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Social media threatens the art of doing nothing – Queen's Journal

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Think about the last time you did nothing. I don’t mean scrolling through your phone mindlessly, or half-watching Netflix—I mean doing absolutely nothing. 

The odds are high that it’s been a while since you actually did so with no distractions.

In 2020, when everyone has devices in their pockets laced with the potential to provide instant gratification and dopamine, it’s easy to forget about the art of being bored. I bet most of the people reading this check their phones within the first hour of waking up, as well as within the last hour before they go to bed.

It’s inevitable to scroll mindlessly when we can scroll through unlimited pictures on Instagram, autoplay YouTube videos, and tap through games like Angry Birds and Candy Crush.

But in doing so, we’ve lost an aspect of our lives many of us used to take for granted. That aspect is the ability to reflect on life and observe what’s going on around us. We’re too busy buried in our screens to open our eyes to the world around us. No matter what the backdrop is, I notice people tend to default to using their phones when any type of awkward or uncomfortable situation arises —and, in that, we’ve lost part of what makes our private lives special: the ability to do nothing.

For example, while waiting in line for food at Location 21 recently, I noticed that the moments between when people ordered and were waiting for their food, they would pull out their phones. I’m a culprit of that as well.

In realizing this, I’ve made a conscious decision to force myself to deal with the uncomfortable feeling of having nothing to do. This has benefited me positively: it’s allowed me to take in and appreciate my surroundings, and think about what’s important to me.

If you still don’t believe we use phones as a coping mechanism for awkwardness, try this: next time you’re in a public place waiting around for someone or something, keep your phone off and wait. You’ll feel odd, almost like something is missing, and most of all, you’ll feel slightly uncomfortable.

In part, this is because our bodies and our minds have gotten used to having our phones ready 24/7. It’s killing many aspects of our social lives, including our love lives—but that’s not the only thing we’re losing.

We’re also losing our sense of privacy.

Between posting play-by-plays of entire concerts or even nights out on our Snapchats and Instagrams, we’re constantly oversharing. That public mindset has more effects on our mental health and our social interactions than we realize.

The most obvious of these effects is that we all appear to talk less. In my experience, we spend more time on our screens than we do making small talk with those around us. We’re also losing many of the pastimes that our predecessors took part in, like reading. Think about the last time you read a whole book for fun.

Many of my friends can’t even remember the last time they read a book outside of English class, let alone picked one up. Things like drawing, creative writing, and other positively-stimulating activities are being left in the dust these days, all because of our new doomsday devices.

We’re also losing the ability to think for ourselves.

Most mainstream social media platforms are rife with contradicting political views and statements, meaning that, given the amount most of us are on these sites, we’re bound to develop a belief system based on what’s being fed to us constantly.

In an era of fake news, it’s easy to be dragged into false propaganda. The best demonstration of this is Instagram crisis exploitation. After any major crisis, multiple new accounts pop up on the app claiming things like “For every like, we donate a meal,” or “For every share, a child is saved.”

The most well-known example of this is the false charity accounts that surfaced after the Sudanese crisis. The accounts all claimed they would help those in need, only to fail to follow through. Although there may be some legitimate accounts carrying out these activities, the majority of accounts appearing during world crises are scammers trying to gain fame from a bad situation. Many know this, but they still get millions of likes and shares.

My theory as to why this occurs is that people have always followed the masses, and that’s not going to stop now that we’ve gone digital. All it takes is a few people agreeing with a scam account, and—if you pair our lower attention spans with our need to mimic what others do—it takes no time at all for a fraud to become famous. 

Similarly, it takes no time for an individual that doesn’t quite deserve it to achieve infamy.

Think about cancel culture. Someone does something diminutively wrong, and they’re immediately ridiculed or called out online. Sometimes, this may only be because their words, actions, or images were taken out of context or edited, but the damage is already done the moment that we send out those initial accusations.

We find it so easy to be rude or make snap decisions behind the comfort of a screen by saying things we would never dare say in person. For most of society, if a lot of people are taking part in something, that’s good enough. No explanation is needed.

That’s where we need to be careful with our social media usage. If we took the time to be bored and think twice about what we were doing, and maybe decided to practice individualism, vicious mob mentalities would take more of a backseat in our culture.

But, perhaps most importantly, I believe it would instill some hope into the future of our generation and for those to come—hope that we can be kind to each other by spending some time being kind to ourselves, instead of being absorbed in our screens.

Dante Caloia is a first-year Arts student.

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Social media giants monetise anger and trolling is the result. A crackdown is welcome – The Guardian

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Social media giants monetise anger and trolling is the result. A crackdown is welcome  The Guardian



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Princeton the focus of international media – the story on the story – Penticton Western News – Pentiction Western News

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Over the past two weeks the community has been flooded…with media.

Princeton quickly became a focus for journalists across Canada and around the globe, following the devastating events that started Sunday, Nov. 14, when the Tulameen River breached its banks.

Last Thursday, correspondents working for The New York Times were trekking through muck on Fenchurch Avenue, interviewing residents who were starting the process of cleaning out their homes.

“In the town of Princeton, which was uncomfortably close to this summer’s wildfires and was hit by record heat, bands of volunteers of all ages were roving the streets and helping out,” wrote Ian Austen. “There are a lot of tears in Princeton and other communities right now, but they’re not all from grief over what’s lost. When flood victims described the kindness of those volunteers to me, some broke out in tears of gratitude.”

The U.K. based Guardian also reached out to area homeowners.

Ed Staples, from Coalmont, was interviewed.

“After a summer of staying indoors to shield his lungs from thick smoke, Staples said he’s sad to see the loss in his community so soon after the fires,” The Guardian wrote. ‘It’s heartbreaking, I get choked up thinking about it,’ said Staples. ‘These are real people who have lost everything and it’ll take months or years to get their lives in order.’”

Princeton Mayor Spencer Coyne has fielded hundreds of requests for interviews, and granted many.

“I’ve done so many interviews,” he told the Spotlight, “I don’t know who all I’ve interviewed with. It’s kind of been a blur to be honest…I was doing, by lunch time, about eight interviews a day at one point.”

Coyne said this has given him the opportunity to keep Princeton’s needs top-of-mind for government officials, who hold the purse strings for emergency aid. “If I’m not out there, Abbotsford is going to be the story…It’s getting us the attention we need.”

Coyne appeared live on the CBC’s The National, and on the television program Power and Politics. He’s spoken frequently with regional affiliates of all the major networks.

While he doesn’t particularly relish the limelight, Coyne is uniquely qualified to take on the press. “At one time I was a small town reporter. I worked for Black Press, I worked for (The Similkameen News Leader.)”

Recently a journalist writing for the Globe and Mail followed the mayor for an entire day, as he made the rounds of the community.

“Shortly after 11:30 a.m. on Sunday, Mr. Coyne jumped in his yellow Nissan Xterra and began driving around town, checking on crew progress and speaking to residents about their needs. His cellphone rang constantly. He made a stop at the one-runway airport where the small lounge was crammed with people bringing in dogs and cats in animal carriers,” wrote Anthony Davis.

There’s been absurdity, attached to some of Coyne’s experiences.

“One interview, I won’t say what network and what show, they began telling me what I should be wearing in the interview and what the backdrop should be…like a bookshelf.”

Coyne eventually gave that interview, via his phone, wearing a high-visibility vest, while inside the Princeton fire hall.

During an interview with the BBC, he was asked about local temperatures. When the mayor reported the temperature was hovering at about minus 3 degrees Celsius, he was asked, “And why is that?”

After requesting the question be repeated, Coyne responded, “Well, it’s November. This is when we start to turn into winter.”

Coyne said he often prefers to communicate with local media.

“Local media has been invaluable, absolutely invaluable,” he stated. “I really appreciate the efforts of the Spotlight in order to keep accurate information going out.”

Related: Princeton’s water system hanging – literally – by a fire hose

Related: Princeton ‘as ready as it can be’ for the next 24 hours

Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email:andrea.demeer@similkameenspotlight.com


 
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Local peer outreach team continuing without Northern Health, claims health authority lied to media – Energeticcity.ca

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A public outcry took place once it was announced funding was being cut. Schultz believes NH’s statement was an attempt to save face.

“Northern Health is committed to harm reduction and overdose prevention in Fort St. John, and working to improve existing services, and implement additional and expanded services. Peers play an important role in Overdose Prevention work, and Northern Health will work with peers to ensure this continues,” said Northern Health in a statement to local media.

The group was formed in April, providing harm reduction services and tackling the stigma surrounding drug addiction. In October, NH informed the team that they were restructuring the funding model.

There were 30 peers working for the outreach teams that were fired, and more than 20 with lived experience were employed by the group, said Schultz.

The peers helped offer food, hygiene kits, first aid, naloxone kits, harm reduction supplies, info on detox and treatment, and warm clothing for those in need. Afterwards, they were paid a cash honorarium, which is what NH has cut.

Schultz and another leader, Neil Bramsleven, were in contact with the health authority to work on the community mobile harm reduction program. Schultz describes the program as a mobile safe injection site.

They were the only ones contacted to continue working for the health authority due to meeting specific criteria, including being clean from drugs and alcohol, said Schultz.

“NH Leadership is in contact and discussion with the peer outreach team leaders to continue peer outreach services in Fort St. John,” said Northern Health in a statement.

Schultz has pulled her application for the mobile program following the release of NH’s statement.

“There are no outreach programs right now, and they have no plans of getting outreach programs.”

Schultz showed Energeticcity an email with an NH worker, which confirms there are no outreach programs in the city.

“They did admit that it was untrue about peer outreach continuing. They said they don’t talk with the person who deals with the media.”

Peers were previously paid by NH to go on patrol, but Schultz says they will now run on a voluntary basis.

“We will accept donations from the community, and we will get harm reduction from mental health.”

At this point, Schultz says the team doesn’t want anything to do with the health authority.

“Peers are real. Peers are honest. We have one passion, and that’s to help people. We’re not even going to work with Northern Health anymore. We will volunteer our time.”

Anyone looking to donate to the team can contact Schultz at 250-329-8374.

Eryn Collins, Regional Manager, Public Affairs & Media Relations with NH, says the health authority is aware of the pushback and is working to get clarity on concerns being raised.

With files from Tom Summer, Local Journalism Initiative, Alaska Highway News

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