This Pandemic Papers, by M Eifler, an experimental archive of feeling in context, all painted on Sunday editions of the SF Chronicle.

Earlier this month, I invited Yellow Canary Land 🐤 readers to submit their reflections on the year since the pandemic was declared, which was March 11, 2020. As expected, reflections captured a range of emotions, from gratitude to grief, from loneliness to livid anger. In this year of years, some also reported on their personal growth during a time of great suffering. One reader sent in their art, a series of paintings on the Sunday edition of the San Francisco Chronicle.

It’s impossible that such a momentous year wouldn’t change us. How it changed us depended so much on where…

Candle and flowers on the ground in a public street as people walk by and one person stands by them
Image CC-BY Chris Candid

I write this as we learn about yet another mass killing: 6 women of Asian descent in the United States, in a time of rising incidents of hate crimes against AAPI people in this country, in a time of a global pandemic that’s taken over 2.5 million lives, in a time of a racial justice and climate awakening that’s forcing us to reckon with reality of the many people who have died because of racist and unjust systems. It is not the first time I’ve written about mass death and hate, and it will not be the last time.


Eureka Dunes in Death Valley. Photo by the author.

In Spanish, the word for pandemic is pandemia. It sounds to me like academia or eudaimonia or even Portlandia: a state of mind, or a place, a world unto itself. This is a monthlong series on life in the pandemia, in response to Medium’s writing prompt.

The desert, I’ve learned, teaches respect. We were camped out at the base of Eureka Dunes, the tallest sand dunes in Death Valley and possibly North America at 680 feet high. The weather report had indicated clear weather, but halfway up the dunes, a strong wind caught us, as distant clouds rolled in faster…

A picture of a black and white cow in a field
Doldrums, CC-BY Rachel Kramer

In Spanish, the word for pandemic is pandemia. It sounds to me like academia or eudaimonia or even Portlandia: a state of mind, or a place, a world unto itself. In the Land of Pandemia we find ourselves in, time moves differently. For me, the days move slowly, but the weeks pass quickly. Months move like years, and the past year has felt like many more than 12 months. In Pandemia, we daydream, we nap, we dawdle and delay.

It reminds me of another place, the land of the Doldrums, from The Phantom Tollbooth, a book about a young boy…

Painting by Michel Serre during the Great Plague of Marseille, 1720–1721.

We’re nearing the one-year anniversary of the WHO’s declaration of the COVID-19 pandemic. Here’s what Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in his public statement:

We have therefore made the assessment that COVID-19 can be characterized as a pandemic.

Pandemic is not a word to use lightly or carelessly. It is a word that, if misused, can cause unreasonable fear, or unjustified acceptance that the fight is over, leading to unnecessary suffering and death.

Describing the situation as a pandemic does not change WHO’s assessment of the threat posed by this virus. …

Photo: Fiordaliso/Getty Images

A new research paper from Jeremy Bailenson, founding director of Stanford University’s Virtual Human Interaction Lab, and his team looks at Zoom fatigue from a psychological perspective. They narrowed it down to four main factors: 1) excessive eye contact, 2) constantly seeing oneself on video, 3) reduction of mobility (because of a need to stay in the frame), and 4) cognitive load.

Most intriguing is what Bailenson and his colleagues call the ZEF scale, or the Zoom exhaustion and fatigue scale, which includes questions like “How irritated do your eyes feel after videoconferencing?” and “How much do you tend to…

A circle of seven people sit in meditation in Regents Park, London.
A group meditation in Regents Park, London. Image CC BY-ND Mick Baker

It started as an odd experiment early in the days of Clubhouse, which in pandemic time means August, when the app was still in Testflight mode. My friend Jennifer 8. Lee set up a room called “Silent Meditation,” set her mic to mute, and people piled in. In an app designed explicitly around talking, no one talked.

Because there’s no video on Clubhouse, it’s unclear who was actually meditating. But maybe that’s not the point. The point was that we were together.

Back in September, I shared a few thoughts on Clubhouse, landing on the point that the app fills…

Street art saying “the revolution will not be tweeted” with a Twitter bird with a line through it
Image CC-BY Gigi Ibrahim

From Rihanna to Aung San Suu Kyi, news of internet shutdowns has been making the rounds lately. Access Now, a non-profit that focuses on digital rights around the world, documented 213 incidents of shutdowns in 2019 alone. As the report detailed, these shutdowns rarely come out of nowhere. Indeed, they are most often justified as a content moderation decision:

While the internet enables the fulfillment of many human rights, there is a growing concern about the role it plays in facilitating or spreading misinformation and incendiary content. …

Yellow flowers arranged on the grass in the shape of a heart
Image CC-BY Steven Diaz

We live in times of breaking news that breaks the heart, when that which breaks is not just world events, but us, living and navigating a painful world.

As we near the year’s anniversary of the declaration of a global pandemic, I’ve been thinking a lot about what, exactly, has changed in the past year, including in the world of journalism. One thing I started noticing last year when listening to the NPR is the number of times the radio station openly references anxiety and calm in their broadcasts and tries to help soothe listeners as much as inform them.

Some folks have been asking me for my opinion on the recent decision to deplatform Donald Trump from major social media platforms. As this is a newsletter about the future, let’s take a look at some potential long-term implications.

My thoughts are still forming, but here are three reasons for pessimism and three for optimism that guide my thinking.

Three Reasons for Pessimism

  1. The process by which this happened only highlights the enormous power of private platforms in governing what have effectively become private online spaces where public, civic discourse happens. Think about shopping malls and college campuses — urbanists…

an xiao mina

author and technologist. words and commentary in ny times, bbc, atlantic, hyperallergic, etc. meedan. opinions my own.

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