Technologies require maturity

It is a fact that the big technology companies are trying to keep us hooked. After watching the documentary ‘The Dilemma’, I was struck by the number of things they have in mind to capture our attention and how well they study their audience. That the workers themselves decided to leave their management positions to tell the public about their experiences and become guarantors of digital ethics through foundations that counteract the power of the technological platforms gives us pause for thought.

We know that there are thousands of dollars behind every “like”, every post and every user. Social networks have become sales channels that move a lot of money through influencers, but the more we are aware of these details, the more we know about the intentions and raison d’être of these companies, the more we will be able to develop tools that allow us to make correct use of them and discern between the real and the unreal: to avoid acting blindly.

The Communication Project that we launched last week, ‘The Impact of Technology in the Home‘, gathers valuable testimonies. It is not about being alarming, but about taking the right steps. We already know that technology is neither good nor bad in itself, it all depends on the use we make of it and also on the responsibility assumed by the developers. Marta Sánchez, Global Head of Retail Digitalisation and Distribution at Vodafone UK, explains that her company has tried to face the challenges that this rapid evolution offers, putting the person, the user, at the centre of its objectives. As she says, they are well aware of the importance of going down this road together, sharing the challenge with society.

We are all capable of appreciating the advantages that technology has brought us. We are also capable of seeing the changes that are taking place in the way we relate to each other, the way we work, the way we communicate, and even the way we manage our homes. What we have to achieve, and this is a personal task that the community must support by offering tools to families, is to develop an ability not to accept or fall for everything that is given to us and to distinguish the wheat from the chaff. For that, as psychiatrist Enrique Rojas says in the report, maturity is needed.

Therefore, while enjoying the marvelous advantages of technology, let’s encourage this maturity.  The digital world is parallel to the real world and that means that it will affect our mental, emotional, cerebral, rational, personal and professional stability. The conclusion does not change, it is up to us to be prepared and to prepare future generations so that this impact is positive, and we manage to avoid the risks that will always exist.

This report is also available in Spanish ‘El Impacto de la Tecnología en el Hogar’

Summer reflections (II)

In the Light and in the Shadow, the women who enlightened me
This post is an ode to women, to those who, without needing to be in the limelight, have worked hard and put in real effort for the family, yet always in the shadows. I have been fortunate to have been surrounded by several inspiring women who have made me realise just how overlooked they are in modern society.
From my surname you will gather that I am not English, but Spanish and specifically, I was born in a small town in northern Spain called Logroño, surrounded by vineyards. Fruit orchards, village life, summers on the river and bicycle races have been ever present throughout my life as I mentioned in the previous post.
I have grown up watching an enterprising grandmother who, together with my grandfather, always worked both inside and outside the home, and obtained licenses to drive both motorbikes and cars in order to visit their clients. My grandmother was also in charge of the housework, together with her mother (my great-grandmother), because in those days it was very common for grandparents to live in the family home right to the end of their days. Once he retired, my grandfather helped my grandmother with most of the household chores, so I never had to go without anything, because he was always there when he was needed.
My mother followed in her footsteps and together with my father, she ran a successful business and put three daughters through university, without appearing overburdened, but was instead able to prioritise one thing over another during certain periods of her life. Showing how to prioritise and being totally dedicated to the family are, without a doubt, her best legacy. Witnessing it first hand is nothing like being told about it, so anyone who has not been through the experience may think it sounds a little odd. But there are ways of living that do not go out of fashion and the benefits become obvious over time.
In short, I have grown up surrounded by great women, thanks also to their husbands who made a formidable team. They were intelligent men, and their women shone as wives, mothers and workers. And I experienced this not in a big city environment but at the heart of a tiny closely connected community, where the avant-gardes always arrive a little later and where common sense and a sense of responsibility were more important than studying for a career. Yes, dear friends, this happened in Spain in the 50s and 60s and is continuing today.
Most of my childhood friends have similar stories to share, which means that my family did not turn out to be an exception, but that Spain was full of families like us. And I would add that this is repeated in many other parts of the world.
My message is simple, women have always known how to work behind the scenes, without the need to be praised or awarded medals. But nowadays we do applaud them and thank them for their great effort and the good example they set us. The important thing is that we university-educated women of the 21st century, myself included, recognise the great work they carried out with such humility, never boastful or blinded by the limelight, aware of the values they transmitted.  It is thanks to their model example that I have become the person I am today, and I feel enormous gratitude.

“Society”: you, me, us, all

When we speak of “society” it can seem like something that does not have anything to do with us. We happily use the term society to refer to the number of problems that exist in it, but we are not aware that society is us. Society can only improve if everyone puts in their two-penny worth. Because society means everyone, including you!

For this reason, when the Home Renaissance Foundation affirms that society can collapse without well-managed homes, we observe that nobody is surprised, nobody screams, no one tears their clothes as though bemoaning a great loss. A dysfunctional society is a society that does not advance or grow, and we understand that nobody wants that, but it does not penetrate the heart or thoughts of many because the concept of “society” becomes more remote with the passing of each day.

It may be that another reason why we no longer give value to the idea of “society” is the lack of feeling of belonging. We do not belong to the “society”, we belong to the school football club, the neighbourhood association, the tennis club, the local gym. We feel part of groups or communities where we have a degree of influence, either because we pay a subscription, or because we feel we belong there and that our opinion matters.

And of course, you may say that apart from the taxes we pay in exchange for basic services, why should we feel part of a “society” where our opinion doesn’t appear to matter and authorities never consult us when making decisions? Who asks me what I think before introducing or abolishing laws?  We may feel so far removed from the management and governance of that “society” that we distance ourselves from the idea of society as a whole.

But like everything in life, nothing can be understood or seen in its true perspective if we cannot visualise it in a particular way. And to recover the meaning of “society”, we should take as an example that small and close “society” that we have in our immediate environment, the one in which our opinions matter, where we feel part of, that takes our feelings and opinions into account … namely, the home. Our family is a microcosm of society. And we feel that we belong there because of the unity that exists between members of our home. Each action we take has a consequence, which is normally direct and immediate.

At HRF we examine the home in-depth from many different angles, as a reflecting mirror for society. When households do not function well, the knock-on effect is immediate and direct on society.  We should therefore first and foremost take great care of the home as the microcosm of society.

Creating Home Away from Home: Home Renaissance Foundation at the Ritz London

On Saturday September 28th 2013, the HRF Research Coordinator and Research Intern were invited to dinner at The Ritz London, a long-time favorite of Royalty, aristocracy and celebrities, to learn more about their Happy Families accommodation programme. It is encouraging that the hotel that for over a century has been the benchmark by which other hotels are measured also claims to be “the most family-oriented of London’s luxury hotels”. The key to the Ritz’s approach is an emphasis on facilitating a family atmosphere by creating a congenial and welcoming environment, where service to the person is given utmost priority.  TheRitzarticle-1

The Ritz claims to design its guest services in a manner that allows families to create moments that will be remembered for a lifetime, rather than merely providing a distraction for children when travelling away from home. This emphasis on facilitating family interactions and traditions is of great interest to the Home Renaissance Foundation.

But how, in particular, does the Ritz London create home away from home? First and foremost, the hotel is a plaTheRitzarticle-2ce where no detail is overlooked; even before you have entered the building, you feel the staff treat people with warmth and familiarity. One of the best features for families are the interconnecting rooms for parents and children, creating a social space that facilitates family interactions. Children can also enjoy the selection of age-appropriate children’s books and DVDs in-room, as well as an assortment of bathroom amenities that youngsters are sure to love

These efforts to live excellence in the home – even away from home- show us that training and precision go into creating excellent home atmosphere, and that hospitality and domestic work are not merely a collection of services such as laundry, cleaning, and cooking. They are truly a value system in which science, art, psychology, culture, skills and an aptitude for management all play a crucial part.

Have you ever been somewhere far away that felt just like home? What made you feel this way? Was it the food? The sheets? Or the flowers in the bathroom? Share your thoughts with us, and let us know where we can find a special home away from home!