Moving into my own place

Finding what keeps us going, newsletter advice, virtual haircuts, and updates with my latest projects

Hi friend,

The time has come to pack up boxes, declutter, and move into a new abode. By this Friday, I will be situated in my new apartment! Stay tuned for photos to come.

Although I love living with people in New York City, it has been very difficult living with a roommate who observes COVID-19 quarantine very differently from myself. It was much more manageable in March when social distancing was a novel activity, but as time had passed, I see my roommate struggle to adopt this new normal and returning to old behaviors.

Unfortunately, this is the case for many folks and we are seeing a resurgence of COVID-19 death-counts in cities all around the United States. Getting through a pandemic is mentally and physically exhausting, but the reward is life. How we get there is up to us all.

Our ancestors have gone through much worse: nuclear bombs, genocides, world wars, famines, and other more fatal pandemics. We all have what it takes to get through this and it may require digging deep within ourselves to find what keeps us going. For me, a gentle reminder that (1) life is never guaranteed and (2) many parts of the world are struggling with more than just the novel coronavirus.

On top of business closures and social isolation:

With all this in context, social isolation (and even mask-wearing) seem so small in comparison. By taking care of ourselves now, we ensure that we will still be around to heal these other injustices that are hurting our brothers, sisters, and other siblings all around the world.

How do you cope with quarantine and social distancing?


Not another newsletter

Are you interested in starting your own newsletter? Or just curious about email marketing? I subscribe to Dan Oshinsky’s Not Another Newsletter where he sends out a monthly update on email marketing strategy, trends, and best practices… in a Google Doc. I love the practicality of it.

Virtual haircuts

Times are changing and many industries have shifted to a digital medium in response to COVID-19. Virtual haircuts have become more popular recently and I’m curious if this actually works.

Where you can find me…

My latest projects and whereabouts:

As always, thanks for reading!

P.S. If you enjoyed this, share or sign up here: mindfulmoments.substack.com

Anything else? You can always hit "reply" to email me directly. 💌

Have a beautiful day!

Metta (loving-kindness),
Steven

Yellow Glitter Podcast | IG | YT | FB | TW | StevenWakabayashi.com

The state of social media

Advice on how to regain control over social media, looking through another perspective, the reality of COVID-19, and Trump's denial

Hi friend,

In the past few weeks, my “day” job has consumed most of my life. I’ve been working all day and night prepping for a major launch of a new product, clocking-in anywhere from 60-80 hours a week. With that, I’ve been neglecting many things in my life, especially my social media channels.

Previously, I wrote about re-evaluating my relationship with social media and in my absence, I’ve been thinking a lot more about these platforms.

Since joining Xanga and MySpace in the early 2000s, I have always been a huge proponent of the diversity and connectedness of these social platforms. But during this absence, I realized how much these platforms have been draining my time and manipulating my emotions.

Browsing has become too easy, with hours disappearing into a void, and replying with emotionally-charged comments has become too convenient, when heated discussions seem to grace our screen quite often. 

After some thinking, here are some thoughts and advice on social media:

Social media platforms do not have our best interests in mind.

These companies are focused on revenue earned by… yup, our attention. Brands pay millions of dollars to get in front of their target demographics on social media platforms. To take it a step further, these companies have created algorithms that analyze every image, video, and word we respond to. When we spend hours writing that single comment or replaying that one video multiple times, these metrics are saved and influence the likelihood of another similar post or comment appearing in our feed.

We must take an active role in shaping our newsfeeds if we are to continue using it.

If there is a type of content that makes us feel terrible, we should refrain from commenting, browsing, or sharing it. On the flip side, we should be actively engaging and promoting the content we want to see more of.

In addition...

Our content is being scraped and immortalized on external databases.

Companies, such as Clearview AI, archive photos from social media and place it in a repository for other companies and law enforcement officers to use. There are thousands of other companies doing the same thing without our permission to do so. Not only should we be conscious of what we post from a privacy perspective, but we should also be conscious of the longevity of our content. Are the things we post today going to look alright five or ten years later?

To top off that scrape...

Not everyone is real.

Every single day, hundreds of thousands of accounts on social media platforms are created by bots. They create automated posts and comments improving engagement or shaping particular narratives*. Most have robust profiles and look no different than any other user.

The next time we are compelled to react to a post or comment, we should consider the fact that it may very well be a machine. The more we can safeguard our time and energy, we can invest it toward more impactful things for the greater world around us.

Do these things resonate?


Through the looking glass

Window Swap lets you look outside another window somewhere else in the world. I love the perspective it provides.

The reality of COVID-19

"The morning you die, I don't want to be there — like most mornings now, when I rise against my whole will and crawl dejectedly into scrubs. I don't want to be a plague doctor or a hero on TV. Now on the news, White men hold guns and signs that say 'live free or die' to protest the lockdown. I imagine what they will look like dying on vents in ICUs staffed by doctors lacking sleep and proper training, soaked in moral fatigue." A perspective of COVID by the New England Journal of Medicine.

In denial

“Trump’s commentary of late has been dizzying and visceral. He has referred to the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, which originated in China, as the “kung flu.” He has called racial justice demonstrators “thugs.” He has attacked efforts to take down Confederate statues as an assault on “our heritage.” And in an ominous hypothetical scenario, he described a “very tough hombre” breaking into a young woman’s home while her husband was away.” Trump’s push to amplify racism unnerves Republicans who have long enabled him by The Washington Post.

If that wasn’t bad enough, take a look at Trump’s four-minute interview with Chris Wallace in denial about COVID-19, election polls, funding, and the future.

As always, thanks for reading!

P.S. If you enjoyed this, share or sign up here: mindfulmoments.substack.com

Anything else? You can always hit "reply" to email me directly. 💌

Have a beautiful day!

Metta (loving-kindness),
Steven

Yellow Glitter Podcast | IG | YT | FB | TW | StevenWakabayashi.com

Register to vote, please

What we should learn from Hong Kong, speaking dogs, cancel culture, life expectancy, and COVID updates

Hi friends,

Earlier this week, China passed a law empowering police cracking down on pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong. Residents have gone quiet and deleted their social media to hide. Hundreds of protesters have been arrested and are being prosecuted as threats against national security. In just days, democracy as it we know it has come crashing down for our Hong Kong brothers, sisters, and siblings.

Now, more than ever, our votes will be critical in how we will shape our country’s future. Register to vote, if you have not done so already, and get ready for our elections in November. Let’s heed the lessons from around the world and ensure that we take action to preserve our democracy. Our future depends on it.

Short email this week. Take care, and have a great week ahead.


Speaking dogs

Bella and Bunny are two dogs speaking through personalized buzzers. I was absolutely in awe and spent a few days going through their channels. (I wonder what they will evolve to learn next.)

The thing about cancel culture

This past week, hundreds of well-established figures including JK Rowling have banned together to write an open letter canceling cancel culture. While I agree with some issues of cancel culture, I’ve linked the Twitter feed with replies that shed light on problems with this. If we cannot hold influencers and people in power accountable, then what use is freedom of speech?

Richer, but still poor

“The United States is different. In nearly every other high-income country, people have both become richer over the last three decades and been able to enjoy substantially longer lifespans. But not in the United States. Even as average incomes have risen, much of the economic gains have gone to the affluent — and life expectancy has risen only three years since 1990. There is no other developed country that has suffered such a stark slowdown in lifespans.”

The U.S. Is Lagging Behind Many Rich Countries. These Charts Show Why by The NY Times.

COVID Updates

Trump throws a temper tantrum about the pandemic.

Why Sweden’s herd immunity was a failed attempt.

And updates on promising RNA vaccines. (fingers crossed)

"This promising — but unproven — new generation of vaccine technologies is based on deploying a tiny snip of genetic code called messenger RNA to trigger the immune system. It has never before been approved for use. But almost overnight, these cutting-edge RNA vaccine efforts have leaped forward as top candidates to fight covid-19. Some developers plan to have tens of millions of doses ready by the end of the year. Elegant in theory, efficacious in the laboratory but untested in the real world, the possible RNA vaccines are especially attractive because they might be cheaper, easier and faster to manufacture on a massive scale — at least one team boasts it could partner with producers in developing countries to provide millions of vials for as little as $5 a pop."

As always, thanks for reading!

P.S. If you enjoyed this, share or sign up here: mindfulmoments.substack.com

Anything else? You can always hit "reply" to email me directly. 💌

Have a beautiful day!

Metta (loving-kindness),
Steven

Yellow Glitter Podcast | IG | YT | FB | TW | StevenWakabayashi.com

The state of independence

The state of democracy in the US and Asia, boycotting Facaebook, the science of happiness, and trans perspectives in media

Hi friend,

Happy July 4th.

I have a lot of mixed feelings about today. Sure, this is a national holiday we can take to relax, unwind, and enjoy ourselves, but the concept of “independence” around the world is slowly disintegrating.

Earlier this week, China passed a law that lets police crack down on the territory's pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong. Many residents have gone quiet and deleted their social media presence to protect themselves. Hundreds of activists have already been arrested, some put in jail for simply for holding a flag.

Within Southeast Asia, democracy is being dismantled. Journalists are being arrested, heavy military force is being deployed, and courts are less active administering the checks and balances they were meant to uphold.

Here in the US, we have been so busy covering the politics around wearing face masks that Trump’s hiring of his 200th judge flew by under the radar.

Take time this weekend to recharge, especially with what’s to come. Looking ahead, we have a critical election happening in November that will shape the future of our country and democracy.

Don’t forget to register to vote. Our civil liberties depend on it.


About the money…

Companies are standing in solidarity with civil liberties and putting their money where it matters most. Coca-Cola joins Facebook boycott with a pause on all social media advertising starting July 1st.

On the other hand, the US Treasury sent a million coronavirus stimulus payments to dead people - totaling nearly $1.4 billion. (You’d think that’s the first place they would check.)

Education during COVID

If you’re looking for a course to try, check out the 100 most popular courses people are taking during this pandemic.

At number 1 is the Science of Well Being with Dr. Laurie Santos - which I highly recommend. If courses aren’t your thing, I highly recommend her podcast, The Happiness Lab. She distills insights from her course into bite-sized episodes.

Trans media

Netflix added two documentaries to their roster showcasing trans perspectives that I highly recommend:

Disclosure covers Hollywood’s depiction of transgender people and the impact it has had on American culture.

Transformer follows the story of Janae Marie Kroc, a former marine and record-breaking power lifter and her story of transitioning into the woman she is today.

As always, thanks for reading!

P.S. If you enjoyed this, share or sign up here: mindfulmoments.substack.com

Anything else? You can always hit "reply" to email me directly. 💌

Have a beautiful day!

Metta (loving-kindness),
Steven

Yellow Glitter Podcast | IG | YT | FB | TW | StevenWakabayashi.com

Using our time wisely

Leveraging my time on social media for change, healing spaces for Asians, teens and k-pop stans saving the world, coronavirus updates, and the power of makeup

Hi friend,

Some of you may know that I meticulously time my time each day. From the moment I wake until I go to sleep, I log my behaviors into Toggl to better understand where my hours and minutes go to.

One category in particular, “excess”, includes hours from social media usage, which has been eye opening to analyze. While it’s enjoyable to follow my friends, giggle at memes, and stay updated with social movements, nothing has really substantiated with the hours spent scrolling.

This month alone, I spent over 50 hours on social media (with a few days peaking at embarrassing levels). With those hours, I could have:

  • Devoted a full 40-hour work week to my projects

  • Recorded an entire year’s worth of podcast episodes

  • Drafted 25 email newsletters

  • Added two hours of sleep to everyday

I have excused a lot of my time on social media as “the work” consuming and sharing content as it relates to social activism. However, as we think about who we are sharing our content with, it is often an echo chamber with people who share similar beliefs when we take into account our culled list of friends, followers, and an algorithm focused on engagement.

While social media activism may be a part of our movement for social justice, it alone cannot solve and abolish racism that has been deeply intertwined with our socio and economic systems.

One thing that has haunted me for the longest time working in advertising and technology has been the inequity within my design teams. From leadership to functional team diversity, 99% is comprised of cis-straight white men and women.

And so in the past few weeks, I took the time I would normally spend on social media into something bigger: QTPOC Design - an organization that provides education, mentorship, and networking opportunities to LGBTQ+ designers of color. Education and accessibility to jobs is paramount in establishing equity within our corporate environment.

If you know any LGBTQ+ designers of color (ux/ui/design) interested to be a part of this initiative, send them over to qtpoc.design! Hosting our first online event on 7/21/20.

So, thought starter for this weekend: how much time are you spending on social media and what can you repurpose them for?

In other offerings…

For my Asian activists: launched last week a weekly space of mediation and self-care. It will be hosted every Sunday evening for as long as protests are going on. Co-hosted with one of my amazing API PFLAG chapter leaders.

And for my queer Asians: 7/12/20 is another session of Sparkles monthly support group. Tickets are 50% sold out already so book a spot if you are interested in joining.

Whew!

Lots of stuff going on. If you or anyone you know might find any of these events useful, come on by!


Teens and K-Pop stans will save our world

“It spread mostly through Alt TikTok — we kept it on the quiet side where people do pranks and a lot of activism,” said YouTuber Elijah Daniel, 26, who participated in the campaign. “K-pop, Twitter and Alt TikTok have a good alliance where they spread information amongst each other very quickly. They all know the algorithms and how they can boost videos to get where they want.”

Many users deleted their posts after 24 to 48 hours in order to conceal their plan. “The majority of people who made them deleted them after the first day because we didn’t want the Trump campaign to catch wind,” Daniel said. “These kids are smart, and they thought of everything.”

How TikTok teens and K-Pop stans went after Trump’s rally

(From this, Greta Thunberg, and to the activists from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, in Parkland, Florida, the younger generation are mobilizing and using the internet so much better than their older counterparts.)

Coronavirus news

In areas that are starting to reopen, there is a resurgence of COVID-19 cases.

Why aren’t we learning from Hawaii? How Hawaii Became a Rare Covid Success Story by Politico.

The power of makeup

As tracking technology becomes more powerful, privacy is becoming a privilege and skill. Especially in areas where masks are illegal, makeup becomes an important piece in this conversation. Can Makeup Be an Anti-Surveillance Tool?

As always, thanks for reading!

P.S. If you enjoyed this, share or sign up here: mindfulmoments.substack.com

Anything else? You can always hit "reply" to email me directly. 💌

Have a beautiful day!

Metta (loving-kindness),
Steven

Yellow Glitter Podcast | IG | YT | FB | TW | StevenWakabayashi.com

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