Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Internet Social Media Addiction: 21 Symptoms?

What are the warning signs that we have been imprisoned by our screens? Is it possible that the addiction to social media could be harming our physical, mental and spiritual world? I would be the first to admit that there are worse activities such as mindlessly TV channel-surfing.But I have noticed the addiction in others!

You all make so many excuses for spending so much time online. For many people this is not a cause for anxiety at all. We are increasingly cyborgian, and any wish to return to the old ways (3-5 years ago) is nothing but a futile, hopeless and romantic nostalgia.

Having allocated myself a timetable that now stipulates a progressive increase in my time away from the screen I have noticed an improvement in my general health and sense of well-being. Perhaps the experience of having recovered from cancer last year has led me to rethink the primacy of direct interaction with people, rather than digital mediation. I'm certainly not a luddite by any means, but I may well be an online social media recovering addict. Don't take this too seriously. You may even objection to the use of addiction in this regard. I'm interested to hear your thoughts, online or off.

So here is my personal and rather intuitive list of symptoms that might be associated with an unhealthy addiction. Have you experienced any of these symptoms in the last year? Or perhaps you have noticed these characteristics in other people?

  1. Repetitive Strain Injury

  1. Back Pains and other discomfort associated with a screen-based lifestyle

  1. Delusional sense of exhilaration associated with the online flow of interactions

  1. Being online is my first activity of the day

  1. Being online is my last activity of the day

  1. Spending an hour or more online without being aware of the passage of time

  1. Less comfortable with face-to-face encounters

  1. Sense of being awed or overwhelmed by the abundance offered by the internet

  1. Being online while you are speaking to friends or family on the phone

  1. Being online while watching TV, or listening to music

  1. Convinced that multi-tasking is an effective way to work

  1. Decreased length and frequency of direct encounters with people

  1. Increase in weight, BMI, or change in body shape and general fitness

  1. Constantly mobile connected and status updating

  1. Missing deadlines for work, or failing to meet your own objectives

  1. Increased tendency to procrastinate, with less efficient productivity

  1. Increase in irritability, stress, and anxiety; decrease in patience and listening skills

  1. Frequently checking in online, at every opportunity

  1. Sense that life is becoming fragmentary or hollow

  1. Decreased attention span and ability to focus on major project requiring sustained effort

  1. Preference for micro-engagement rather than in depth reflection.

I'd be delighted to hear your views, or meet with you face--to--face.

Perhaps you could keep a note of how much time you spend online and then question its genuine value to your life?

Dr Ian McCormick is the author of The Art of Connection: the Social Life of Sentences
(2013) Also available on Kindle, or to download.

Also worth a look: The PhD Roadmap: A Guide to Successful Submission of your Dissertation / Thesis.
Further Reading

Young, Kimberly S., and Robert C. Rogers. "The relationship between depression and Internet addiction." CyberPsychology & Behavior 1.1 (1998): 25-28.
Park, Namsu, Kerk F. Kee, and Sebastián Valenzuela. "Being immersed in social networking environment: Facebook groups, uses and gratifications, and social outcomes." CyberPsychology & Behavior 12.6 (2009): 729-733.
"Internet Gratifications and Internet Addiction: On the Uses and Abuses of New Media."  Indeok Song, Robert Larose, Matthew S. Eastin, and Carolyn A. Lin. CyberPsychology & Behavior. August 2004, 7(4): 384-394.

O'Keeffe, Gwenn Schurgin, and Kathleen Clarke-Pearson. "The impact of social media on children, adolescents, and families." Pediatrics 127.4 (2011): 800-804.

Correa, Teresa, Amber Willard Hinsley, and Homero Gil De Zuniga. "Who interacts on the Web?: The intersection of users’ personality and social media use." Computers in Human Behavior 26.2 (2010): 247-253.

LaRose, Robert, Carolyn A. Lin, and Matthew S. Eastin. "Unregulated Internet usage: Addiction, habit, or deficient self-regulation?." Media Psychology 5.3 (2003): 225-253.

Baudrillard, Jean, and Marie Maclean. "The masses: The implosion of the social in the media." New Literary History 16.3 (1985): 577-589.

Stern, Steven E. "Addiction to technologies: A social psychological perspective of Internet addiction." CyberPsychology & Behavior 2.5 (1999): 419-424.

Yen, Ju-Yu, et al. "The comorbid psychiatric symptoms of Internet addiction: attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), depression, social phobia, and hostility." Journal of adolescent health 41.1 (2007): 93-98.

Watkins, S. Craig. The young and the digital: What the migration to social network sites, games, and anytime, anywhere media means for our future. Beacon Press, 2009.

Ehrenberg, Alexandra, et al. "Personality and self-esteem as predictors of young people's technology use." CyberPsychology & Behavior 11.6 (2008): 739-741.

Park, Woong. "Mobile phone addiction." Mobile Communications (2005): 253-272.

Wang, Wei. "Internet dependency and psychosocial maturity among college students." International Journal of Human-Computer Studies 55.6 (2001): 919-938.

LaRose, Robert, Dana Mastro, and Matthew S. Eastin. "Understanding internet usage A social-cognitive approach to uses and gratifications." Social Science Computer Review 19.4 (2001): 395-413.

© Dr Ian McCormick. 

Monday, 6 August 2012

What’s involved in creativity? Solo, or Group?

Factors involved in Creativity

Making an Effort: mental, physical, emotional and spiritual.

Courage: to take risks.

Stamina: not to give up, to revise and redraft many times.

Perfect Imperfection: knowing when to stop.

Mentors: to follow, and to rebel against.

Style: it’s not just what you say but how you say it.

Surprise: walking the unexpected, deviation from norms, serendipity

Flow: an intense state of mind when you deliver peak performance

Skills and Tools: to build and develop projects

Confidence: to aspire and to avoid destructive thoughts and negative outlook

Team work: ability and willingness to collaborate effectively and to respect others

Solo or Group?

It is often forgotten that creativity is not just individual, it can exist within a group or a community. Typically a small group will develop more ideas than a person working alone. That's why everyone is getting into co-creation now, from wiki, to games, free source and life hacking. But is there also a danger of group-think compromises and weak statements?

On or Off

Do you have the ability to just turn on the creativity switch?
Yes. It is a kind of skill that can be learned by anyone, in my view. But there is always room for improvement, and some days (and times) are better than others.
Resistance also takes many forms and need to be deconstructed and analysed.

Do you need a Moment of Inspiration?

No. That's the myth of romantic genius that appeared in the late eighteenth century. I don’t want to deny that there is a spark of inspiration. Rather, you need plenty of fuel to sustain and to develop your fire in a sustainable and memorable way.

Do you have to focus and create the mood for creativity to happen ?

Focus is good, but if you try too hard for too long you come up with what has been done before. 

When you say mood I'd suggest that it helps if you are contented rather than disabled by the worst kinds of depression.

Or is it out of your control?

This sounds dangerous. Part of creativity involves a faith in yourself, the ability to take risks, a sense of playfulness, and the cultivation of spontaneity. Spontaneity can be developed by doing things that are unusual or out o character. Again that comes down to confidence in yourself.


Film, collaboration and creativity link
The 32 dangers of collaboration link

General Discussion of the Topic



Mihaly Cskszentmihalyi. Flow.
Mihaly Cskszentmihalyi. Creativity and  the Psychology of Discovery and Invention


In the Wallas stage model, creative insights and illuminations may be explained by a process consisting of 5 stages:

(i) preparation (preparatory work on a problem that focuses the individual's mind on the problem and explores the problem's dimensions),
(ii) incubation (where the problem is internalized into the unconscious mind and nothing appears externally to be happening),
(iii) intimation (the creative person gets a "feeling" that a solution is on its way),
(iv) illumination or insight (where the creative idea bursts forth from its preconscious processing into conscious awareness); and
(v) verification (where the idea is consciously verified, elaborated, and then applied).

Sunday, 5 August 2012

The 15-point Exam Self Examination

book cover of 

The Final Exam 

 (School of Fear, book 3)


Gitty Daneshvari 

 I hope that your exams have not been as traumatic as mine were at school. In this blog, I have taken a long hard look at exam success and failure.

Obviously my research is based on real experiences, rather than irrelevant and dodgy theories.

In my experience of 30 years of teaching in English, and in the Arts, in Schools, and in the University sector,  these are the most common reasons for poor results:

1.    Anxiety based on lack of confidence, poor planning and fear of the unknown

2.    Lack of familiarity with past exam questions

3.    Poor memory skills

4.    Failure to produce model answers in exam conditions

5.    Revision that does not edit and select key points

6.    Revision that does not tailor knowledge to the exam

7.    Answers which are too short, or too long.

8.    Poor awareness of what the examiners are looking for

9.    Not answering the question

10.    Not explaining your thinking processes

11.    Poor range of evidence

12.    Weak communication skills

13.    Not understanding how to plan and structure your answer effectively

14.    Too much time wasted on opening and closing paragraphs.

15.    Running out of sufficient time to complete the required number of well-rounded answers.

The good news is that each of these issues can be addressed.

By reflecting on them and taking action you will significantly improve your exam performance.

You might even learn to enjoy the experience, and become an advocate for examinations.

If you would like to receive further examination tips and advice please drop me a line.

Dr Ian McCormick

Thursday, 2 August 2012

The Nonprofit Twitter Guide - 25 Top Tips

Classic Non-sense Poet - Edward Lear

Even some of the more successful charities, NGOs and nonprofit groups have failed to adapt effectively to the new opportunities afforded by social media. Twitter has often been neglected as irrelevant and vain.

As a useful social media tool, Twitter has often lagged behind Facebook. I suspect that's because the first impression of Twitter is that it is chiefly populated by celebrity gossips and ephemeral personal details that have no relevance to the goals of social transformation and ethical awareness.

Having researched this topic I would like to offer 25 tips for nonprofits to make effective use of Twitter.

1. Tweets (comments posted on Twitter) need to be written with professional care and attention, just like any other form of writing. That means that Twitter will have an impact on your resources. But don't let it take over...

2. Avoid flippancy, rudeness, and excessive personalisation. By the same token, a dull corporate tone starts to sound quite tedious if it lacks any emotional intelligence.

3. Check Tweets for accuracy and errors. It's important to build a reputation for reliability.

4. It makes sense to follow sister and like-minded charities and nonprofits. That means being part of a community and collaborating by co-creating value.

5. Ration your tweets. Excessive tweeting may be compared to an irritating chatterbox at a party who refuses to let you speak or comment on what they've just said. At the outset I lost many followers by tweeting too enthusiastically.

6. Use words and phrases such as 'Please', 'Check out', 'Help me/us to' if you want people to re-tweet your comments. Polite requests are highly valued and respected.

7. In the most common re-tweets (RTs) Questions (?) were more popular than Exclamations (!)

8. Strong positive words are generally preferred to weak words and negative sentiments

9. Avoid emoticons. They are the sign of infantile desperation of the worst kind.

10. Popular RTs include some form of relevant news content

12. Research suggests that people are more likely to RT earlier in the working week (Monday-Wednesday) and during working hours (9-5 EST - USA)

13. A significant proportion of RTs contain a link to further information

14. Tweets are more likely to be re-tweeted as they pass through more hands (in a chain of trusted replication)

15. Tweets that are trusted and valued will have more viral impact for nonprofits, than ones that lack objectivity or are transparently propagandist.

16. Witty and humourous tweets can be effective but they may also backfire or alienate some followers.

17. Your tweet stream and your favourites should constitute a valued and trustworthy experience.

18. Do not endorse what you have not tried and tested yourself.

19. Engage your readers by offering free resources

20. Provide news items, alerts, and thematic or critical insights into current topics in the news

21. Support your readers with helpful resources and advice for common problems

22. Information that warns people about risks or dangers is valued and tends to be re-tweeted

23. Never spread rumours.

24. Build participatory engagement with requests to vote on topics or to take part in competitions

25. Ask readers to comment on blogs or topics and to request further information on topics that they identify as significant for their work.

Please send in any other suggestions and I will add them to the list. Please feel free to copy this blog for use in your own community or nonprofit newsletter. But please attribute the author and the website.

Dr Ian McCormick, recently published a new book:

The Art of Connection: the Social Life of Sentences

UK version 
Smashwords e-book