The following interview was published on page 8 of the 31 July 2008 issue of the Algoa Sun, a community newspaper in Port Elizabeth. The title for the article was fascinating choice by the editor, The Ethics of IT Dating. I will add a scanned copy of the interview with their own intro to this post later today…

Question: You say that children below the age of 13 should not have cell-phones for health reasons do you not think that in todays world all kids should have access to an adult in case something does go wrong?

Yes, kids should have access to adults. However, the access that is required has always been there. Before cellphones parents had a relationship and understanding with the schools they go to as to when and how they are dropped off and collected after school, from sporting events or when traveling with the school. When visiting friends, arrangements were made with the parents of the friends to look after your children as if they were your own. This is a fear-based myth that cellphones is the only or safest way to make kids safe. The more you buy into a fear mindset, the more you create a dependency on technology or anything outside yourself. So in a very warped way technology has made people more insecure than ever before.

Question: Do you have kids? If so, are they allowed MXit and Facebook?

No I do not have any children because I am not married. I would only allow my own children access for for a limited time per day or on weekends. I recently bumped into a guy who was at school with me, and he has one son in high school and one in primary school. He treats them like this: they only get access for 1 hour on Saturdays between 5-6pm. This is radical, yes, but he succeeded as father by setting the ground rules from day 1.

Question: Do you believe parents should be more “internet and cell-phone aware”?

Parents need to understand that the technology is growing and improving at a vast rate. The best way they can maintain some sense of confidence about the technology is to cultivate an open discussion on a regular (weekly) basis with their children about technology. This is much easier than you may think, simply because technology is so high on the values of children. What I mean is you cannot stop them talking about it when you ask the right questions.

Question: Do you believe the internet is a good way to meet people and start dating?

I have used Internet dating successfully because I have been so persistent and made a tremendous effort to educate myself about the best ways to write my online dating profile. After hundreds articles, books and interviews, and comparisons with other forms of dating and the psychology of attraction, I do not believe its the best way to meet people. You will always have some uncertainly about that elusive obvious called “chemistry” with the opposite sex. So overall your chances are very slim to find a compatible match and sustain the relationship. I consider my last relationship, which lasted about 18 months; as well as best friend of mine, who married a woman he met on, the exceptions.

Question: What are your tips to people using the internet in order to meet others?

  1. Create a detailed and specific a profile with what you want
  2. Always ensure you have the best, recent photo of yourself – a headshot, full body.
  3. Begin with a narrow set of search criteria e.g. women between 20-30, height 1.65 or above, unmarried, no kids, etc. You can always broaden the scope to reach a wider selection.
  4. Have at least two telephone conversations before meeting and decide, based on that if it is worth meeting the other person.
  5. Arrange a first date with an activity like tenpin bowling, window shopping at a flea market because traditional coffee/dinner dates become to much like an job interview. At the very least you can make good friends if you have common interest but no physical attraction. The first women I ever met from an online dating website, is one of my best friends today!

Question: What sparked your interest in the safety of these gadgets?

The interested was sparked by years of working in Information Security for various Internet companies and banks protecting them from hackers, to a more recent experience with my sister who inherited my cellphones over the last 10 years whenever I upgraded. My concern for her safety prompted me to become reframe my practical experience in Internet security into an research and educational role now.

Question: Do you miss living in the Eastern Cape?

I moved back from June 2008 for a few months to write my book, The Psychology of Technology. The stress levels in Johannesburg has gone through the roof in the last 2 years, especially after load shedding and also the Gautrain project, which has caused more unhappiness and disruptions than anything else.

Question: From Uitenhage to the hussle and bussle of Johannesburg – how do you cope?

It was easy because my father is from Johannesburg. I moved in with one of my aunts for a while and eventually made many new friends. There is a use “expat” community of people from Uitenhage and Port Elizabeth living in Gauteng. And so inadvertently I was forced to become more social, to adapt and survive. Those skills are serving my very well these days with the media and my public speaking career.

Question: Would you ever consider moving back here?

Yes, I doubt I can ever reside permanently in Uitenhage itself but Summerstrand is very appealing for a long-term residence. Did you know that Summerstrand was voted the #1 suburb in South Africas by Finweek in December 2007?

Question: Growing up in a small town like Uitenhage, what did you do for fun as a kid?

From my earliest recollection I played in the sand. I build things in my backyard and played with toys like lego and trains. The things all boys used to do – I think 😉 Anyway I also got excellent stimulation from my mother and father, again I believe in inadvertently, reading comic books. This lead me to drawing and sketching which further expanded my imagination. Art is still one of my hobbies today, and it’s not something you would commonly associate with a technologist. Maybe the best thing I had going for me was freedom to express my overactive imagination. You know the kids in my talks laugh when I say television used to start at 4pm and end at 11 or 12 at night, when I was in primary school. Kids today are so burded with home work, projects, extra murals, and other obligations they do not have the freedom to discover their own genius.

Question: What school did you attend?

My primary school was Dower Practicing School, and my high school was Uitenhage Senior Secondary School, from which I matriculated in 1992. On a side note, I launched a school newspaper that same year because I was not voted a prefer, head boy or part of the student representative counsil. The newspaper is still going after 16 years!

Question: Do you consider yourself a celebrity?

No, because I am not an actor or musician with constant media coverage. Perhaps when I get my own radio or tv show I will revise this opinion.

You have been on Carte Blanche and been interviewed in various publications – what has been your most grueling/exciting interview?

The first time Zuraida Jardine interviewed on Vicious Delicious, a show on Go channel on DStv. She did not give me chance to complete my answers, and kept hitting me with new questions one after the other. A year later I was invited back on the show. And she treated me like an old friend.

Question: Are you on Facebook, if so, how many friends do you have?

Yes, I am on Facebook. And have over 800 friends now. My goal is to get to 1000 before September. On, a business social network I have over 1,700 connections and I’m in the top 10 most connected South Africans.

Question: You will be speaking at the Women’s Day conference on August 9 – you are obviously an inspiration to many in the Eastern Cape – how does this make you feel and what is your central message to them?

My central message is that you have access to the world through your cellphone, so there are no excuses to finding the information, resources or people who can help you get what you want, or where you want. This tool is like a double edged sword so train yourself. And for parents in particular, set boundaries for your children, because it gives them something to break through that initiates them into adulthood.

Question: Why do you think you were asked to speak at this conference?

The organisers are determined to make this an annual event and bring other people like Deshun Deysel, the first black woman to climb Mount Everest, and Uitenhage-born, to the next event in 2009.

Question: You deliver your messages to many churches – are you religious?

Yes, I do speak at churches. In fact the first ever speaking engagement I had was at the request of a church in Riverlea, Johannesburg. Many pastors have consulted with me about the challenges facing their communities because obsession with chat rooms through cellphones and MXit is effecting the biggest to the smallest, the poorest to the wealthiest communities across South Africa.

As my online dating profile says, I’m spiritual not religious. As a wise man asked me, where is GOD not?

Question: After you talk at the conference, will you be staying in the Bay for a couple of days?

Yes, I will be staying with my mom for a while in Uitenhage. And spending some time in Summerstand 😉

Question: What is your favourite tourist attraction in Port Elizabeth?

In no particular order I love the oceanarium because of the dolphins bring back amazing memories. After that I love Goven Mbeki Avenue because my mother worked at the FNB branch there for about 20 years and I used to tag along to work with her growing up. Otherwise I can never get enough of Summerstrand.