Road Construction: Fighting the Tar Trucks

By: Joseph Geliebter, Ph.D.

I think the women who led a protest movement on my street during the 1930s were quite prescient.

It was about 80 years ago that my block – currently in the process of being repaved – was initially paved and converted from a dirt road. The ladies living here at the time weren’t having any of it. Armed with their voices and the baby strollers that they pushed, these women formed a human roadblock to prevent heavy duty trucks from rolling smooth tar over the hard-packed dirt that once formed my street.

This past summer, as my street was being repaved, I couldn’t help but draw comparisons to those women protesters. Eighty years ago, they wanted to protect their beautiful yellow dirt road, where horse-drawn carriages once delivered milk. They wanted to preserve a way of life.

Watch the “Road Construction” Video!

Road Construction from Unplug Reconnect on Vimeo.

 

These many decades later, we were reminded of that simpler time, if only briefly, when the street-repaving project rendered our block inaccessible by car. For just a few days, we experienced life as it must have been in the 1930s. We walked to and from errands instead of hopping in and out of our cars. We saw more of each other and actually stopped to chat awhile. The pace of our lives slowed down, if only briefly.

The women protesters of that other era faced more than just a few tar trucks, of course; they were railing against the forces of a new industrial age – and they were outmatched. But if their futile protest movement sent us any message, it’s this: while progress must go forward – we must make the most of it, but we need to remember to slow down our lives and strive for the ideals of simpler times.

TOMORROW – Dr. Geliebter discusses unplugging with Leo, the building inspector.

 

Road Construction: Life in the Slow Lane

 

By: Joseph Geliebter, Ph.D.

When my village announced plans to repave my block last summer, many of my neighbors worried about the noise, the dust, and the inconvenience of not being able to park their cars on the street for several days.

But then a funny thing happened. We found ourselves getting out more as we walked to and from errands. In addition to getting exercise, we came into contact with each other more frequently. In fact, I saw one neighbor who had moved in two years ago more in the two days that work crews were paving my street than in the previous two years combined.

Surprisingly, some of my neighbors found that they didn’t mind the inconvenience quite as much as they anticipated. “I like life in the slow lane,” said one, a woman who found that she actually enjoyed walking to and from errands with her children.

“It slows me down,” she said. “When I walk with my kids, we actually talk. We’re not just running into the car on our way to and from the grocery store.”

Having the street repaved last summer proved to be a boon to the neighborhood. Like a block party, it brought everyone out of their houses from hibernation and encouraged them to socialize with each other in ways they

Watch the “Road Construction” Video!

.

Road Construction from Unplug Reconnect on Vimeo.

 

had forgotten. People moved about, carrying packages and running errands — and some actually talked to each other for the first time in years.

The road construction project reminded us that the Unplug and Reconnect concept is very appropriate to our age. It taught us that we need to pause from the constant hustle and bustle and and take a break from a world in which we don’t have time for each other anymore.

Perhaps we all could use the “inconvenience” of a road construction project to get in touch with what’s really important in life.

 

TOMORROW – Dr. Geliebter describes an early “unplug” protest movement.

Lure of Online Media Hard to Resist

Our addiction to Facebook, Twitter and email – and work – may be harder to resist than a dependence on alcohol or cigarettes, according to a research study published in February in the journal Psychological Science.

In an attempt to measure the willpower to resist desire, the study by researchers at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business looked at the behavior of 205 adults aged 18-85, who wore devices that recorded a total of 7,827 reports about their daily desires.

After the desire for sleep and sex, study participants were more likely to give in to the desires to use online media and to work, dual desires that supplanted even the urge for cigarettes and alcohol, the study found.

The results suggest “pervasive tension between natural inclinations to rest and relax and the multitude of work and other obligations,” Wilhelm Hofmann, who led the research, told The Guardian newspaper.

“Desires for media may be comparatively harder to resist because of their high availability and also because it feels like it does not ‘cost much’ to engage in these activities, even though one wants to resist,” Hofmann said. “With cigarettes and alcohol there are more costs – long-term as well as monetary – and the opportunity may not always be the right one. So, even though giving in to media desires is certainly less consequential, the frequent use may steal ‘steal’ a lot of people’s time.”

The study involved signaling participants seven times a day over 14 hours for seven consecutive days. The recipients were to message back whether they were experiencing a desire at that moment or had experienced one within the last 30 minutes. They also clarified the type of desire, the strength of it (up to irresistible), whether the desire conflicted with other desires, and whether they resisted or gave into it.

In total, the study recorded 10,558 responses and 7,827 “desire episodes,” reported The Guardian.

What Parents Should Know about Social Media

Parents are not nearly as aware as they should be of the impact social media sites have on their children’s lives, according to a new study published in Pediatrics, the official journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

The study identified social media sites as including social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter, gaming sites like Club Penguin and the Sims, and video sites like YouTube and blogs. They’re extremely popular with teens and pre-teens, say researchers, who cited a poll showing 22 percent of teenagers log on to their favorite social media site more than 10 times a day and more than half log on more than once a day. Further, 75 percent of teenagers own their own cell phones, and 25% use them for social media, 54% for texting, and 24% for instant messaging.

There are benefits to using social media, the researchers note, including enhanced communication with peers, social connection, the development of social skills, the opportunity to participate in homework circles, and more. But there are also problems – among these are cyberbullying, privacy issues, “sexting” and sleep deprivation associated with Internet addiction.

Parents may lack the technical knowledge to keep pace with their children’s online activities or fail to understand how important an extension of their children’s offline lives social media has become.

Online Dangers

Here are some dangers parents should be especially watchful for:

  • Cyberbullying – using digital media to communicate untrue and often embarrassing or hostile information about another person. The most common online risk for teens, cyberbullying can lead to depression, anxiety, severe isolation, and even suicide.
  • Sexting – sending, receiving, or forwarding sexually explicit messages or photographs – is a growing phenomenon. One survey found that 20 percent of teens had sent or posted nude or seminude photographs or videos of themselves. Risks include legal problems and school suspension for perpetrators and emotional distress for victims.
  • ‘Facebook Depression’ – Researchers defined this new phenomenon as depression that develops when preteens and teens spend too much time on social media sites and begin to display the classic signs of depression.
  • Privacy Concerns – Preteens and teens may be unaware of the digital footprint they are creating when they post too much information about themselves. They often fail to understand that “what goes online stays online,” which could later haunt them.
  • Targeted Advertising – It’s important to understand that many online sites use behavioral ads, which operate by gathering information on the person using the site and then target that person’s profile to influence purchasing decisions.

Parents can do two basic things to address these concerns, researchers say. They can talk to their children about their online use and discuss the specific risks they may face when they use online sites. They can also work to become better educated about the many technologies their children are using so they can better monitor their children’s online behaviors.

Sleep Texting a Growing Phenomenom

We’ve written before about the incredible popularity of phone texting, particularly among teenagers. So we were less than surprised when we heard about a growing phenomenon known as “sleep texting.”

As its name implies, sleep texting is texting while one is asleep. Usually the victim of sleep texting starts out texting while awake, falls asleep, and then continues texting while catching some Z’s.

In a recent broadcast about this phenomenon, NBC News reporters interviewed Dr. Mike Howell, a sleep doctor with the University of Minnesota Sleep Medicine Clinic. Dr. Howell noted that those most likely to sleep text are young people who come to him suffering from sleep deprivation and who are strongly attached to their phones.

When they sleep text they’re not quite awake and not quite asleep, according to the news station, which reported sometimes embarrassing scenarios for sleep texters – such as one young woman who unwittingly found herself texting an ex-boyfriend in her sleep, saying things that made her waking self cringe.

Sleep texting is no laughing matter. Doctors say sleep deprivation – one of the results of sleep texting – can have dangerous side effects such as heart problems, obesity, depression and worse.

To cure patients of sleep texting, doctors prescribe unplugging from phones and other technology for at least four days. During that time patients may feel withdrawal symptoms, but ultimately they begin to feel relief, according to the NBC report.