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My 'dry' January: What I learned from a month without social media – CNN

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Jacque Smith is an executive producer for CNN Digital Video.

(CNN)I deleted Instagram and TikTok. I logged out of Facebook and Twitter. I vaguely remembered I still had a Snapchat account and removed it from my app library before I put my phone down.

Then I took a deep breath.
It was January 1, 2022, and my New Year’s “micro-resolution” was to give up social media for a month. I called it my “dry” January. (Let’s be honest — with the Omicron variant raging last month, giving up alcohol was out of the question.)
I knew I would still need to log into my social accounts to view videos for work. But I wanted — and maybe needed — the incessant, absent-minded scrolling on social media to stop.
Thirty days later, here’s what I learned.

Scrolling is an addiction

It was compulsory. During the first week of January, I picked up my phone at least once an hour for no other reason than to scroll through my social media feeds. With the apps no longer available to open, I’d hesitate with my thumb hovering over the home screen, unsure of what to do next.
Simply putting down the phone seemed like admitting defeat. Surely there was something else I used this device for every three minutes. I could look through my camera roll to see what I’d been up to the last few days. Or peruse the CNN app. Usually I scrolled through already-read work emails to make sure I hadn’t missed anything important.
Does this sound sad? It felt sad to me.
Scientists have told us for years that social media can provide your brain with a steady stream of dopamine, a brain chemical that influences your mood. Dopamine rewards us for pleasurable behavior and encourages us to do more of it. Not surprisingly, dopamine is also the main neurotransmitter involved in addiction.
Phone addiction isn’t yet a medical diagnosis. But I didn’t like the feeling of not being able to control the impulse. And while after a few weeks I picked up my phone less, the phantom feeling of something I used to do all the time lingered.

You can get a lot done in a few minutes

I once read a book called “168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think” by Laura Vanderkam. Turns out, it’s true — especially if you give up social media.
Throughout the month, I took advantage of pockets of time that I used to spend scrolling to check off my to-do list. Moments waiting for the train were spent finishing the last chapter of my book club book. If I had five minutes before I was going to meet some friends, I loaded the dishwasher. Standing in line at the grocery store, I scheduled a repair man to fix our condo lock. It was amazing what I could get done in short bouts of time when I had nothing else to distract me.

Real friendships take time

My husband was away on a monthslong work trip over the holidays, and when he came home, I wanted to shout it from the rooftops. Too bad those rooftops had been dismantled. One by one, I sent text messages to his mom and my mom and my coworkers and our mutual friends. Several cramped fingers later, I was done.
This is not me complaining. I’m incredibly grateful to have a supportive network of family and friends. But cultivating those relationships outside of the fake social media world takes time and energy. I called and asked how they were doing, instead of just swiping through their stories. I set up dinner dates instead of sitting on my couch looking at their dinner from afar. Over time, I learned which friendships I would dedicate that energy to, who would give it back to me, and which friends were mostly online acquaintances.
To be clear, I need both kinds of friends. I need the ones who send me memes at 1 a.m. (how I missed the memes!) and I need the ones I can call at 1 a.m. when missing my husband something fierce. A month without social media just reminded me how important it is to prioritize spending time with my favorite people in real life.

Daydreaming is a decent pastime

Social media isn’t all bad. Yes, I follow people who do stupid stunts and strangers who rant about their political views. But I also love to follow travel photographers, tiny-house advocates, and DIYers who are all more creative than I will ever be. I follow one 75-year-old weight lifter on Instagram who could kick my ass. (Apparently 35 is too soon to give up and embrace the sofa *insert shrug emoji*)
These people inspire me. They help me picture a world in which I live in 250 square feet without murdering my husband at the foot of a mountain range in Italy, next to a turquoise lake where I paddleboard daily to keep up my six-pack abs, while waiting for the paint to dry on my latest craft project.
Without social media, I lost some of those daydreams. That too, was sad.
Now that it’s February, I’m bringing a few of the apps back. I could use the extra dopamine … and the occasional distraction from the real world.
I am going to disconnect from the ones that often drag me into dark holes of discourse. And try to tackle my to-do list before I scroll (hey, I found time to write this article).
I’m also going to be intentional about making plans to see the people I care about in person, often. As much as I love the memes, that kind of IRL connection can’t be beat.

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Social Media Increasingly Linked With Mass Shootings – Forbes

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On Wednesday, authorities in Texas identified Salvador Ramos as the 18-year-old shooter who had opened fire in Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas. Ramos, who had killed at least 19 students and two teachers during his shooting spree on Tuesday, had allegedly posted disturbing images online prior to carrying out the senseless attack.

According to reports, an Instagram account allegedly connected to Ramos featured disturbing photos. That account has since been taken down.

It was just last week that New York’s attorney general, Letitia James, announced that her office was investigating social media companies after another mass shooter had used the online platforms to plan, promote and stream a massacre in a Buffalo grocery store that left 10 dead. James said her office would investigate Twitch, 4chan, 8chan and Discord along with other platforms that the shooter used to amplify the attack.

Many are asking if warning signs were missed.

“It is impossible to prevent people from making threats online,” explained William V. Pelfrey, Jr., Ph.D., professor in the Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs at Virginia Commonwealth University.

Yet he suggested that social media organizations do have a moral responsibility to identify and remove threatening messaging.

“They are generally abysmal at this task. Direct threats (i.e. I want to shoot the President, I want to kill myself) frequently are flagged and investigated. Indirect threats are much harder to identify and rarely receive any attention,” Pelfrey continued. “Many social media companies will need to make decisions – protect individual’s rights to make oblique threats or protect safety. Compromising freedom of speech seems abhorrent until we weigh that compromise against the lives lost in Buffalo or the many other places where radicalized violent extremists found their motivation to kill.”

The Anti-Social Networks

As the United States remains very much in what President Joe Biden has identified as an “Uncivil War,” where the country remains so politically divided, the platforms that were once about friendly discussions have evolved very much into “anti-social networks” where people now find themselves in echo chambers that support their opinion and views.

“Social media has compounded a growing racial, cultural and gender divide in America and the world,” explained Anthony Silard, professor at the Luiss Business School, Rome, and the author of The Art of Living Free in the Digital Age.

Social media has enabled the actions of extremists to be live-streamed to the masses.

“One facet of the Buffalo shooting that is critical for understanding its conception and operation is that it was not the work of one person,” added Silard. “The shooter brought his thought community with him via live stream. They were poised and ready to send out the horrific imagery of innocent people being slaughtered before the social media site, Twitch, could take it down, in an impressive two minutes. They succeeded, yet millions watched from the comfort of their screens.

“With his thought community virtually present and at the ready, the shooter felt less alone and propped up by the hate-imbued ideology of his group,” Silard added. “Herein lies an important point for lawmakers to consider about the role of social media in this tragedy: it enabled rapid, collective action by a hate group.”

Lack Of Empathy

Social media has also been seen as responsible in lowering the empathy of most Americans. It is easy to “speak your mind” about someone on social media based on a tweet they made or something they posted on Facebook. Even like-minded individuals with similar interests can find themselves in serious flare ups that turn hostile.

This has been common with email, posts on Newsgroups and online forums, but has increased significantly in the era of social media.

“One of the primary reasons social media has become so dangerous to a healthy society is that it erodes empathy. The reason town hall meetings became a healthy medium for cross-aisle conversations is that people had to listen to each other, even when they disagreed,” said Silard.”Now that these conversations have gone online, empathy has fallen to the wayside. A recent meta-analysis of seventy-two studies conducted between 1979 and 2009, for instance, found that the empathy levels of American college students have dropped 40 percent, which the authors primarily attribute to the rise of social media.”

The social media platforms have largely failed to address the issue, and in some cases it has only served to radicalize individuals, such as the recent mass shooters.

“Social media companies like Facebook promised us that its services would encourage people to care more for each other and express their authentic views more both online and in person. None of this has happened,” warned Silard. “Instead, recent Pew research has found that people speak up less in person now for fear of retribution. Why? Social media has helped them realize there are many opposing views out there they would prefer not to confront.”

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Media Advisory: Premier Furey to Announce Additional Measures to Help Residents with the Cost of Living – News Releases – Government of Newfoundland and Labrador

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The Honourable Andrew Furey, Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador, the Honourable Siobhan Coady, Deputy Premier and Minister of Finance, and the Honourable Bernard Davis, Minister Responsible for Labour, will announce additional measures today (Thursday, May 26) to help Newfoundlanders and Labradorians with the cost of living. The event takes place at 1:00 p.m. in the Media Centre, East Block, Confederation Building.

The announcement will be livestreamed on Facebook.

– 30 –

Media contacts
Meghan McCabe
Office of the Premier
709-729-3960
meghanmccabe@gov.nl.ca

Victoria Barbour
Finance
709-729-4087, 327-6152
victoriabarbour@gov.nl.ca

Lynn Robinson
Environment and Climate Change
709-729-5449, 691-9466
lynnrobinson@gov.nl.ca

2022 05 26
11:10 am

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Ideon Media announces exclusive Canadian partnership with VICE Media Group – GlobeNewswire

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TORONTO, May 25, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Ideon Media announced today it will serve as the exclusive ad sales and branded content development partner for VICE Media Group (VMG), the world’s largest independent youth media group, in Canada. VMG digital properties, which include VICE.com, and Refinery29.com, reach a combined 13.3 million unique visitors in Canada per month across all platforms (GAR, GWL, Comscore, VICE Census).

The new partnership will see Ideon Media exclusively represent the commercial activity of  VICE.com and Refinery29.com in Canada to brands and advertisers. This includes the sale of media advertising and sponsorships, production of branded content as well as affiliate advertising and commissions.

“VICE leaves an indelible mark on the public discourse, with impressive in-depth reporting and authentic storytelling that resonates worldwide. We’re so proud to represent VICE in Canada, and so flattered that Ideon has been given full latitude to help Canadian advertisers tell their stories on platforms like VICE and Refinery29 using Canadian talent and creators,” said Kevin Bartus, Ideon Media President and CEO.

“VICE is a true Canadian media success story, and has always been the gold standard for integrated campaigns targeting the youth demographic, and I am thrilled to be working with the company again. From best-in-class branded content, to incredible brand-sponsored events, and even cutting-edge proprietary digital ad products; VICE and Refinery29 allow brands to reach a huge Canadian audience of highly influential Gen-Z and Millennial young people in authentic and meaningful ways,” said Shawn Phelan, Vice President of Brand Partnerships, Ideon Media.

“I am delighted to be partnering with Kevin, Shawn and the team at Ideon in Canada to drive future growth across our publishing business. Our shared passion for the VICE brands, storytelling, breakthrough content solutions and our audiences will allow us to realise our ambitious growth targets in the market and to forge new opportunities with brands and advertisers,” said Luke Barnes, Chief Revenue Officer and Chief Digital Officer, EMEA, VICE Media Group.

ABOUT VICE MEDIA GROUP
VICE Media Group is the world’s largest independent youth media company. Launched in 1994, VICE has offices across 25 countries across the globe with a focus on five key businesses: VICE.com, an award-winning international network of digital content; VICE STUDIOS, a feature film and television production studio; VICE TV, an Emmy-winning international television network; a Peabody award winning NEWS division with the most Emmy-awarded nightly news broadcast; and VIRTUE, a global, full-service creative agency. VICE Media Group’s portfolio includes Refinery29, the leading global media and entertainment company focused on women; PULSE Films, a London-based next-generation production studio with outposts in Los Angeles, New York, Paris and Berlin; and i-D, a global digital and bimonthly magazine defining fashion and contemporary culture and design.

ABOUT IDEON MEDIA (www.ideonmedia.com)
Ideon Media is a Toronto-based digital firm that offers a wide spectrum of advertiser solutions with best-in-class publisher representation and wholly owned and operated sites, including SavvyMom.ca and 29Secrets.com. Ideon specializes in custom content programs created by our award-winning in-house editorial team, influencer programs, events, performance network, proprietary data, and analytics. Ideon Media reaches a combined total of 18.6 million Canadians (Comscore, March 2022).

For more information or interview requests: Shawn Phelan at shawn.phelan@ideonmedia.com

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