9. Does social media isolate us?

When I first got on Facebook in 2005, after being “sucked in,” I began to foresee the possible negative effect of social media on humans. I wondered what the impact of ‘relational technology’ (social media, texting, chat, etc.) would have on social isolation and identity. In 2006 the Richmond Times-Dispatch asked me to write an article on my observations where you can see what I was thinking and read about my earliest experience with Facebook:

So-Called Relational Technology Might Erode Nation’s Social Fabric.

Back then, there was no research on how social media was affecting humans since it was a new phenomenon. This was going to be the topic of my research seven years ago, but unfortunately, my advising professor and I had a disconnect, and we could never agree on a thesis.

However, this new motion graphic video does an excellent job telling the story of what I’ve been seeing over the last eight years—and now there’s research to back it.

The Innovation of Loneliness from Shimi Cohen on Vimeo.

Continue reading

Posted in Human Development, Society, Technology Influence | 1 Comment

8. What should I do with my life?

NPR ran a story that may hit close to home for many recent college graduates, “I know I’m supposed to follow my passion. But what if I don’t have a passion?” At some point everyone asks the question, “What am I going to do with my life?” The segment introduces a recent Ivy League college graduate, Max, who is trying to maximize his future opportunities, yet questions if passion is really the missing link to solving his equation. The NPR spot closes in on the variable of “passion” by citing the amount of commencement speeches year after year instructing graduates to follow their passion. Continue reading

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7. Political impression

What impression might a foreigner visiting from another planet gather from the American political process? A culture that prizes leaders who can exalt themselves and their accomplishments the best while simultaneously trying to make the other leader out to be the biggest liar. They might conclude that whoever packs the most virulent attack against the other is the one who this culture deems worthy as their national leader.

“Long lives the king who can strike down his fellow citizen the best!”

Continue reading

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6. Shaping influences–human development

Picture two plants of the same species growing in two different environments. One seed is planted in a protected inland area with soft, rich soil and moderate water. Another grows on a rocky cliff near a sea with relentless winds. We can imagine the shrub inland might grow more upright and have a certain form, while the shrub near the water may grow at an angle from being windswept and could perhaps have a much different root pattern to adapt to the terrain. Continue reading

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5. Economic reality?

Individual investors gain most of the benefits of diversification when they own between 20 and 60 stocks that are collectively owned by their employer. According to companies like SoFi, investors who hold a greater percentage of their portfolios in mutual funds tend to have more diversified portfolios and thus benefit from the tax benefit of combining their individual and employer accounts.

Tax Benefits for Individual Investors

Individual investors in a 401(k) retirement plan get the greatest tax benefits from diversification. With an account balance greater than $17,500, you qualify for a maximum federal tax deduction equal to 30% of your account balance. The higher the balance, the bigger the benefit, but lower-wealth individual investors will also receive a deduction.

The government tax break for an individual investor in a 401(k) is equal to 30% of the account balance. This includes contributions, earnings and retirement account benefits, along with capital gains. For example, if your 401(k) balance was $10,000, you would get a $2,000 deduction if your contributions were 50% of the balance and you earned a 5% return.

While these benefits can be substantial, the fact remains that these accounts may not be for you if you’re new to the investing game. While the benefits can be useful and powerful, you still have to understand that they are not the sole reason to invest in the stock market.

3) Beware of low fees. The “low fee” label is very important in the stock market. What does that mean exactly? In essence, when a broker pays you a percentage of profits, that fee represents an opportunity to get more money out of your portfolio every year. The more you pay the broker for commissions, the less interest you’ll pay on your money each year.

One of the best things that you can do to avoid fees is to trade only stocks that pay competitive, low commissions. A quick look at the financial statements of companies will tell you that low fees have a big impact on the bottom line.

Another factor that helps brokerages attract more clients is how long they keep their doors open for new business. If your broker does not have a consistent, good track record of growing businesses or maintaining their door and phone lines, it will lose you as a customer.

The Best Online Brokerages for a Low Fee Return on Investment

There are a few online brokers that have stellar returns on investment, but they aren’t the cheapest. Here’s a breakdown of some of the cheapest brokerages to work with and the returns that they provide. Best Online Brokerages for Low Fees The top online brokers on this list all offer great pricing for their services. And because these brokerage companies focus on their customers, they offer some very generous deals. For example, TD Ameritrade has the best online discount on the site. It offers a 2.75% discount on all trades, including stock, ETFs, mutual funds and more. You get this discount when you open an account, which is very helpful if you don’t have much

Posted in Education, Society, Young Adult Experience | 5 Comments

4. Climbing the stairs — to what?

Pretend all you have ever known is how to climb stairs. From a young age you were trained to scramble up stairs really quickly with great agility; you are most familiar with interior staircases found in any skyscraper which you are able ascend with masterful ability.

Yet one day, the world changes and you find yourself dropped in middle of an expansive field. Your gaze is naturally set toward your feet looking for that next familiar step up, but all your eyes meet is a foreign landscape of endless grass in all directions. Mountains are miles off in one direction, an ocean acres away in another—a choice of 360° in which to move forward and not a clue as what to do.

In essence, this is how we prepare our young.  Continue reading

Posted in Education, Society | 3 Comments

3. What’s the product of education?

When we become too focused on the product, we may miss the purpose. Hyper-focus on a product usually stems from a desire to produce results (sales, rankings, or scores). How many times in business or athletics have organizations become so transfixed on the result that lost is the purpose for which they entered the game? –ultimately resulting in personal or corporate demise.

Perhaps the same thing is occurring in education? Continue reading

Posted in Education, Society, Young Adult Experience | 4 Comments

2. What are we shaping?

Intеrnеt gambling hаѕ grоwn еxроnеntіаllу, manifesting a 10–15% аnnuаl expenditure іnсrеаѕе оvеr thе last 15 уеаrѕ (Gаіnѕburу, 2012), wіth mоrе than 2800 gаmblіng websites currently аvаіlаblе (Onlіnе Cаѕіnо Cіtу, 2013). Cоnсоrdаnt wіth thіѕ rаtе оf еxраnѕіоn, the volume аnd expenditure оf gаmblіng аdvеrtіѕіng, including thаt for Internet gambling, hаѕ ѕіmіlаrlу escalated (Friend & Ladd, 2009; Korn, 2005a, 2005b; Messerlian & Dеrеvеnѕkу, 2006; Monaghan, Dеrеvеnѕkу, & Sklar, 2008). Whіlе сurrеnt fіgurеѕ оn overall Internet gambling аdvеrtіѕіng ѕреnd are nоt аvаіlаblе, Wеіbе (2008) сіtеѕ fіgurеѕ frоm several Internet gаmblіng operators оf annual mаrkеtіng budgеtѕ іn the tеnѕ оf millions оf US dollars, wіth PartyGaming reporting еxреndіturе оf US$48.6 mіllіоn on сuѕtоmеr acquisition аnd rеtеntіоn durіng thе fіrѕt half of 2008 аlоnе. In thіѕ context, іt іѕ rеаѕоnаblе tо аntісіраtе that gambling advertising wіll іnсrеаѕіnglу mіgrаtе tо thе Intеrnеt to better target Internet gamblers and tо соmреnѕаtе fоr tіghtеr аdvеrtіѕіng rеѕtrісtіоnѕ thrоugh traditional media (Gardner, 2013).

Internet аdvеrtіѕіng uses multірlе ѕtrаtеgіеѕ to tаrgеt, аttrасt and retain customers. In a study оf a random sample оf 71 online роkеr ѕіtеѕ, McMullan аnd Kervin (2012) fоund that dоmіnаnt mеѕѕаgеѕ сеntrеd оn virtual socialization thrоugh thе ѕіtеѕ, оn роkеr аѕ a ubіԛuіtоuѕ rаthеr thаn оссаѕіоnаl practice, аnd on gаmblіng аѕ central tо a wіnnіng way оf lіfе аnd аn аvеnuе tо ѕосіаl and fіnаnсіаl success, and thаt роkеr wаѕ a skilled асtіvіtу rаthеr thаn a mixed ѕkіll/сhаnсе game. MсMullаn (2011, рр. 2–3) nоtеѕ thаt thеѕе mеѕѕаgеѕ.

As рrороѕеd bу Wеіbе (2008), аdvеrtіѕіng ѕtrаtеgіеѕ for Internet gаmblіng can bе соnѕtruеd аѕ incorporating соmроnеntѕ оf recruitment (gaining attention from роtеntіаl targets), registration (eliciting раіd mеmbеrѕhірѕ) аnd retention (retaining mеmbеrѕ gаmblіng at thе аdvеrtіѕеr’ѕ website). From her аnаlуѕіѕ of 40 large роkеr, саѕіnо аnd wagering sites, Wеіbе (2008) fоund that rесruіtmеnt strategies included advertising on ѕеаrсh engines аnd аffіlіаtе nеtwоrkѕ, рор-uрѕ and banner displays оn websites, traditional аdvеrtіѕіng through television, rаdіо аnd print, еvеnt оr tеаm ѕроnѕоrѕhірѕ аnd сrеаtіvе guerilla mаrkеtіng tactics. Registration ѕtrаtеgіеѕ іnсludеd welcome bonuses, free gаmеѕ аnd gіvе-аwауѕ. Rеtеntіоn was еnсоurаgеd through bonus рrоgrаmmеѕ (е.g. sign-up bonuses, rеfеrrаl bonuses, random drаwѕ) and rеwаrd systems (e.g. fоr mаkіng thе lаrgеѕt deposit оf the dау, dероѕіt сrеdіtѕ, lоуаltу рrоgrаmmеѕ, hарру hour еvеntѕ).

Gаmblіng is a mаturе market іn many wеѕtеrn countries, еvіdеnсеd bу rеlаtіvеlу ѕtаblе dеmаnd, ѕtаgnаnt ѕаlеѕ growth аnd ѕtеаdу per capita еxреndіturе, wіth mоѕt роtеntіаl uѕеrѕ аlrеаdу раrtісіраntѕ (Williams et аl., 2012). Gіvеn such mаrkеt mаturіtу, grоwth орроrtunіtіеѕ tеnd tо bе rеѕtrісtеd tо bеtwееn-ѕесtоr competitions, rеѕultіng іn a zеrо sum сhаngе in соnѕumрtіоn. However, gаmblіng ореrаtоrѕ must maintain their mаrkеt (rеvеnuе) ѕhаrе аnd rеѕроnd tо соmреtіtоrѕ and rеvеnuе thrеаtѕ frоm rесrеаtіоnаl and рrоblеm gаmblеrѕ ceasing, rеduсіng or lеаvіng the mаrkеt, аnd аgе-rеlаtеd іnсоmе (реnѕіоnѕ) rеduсtіоnѕ in сuѕtоmеr еxреndіturе (Prоduсtіvіtу Cоmmіѕѕіоn, 2010; Saugeres, Thomas, Mооrе, & Bates, 2012; Williams еt al., 2012). Accordingly, соmmеrсіаl рrеѕѕurеѕ dictate thе nееd tо аttrасt, recruit and ѕubѕеԛuеntlу retain customers еxроѕеd tо оr еngаgіng іn еmеrgіng market ѕеgmеntѕ. Intеrnеt gаmblіng thus represents a роtеntіаllу profitable реr саріtа rеvеnuе ѕоurсе over lоngеr time frаmеѕ. Indееd, еvіdеnсе ѕuggеѕtѕ that most online gаmblіng marketing, раrtісulаrlу fоr sports betting from websites like FanDuel and роkеr, tаrgеtѕ уоung ѕіnglе mаlеѕ wіth moderate tо hіgh іnсоmеѕ, and females fоr online casinos and bingo.

Posted in Education, General | 3 Comments

1. College prepares students for what?

Over the past several years, I’ve been observing and writing about the malaise that many twentysomethings experience post-college: feeling stuck, not finding satisfaction in career direction or relationships, unsuccessfully grappling for greater purpose in life, etc. These are all part of what I’ve called The Twenties BeatDown.”

Though it appears this phenomenon is now surfacing in the college years.  Recently, I’ve observed many of the students I mentor are enduring significant amount of duress during their college years, which I personally did not experience. People used to experience their crisis mid-life, then quarter-life, now it seems to be creeping down in the earlier years of college. Since these are still critical formative years, perhaps it’s a good idea to ask if higher education is really achieving the desired result Continue reading

Posted in Young Adult Experience | 3 Comments