Can Facebook Lower (Or Raise) Your IQ?

Earlier this week I proposed the question, “Is Facebook Technically A Video Game?

Well, today I am following that up by asking what I feel is an equally relevant, if not more relevant, question:

“Can Facebook Lower, Or Raise, Your IQ?”

Does Facebook Lower (Or Raise) Your IQ?

When I first joined Facebook around a decade ago during my final semester of college at Liberty University, Facebook was basically still in “running concept” format. It was only set-up for college students at the time.

To log on to Facebook meant a drama-free, stress-free, guilt-free experience. It seemed like back in those days, circa 2005, you could interact with your classmates and friends without being judged… or being tempted yourself to judge others.

I think we all have to be honest here and admit: it can be challenging to refrain from at least quickly subconsciously passing judgment as you scroll through hundreds of your friends’ strong opinions, daily selfies, and doses of TMI.


As I mentioned in Is Facebook Technically A Video Game?, Facebook has evolved into a place where people ultimately go to receive and give confirmation to each other.

That may sound simple enough, but the way I think it, each time we check our Facebook, we are entering into a world of concentrated drama; overexposing ourselves to information that outside of the social media website, would be not only impossible, but also, unnatural to encounter.

Yet we tend to enter the semi-alternative universe of Facebook nonchalantly and unguarded; even treating it as a form of escape.

In part, it is that escape. It’s an escape as you are exposed to positive people who share information with you that is close to or greater than your own intelligence level; but they are mixed in with those who are… not.

Daymond John Does Facebook Lower (Or Raise) Your IQ?

It reminds me of something Daymond John mentioned one time on Shark Tank. He mentioned the importance of “people proximity.” You ultimately become like the people who you are exposed to most in your social circle.

So out of your 500 or a thousand Facebook friends, who do you pay the most attention to as you scroll through your Facebook feed? Who do you let affect you the most? Who do you let affect your mood or current thought process, if nothing else?

Compared to actual reality, Facebook daily puts in you the same proximity as people who you might not normally interact with (even passively) on a personal level.

Thanks to Facebook, I can easily learn about the strong, one-sided views and opinions of anyone in my social network- and the thing is, I don’t necessarily want to.

So can Facebook lower, or raise, your IQ? I believe so. Just like how I believe being exposed to reality TV can, as well; as Jack Johnson sings about in his clever song, “Good People”.

Bad news, misused, give me some truth
You got too much to lose…
Wrong and resolute but in the mood to obey
Station to station desensitizing the nation
Going, going, gone

Does Facebook Lower (Or Raise) Your IQ?

Ten years ago, I didn’t have a daily feed of information coming from people of all types. I was pretty much limited to the influence of just those I actually spoke with in person each day; and again, they were never as opinionated or dramatic or likely to share too much information as those on Facebook tend to be.

Something I have noticed is that the people of Facebook who I respect the most tend to be the least openly opinionated.

They serve as a model for me to follow. It all goes back to that people proximity theory.

Even in in the unnatural (and largely unrealistic) setting of Facebook, I am still subconsciously seeking out and associating with the people I respect the most.

I believe that what you get out of Facebook is largely based on who you’re paying the most attention to, and sometimes more importantly, who you are choosing to ignore.

And from there, I believe your IQ can be affected for better or worse.

So the way I see it… no, Facebook doesn’t lower your IQ, but it can if you allow it to. In theory, you could choose to use Facebook as a tool to raise your IQ in the same way.

Baby Names: Jack vs. Frank

In naming our first child, my wife and I were very careful to choose a name that fit several important criteria: a) it has to be familiar, yet not overused or trendy; b)  there can only be one obvious way to spell it; c) there can only be one obvious way to say it; d) it has to be a “classic” American name; e) it has to be a strong name, f) it has to sound good with my last name(“Alex Shell” couldn’t work because it sounds like “Alec Shell”- same thing with “Max”). So Jack was the most obvious choice.  But as we have daydreamed about what to name another boy if we were to have one, we’ve had trouble finding another boy name that would fit our criteria.

All I could come up with is Frank.  But here’s the problem with Frank.  It’s not a cool name these days.  You can’t name your baby Frank.  Despite all the cool, classic, all-American Frank’s in our nation’s history, Frank isn’t a cool name for a baby in the 2010’s.  Even Frank Sinatra’s legacy of coolness can’t change that.

So why has Jack remained cool but Frank has not?  I’ve only got ridiculous theories.  But here they are:

1. Frank is another word for “hot dog”.  Jack is not.

2. Not a lot of cool young names start with “fr”.  Like Fred, for example.  But a lot of cool young names do start with “j”.  Like Josh, Jerome, and Jake.

3. Frank is pretty similar to the f-word.  So is Chuck.

4. Frank sounds rhymes with both “stank” and “rank”, which indicate bad odor.

5. It’s not easy to think of a recent, young Frank who is cool.  The closest I can come up with is the Jewish Frank from the Ali Fedotowsky season of The Bachelorette.  But by referencing that TV show, it obviously is an indication of “not cool”.  (So what does that say about me for admitting I watch the show?…)

6. It’s easy to think of cool Jack’s- like Jack Donaghy (30 Rock), Jack Tripper (Three’s Company), and if this were 2003, Jack Black.

7. I can’t think of any negative associations with Jack, where I obviously easily was able to with Frank.

8.  As you continue eating leftover Halloween candy, keep this in mind: Jack O’ lanterns are cooler than Frankenstein.

dad from day one: Influence and Individuality

Thirty-one weeks.

Parenting is one of the few institutions where brainwashing is not only allowed, and a given, but it’s also sort of the whole point.  Like a duo-dictatorship, two people (the parents) have so much influence over another human being (the child) on so many levels.  Freedom of religion?  Nope.  Freedom of speech?  Not so much.  The rules that matter are enforced by the parents and accordingly, the child learns his or her moral code and adopts his human culture largely from how the parents choose to raise him or her.

Will I be a strict parent?  “Strict” has such a negative connotation these days.  It evokes thoughts of having rules for the sake of having rules, yielding a teenage kid that is either so nerdy that he thinks getting to stay up until 11:00 at night to watch Battlestar Gallactica is an idea of a good time, or he’s so rebellious he gets a DUI and a huge tattoo by the time he graduates high school.  So I’d rather not use the word “strict”, but instead “consistent and practical”.  Like my parents were to me.

I have always been very close to my parents; I knew I could talk to them about anything and they would listen, without being judgmental or condescending, yet still guiding me in the right direction.  They gave me a little responsibility at a time, and when I proved I could handle it, they gave me more.  I never had a curfew, nor did I need one.  But had I responded differently to the responsibility I was given, I know for a fact the rules would have been stricter, as they would have needed to be.

I think it’s funny when I hear parents of young kids say, “Well my Brayden won’t eat what I cook him.  He only eats chicken nuggets and pizza, and he only drinks Coke from his sippy cup.”  I smile and laugh with them, shaking my head like I know how it is, when really I’m thinking, “It’s not up to your kid!  It’s up to YOU!  YOU’RE the parent!”

Just like I’ve heard other parents say, “I’m not going to force any religious beliefs on my kids.  They need to figure out what they believe on their own.”  (Which is always a clear indication that parent has no solid religious beliefs, otherwise they would pass them on to their children.) It will not be the case for my kid.  He will know who Noah and Abraham and Moses and Jesus and Peter and the Apostle Paul are.  He will know the importance and relevance of John 3:16.  Just like my dad read to me from my kid’s Bible every night, so will I do for my son.

And when he grows up, I will have influenced who he is.  Yet still, he will have his own personality and make his own decisions.  Truly though, that’s how it was for all of us.  Even if one or both of our parents were out of the picture, they still influenced us- negatively or positively.  So I am choosing to make a conscious, solid, positive influence in his life.  And I will be very deliberate in doing so.

Here’s what The Bump says about Baby Jack this week:

Baby’s energy is surging, thanks to the formation of white fat deposits beneath the skin. (Have those kicks and jabs to the ribs tipped you off yet?) Baby is also settling into sleep and waking cycles, though — as you’ve also probably noticed — they don’t necessarily coincide with your own. Also this month, all five senses are finally functional, and the brain and nervous system are going through major developments.

All pictures with the “JHP” logo were taken by Joe Hendricks Photography:



Life is Underrated: Battling the Mindset of Debbie Downer

There is an alternative outlook on life which opposes the “just you wait…” mentality of so much of the general population.

“Your life will never be the same.  Get as much sleep as you can now, because that’s all about to change!” If only words could express how tired I am of hearing it and how unoriginal and not funny that line is.  But as long as people say that to me after learning my wife is pregnant, I will continue giving them courtesy laughs.  Yes, I get it.  I realize that my life is taking a different turn with my first kid on the way.  It’s not new information that having this baby will change my life.

I am 29 years old.  By this time next year, I’ll be 30.  I’m not 22.  Nor am I unaware that a baby needs constant care and attention.  Nor do I need to move to Norway to experience life abroad or smoke pot for a year while playing Super Mario Bros. 2 in somebody’s basement while eating Cheetos to reach perfect nirvana before throwing in the towel to become a responsible adult.

Evidently it’s quite difficult for a lot of people to grasp this concept, but I’m actually truly happy about my life changing.  It’s as if certain people are surprised by my positive outlook on not only my own life but also that I am a man who is excited about parenthood.  These people live by what I call a “just you wait…” mentality.  “Just you wait ‘til that baby’s waking you up in the middle of the night crying…”  “Just you wait ‘til he’s going through his Terrible Two’s…”  “Just you wait ‘til he starts school…”  “Just you wait ‘til he starts driving…”

Argh!  It turns me into a pirate at the thought of these annoying Debbie Downer lines forecasting a life of waiting until some other stage becomes worse than the last.  No.  No, I will not wait.  I will savor each stage of life for all its worth.  And I will enjoy it, just to spite those naysayers who want to make a tired joke out of the whole thing.

The baby will cry and poop and make messes and get into trouble.  And that’s okay.  I feel like I’m being left with no choice but to become an ambassador for parents who are proud and happy and optimistic about being a parent.  Of course that only provokes the opposite group of people to say, “just you wait…”  I know, I know.

And that’s how it works.  The just-you-waiters, in their minds, are helpful by always having advice for other people since life is full of progressing stages- advice that spoken with a tone of “you’re so naïve, if you only knew what’s ahead…”  I heard the same kind of “just you wait…” crap when I was engaged to be married to my wife,  from the same people trying to be funny about my approaching fatherhood.

Yesterday made exactly two years that my wife and I have been married.  No regrets whatsoever, despite a handful of just-you-waiters.  Couldn’t be better.  Couldn’t be happier.  Thank God for her.  I love being married to my wife.

All I can say is that I’m sorry that’s how they view life.  Life isn’t all sunshine and puppy dogs.  But it is enjoyable if you let it be.  If you’re enlightened enough to see that people are the meaning of life.  Marriage is good.  Having kids is good.  Friends are good.  Family is good.  If you can’t enjoy those things, what can you enjoy?

My worldview: Live life then give life.  And don’t whine about it.  Listen to a Jack Johnson CD if you need to.


People are the Meaning of Life: Money Vs. Love

Earlier in the summer I wrote an article where I mocked “treasure movies” because the people searching for the treasure don’t usually get to keep the money or gold. The bad guy gets the treasure instead and dies/turns to a statue/becomes cursed, etc. The good guy gets the “real treasure”, which is a lofty moral proverb about life itself being the actual treasure. With this in mind, the past three days spent in my hometown Labor Day weekend helped make it clear that while life is the real treasure, it’s the people in our lives that give life meaning. Simple concept, but I’ve never really let it sink in before: People are the meaning of life.

Last Friday I took off work to visit Fort Payne, AL in action. I wanted my wife to see the award winning elementary school, the place I used to work, my parents’ places of work, their church, and the local Greek restaurant. Each time we arrived at a new place, I was surrounded by people I’ve known at least for the past 20 years. Childhood friends, their parents, and people I know through association in the 13,000 population town. It reminded me of the end of the movie Big Fish and also Mr. Holland’s Opus. Everyone was there and everyone was happy to be there.

Money becomes irrelevant when it comes to family and close friends. My parents have made it clear to me without actually having to say it, that raising a child is a priceless job: No amount of money could equal all they have sacrificed or gained. There are certain experiences and areas of personal growth that can only be obtained through human relationships.

I remember in high school being asked this question in class: “Which would you rather have- a billion dollars but no human contact whatsoever, or countless good friends but very little money?” Not even the class clown chose the money, not even for a easy laugh.

My stock answer for the question of the meaning of life has always been “to please God”. But even Jesus himself made it very clear that it’s impossible to love and serve God without loving and serving people. Jesus said one of the greatest commandments of all is to “love your neighbor as yourself” and even taught his followers to also love their enemies. People are the meaning of life.

I can’t help but see a direct co-relation between the world’s health care crisis and the lack of Christian involvement. Not our “Christianized American government”. It’s not their job. It was left up to the Christians, starting in the New Testament. But the government is left to pick up the slack, and tends to disappoint. The Apostle James said that true religion is caring for widows and orphans. People are the meaning of life.

“The truth is, we say not as we do… Pick up the beat and stop hogging the feast- that’s no way to treat an enemy.” -Jack Johnson (“Sleep through the Static”)

meaning of life