Issue 19: 'The Greatest Propaganda Machine in History' and Digital Detoxing Trends
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Issue 19: 'The Greatest Propaganda Machine in History' and Digital Detoxing Trends

As the year 2020 approaches, we are living in an increasingly connected world that also has been espousing digital detox trend after trend. But will the trends actually help rebalance our tech-dominated lives or are they just continual side effects of an increasingly digital world where we live with the 'greatest propaganda machine in history'? 

Sasha Baron Cohen Attacks Facebook 

Facebook may have started out as an innocuous platform to flirt with cute girls on your college campus, but it's evolved into a beast of unprecedented power, which has impacted elections. 

Last week, comedian Sacha Baron Cohen (best known for his role as Borat) gave a somber speech to the Anti-Defamation League, calling Facebook and other social media networks dangerous propaganda machines: "Facebook, YouTube and Google, Twitter and others – they reach billions of people. The algorithms these platforms depend on deliberately amplify the type of content that keeps users engaged – stories that appeal to our baser instincts and that trigger outrage and fear."

Meanwhile, Facebook has undergone such heat recently that the company has built a chatbot to help their employees deflect criticism from their family members during holiday gatherings.

Scared of Screens? Hide in a 'Sensory Cave' in Toronto

If the thought of social media as propaganda machines is giving you anxiety, you may want to head to the University of Toronto for an escape. They have created a "'soft utopia’ of sensory caves, designed as an antidote to long hours of screentime."

It's been a long known fact that blue light emitted from our screens can disrupt sleep cycles, so this exhibit is a reprieve from the connected world, which allows a return to uninterrupted rest and reverie. If you can't make the exhibit before it closes at the end of April 2020, fret not: Camp Grounded is making its return in May 2020 in California, after its founders death. 

IRL Prompt: Start a New Holiday Tradition

While this headline from a 1953 issue of the Tacoma news may have eerily predicted the future, it's never too late to start your own tradition of detoxing during the holiday season.

The next time you're gathering with your family, try out one of these IRL activities:
  • Lock everyone's phones away for the entirety of the day or meal. The first person to try and get their phone will have to sing a holiday song out loud (and be recorded with their own camera). 
  • Get an analog camera to take photos with—send them in the mail to your family members or friends a week later with a note.
  • Make a fire and pick someone in the group; make everyone recall a favorite memory of that person.
  • Purchase some conversation starter cards to prompt meaningful discussions (this version even caters to Chinese-American families).
Have your own holiday tradition you'd like to share with us? Email us here and we'll feature it in our next issue. Until next time, and thank you, as ever, for your attention!
Send this to a friend who needs to slow down. Then grab a cup of coffee with them.

Why ‘The Slow Scroll’?

Social Isolation is Killing Us. Tech companies are failing us. And we’re all hopelessly addicted to our screens.

Living IRL has never been more important.

That’s why we created The Slow Scroll, a weekly newsletter by IRL Labs, sent directly to your inbox (oh the irony). The Slow Scroll curates the latest and most inspiring content and resources, empowering readers to untether and live slowly.

Brought to you by...

Ivan Cash, Editor-in-Chief
Cyrena Lee, Editor and Lead Writer
Erin Ellis, Illustrator

Emily Lin, Producer

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