Cory Etzkorn on that little green dot and being online

The term “always online” describes the idea that we’re online all the time and never log off. This could be literally (sleep is for chumps anyway!) or figuratively (i.e. never logging off). In my experience, I’m more figuratively “always online” but during periods last year, my sleep patterns were messed up thanks to the allure of the internet.

Cory Etzkorn examined a visual representation of that phenomenon: The Little Green Dot and its meaning in our online lives:

The Little Green Dot is a leash. It is a surrogate for trust and thrives in low-trust environments.

The Little Green Dot is anxiety. It is there to remind us that we’re not working as hard or as long or as consistently as others. Presence favors those who can effectively sit in a chair all day, not those brave enough to step away for a walk and take some time to think.

But the reality is that The Little Green Dot also has real utility. When something important breaks, we need to see who is online to fix it. When we have a pressing question, we need to know who is available to answer it.

And so The Little Green Dot persists, despised, but understood.

Etzkorn’s final line asks whether humans should be “always-online” or whether a semi online existence would be more beneficial. I like the latter even though I’m closer to the former. I work in digital marketing so onlineness is important but I also blog and that requires research and Wikipedia rabbit holes. There’s no let-up unless I make it so. We should all learn to log off once in a while.

(via HeyDesigner)

Research shows that 5 working hours a day can boost productivity and wellbeing

But apparently, there’s a catch:

Rheingans CEO Lasse Rheingans says when he first floated the idea of compressed working with staff they came up with the idea of banning distractions like smartphones from their desks and minimising the use of “productivity killers like Slack”. The aim for Rheingans was to keep productivity constant but to give people more time off.

Although more productive and better for work-life balance, Rheingans says that, like Corcoran, he discovered after a year that shorter days are not without their downsides. “We realised that we were losing something on the relationship level,” he says. “It affects loyalty and team culture and the relationships people have in a company, when you don’t have time for chatter and small talk and coffee together.”

“Loyalty”. “Team culture“. Yawn. Many people come to work to do work and go home. Stop trying to make work = family happen. Ugh.

(via Wired)

Phrases to help you protect your mental health

For Grammarly, Devon Delfino wrote a great guide on language that can protect your mental health while you work from home or just talking to friends and family.

Social isolation. Work-from-home burnout. Public health-related stress. Political upheaval. If the past year has taught us anything, it’s that mental health matters and has become a central issue for many. But that doesn’t mean it’s necessarily become easier to talk about.

Mental health awareness is one thing but we need more active behaviour to quash the stigmas and myths that surround mental health so those who need help can feel safe to talk about it (or not).

And if you need any alternatives to ableist terms, you can check that out too.

The woman who's lived in a Swedish forest cabin for 8 years

She has been Living in a Cabin in the Forests of Sweden for 8 years | Home Tour

Tova Christoffersson lives in a tiny cabin in the forests of Jämtland, Sweden. She has done so for the past 8 years. In the above video, she gives viewers a tour of her home and how she lives, with her husband and child.

If you have ever seen a cabin in a movie, Tova’s is very similar but more modern and without the impending doom/horror vibes (like The Hateful Eight or Evil Dead, for example). The purpose of living “off-the-grid” is to live a more sustainable life and what could be more environmentally friendly than this?

It’s not something I could ever do but it works for them and that’s the important thing.

Julie Adenuga on Catfish UK and the new rules of romance

I don’t believe in guilty pleasures but Catfish was a rare exception. Even though I know it’s predominately fake and mostly for clout-chasing, it was still wild, messy, dramatic and fun. Now we’re getting a UK version, co-hosted by Julie Adenuga, and she spoke to gal-dem’s Adwoa Darko about the show and romance.

The presenter wants viewers to watch the show through an empathetic lens. “Anyone I said ‘I’m hosting catfish, UK’ to, their first reaction was ‘oh my gosh, it’s gonna be so funny’. That’s their first reaction. And I look at them,” she says before pausing. “These are real emotions.” She also understands how the road to dating someone is often paved with half-truths as she’s had a few people lie to her about knowing her two brothers without knowing she’s related to them (“now you look like the biggest clown of all time”).

We all learnt the rules of the game from Nev: reverse Google image search people if you’re unsure, video call them, ignore people with only one picture because it’s 2021 and everyone has a camera phone. However, through working on the show Julie reveals she’s learnt a new one: “Tagged photos really became our friends. We’ve had profiles sometimes when we see they’ve got 2,000 followers and only one person has tagged you. What’s going on there?”

Bad times for Adwoa, though, who opened the interview with an admission: she had been catfished.

gal-dem: Lets start with the fact that I was catfished

Julie Adenuga: When did this happen?

I met this guy from Ghana right. I was thinking ‘rah we’re gonna do up Kente get ready’. He said he’s single and later he drops that he has kids and an ex-wife that has gone off and married somebody else, and the kids are in Ghana. We go on the date and this man is doing the most, he’s like toasting to us and I’m thinking ‘rah is this me yeah?’

No one has ever toasted to us. This is live.

Read the rest of the interview to find out what happened and stream the Catfish UK promo below.

Meet Catfish UK Hosts Julie Adenuga And Oobah Butler | Catfish UK

The Unwritten Rules of Black life

unwritten rules logo

The Unwritten Rules Encyclopedia examines the various rules forced upon Black people:

Black Americans begin to learn these unwritten rules in early childhood, and they impact everything they do. The rules follow them when they are shopping, and they can feel the anxiety of the rules in their chest when they see the police. The rules shape every career move they make and restrict their freedom when they travel.

There are currently 12 rules on the site but rather than just list them, the site also offers ways to erase them through:

  • Learning more
  • Donating to initiatives
  • Signing petitions
  • Forms of activism against them

You can also send in your own anonymous stories related to these unwritten rules.

See also: The Black American collages of Tay Butler and the gentrification of Black Lives Matter.

Paul Ford on the inspiration in procrastination

I follow Paul Ford on Twitter and I love his humour and intellect. So when I found this 99U talk called “Finding Inspiration in Procrastination”, I jumped at the chance to watch.

Something funny happened on Paul Ford’s way to developing his dream project: he found about 1,000 reasons not to do it. “When you need to do a thing, everything you do is about the thing you’re not doing.”

Like many of us, I procrastinate a lot. In fact, I should be washing up right now and instead I’m writing this. But it’s good to know you can do it without feeling guilty and that there are inspirational takeaways from those deviations.

Stream the talk below.

Shoji Morimoto: a Tokyo "rent-a-person"

Sometimes you just need someone to be there for you, especially during times like this. Not to say or do anything—just be there. Shoji Morimoto, a 37-year-old Tokyo man, can offer that service for ¥10,000 per request (about £71 or $96).

Shoji Morimoto has been advertising himself as a person who can “eat and drink, and give simple feedback, but do nothing more,” since June 2018, and has received over 3,000 requests.

His work has garnered high praise from his clients and people on Twitter:

“I’m glad I was able to take a walk with someone while keeping a comfortable distance, where we didn’t have to talk but could if we wanted to.”

“I had been slack about visiting the hospital, but I went because he came with me.”

“He listened to me without shaming me about going to the adult entertainment shop. It felt like a support to just have him by my side without forcing his opinions on me.”

Semi-related: The insular world of hikikomori and the internet cafe refugees of Japan

(via The Mainichi)

(Un)productivity or death?

dinos and comics is “a comic about depressed dinosaurs who find hope in each other”. I follow the Twitter account and find their comics light-hearted and amusing.

Today’s comic was particularly clever with the white dinosaur giving Rainbow T-Rex the mantras of capitalism (productivity or death), COVID (unproductivity or death), and the government (simply death).

Sounds about right.

For previous entries, follow @dinoman_j on Twitter and dinosandcomics on Instagram.

Róisín Hanlon on Parasitic Architecture

parasitic architecture

ABW Architects’s Róisín Hanlon wrote a piece on parasitic architecture, the art of attaching a construct onto another, larger building. The concept attempts to solve three key issues with housing:

In the piece, Róisín looked at some of the more interesting uses of parasitic architecture:

Really interesting parasitic design makes us look at a space that we may not even have realised was under-utilised. Fernando Abellanas designed a small studio for himself nestled between the concrete beams of a bridge in Valencia. The setting is brutal and urban but with Abellanas’ light materials and playful construction the installation has a cosy, dreamy quality to it, much like a child’s tree house. The structure is a platform suspended on wheels from the beams which can be moved along the underside of the bridge using a handcrank. Much like a swallows nest, the studio uses a high-up corner that most passers by wouldn’t even look at, let alone design an installation for.

Fernando Abellanas in his suspended office in Valencia

I don’t have a fear of heights but that looks scary as hell to me. Also, how do you get in and out of that thing? And what if it fell?

While I find the concept of parasitic architecture interesting, I question the connotations of calling it “parasitic”, particularly in the context of homeless people, who are already seen as parasites by society. There’s also the definition: a parasite generally feeds of its host. Are housing extensions parasitic in nature? Are all buildings parasitic by “benefitting” from grounds they’re built on? And what are the legalities of it in other countries?

For more on the style, read CNN’s piece on it and BBC’s article featuring the remarkable use of La Grande Arche de La Défense in Paris as a hub for modular units.

The insular world of hikikomori

hikikomori

The teenage stereotype of locking yourself in your room was something I experienced growing up. It was true for me (minus the lock) but not to the extremes exhibited by half a million in Japan. These people are known as the hikikomori (“pulling inward, being confined”).

The Japanese government has been conducting a major study to understand the hikikomori and what causes their behaviour. FRANCE 24’s report is thought-provoking and tragic in many ways. But there is some light at the end of the tunnel for some in the video report.

Here are some basic notes about the hikikomori:

  • In severe cases, they don’t leave their bedrooms for months or years
  • Friendships are rare due to consistent isolation and inabilities to maintain emotional connections
  • Social withdrawal is often gradual rather than instant
  • The average age of the hikikomori is around 30*
  • The phenomenon is mainly found in Japan, but examples have been discovered in the United States, Spain, Italy, South Korea, and France

One example in the report sees a son living as a hikikomori with his mother. Codependence is seen as an enabling behaviour, as discussed in The Anatomy of Dependence, a book by the late Japanese psychoanalyst Takeo Doi. In it, he talked of a concept known as amae, a “uniquely Japanese need to be in good favour with, and be able to depend on, the people around oneself”. He also claimed that the “ideal relationship was that of the parent-child, and all other relationships should strive for this degree of closeness”.

Watch the report below.

Japan's modern-day hermits: The world of hikikomori

Who Old Are You

Who Old Are You

They say it’s never too late and this website shows you exactly why. Enter your birth date and find out what other influences were people were doing at your age. Around my age, Shakespeare had just written Romeo and Juliet, Nintendo was founded by Fusajiro Yamauchi, Pierre Omidyar founded eBay, and Coco Chanel opened a clothes shop.

The interactive data viz comes from Information Is Beautiful. The site was founded by David McCandless, who created it to “help make clearer, more informed decisions about the world”.

I put my age in and while it can maybe feel depressing (“I’m X and I’ve not achieved anything!”) but you can totally flip that because the infographic doesn’t stop at your age – it carries on. Plenty of time to do whatever the hell you want.

Who Old Are You?