Online behaviors can reveal obsessive tendencies


 I sometimes  come across commenters and bloggers on the internet and my training is psychology causes little alarm bells to go off. With commenters people can just “trolls,” but other times there is something else going on. Such is the case with someone who goes by the username “A-Thought.” He joined an Apple news and enthusiasts site about 18 months ago and constantly promotes his Microsoft Surface Pro while criticizing Apple iPads. He has posted hundreds of times, and many of his posts are quite lengthy.

“A-Thought” would insist that his behavior is intellectually based, that he is just serving as a counter-point of information. In reality, most counselors and psychologists would quickly label this behavior “obsessive.” It is obvious he obsessively checks the Apple-centric site and quickly posts derogatory comments about Apple iPads while pointing out the virtues of his Surface Pro 4. He is often the first commenter on news stories that are posted about the Apple iPad.

When someone is dealing with obsessions and compulsions, or both (OCD), it is not a pleasant life. Psychologists describe this disorder as the mind that won’t quit. Activities such as excessively monitoring web sites and posting essentially the same information over and over again help relieve the anxiety that a person experiences. The time and attention given to these obsessions and compulsions usually interfere with the person’s life and relationships.

There are online resources that can help people like “A-thought.” The Anxiety and Depression Association of America is one place to start:

Never assume your presentation tech is going to work


I watched painfully a few weeks ago as a workshop presenter struggled with getting her laptop to connect with the conference hotel’s projector. For whatever reason, it never connected despite two different tech support people helping her. As about 50 people in the audience watched, she opened up her college email, emailed the presentation to herself, shut down her computer, opened up the loaner laptop brought in by tech support, signed into her email, downloaded the presentation, and opened it in PowerPoint. Half of the workshop was over and the presenter was very flustered to say the least.

While I felt sorry for the presenter, in some ways I did not. Despite giving a presentation on technology (I’m not joking here), she forgot one of the first rules of technology and presentations: the technology might not work. The presenter was not someone doing her first workshop, she was a veteran. She should have known better.

You should always assume your technology will not work when you are scheduled to do a presentation. How can you be prepared for this? I like to have my presentation in three locations: on my laptop, on a USB drive, and in the cloud. Since my laptop is a Macbook Pro and I use Keynote, the file I have on the USB drive is a PowerPoint copy. My cloud copy is on Microsoft Office online or Google Drive. If all this fails, I am mentally prepared to move ahead quickly using just my notes.

Wanting to show video clips is always great, but has the potential for even more issues. I prefer to have the video downloaded into my laptop and embedded in the presentation, but follow the same scheme as with the presentation. Personally, I have found Google Drive to be the best place to keep the backup copies of my video clips.

If all of this seems like overkill, perhaps you have not had the experience of struggling to get your tech to work while 50 or 100 people staring at you. If you have had that experience, you know it is one you want to avoid repeating for any reason.

Microsoft customer service — not so much

Yesterday I had the simple task of canceling a Microsoft subscription to SkyDrive. Last year I added 20gb for $10, mainly to try out the service. You have to cancel it before it renews, or it does so automatically and there are no refunds. So, since it is an online service that should be simple, right? No, despite what the help forums tell you, you have to call. That’s right, to cancel an online service you have to call someone in the Philippines. Wait, before you call, you have to verify your account, via a code they will text you.


Well, I didn’t want to do that, so I decided just to delete the payment method on the account so it wouldn’t be charged. You can’t do that… without calling the call center in the Philippines.  So, I went through the process of selecting to have someone call me.

Microsoft_account-help 2

To their credit, someone called me within three minutes. Well, of course, he couldn’t talk to me without sending a code to my cell phone. It took me a minute to understand what the rep was saying because his English skills were a little limited. Finally, I understood, and read back the code. Shortly after I did, there was a loud buzz and the call disconnected. Yes, I had to go through the entire process again, only to get the loud buzz and be disconnected again. After the third times of entering codes, talking to someone, explaining why I wanted to cancel the subscription, and almost begging them to do so, it was done. Time spent: 40 minutes.

I had a similar experience when I went to install a new copy of Windows 8 on my computer. After installation, I received a notice that said I couldn’t activate online, they I had to CALL to verify. Evidently they thought I had stolen the copy of Windows. I had to read a string of numbers, and then enter a string of numbers.

What will drive people away from your company today is you hassling them. Don’t hassle me over a $10 online subscription, because if you do, I will never subscribe to anything again.  Making me call to do something that should be done online is from 1990 and makes your company seem outdated.

These are not your parent’s grandparents

Did you (or will you) have mixed emotions about becoming a grandparent? Sure, you cannot wait to hold the baby, but taking on the title of “grandma” is just not all that exciting for you. For some people, the word “grandparent” conjures up an image of a frail, silver haired person in a rocking chair. You could sit on their knee and listen to a story, and they probably had a piece of candy for you. It is time to put that image away, because grandparents of today are quite different!

More Grandparents than Ever Before?

It is quite possible that we have more grandparents than ever before in our country. 73 million people, or one in four adults, are grandparents. By the year 2020 one in three people will be a grandparent. The rate of people becoming grandparents is growing at twice the rate of the overall population. According to Grand magazine, more than 75% of the people over the age of 50 are grandparents. These are staggering statistics.

Active and involved

Grandparents today are not sitting on the front porch waiting for the end to come. They are active, many are still working, and they often have leadership roles in their community. Most are involved in their grandchildren’s lives, seeing them once every week or two.

Let us also not forget that people over 50 control 70% of this nation’s wealth. Grandparents are making or influencing many of the daily spending decisions in our country. MetLife’s Grandparents poll has found that grandparents provide $370 billion annually in financial assistance to grandchildren.

If policymakers overlook grandparents as a vital economic force they are making a huge mistake!

Grandparents to the rescue

Family expert Amy Goyer suggests that grandparents have become a safety net. As adult children struggle with economic and employment issues, grandparents may step in to help with errands, to pay for health insurance, or just to be there to provide a sense of stability during difficult times.

More grandparents than ever before are becoming primary caregivers for their grandchildren. According to latest census information, 5.8 million children now live with their grandparents. In these households the parent may be present, but often is not.

There are costs for caregivers

Raising children the second time around can have financial, physical and social consequences. According to AARP, 19% of the grandparents raising grandchildren are at or below the poverty line. The risk of heart disease in women increases, and caring for a child may isolate the person from others their age.

The good news is that there are resources now to help grandparents who find themselves. AARP has an excellent grandparents resource site. Their site includes GrandFacts, which gives state specific information for grandparents who have become caregivers for their grandchildren.

This article was originally published in Outlook by the Bay:

Leaving Facebook sounds mature and righteous, but it’s actually the opposite

There has been a movement of late to encourage people to leave Facebook. Some are counter-culture types who decry the widespread use of this non-secure and privacy-invading website. Others are saying that it is getting in the way of real, authentic relationships and giving people a false sense of friendships, which are really shallow acquaintances. Some may say that it keeps people from getting out and connecting with real people face to face. They are all right, but they are all missing the bigger picture.

Facebook simply is doing too much good to be ignored or abandoned, at least until something better comes along. People with significant disabilities are connecting with others and forming communities in ways not possible for them before. Some who are too timid to request prayer for themselves or others, are asking hundreds to do so. Those who are missionaries or humanitarians in other countries can communicate freely with others about their important work. Critical issues ignored by the media, such as abject poverty or human trafficking, are being widely discussed like never before.

As with any other tool, Facebook has shortcomings and is abused by many people. Given the more than 500 million users, examples of these problems are abundant. Maybe we should also give up our telephones as well. They keep us from having real, face to face conversations. We simply call people rather than leave our homes. We don’t visit people like we should, instead just calling them. People use the telephone to gossip, to plan robberies, and to harass people. Telephones have security and privacy concerns.

The thing leaders need to do is promote the benefits of Facebook, and talk about the balanced and proper use of it. It is much easier to say “get off, give it up” and be done with it. It is harder to stay engaged day after day, manage your own behavior, and be a model of consistency for using a powerful, yet potentially misused tool.

Overlooked strategies to a successful blog

My wife Denise has reached at least the first tier of a having a successful blog at

She recently accepted an invitation from WellSphere to be part of their extensive network, and regularly exceeds 1,000 readers each week. She is now considered one of the top health bloggers in the country. This is “rare air” and most of us do not get close to this.

I would like some observations on the success to hearingelmo.

She brutally sticks to her main topics of living with hearing loss (and cochlear implant), and a hearing assistance dog.

Unlike my own blog, which covers just about anything and is not updated very much, you know what you are getting at hearingelmo. She is passionate and knowledgeable, and focused.

When you tune into Animal Planet, Food Network, or ESPN, you know what you are getting. Denise has even endured some criticism about her blog only being about those two topics. These are the same people who write into the Food Network and complain about all those cooking shows.

The topics are spiced up with pictures and video content.

Today’s web is made for color and movement. Hearingelmo does not disappoint with short snippets of video and some picture with every post. Text, even well written text, can be dull and boring.

You can be a first time reader and know what is going on.

One of my pet peeves is when a person posts a question on a message board or forum, and some person posts that “we have already talked about that six months ago.” Well, not everyone is living in their parents’ basement with the time to read every post on your favorite forums.

Who is the most important person reading your blog today? The first time reader. Hearingelmo very obviously understands that some readers are first time readers, who do not know her, or anything about her topic. That is why I am confident sending someone there who wants to know more about life with hearing loss or a hearing assistance dog.

We could go into other areas including conversational and personal writing style, regular updates, links to other helpful resources, etc., but these first three are ones that are often overlooked.