Saturday, October 24, 2015

I cannot find a button on Facebook, or LinkedIn, that says – “No, I don't want to 'friend' my ex-wife, she wants to kill me!”

Ten years on and Facebook, LinkedIn and god knows what other social media tools still ask me if I'd like to connect with ex's and some people I'd really rather not have in my life. Each time the social media systems upgrade their tools they seem to become slightly more invasive and intrude further on my life.

There are times when I feel I am battling Facebook, and that my life is being manipulated by the evil masterminds that choose what news I see. The only thing that's worse is not being able to get onto the net to check my feed.

I recently bought a new car, which I have to say I am extremely happy with. My Buick Verano is amazing. However, for the first month I was greeted with a female voice asking, “Would you like to activate your Onstar membership?” She asked it in sultry tones which I did find strangely appealing. If I play my cards right I think I might be in with a shot at her.

However, after a month of listening to her invitation the novelty began to get old, and I ended up calling Onstar and getting signed up. It's amazing. The only thing missing is that I can't customize the greeting. Having given this a great deal of thought, and taken advice from one of the leading members of my therapy team at Vancouver Hypnotherapy, I have decided I may try and find a way to hack the system.

Aigin suggested a message that starts something like this: “Hello Rob, I've been waiting for you...” or “So, you're back... I was hoping you'd swing by...”

More disturbingly, “Rob, where have you been?” or “Have you been out with .... . What does she have that I don't?”

This sort of mood enhancing greeting would be very welcome, though I can see how such technologies could go badly wrong as the technologies converge. If Facebook can't figure out that my ex-wife might be someone who has no desire to 'connect' with me, then the signs are not positive. You'd think that by linking to her Amazon account and seeing that during the currency of our marriage her propensity to buy books about common garden plants that can be used as poisons, and true life stories about wives who murdered their spouses and got away with it, there may be some sort of deduction that could be made.

I love the idea of my car developing personality, though. However, I can also see how, if it fell into the wrong hands this kind of interactive technology could go badly wrong. While linking to my calendar would provide a benefit, the car knowing where we are meant to be certainly sounds an attractive idea, there could be some troublesome downsides. After all, how long would it be before my interactive system linked to my Facebook account and started asking if I'd like to visit my ex wife's address should I be nearby? Or worse, started to voice her most common greetings and comments?

“Hello Rob, where are we going tonight?”

“Errr..... just out...”

“And you're wearing that?”

I have noticed that the car does know when I have a passenger. It's very cool. It turns on the passenger airbags automatically when it senses two people in the car. So, how long is it before the greeting defaults to, “I see you have a 'friend' with you...”

If it's weight calibration is very accurate it might even be able to recognize how often each regular passenger rides in my vehicle.

“Hmmm... her again... Is there anything you want to tell me about, Rob?'

Tie that in with a satellite location system, and aggregated data and it's only a short step to the predictive modeling solution that ends up in a conversation that goes a little like this:

After stopping and picking up a passenger from a particular location the car connects to a central data system and returns with the message;

“Hello Rob, 29.3% of drivers who picked up a passenger at this location subsequently booked an appointment with the Adult Health Clinic within three months, and with a divorce lawyer within six. Would you like me to arrange those appointments now?”

While I can manage technology up to a point, hearing this message might be a little unsettling for the passenger, particularly if it's one of my daughters.

Scaling back my social media is definitely a priority over the next few months. In the meantime, the voice in the car still sounds like the best offer I've had all day.

Rob Hadley

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Interventions – Good idea or bad mistake?

I am often asked about interventions, and it's something I am not a great fan of. The fact is, no one quits anything unless they genuinely want to. Cornering a person and explaining that they have to quit using alcohol or another substance is often a disaster.

While well meaning, the people involved in an intervention often have little experience of the substance in question, and may end up doing more harm than good. For example, in the case of spirits, quitting large quantities of alcohol very suddenly can induce seizures and even heart attack – not something which is generally considered a good thing. Additionally, there's often a judgemental element to interventions. An ultimatum is made, and the person at the center of the issue is placed in a position that creates more stress, and in some instances pushes them further into their addiction.

A more productive approach is to deal with the person struggling with addiction in a one on one setting, where there's less pressure. Ask them how they are doing. How's their general health, and how's their back?

“You know I've been getting some back pain...”

“You know that could be your liver, you have the occasional drink, right?”

Back pain is often how the liver expresses pain. There's no nerve endings in the liver, saw when it's inflamed we experience it as back pain, and people who put large amounts of any toxin in their body are going to experience some pain there.

“Do you get sweats at night?”

“Sure, I have for a while...”

Night sweats are a common way for the body to push toxins out. Particularly in alcohol use, you can expect night sweats to be present in people who overdo it.

“What about headaches?”

“Yeah... Sometimes.”

When we sweat at night, and put large quantities of alcohol into our body, there's a good chance that we will be existing in a permanent state of semi dehydration. A good indicator of this is inexplicable headaches.

So, having established that the person could feel a whole lot better, then it's probably a good time to introduce the idea of getting into a bit of alcohol moderation. Few people who are addicts want to go straight into total abstinence. In the case of alcohol (and some opiates) it can be a very bad idea. Introducing the idea of a gentle step down, and getting some help with that, starts to sound like a reasonable idea at this point.

At Vancouver Hypnotherapy Inc. we do this all the time. We introduce a gentle step down and bring the client to a point at which they're able to make some better choices. We use a softly softly approach. It's proved very successful for many of our addictions clients.
If you're looking for help, or have a family member who is struggling, give us a call on 604 484 0346.

Rob Hadley