell phones are becoming.

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Don’t worry, it’s not all bad, I swear!

Although the issue of cell phone addiction is clearly quite negative, there are a few reasons to suggest cell phones can be positive if used correctly.  In recent years, the fitness and weight loss fad has been fluctuating throughout the country.  People are always looking for the newest way to shed a few pounds or tone up.  Cell phone apps like Instagram, NikePlus, and Calorie Counter are actually getting rave reviews in regards to weight loss and increased health among users.  There various apps are making it easier for users to document their workouts, make healthier food choices, and even understand how to do a proper sit up.

Instagram Fitness  Calorie Counter  Fitness App

Something else to think about is how cell phones and mobile devices are actually benefitting the medical field for their practical uses and abilities.  Think about how easy it would be to have a patient arrive at an Emergency Room and be able to instantly have access to their records and files via a mobile device.  This is now becoming a reality in modernized hospitals according to an article by Darell West.  He discusses how the increased use of patient data storage using mobile devices or tablet’s has the ability to cut down wait time and patient admittance by a huge percentage.  It’s also easy to imagine how fast doctor’s or nurses would have access to diagnostic information via instant access to the internet and specific databases.

Interestingly enough, there have also been studies conducted that indicate that mobile devices actually have the ability to stimulate and demonstrate increased brain activity.  Specifically, a study done at Harvard discussed how when cell phones were placed in proximity to the brain when turned on, there was an increase in glucose metabolism.  Having said that, researchers are not entirely sure what to make of these findings but they do conclude that stimulation is evident and is not all negative.

So what did we all learn?

In all honesty, it’s hard to walk away from a post like this being able to differentiate between the pros and cons of cell phones.  What is important is to understand that cell phones are what we make them.  We have the power to become addicts or to break the addiction.  Obviously this is coming off as a bit preachy, but let’s be realistic.  We live in a very privileged country today and there are more important things than having our faces glued to the screen of a cell phone.  I can’t count the amount of times I have been infuriated by someone who has a blatant disregard for cell phone etiquette, but at the same time I have been amazed at all of the things my cell phone can teach me.  I wish we could all go back to writing letters or talking on a house phone, but I’m afraid those days are long gone.  After educating myself more about cell phone addiction, I for one plan on leaving my cell phone at home more often in hopes to live life in the now, rather than through my cell phone.

If you aren’t convinced about the negative health effects of cell phones, watch this video so your eyes might be opened to the increasing overall negative effects cell phones can have to daily life.

Media Adventure 101

This is my first official post on WordPress, one of the many social media websites I plan to explore over the next few months.  With this blog I plan to record, discuss, explore, and learn about the many different types of social media that are present in our world.  I’m excited to start my endeavours and hope to learn a lot!

I’ll keep you posted!

Taylor