Online learning & "all or nothing" doomscrolling

Happy August ☀️ (or 🌀, depending on the day). It’s been a while since I’ve given meaningful updates here, so let’s jump right in!

“All or Nothing” Social Media

After feeling drained and jaded from lots of doomscrolling, I have been mostly off social media for the past month and a half. I tried a social media detox back in October-December last year that went well; I stayed in touch with people through dinners and events and didn’t feel like I was missing out on much.

This time around I feel a lot more disconnected from friends without social media. There are almost zero organic ways to run into someone when we are physically distanced. Friendships have to be meaningfully maintained and cared for. I miss in person hangs so much, but I am also learning to value connection through a simple phone call or even casual text exchanges of links and memes. It’s more effort than viewing stories or tweets, but ultimately more meaningful to be intentionally growing a relationship one on one.

I still desire a feasible method of controlling my social media intake without having it take over my mental state. A lot has been written on the benefits of getting rid of social media for the sake of digital minimalism. I readily admit that without Twitter or Instagram, I feel a lot more focused and attentive to the real, physical world. Yet there is also much good that social media provides—sharing resources, making new acquaintances, discovering new perspectives are just a few of its advantages.

Actions such as using distraction blocking apps, turning off all notifications, and logging in and out of my account each time do help in moderating my intake, but not to a point where I have found a happy medium between checking my feed endlessly or not using it at all. Perhaps it’s a matter of accepting that social media is highly addictive for me and adapting to these “all or nothing” cycles of being on social media and taking breaks.

Have you found a good balance in how you use social media? If any of you have suggestions or advice towards healthy moderation, please let me know 💙

On Learning Online

Before COVID, I had briefly tried out Steezy’s online dance classes and quickly gave up. The content was great, but I much preferred going to classes at dance studios to take advantage of the large space and full length mirrors. Plus, the magic of feeding off other dancers’ energy and hyping each other’s performances can only really be experienced in person.

Unfortunately, proper dance classes won’t be coming back anytime soon. After purchasing a proper mirror and dedicating a pair of sneakers for indoor shoes, I gave Steezy another shot. So far I am really pleased with the platform’s quality and depth! I’ve been able to revisit fundamentals like body rolls and arm waves and learn certain hip hop moves like the reject. The bulk of in person classes are focused on learning choreography, so being able to dedicate time to perfecting the basics has been a huge win.

The best part has been able to learn advanced routines by choreographers like Nicole Kirkland or Brian Friedman. I watch their Youtube videos all the time and dream of being able to dance their routines without collapsing. Though I wouldn’t have been able to keep up with their classes in person, I was able to practice their choreography at a snail’s pace and eventually execute it decently.

Through using Steezy, I’ve found that learning on my own can be frustrating and tedious, but it also provides a great opportunity to take my time and practice my weak spots. It increases my ability to keep myself accountable and track my own growth. I think this kind of learning is ideal for someone who is at least an advanced beginner. At the beginning of learning something new, fun and external accountability are crucial to continuing the difficult journey.

Learning and socializing go hand in hand—other people are often what provide the fun and accountability we need to keep going. This model is familiar to us within our own K-12/higher education system, yet many online learning platforms are still centered around video content and Q&A forums. I’m intrigued by budding models like Hyperlink Academy, which emphasizes community-driven learning with small cohorts centered around experimental topics that will be iteratively developed. Online writing classes like Catapult also do this well with their video chat platform to provide in line and longform peer feedback on submissions.

On Social Distancing Excursions

One of my favorite outings this summer was taking a ferry ride to Governor’s Island (with limited ridership to ensure social distancing). My sister, partner, and I rented a modern day surrey to ride around the perimeter (surreys are heavy—it was quite the workout), lounged in hammocks and did a short rock scramble to see the lower Manhattan skyline.

Governor’s Island is incredibly manicured and pristine, maybe too much so, but it felt like a brief vacation with almost no other people around. The city has installed water faucets and cleaning stations around the property for hand washing as well. I was really impressed by the level of care put towards reopening green spaces for New Yorkers while preventing the spread of infection. Consider going for a relaxed day trip!