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I quit social media for a month — here's how it went – Varsity



Sunday mornings are for late wake-ups, brunch, and the New York Times crossword. 

That, and a notification I dread: “Screen time weekly report now available.” After the morning and I become acquainted, I sit down at my desk to be assailed by the same message on my laptop. The subheadings of these notifications which I’m not necessarily proud of — provide insight into how much time I’ve spent in front of screens in the past week. 

Putting these two numbers together essentially maps out my days: an average of five hours a day on my phone, and nearly double that on my laptop. My entire life is built on screen time. Whether it’s the screen itself or the innate responsibility that comes with pressing the power button, the new digital era we live in can weigh you down. Our beautiful campus no longer unifies us in the way it once did — breakout rooms have taken over that playing field. 

And when we can finally pry ourselves away from Quercus or Zoom, how do we reward ourselves? By streaming Netflix, scrolling through Instagram, or playing a couple of rounds of our favourite video games. With a lack of in-person interactions, our screens have become looking glasses for the time being. Maybe instead of looking through photo albums years from now, we’ll look through our old Instagram pages instead. 

While some of this is inherently unavoidable, I have begun to feel like I am living my life vicariously, watching the world melt away before my eyes. Though the endeavour may seem fruitless during COVID-19, the idea of liberation from monotony is compelling. 

In an attempt to fight back against what feels like the plot of Ex Machina, I opted to complete monthly challenges throughout 2021. For February, it was a month without social media. 

There’s a number of reasons why someone would want to take a break. Some people find that social media prompts them to compare themselves to others when we constantly see what others have, we instinctively want it too. Others find that feedback or attention from others draw them in.

Social media preoccupies your mind through perpetual boredom, making you feel less alone. And due to this, a common side effect is hindered productivity, distractions from work, and poor mental health. 

In my case, I believed the negative side effects to be wasted time and becoming distracted, so I allowed myself to continue texting my friends and close ones. This wasn’t a challenge to limit my communication, just my mindless scrolling. 

As expected, the first few days were the most challenging. Like many people, my brain had been hardwired into compulsive checking. I grabbed my phone mindlessly, unlocking it to swipe back and forth between screens, looking for something, but what? Likes? Comments? Direct messages? 

From my time off of social media, I learned two things. First, you are addicted to social media whether you realize it or not. The location of apps on my phone was ingrained into my muscle memory. I’d reach for social media without even thinking about it, only to realize that I was just pressing phantom buttons. 

When I logged back in after the month was up, everything pretty much looked the same. There were no pressing messages, no crazy posts, nothing screaming at me to stay — which leads me to my second point. 

Nobody gives a shit! Though it may sound harsh, the truth is that, more often than not, people are neutral about you. Chances are, the majority of your followers consist of people you’ve crossed paths with on campus, friends of friends, and finally, your close ones. The extent of most of these relationships is the knowledge that you exist — nothing more, nothing less. 

Social media isn’t the be-all and end-all of your relationships. By taking a break, I’ve noticed specific people who genuinely want to keep in touch with me will make the effort to do so. 

While the majority of the challenge had positive results, I found that I was a bit late to receive information. Social media has become an outlet that sometimes surpasses news. Somehow, there’s a colourful infographic about the latest social issue before news channels cover it.

It’s definitely a useful tool for informing yourself, though this comes with a caveat: the volume of information to take in is overwhelming. After logging back on, it only took me a few minutes to remember why I took a break. 

So, now what? I spent a month off of social media, and now I’m suddenly some uber-woke individual who looks down on the digitally addicted? 

On the contrary. I finished the challenge about a week ago, and I still use social media. The difference lies in how and when I use it. My screen time has decreased significantly, and I’m no longer spending my 24 hours the way I used to. In a strange way, there’s a sense of clarity in taking time away from compulsively checking the screen. 

So, if you’re in the position to, try taking some time off of social media. It may seem difficult at first, but the urge is only fuelled by the perpetual fear of missing out. 

When you reconnect again, you’ll realize a simple truth: you won’t miss a thing.

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Movie theaters face uncertain future



By Lisa Richwine

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Maryo Mogannam snuck into the Empire theater in San Francisco with his older cousins to watch “Animal House” when he was 14. He watched most of the James Bond movies at the historic art house and took his wife there on some of their first dates.

The cinema, which had been showing movies since the silent film era, served notice in February that it was permanently closing because of the impact of COVID-19. The marquee is now blank, and cardboard and paper cover the box office window.

“It’s kind of like losing a friend,” said Mogannam, now 57, who owns a retail shipping outlet near the theater, which had been renamed the CineArts at the Empire.

As vaccinated Americans emerge from their homes, they also may find their neighborhood theater is not there to greet them.

An eight-cinema chain in New England said it will not reopen. The same fate hit a Houston art house beloved by director Richard Linklater and, in a shock to Hollywood, more than 300 screens run by Los Angeles-based Pacific Theatres. That includes the Cinerama Dome, a landmark that hosted several red-carpet movie premieres.

Following a year of closures, theaters face deferred rent bills plus media companies’ focus on drawing customers to streaming services. Up to one-fourth of the roughly 40,000 screens in the United States could disappear in the next few years, Wedbush Securities analyst Michael Pachter said.

The National Association of Theatre Owners rejects that estimate, spokesman Patrick Corcoran said, noting that similar dire warnings accompanying the advent of television and the switch to digital screens never came to pass.

Hollywood filmmakers want cinemas to thrive.

“It’s the only place where the art dominates,” said “Avatar” director James Cameron. “When you watch something on streaming, the other people in the room with you are welcome to interject, to pause to go to the bathroom, to text.”

At theaters, “we literally make a pact with ourselves to go and spend two to three hours in a focused enjoyment of the art.”

“For 300 people to laugh and cry at the same time, strangers, not just your family in your house, that’s a very powerful thing,” said Chloe Zhao, Oscar-nominated director of best picture nominee “Nomadland.”

At the Academy Awards on Sunday, the movie industry will “make a case for why cinema matters,” producer Stacey Sher said. While acknowledging the hardship of the pandemic, “we also have to fight for cinema and our love of it and the way it has gotten us through things,” she said.

About 58% of theaters have reopened in the United States and Canada, most restricted to 50% capacity or less. The biggest operators – AMC, Cinemark and Cineworld – make up roughly half the overall market.

Industry leaders project optimism, forecasting a big rebound after restrictions ease and studios unleash new blockbusters.

Coming attractions include a new Bond adventure, the ninth “Fast & Furious” film, a “Top Gun” sequel and several Marvel superhero movies.

“Avatar 2,” Cameron’s follow-up to the highest-grossing film of all time, is set to debut in December 2022. Some box office analysts predict 2022 ticket sales will hit a record.

Supporters point to late March release “Godzilla vs. Kong,” which brought in roughly $48.5 million at U.S. and Canadian box offices over its first five days, even though audiences could stream it on HBO Max.

“That was a big win for the entire industry,” said Rich Daughtridge, president and chief executive of Warehouse Cinemas in Frederick, Maryland.

But near- and long-term challenges loom, particularly for smaller cinemas.

Theaters are negotiating with landlords over back rent. A federal aid program was delayed due to technical problems.

Plus, media companies are bringing movies to homes sooner. Executives say streaming is their priority, pouring billions into programming made to watch in living rooms as they compete with Netflix Inc.

Most at risk are theaters with one or two screens, Wedbush Securities’ Pachter said. He said his best guess is between 5,000 and 10,000 screens could go permanently dark in coming years.

“I think we’ll see a gradual decline in the number of screens,” Pachter said, “just like we’ve seen a gradual decline in the number of mom-and-pop grocery stores and bookstores.”


(Reporting by Lisa Richwine; Additional reporting by Rollo Ross in Los Angeles, Alicia Powell in New York and Nathan Frandino in San Francisco; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)

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Applications open for Pattison Media 2021 Prairie Equity Scholarship – Lethbridge News Now



(Lethbridge News Now)

By Pattison Media

Apr 19, 2021 12:01 PM

LETHBRIDGE, AB – Applications are now being accepted for Pattison Media’s 2021 Prairie Equity Scholarship competition.

The scholarship is aimed at broadcast and digital media students in the Prairie provinces who are part of under-represented groups.

Two awards of $2,000 will be made to residents of Alberta, Saskatchewan, or Manitoba who in 2021 are attending or planning to attend a recognized broadcast or digital media program at a post-secondary institute in one of the three provinces.

Information and application package

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‘Godzilla vs. Kong’ Tops Box Office Again, Crosses $80 Million in the U.S.



OTTAWA (Reuters) – Canada will set aside C$12 billion ($9.6 billion) to extend its main pandemic support measures in a budget to be presented on Monday, the Toronto Star reported, as much of the country battles a virulent third wave of COVID-19 infections.

The emergency wage subsidy and the emergency rent subsidy, due to expire in June, will be extended to the end of September, the Star reported on Sunday.

Separately, the government will create the “Canada Recovery Hiring Program” in June meant to help those companies depending on the wage subsidy to pivot to hiring again, the newspaper said.

The Finance Ministry declined to confirm or comment on the report. However, Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson told the Canadian Broadcasting Corp on Sunday that government pandemic supports would continue for as long as needed.

“If Canadians need that support and the pandemic continues, the government will certainly have their backs,” Wilkinson said.

Wilkinson also confirmed that the budget would be “ambitious” and that the government would “invest for jobs and growth to rebuild this economy,” though he also said there would be “fiscal guardrails” to put spending on a “sustainable track”.

Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland will present the country’s first budget in two years on Monday after promising in November up to C$100 billion in stimulus over three years to “jump-start” an economic recovery during what is likely to be an election year.

Canada has been ramping up its vaccination campaign but still has a smaller percentage of its population inoculated than dozens of other countries, including the United States and Britain.

Amid a spiking third wave of infections, Ontario, Canada‘s most populous province, announced new public health restrictions on Friday, including closing the province’s borders to domestic travelers.

($1 = 1.2501 Canadian dollars)


(Reporting by Steve Scherer, Editing by Nick Zieminski)

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