The Growing Number of People Shifting to Healthier Alternatives to Smoking

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When it comes to taking care of one’s health and wellbeing, it is fair to say that individuals unfortunately do not always have their priorities in order. Of course, your health and wellbeing should always be at the top of your list of priorities, but many people unfortunately do not hold the same regard for their health and wellbeing, as others do. There are many different ways that individuals choose to treat their bodies, not all of them ideal. One of the worst things you can do for your health is smoke, and yet there are millions of people around the world to practice this habit everyday. For some people, smoking is a stress reliever, while for others it is simply a bad habit they find challenging to kick to the curb after so many years of carrying it out. Regardless of the reason, the fact is always that smoking is an unhealthy practice that is not only irresponsible but inherently dangerous for one’s health and even their very mortality. So, what can smokers do to shift themselves away from this bad habit?

One of the biggest unhealthy practices that millions of individuals around the globe do everyday is smoke. This much is certain. Millions of individuals smoke every day, and while the practice itself is inherently and undeniably unhealthy, this does not seem to be enough of a fact to stop people from choosing to pollute their bodies with the toxic smoke inhalation that is the direct response of the practice. Even as the years have gone on and the health issues and unfortunate fatalities have continued to climb in many individuals who smoke, there has been little to no shift in the way that smokers approach their unhealthy habit from the onset. Yes, the rise in awareness and research has resulted in some individuals taking the active and consistent steps to quit, but for the most part, there has been considerably less impact that one might reasonably expect.

The biggest scope of impact – and the one that continues to make more and more of a positive impact across the board and around the globe – is the healthier alternatives to smoking that are now globally available to the market. Thankfully, there are more and more of them all the time, nearly all of which are constantly evolving and being driven to their next iteration where they function and thrive in even more healthier and wholesome ways. From the controversial e cigarette to nicotine gum and patches, and even switching out cigarettes for joints, there are many healthy alternatives to smoking available these days. And more to the point, they are always evolving. Whether it be the new flavours of e liquid available on the market, or the advancements in the latest nicotine-focused hypnotherapies, the fact of the matter is that the healthier alternatives to smoking are not only well and truly here, but they are getting bolder, better, faster, and stronger all the time.

This is a new era in the fight to shift smokers away from the toxic habit of smoking and towards healthier alternatives. We are gaining more awareness and insight than ever before, and it is a growing pool of awareness and related information that is driving the point home more cleanly and more vividly than ever. While the odds of getting the entire global population to quit smoking in the near future is slim to none, there is a growing number of smokers around the globe that are beginning to put down the cigarettes, instead shifting towards the healthier alternatives that are now so widely distributed across the international market. The fight is not over yet, but the winning side is steadily shifting to become the side dedicated to a healthier future for all – including, of course, individuals who smoke. This is just the start, and the best innovations and revolutions are yet to come.

When it comes to discussing issues of health and wellbeing, it is fair to say that there are many points that are decidedly controversial, to say the least. While health and wellbeing is indeed one of the biggest priorities for so many of us, not everybody holds that same standard and prioritisation that most of us reserve for these crucial points. There are many unhealthy practices that millions of people practice everyday, the most dangerous and even life-threatening being the habit of smoking. There are many reasons why people smoke, but at the end of the day there is always the weight of knowing what you are choosing to do to your body and put your health and wellbeing through. There must be a better way to approach this. And thankfully, there is. In fact, today there are multiple healthier alternatives to smoking available on the market around the globe. We are finally providing the much-needed healthier alternatives to one of the biggest contributors to poor health ever.

College Financing Avenues Available for Students with Disabilities

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College is usually one of the biggest expenses a person can face; however, it is an investment in their future and a way to achieve their goals. Importantly, college can even be more expensive for people with disabilities.

In many cases, accommodations to make their classrooms accessible have to be paid by the student. Furthermore, medical bills also take a toll on their finances, with higher costs than average, and their transportation needs can be more expensive than other students. Therefore, students with disabilities should be as well informed as possible about the options they have when it comes to funding.

Here, some of these options are presented, in the hope that students with disabilities can learn more about the resources available to them.

Scholarships

Students with disabilities should get information about the many scholarship options available to them.

Some of these are:

  • AAHD Frederick J. Krause Scholarship on Health and Disability.
  • Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (AG Bell) College Scholarship Program.
  • Google Lime Scholarship Program.
  • Baer Reintegration Scholarship.
  • Flora Marie Jenkins Memorial Disability Scholarship.
  • National Center for Learning Disabilities Anne Ford and Allegra Ford Thomas Scholarships.
  • Hemophilia Federation of America (HFA) Educational Scholarships.
  • Microsoft disAbility Scholarship.

Some of these scholarships are available to any student who has finished high school, while others have more specific criteria. The scholarships offered by Google and Microsoft are for students with disabilities who want to declare a major related to technology. Meanwhile, the Baer Reintegration Scholarship is directed to students with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder.

Federal Disability Benefits

The federal government has been instrumental in making more campuses accessible to students with disabilities. Furthermore, they consider this population as eligible for the Federal TRIO Programs. These are services that are offered to people from disadvantaged backgrounds, as well as students with disabilities. There are eight different programs, and people are eligible from middle school until they finish their graduate studies.

Also, the Pell grant is available to all students, including those with disabilities. The amount of the grant will depend on several aspects, including how expensive the school the person wishes to attend is, if their education will be full-time or part-time, the depth of financial need, and more. Therefore, an extensive process is done to apply for this grant.

The amount depends on your financial need, costs to attend school, status as a full-time or part-time student, and plans to attend school for a full academic year or less.

The government also offers the Vocational Rehabilitation Program, which is focused on helping people with disabilities to find a job. During the assessment, they offer insight on what the educational goal should be for this person based on their aptitudes and vocation. After this, the program offers assistance with higher education options, including vocational training.

Other Financial Options

Loans

The first option for loans should always be federal loans. The amount students can borrow varies, but the interest rates are much better than loans from a private institution. Like any other student, students with disabilities must fill out the Free Application for Student Aid (FAFSA), where their eligibility is assessed.

Students with disabilities must do a correct estimate of the cost of attendance. As these are very likely to be higher than for other students. Therefore, it is important to have the necessary documentation to provide proof of these estimates. This means, being able to provide the bills and services the student will have to pay due to their disability.

On the other hand, there are personal loans for fair credit and private loans, that will take into consideration credit scores as well as other criteria, which will depend on the institution in question.

Grants

Unlike loans, grants do not need to be paid back. However, this usually translates into stricter criteria. Like with loans, financial need and family situation are assessed before a grant is awarded. Similar to scholarships, there are numerous grants offered every year to students with disabilities.

Some of these are:

  • The Foundation for Science and Disability Grant.
  • Gabriel’s Foundation of Hope Scholarships and Grants.
  • Alice Chavez Pardini Education Advancement Grant.
  • Michigan Scholarships and Grants for Students who are Blind or Visually Impaired.

Just like with scholarships, grants can be general or highly specific. The Foundation for Science and Disability Grant is offered to students who will be focusing on STEM careers, while the Alice Chavez grant is specifically for people who are legally blind. Furthermore, other grants are awarded to cover for any technological or accessibility issues that need to be paid by the student due to their disability.

Work-Study Programs

These programs are available to all students and the vast majority of them are funded by the federal government. However, there are limits to how much a student can earn through these programs. The hourly pay starts at the minimum wage, and it can increase depending on the job.

Summary

The federal government has implemented different bills and acts to ensure students with disabilities are not discriminated against in college. However, this goes beyond improving accessibility. Increased financial expenses mean that college, which can already be very expensive, can become a prohibitive dream for many. Therefore, financial aid becomes instrumental for most students with disabilities, and getting informed about the options available can make all the difference. It is thanks to these financial aid opportunities that many students with disabilities can embark on a successful college career.

 

Secrets to Successful, Lasting Businesses in The Digital Era

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Business is an industry that is constantly evolving from one iteration into the next. This is the industry that is responsible for the ongoing advancement of companies and entire industries. The term ‘business’ itself is quite broad, but the fundamentals that help the industry to not only survive but positively thrive, are more or less set in stone. Now, as we move further into the digital era, those fundamentals are modernising more and more. Reshaping and realigning with the way the world is moving. A successful business has always been about driving company fundamentals ever-forward to bring consumers the next experience, products, and services. That has not changed, but the ways in which companies and entire industries go about gravitating towards that experience have. So, what is the key to successful and lasting business in the digital era? Longevity and success in any business is always fantastic, but it is maintaining that longevity and success, and consistently growing it, that many businesses find difficult to nail down.

Growth Is the New Ambition for Businesses

Thankfully, there is a solution to a point, and it centres all around forging, building, maintaining, and growing human relationships in a professional setting. The decision to become an entrepreneur is one that should never be taken lightly, and nowhere else is this truer than in the case of modern business. Thanks to ongoing advancements in digitalisation and technological innovation, modern businesses are more focused than ever on achieving longevity and success not just instantaneously, but on an ongoing basis. It is more easily said than done, as well, as no business is without its challenges and hurdles. But there is one primary focus that ultimately has proven to be the key to ongoing longevity and success in modern business, time and again, across varying industries. Quite often, this is a business strategy that is crucial but too often overlooked, but what exactly is it, and why is it so important in the first place?

Catering to Your Target Market

First and foremost, no business and hope to survive past its first fiscal year (if it survives that long at all) without the loyalty and support of its consumers. Here’s the reality: no matter which industry a business thrives in, that business quite literally lives to serve a purpose. And in every case, across every industry, that purpose always centres around the consumers and giving them the best possible experience, product, or service available on the market. Keeping those consumers happy and drawing and maintaining their business, while continuing to grow your company, is no easy feat. It takes a lot of hard work, grit, and ongoing consumer communications both with consumers and within the company itself, to give consumers the best that you possibly can. But alas, that is the goal (and it always will be, for that matter). Your consumers are like your business’ family, so keeping them happy and loyal to your company is the most important foundational aspect of all.

Focussing on Your Loyal Consumers

Your business will thrive and excel if you take note of this advice, going on to become stronger and stronger all the time, on an ongoing basis. Consumer focus helps to ensure that all parties are getting the most benefit out of transactions, always. Everything else of course has its place (think everything from business meetings on a Webinar Software platform to industry networking events, and everything in between and beyond), but at the end of the day, consumer focus is the primary key because, without it, even the strongest business concept cannot hope to live a very long and healthy life at all. At the end of the day, your focus as an entrepreneur and business owner should always be on the consumers and what you can do to ensure that they have the best perception of your company and the best experience using the experiences, products, or services that your company provides. If you cannot achieve that, your business cannot hope to last very long at all. Harsh as it may seem, that is the unwavering truth of the matter.

Conclusion

The professional landscape of business is one that is literally always in the midst of its own evolution. Companies and entire industries are always working towards becoming bolder and stronger iterations of their former and current selves. Reshaping and realigning to move in the same pivotal direction as the rest of the world, modern businesses are realising the power of digitalisation and technological advancement and using that power to their distinct advantage. In a professional landscape that is more capable and more competitive than ever, there is immense power in modern business. The secret to unlocking that power? Consumer focus. More than anything else, consumer focus must be the prominent focus because at the end of the day, no business amounts to anything without resonating with consumers and making them see its value. Everything else will come in due time.

Technology and Wellbeing: Are They Totally Incompatible?

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The Global Wellness Summit just released its annual Future of Wellness list, and among their predictions of the biggest health trends anticipated for 2020 sits the increased integration of health (especially mental health) and technology. You know, the rise of things like virtual therapy, mindfulness apps, and wearable devices to decipher your moods, feelings and blood pressure. That kind of thing.

I am deeply worried.

On one hand, technology has provided the healthcare community with valuable tools for improving patient care, from apps for booking appointments and delivering appointment reminders, to more specific medical technologies that have improved the quality of healthcare delivery, increased patient safety, decreased the frequency of medical errors and strengthened the interaction between patients and healthcare providers. Technology has led us to where we are today, with access to new and better-than-ever diagnostic tools, cutting-edge treatments, access to remote consultations with specialists, and intuitive mobile apps that lead to better healthcare results overall. 

Without advances in technology we wouldn’t be celebrating the success of the world’s first robotic surgery in China last year, where a patient suffering from numbness received robotic surgery from robot Tinavi, the world’s only orthopedic robotic system capable of carrying out surgery on the extremities. The 42-year-old patient recovered in record time as a result – he was able to get up from bed the next day and had recovered within one week.

But on the other hand, when it comes to individuals rather than healthcare providers, there are now virtual reality apps that claim to help ease symptoms of depression and anxiety, and devices that can help people with their postoperative recovery process. There are sports and fitness apps that help you hit weekly fitness targets, pregnancy apps that help you along the journey and menstrual period trackers that can help couples conceive.

I am most certainly not denying that technology has disrupted the healthcare industry in the way it desperately needed to be, nor that technology should be celebrated for its remarkable capacity to save lives and prevent suffering. What I am saying, however, is that technology is a double edged sword when it comes to our personal health, and the two are – in my opinion – wholly incompatible.

Take the influx of health and wellbeing apps like sleep cycle analysis, and meditation apps, for example. Do people honestly expect that by closing their eyes and clicking START on a meditation app they will experience that same powerful, spiritual, yogic state of relaxation meditation promises its devoted practisers? Meditation is premised on using one’s breath to reduce the adrenaline, cortisol and other stress-related chemicals constantly pulsing through our body – but mobile phones themselves emit a form of non-ionizing electromagnetic radiation capable of causing changes to brain activity. At the same time phones been proven to cause anxiety, frustration and impatience in mobile users.

To me, I am at a loss as to why anyone would think meditating via one’s mobile phone is a good idea. Not only are you being constantly tempted to flick open your phone when you see texts and emails coming in from friends, but you are also being tempted into distraction by pop up advertisements for white Label CBD products and PatPat outfit ensembles for you and your partner. It is surely impossible to get through a full meditation without sneaking a glance at the screen.

Studies have literally proven that the blue light on mobile devices and computers restrain the production of melatonin, the hormone that controls your sleep cycle or circadian rhythm. In other words, looking at a screen – even if dim – can physically have an effect on your body clock, in turn affecting our physiology and behavior.

Psychologically, overuse of mobile phones has been scientifically proven to increase anxiety, feelings of loneliness, and low self-esteem, as well as frustration, and impatience in instances where the technology fails. So, the polar opposite of the outcome desired from meditation and calming apps such as Buddhify and Headspace. Personally, I get a tight chest, feeling of shortness of breath, and the beginnings of a headache whenever I am even close to my phone. Having spent years trying to self-diagnose this ‘tech disorder’ I have finally concluded that while it mightn’t have yet been definitely proven, the mental anxiety that comes with cell phone addiction (which I clearly have) is manifesting physically within me.

Over to smartphones and exercise, and there are more studies proving that rather than helping people exercise in the gym, smartphones can have a negative effect on physical fitness levels. Recently researchers from Kent State University found that college students tended to be less fit when they spent as much as 14 hours a day on their phones, compared with those who spent just an hour and a half a day on their phones. The study, which was published in the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, followed more than 300 college students and studied the correlations between smartphone usage and fitness and body composition.

The evidence is there – technology (smartphones specifically) and mental health and wellbeing just aren’t meant to go hand in hand. Spending time in nature, on the other hand, has been proven to have measurable benefits on a person’s wellbeing, as well as provide symptom relief for health issues like heart disease, depression, cancer, anxiety and attention disorders. Spending 40 minutes walking in a cedar forest can lead to lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which is required for blood pressure and immune-system function. So rather than download that meditation app or fitness tracker, why not put down the phone and just for a walk outdoors instead? Let’s take a step back, in order to keep progressing as humans were intended.

Aviation Industry Vows To Reduce Net Carbon Emissions, While Upping Number Of Flights

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Activists and nonprofit organisations are up in arms over the fact that the UK aviation industry has pledged to cut its net carbon emissions to zero by 2050, while still planning to roll out 70% more flights over the next three decades.

This ambitious aim is mostly to accommodate the expanding middle class in their desire to explore beyond the borders they know – especially within the developing bloc of Brazil, Russia, India, and China. With rising income and cheaper airfares comes increased access to international travel, and boy does the aviation industry know it. In recent years international travel has simply exploded: in 2016, there were a whopping 3.8 billion air travelers, but the International Air Transport Association expects this will double by 2035 to 7.2 billion passengers.

But at the same time, members of the Sustainable Aviation coalition are signing an international commitment to reach net zero by 2050, with more than a third of the reduction in C02 emissions to be achieved through carbon offsetting on flights. The decarbonisation plan replaces a previous commitment that saw signatories commit to reducing future emissions to just half of what is currently emitted, and aims to do so through more efficient engine technology, smarter flight operations and better fuels. But no matter how efficient engine fuels can be, and no matter what routes airlines take, it simply won’t make up for the expected 70% growth in daily flights that industry anticipates over the next 30 years.

Without putting a cap on growth, how do they expect this will happen?

The science is very clear.

In 2018, commercial airlines burned 94 billion gallons of fossil fuel globally. Jet fuel produces around 21 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions per gallon burned. The carbon intensity of flying an aeroplane is something that can no longer be debated. One round-trip flight between New York and California, for example, generates around 20 percent of the greenhouse gases that a car emits over an entire year. There are around 90,000 flights taking off a day in the U.S. alone. Need I go on?

When we found out eating red meat was perhaps the most carbon intensive human activity we could participate in, people began advocating that we eat less red meat. Why then, upon learning how carbon intensive flying is, are airlines and industry not advocating for less flights, and more efficient flights at that?

Oh, that’s right. Because money.

Signing this ‘net zero’ commitment is yet another empty promise from businesses, another sign of the greenwashing we have come to expect from industry in the increasingly capitalist world we live in.  How do they anticipate doing this, beyond charging customers more per flight to offset their emissions (or perhaps by forcing them to do so), and as a result investing in the planting of more trees elsewhere?

We’re making progress environmentally-speaking in so many other ways. Green Monday is making an impact on how much meat we as a society eat, we are lucky enough to have private companies like Clearabee making private waste collection easier than ever, and the cost of solar panels and access to renewable energies is lessening each and every year. Bit by bit, reusable coffee mugs and water bottles are becoming more widely used, people are walking more than they used to, and schools worldwide are integrating sustainable development into their curriculum. Thanks to young heroes and activists like Time’s Person of The Year 2019 Greta Thunberg, we are slowly coming to understand as a global society that changes need to be made. Aviation is the next big focus – we need to do things differently, asap.

Signing this commitment is certainly a sign that at last the need for change has been recognised, but we need to ensure this recognition is accompanied by solid actionable goals to reduce the CO2 emissions that result from all this flying. The plan is to develop new tech, like biofuels and electric planes. And while these technologies are in the process of being developed, they are in no way at the stage of development where commercial airlines can begin rolling them out. I don’t anticipate that an electric plane will be capable of carrying a full flight of passengers overseas for another 10 years at least, and by then, we will be inching dangerously close to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change deadline for cutting net human carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions 45% by 2030, as well as cutting emissions further to net zero by 2050.

We need to take more drastic steps to reduce our carbon emissions, and by that I mean to say that we need to reduce the number of flights we take. Is the answer a global ‘one flight a week’ per person policy, akin to that of China’s one child policy? Or is the answer to tax airlines so heavily that they will once again become too expensive for the middle class to afford? Neither seems fair, but perhaps these are our best options.

Will social media continue to perpetuate fashion trends in 2020?

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Social media is everywhere and we use it every day. It’s a platform for mass consumerism because let’s face it, 90% of what you see are ads or product placements. That dress your favorite influencer is wearing? Sponsored. Those gorgeous pearls that your friend was spotted wearing? Sponsored. If social media were a crowd, you would be able to toss ten pebbles in the air and manage to hit ten social media influencers or people who post sponsored posts or give social media reviews.

The perpetuation of consumerism is so rampant on social media that we barely even notice it anymore, taking it for granted and accepting that it is what it is. Teenagers are in the loop and are much more connected to current trends and aware of what’s going on than their parents. They know all the brands and they know what’s hot and they want it. It’s becoming a bit of a troubling platform because kids are harassing their parents to drop $600 on a belt and throwing a tantrum when they can’t comprehend the concept of money.

Aside from that, social media has had a hand in pushing the fashion industry to new heights. Today, little known home brand designers are able to get their pieces out there without having to go through the trouble of interning and learning the ropes in hopes of getting noticed and nabbing the opportunity of launching their own line. Today, if they can sew and create stunning pieces, there will be no lack of customers, regardless of who they are – if their works of art are made from quality fabrics and the piece is well made, people will pay hundreds for piece of clothing that’s unique and handmade. While it was okay back in 2006 to purchase something that everyone else had, it’s no longer advisable when you’re an influencer because in a world of so many social media accounts and feeds that are prettier than yours, you need every edge you can get to stand out.

Who can forget low budget cosplay? That social media account went viral thanks to its uniqueness. Pairing it with one of the biggest industries in the world was simply genius. While reports say that men’s fashion will see a dip in 2020, brands are confident they will be able to lead another wave of renewed interest, however, there are certain trends that fashion influencers want to drop, starting with the crossbody bag. Men bags were all the rage in 2012, bringing androgyny to the world of men. However, men slowly lost interest in the item because it was troublesome to carry around and let’s face it – men love convenience. The man bag was a convenient place for them to put their things, until they realized it was more trouble than it was worth.

How about the long line tee? Kanye West is a perfect example of influencer marketing. While he’s a celebrity per se, what influencers do is in line with what he does. By dressing a certain way and being a colorful character, you naturally attract the public to follow you, even if that means copying your long dress look. These shirts that reach past your knees might look swag on the street, but the truth is they make you look disproportionate and short.

There goes to show how social media continues to morph the methods of how fashion is disseminated. Instead of the masses simply waiting for large clothing manufacturers to drop their seasonal line and make do with what is available, shopping has become largely interactive. You can shop online, you can shop your favorite celebrity’s clothes, you can even shop your favorite tv show’s character’s outfits. Nothing is off limits anymore. Furthermore, it’s becoming interesting to see how the feedback from consumers is actively influencing manufacturers.

It is probably safe to say that social media will continue to influence fashion, whether it wants to be influenced or not. It’s the classic case of supply and demand. When the industry sees what the masses want, they begin mass producing it in hopes of capitalizing on that desire. For a moment there, the world was obsessed with unicorns – and the craze didn’t come from the catwalk, it didn’t come from Vogue either. It came from masses of Millennials looking for some magic to inject into the drab lives their parents had left for them, filled with societal pressures and financial struggles.

From upgrading men’s fashion and throwing variety into a highly saturated market, social media is exactly what a fast paced industry like fashion needs in order to keep growing in the right direction. 

Awakened but so Very Asleep (the Tragedy of Today)

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Through the internet and through social media, you could say that we are now at a time of unparalleled connectivity. We are aware of global as well as national issues and a click away from friends and family members. 

With technology and social media on the rise, the possibilities seem endless. However, could too much connectivity be (ironically) fostering more disconnection instead? When does social media become more of a detriment to society than a benefit?

For some of us, scrolling through Facebook, Twitter and Instagram is like coffee in the morning and we are now beginning to think about things like social media as an addiction, something that distracts from reality instead of heightening it. 

We are beginning to have to talk seriously about our kids, glued to their phone screens for most of their waking days (and nights). We are beginning to think about digital dependency and the effects of this type of addictive, compulsive behavior on mental health. 

A study found that the average Brit checks their phone as much as 28 times a day. Although smartphones can be a great help to people with busy lifestyles, the issue arises when this sort of compulsive behavior does nothing to add value to life and instead takes something away from your life. We now have to ask ourselves whether we are really just wasting our time when we could be doing so much more with ourselves.

Is this what we’ve become?

Though there is a lack of research in the field of social media and mental health, there are many studies showing that an overindulgence in social media can create feelings of unhappiness and isolation. You may have been there before. Scrolling through your Instagram feed and seeing those perfectly filtered photos. An age of narcissists that (again ironically) indulge in voyeurism to possibly drown out deep self-esteem issues, all while bringing down the self-esteem of others in a dark, depressing loop. 

You pay your dues to how other people see you in life, comparing, coveting…

It’s all deeply unsettling and tragically unhealthy, to say the least. 

Our lives become the stage show of others, reality TV replaced by a sick pseudo-fantasy reality (if that’s even a word). 

We scroll through our tweets, watching the numbers go up, craving acceptance while sinners and keyboard warriors and trolls lurk in the shadows.

Blue light (emitted from your smartphone) before bedtime contributes to poor quality sleep. Feelings of loathing and self-doubt creep in as you start comparing yourself and the crappiness of your life, your blotchy skin, your moles with the picture-perfect, statuesque beings beamed at you from your screen.

A study conducted by the University of Copenhagen found that there are many Facebook users who are suffering from “Facebook envy”, making them particularly depressed. When the users were made to take a break from Facebook, they were found to be more satisfied with their lives. 

By limiting the amount of time that you spend scrolling through social media, you can let real life seep in in all its imperfect and beautiful glory. 

Spend more time with your loved ones and on loving yourself. Being connected to people in the virtual world may actually be making you lonelier

Envy is not the only thing wrong with social media. This engine of connection may actually be causing us to drift apart and to not be truly present, lost in the moment (you must have seen those pictures of a table full of people all staring at their phones). Those people around you are real, they’re living, breathing, they’re there…

Social media marketing can also be a big contributor to a toxic culture of insane consumerism. Can you blame us for becoming compulsive buyers when we’re being attacked by products through so many different channels? From CBD stores to streetwear fashion, ecommerce has permeated the platform. 

It doesn’t just stop at buying things that you don’t need or the financial difficulties that can come with that. Some people have actually reportedly improved the quality of their lives after a digital detox and global research consultancy, Kantar TNS through a study found that millennials spend about 3.8 hours a day, a day in a week and about 49 days a year on their phones, with their priorities on social media rather than on other forms of media. There are also some people who are far worse off, with two days in a week and about a hundred days in a year spent on their smartphones, playing mobile games, scrolling through Twitter, Instagram, Facebook… 

Becoming conscious is a much-needed priority and (again ironically) after the great distance that human civilization appears to have crossed in our development as a species, our amazing abilities have only really gotten us so far. 

Look at the studies. They show us that social media may be contributing to a large number of the cases of depression, anxiety and other mental illnesses among the youth. 

The battle may be for acceptance or it may be for nothing at all. Whatever the case, it could just be that the battle is in our own minds and with ourselves…

A Weapon of Mass Communication – Current Trends Driving Telecom Higher

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The telecommunications industry has seen and been through its fair share of revolutionary advancements and further developments. If you think about it, the telecommunications industry is one of the most global, consistently sought after industries in the world. Most people upgrade their phone to a newer version every two to three years, if not sooner. With 7.7 billion people on the planet, and most of them owning a phone, that is a significantly large turnover for cellular devices. Couple this with the fact that telecommunications technology is in a literally-constant state of evolution, and you get an industry and a consumer base that are always expecting and adapting to the most recent developments in the industry. There are various trends in the telecommunications sector, and all of them can work in alignment with one another to create what is essentially a seamless consumer experience, and ultimately a seamless global connectivity network.

The first trend currently making waves in the industry is also the one that has proven to be more than a trend – it has proven to be a constant feature in the sector. Today’s telecommunication companies have an innate focus on the customer experience, and it is that focus that is driving them to continuously higher peaks. The largest demographic that forms the telecommunications industry consumer base is now the millennial generation, as they are not only the demographic with the largest percentage of the global population, but they are the first generation to head future generations of tech-savvy, reliant consumers. As such, their opinions on the industry’s current running are more important than they have ever been before, and the telecommunications industry is more than willing to listen to them. This shift in consumer presence means that the industry has had to take note of how the world’s first digitally-impressed generation expect their communication (and their world) to operate. Customer service has always been an innate focus of many industries, the telecommunications industry included, but consumers have never been as focused on having the best of the best as they are now. They know what is the best mobile app for laundry payments, they know what food is being offered on various food delivery platforms, they know which VPN will help them stay secure. They basically they know what they can get and they want to make sure they get the best value for money. 

5G connectivity is just the first evolution of what is sure to be a constant strive for seamless technological connection and customer-experience success, and even that has sent waves of promise barrelling through the planet – and it is not even available for mainstream public consumption yet. Artificial intelligence (AI) is another trend that is currently set to significantly disrupt the telecommunications sector. 5G has many benefits, but one of its most exciting is the additional ability to take on another tech like AI. In short, AI can be used as a tool to improve how networks plan and manage themselves and their input and output. The idea is that operators will soon be able to predict customer demand ahead of time, which would ease off the use of tariffs. Additionally, it appears as if we are on the verge of augmented reality (AR) being a widespread integration into new phone models on the market. Essentially, the concept is that AR-enabled smartphones will be able to give users brand new experiences while enabling stronger, more acute personalisation in the process.

One of the biggest – and most ongoing – trends in the telecommunications industry is consumer loyalty. With so many innovations happening in the industry all the time, it can be hard for consumers to keep up with the latest and greatest that the telecommunications industry has to offer. It would be easy to assume that all telecom companies have the exact same services, products, and ideas to offer their customers, but the reality is that they do not. It is for this reason that telecom companies are in a constant battle to win consumers from their competitors, to reign in more consumers in the hope of effectively creating a stronger sense of consumer loyalty. The nature of telecommunication ensures that there will be continuous innovation and improvement, and telecom companies are the middle men, the ones charged with bridging the gap between industry know-how and consumer understanding. The companies that can give consumers the best deals, the best service, and the best access are the ones that will continue to reign as titans of industry.

Telecommunications is an industry that literally always finds itself in a constant state of evolution. As one upgrade in the system rolls through and becomes mainstream, another is right up the alley ready to wow consumers all over again. The current trends that are driving the telecommunications industry forward and to higher peaks are fine examples of the industry’s shift towards impressive and awe-inspiring levels of connectivity. From 5G bringing faster loading times and internet speed, to AI and AR turning the smartphone into a weapon of mass communication, the telecommunications industry continues to prove its unwavering value as the world’s most inter-connected industry.

Technology update in the stock market

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The internet has dramatically revolutionised a number of fields, not least of all that of the financial markets. From robo-advisors to bitcoin to online banking to big data and analytics, the possibilities are endless thanks to the advent of new technologies such as AI, automation and the IoT. Simply consider that 10 years ago we were walking into a bank to deposit money while today we can wire a sum of money to an international account with the press of a button. 

Fintech’  or financial technologies is the most rapidly growing field of technology in the world today, and encompasses the technology and innovation that aims to compete with traditional financial methods in the delivery of financial services.The world of finance, including investment, has been completely and unarguably upended by fintech. And the trading of stocks and shares is no different. 

Many still associate share trading with in-person transactions on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), with all the hustle, bustle and excitement that it entails. But unfortunately for those who prefer a taste of the dramatic, share trading can now be as simple and as inhumane and un-interactive as the tapping of a button on a personal phone. 

While the NYSE still ensures that kind of visual is maintained in the eye of the stockholder, most trading today takes place privately, over computer systems owned by individuals. The trades are transacted via underground fibre-optic networks that carry messages between computer systems at banks and trading firms, into data centres that host a particular exchange’s trading engine. Apps and platforms are, it seems, the new NYSE, and there are several which are proving popular among modern traders.

Why is this, you wonder? Simply because there are typically lower costs associated with online traders, as trade commissions tend to be larger when it comes to in-person investing. For example, if you seek the help of an actual stockbroker, you can expect to pay roughly $30.99 per trade in commission. To make the same investment online, you might spend an average of $8.90. Online brokers are, in general, cheaper, mostly because they don’t have the cover the same overheads as stockbrokers who work in the more physical sense.

When it comes to finding a broker online, E-Trade is perhaps one of the best known online brokerage providers, with three different trade platforms available for users in addition to its market data, quotes, data analysis and other useful information and resources. Best of all., E-Trade offers plenty of commission-free funds. There are also broker platforms Fidelity, TD Ameritrade and Vanguard, which has an average expense ratio of just 0.10%. Interactive Brokers is another that is recognised for its low cost but comprehensive service platform. 

Next, there are platforms dedicated entirely to stock market research. From Tradespoon (which offers a 7 day free trial) to StockFetcher.com, Yewno|Edge, TradingView and The Motley Fool Stock Advisor, there is no shortage of online tools and resources for analysing the stock market; assessing a company’s annual report performance, for example, and its annual return on investment (ROI). It’s now possible to access a wide range of stock market analysis tools online, such as stock screeners – which scan the entire market to give you information on average trading volume, price, chart patterns and so forth – charting software, and stock simulators. 

Now onto the platforms and websites that actually allow individuals to sidestep the broker and directly buy shares themselves. Apps like Robinhood Trading have made it easier than ever to access stock market trading, making it accessible to new types of traders with lower amounts of wealth than previous traders. That being said, RobinHood Trading doesn’t give traders access to a full range of investments like mutual funds, but it certainly works great for stocks and ETFs, and it recently added support for Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. 

Acorns, however, is the app that is best for complete beginners with no idea how to go about the trading of shares. It describes itself as a site for ‘investing your spare change’, implying that there is no such thing as too small a trade. It’s so easy that once your bank account is linked, Acorns will track your regular spending and “round up” purchases to the nearest dollar, which is then used to make small investments via Acorns. It also automatically builds users a portfolio of stock and bond investments based on a brief questionnaire, helping build users a diverse, broad portfolio in line with their investment goals.

Between the countless apps, websites and downloadable digital tools that help traders invest in shares with more efficiency than ever before possible, it’s no wonder that a growing percentage of the approximate $US5,100,000,000,000 traded daily is traded online. 

How Trade Is Affected by Recent Foreign Policies

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Despite the fact that it hasn’t yet actually happened, ‘Brexit’ is doing all that its supporters hoped it would: it is seriously shaking things up in Europe. Already the economy has slowed right down, people all over Europe are scrambling to gain residency for fear of being kicked out of their country of residence without the correct passport, and the political chaos that has ensued needs no mention. 

Following the 23 June 2016 referendum that asked the British populice the question “should the United Kingdom (UK) remain a member of the European Union (EU), or leave the European Union?”, a mere margin of 51.9 percent to 48.1 percent voted that the UK should leave the EU. And so it was decided that the country would extrapolate itself from the clutches of the club that links some of the world’s strongest nations to one another. 

Everyone – from the IMO, to the Bank of England, to the Confederation of British Industry to Barack Obama – said the change in foreign policy would have major implications on the UK’s economy and on global trade, warning there would be major financial shocks in the near term as well as long-term economic decline. But the nation forged ahead, committing itself to establishing a new trade relationship with EU27 by the end of the two-year window, and as a result hopefully boosting the British economy for the first time in many years. 

The irony of all this, is that the UK decided on Brexit in a bid to fix itself and drag itself out of the stagnant economic situation the rest of Eruope had found itself in – but in reality, uncertainty over the Brexit outcome has simply damaged the UK’s economic growth, seeing it drop from 2.4% in 2015 to 1.5% in 2018. Businesses are shutting up shop and moving their headquarters from the UK to other parts of the EU, and the British pound fell from $1.48 on the day of the referendum to $1.36 the very next day, according to the GBP index and dollar index. But perhaps the most consequential impact of Brexit has been on global trade.

Beyond that the mere exiting of the UK from the EU set a global precedent for countries leaving trade agreements (TAs), meaning that in future the exit process may become more difficult, Brexit might even have had such an impact that it will discourage the future creation of TAs. This is because they will likely become more costly to negotiate and perhaps less valuable once established due to reduced flexibility or insufficient integration. 

On the ground though, moving to an EU free trade deal and establishing new free trade agreements with the US, Australia and New Zealand following Brexit has an estimated negative impact on the UK economy of 1.4% – equivalent to £28 billion or £1,000 per household. By eliminating Britain’s tariff-free trade status with the other EU members, it will raise the cost of exports, in turn hurting UK exporters as their prices would therefore jump up in price, making them less affordable to EU buyers. The weaker pound, however, will negate some of the impact. Despite knowing all this the British government has nonetheless forged ahead, claiming free trade is the best way to increase exports, investment and support local businesses. 

Some other sad and potentially difficult outcomes of Brexit for the British people are that tariffs will also increase the cost of imports into the UK – one third of which come from the EU – creating inflation and lower standards for UK residents. Many UK companies could also lose the opportunity to bid on public contracts in EU countries, an ill-considered aspect of Brexit by the UK government and one that could cost the UK workforce billions in the long run. Banking is another area which will be hit hard by the change in foriegn policy, which is significant when one considers that British banks lend nearly $1.4 trillion annually to EU companies and governments, and most financial activities taking place in Europe are either directly or indirectly performed out of London.

It’s not all negative, though. In the long-term,the UK could certainly benefit from greater non-EU specific trade, by reducing barriers bilaterally with countries like Australia and New Zealand. New trade and investment agreements with these non-EU partners have the power to open the UK market to enhanced overseas competition, while simultaneously allowing the UK to focus more on areas of strength, such as services. There is no argument that Australia is well positioned to redefine its trade and investment relationship with its motherland, so it is therefore likely Australia as well as the UK will benefit from Brexit in the area of trade.

The thing is, countries that are open to international trade tend to grow faster, innovate, are more productive and enjoy higher incomes than those that do not. Open trade also benefits lower-income households by giving consumers access to more affordable goods, and services. Has the UK shot itself in the foot by voting yes for Brexit? The answer – for the time being – is yes, it has hurt the UK economy. But hopefully in the long-run, having a future relationship based on free trade and friendly cooperation will save the UK.