The Foolscap: Imagine a World Without Media

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FOOL scap 2022 Issue


University of Toronto/Book and Media Studies Journal

The Foolscap Journal Presents Imagine a World Without Media

Book & Media Studies Journal University of St. Michale's College 2022

This journal is an annual interdisciplinary undergraduate publication, which is written and edited entirely by Book & Media Studies students @thefoolcapjournal

The Foolscap Team Camila Justino - Editor-in-chief Wenato Han - Managing Editor Eva Chang - Editor Aarya Chavan - Editor Jacqueline Rea - Editor Rebecca Westall - Editor Jacqueline Rea and Rebecca Westall - Copy Editors Emma Chelminski - Social Media Content and Web Design developer Tianxinyi (Eva) Wu - Art Director Shurui Wu - Photographer Professor Felan Parker - Academic Advisor Professor Paolo Granata - Academic Advisor Emma Chelminski & Tianxinyi (Eva) Wu - Layout

Table of Contents

3 5 7

Letter from the Editor SNAPSHOTS

6 9

Rebecca Westall Randy Boyagoda Christopher Lao

Bumble: The Quest for Love

11 17

Stephen Tardif Latif Nasser


Anonymous Iris Gildea

10 13


Anna Sokolava - darling i am lost without you; a lipogram


Nina Katz - When Screens Break Aarya Chavan - Connection PHOTO ESSAY Shurui Wu - Disconnected



SLOW MEDIA Jennifer Rauch

Detox: An Auspicious Exploration



Jennifer Racovan




Dear Reader, Welcome to The Foolscap! We are enthusiastic about being the 9th issue of this publication committed to voicing questions and reflections from the Book & Media Program students. The world is constantly changing with the media around us; however, the pandemic has drastically affected the way we communicate and use media. After going back to “normal” life, the poet Jim Moore wrote about the pandemic: "it has done to us what it has done." Our team could not help but question the environment we lived in for the last two years: mostly virtual! When our team got together for the first time, I suggested a reflection based on social media profiles. I was curious to know students' responses on how it is to be represented by a virtual profile most of the time while in lockdown. The team surprised me with a new and audacious proposal. Wentao provoked us by asking, "What about imagining a world without media?" We were all instigated about this question: is it possible to live in a world without media? We know it is not; media is a vast term. Insofar, Marshall McLuhan said media are extensions of our bodies. From our shoes to our phones, we cannot avoid being surrounded by media! However, we decided to go forward with the prompt to ask collaborators and readers to “Imagine a World Without Media.” In this issue, the collaborators take our theme in different and surprising directions. To imagine a world without media is an opportunity to wonder and investigate what is not possible. To imagine is a kind request: how would the world be without phones or electrical energy? Marshall McLuhan, Kathryn Hutchon and Eric McLuhan write in City as Classroom (1977), “our society is a huge warehouse of information, a vast resource to be mined free of charge.” To imagine a world without media is to explore how media affect our lives. We only imagine the absence of something if we think about its presence first. For this exploration, we started with high speed. The Snapshot section presents quick yet deep answers to our prompt. As you move through the pages you will notice the pace of our journal getting slow. We offer you poems and a photo essay to transition into our Slow Media section. There, you can read (slowly) about the benefits and motives of Slow Media manifesto. At the very end, we share digital detox experiences coming from students of the Book & Media Studies program. The Foolscap would like to extend our special acknowledgement to St Michael’s College. The principal, professors, and staff have been supportive in making this issue possible. Camila Justino Editor-in-chief




REBECCA WESTALL BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP. Snooze. it’s Friday, 7:40 a.m. 7:40 a.m?! God that’s early. What do I have to do today? I’ll check my Google Calendar… oh new message from Mom: “don’t forget to send me the photo of your new tattoo!” Right. Ok sent. Wow, I really need to clear out my camera roll… who takes THIS many photos of bugs? Oh shit! It’s 8:15 a.m already. Don’t I have something to do this morning? Oh yeah, I have it written in my Google Calendar: phone appointment with Dr. ***** at 8:30 a.m. Ok, so I have a few minutes to check the TikToks my friends sent me last night. Oh my gosh yeah, Euphoria was so crazy last night. LOL, she is so extra, and for wha- RIIIIIIIIING. Hello? Yes, this is she. Now that I got that over and done with, let’s see what the rest of the day holds. ⁃ Call government about lockdown benefits ⁃ Read intro chapter of the book ⁃ Zoom class at noon. ⁃ Post in week five online discussion board ⁃ Zoom meeting with group members @ 3:00 p.m ⁃ Research paper bibliography Not too bad. And then tonight I have a second date with that guy I met on Hinge. I wonder how cold it will be tonight. I’ll check the weather app. Oh! I haven’t played Wordle yet today! Hmmm, what’s a good starting word? Ah yes, table. Ah no, all grey. I can get this… YES! Got it in 3 tries, and it only took me… THIRTEEN MINUTES?! Ok, I really have to get out of bed. Once I reply to my Instagram DM’s. Oooh, I think my HayDay crops are ready to harvest. Ok after this I’ll get to work. Read intro chapter of book. No problem, I’ll just pull it up on my computer. But I better check my school email first. And my personal email. Sale at Aritzia? I won’t buy anything but a little window shopping can’t hurt…How is it 10 o’clock already? I feel like I’m wasting the day. Maybe I’ll make myself a coffee and some breakfast. I have been wanting to try that 3ingredient pancake recipe I saw on Instagram. Might as well throw on a podcast while I’m cooking and then I’ll watch some Succession while I eat. THEN I’ll get started on that reading.

There’s no doubt that my days are mediated by social media and communication platforms. Without media, my days would have no structure or substance. Even when I “unplug” to go for a walk I have a podcast playing. Or when I see friends, we play video games together or have music as a backdrop for our conversations. Media connects us to others and helps us understand ourselves. It introduces us to new ways of thinking and can be a source of comfort. There’s no doubt that my days rely on media—to, ironically, keep me accountable, despite all the distractions that manifest. Media is a tool that can be used for good or bad, but regardless of my intent or yours, it is an integral part of our existence. I think there is this negative connotation regarding media that suggests spending our time engaging with it is not “useful” or “productive,” but when our human existence is contingent upon these modes of communication and entertainment and information, then there is no avoiding it so why make ourselves feel bad? Sure, there are moral and ethical issues that arise from media, as they do in all things. Plus, the proliferation of contemporary media is a direct embodiment and perpetrator of capitalism. But without it, how would we learn, share and build community? In fact, without media, you wouldn’t be reading this piece right now! Media is not just an iPhone or the app Tiktok, it is the basis of our individuality and our relationships. So, when I accidentally spend longer scrolling on Twitter than I’d anticipated, I will go easy on myself. And you should too.



In July 1982, my mother took us to Sri Lanka for a holiday. My father stayed in Canada with our cat Timmy, who was terrifyingly fat when we returned in August (my father merely grew a beer belly in our absence). We had a layover in Amsterdam. The length of this layover must have been long enough to leave the departure lounge, but not long enough to leave the airport. And this made possible my first experience of a world without technology: a KLM lady who looked like a crayon — tall and thin and her whole outfit one colour — took us to a warehouse-sized family lounge, a giant empty room with long hard tables partitioned into cubicle-like shapes by crayon-coloured plastic dividers. I think we were the only ones in there. Anyway, it felt that way. I was six. My sisters were four and three. They were sleepy. My mother was sleepy. My mother selected three cubicles, placed us each in one of them, and told us to go to sleep.

My sisters were sleepy. They went to sleep. I was not sleepy. I didn’t go to sleep. I asked for my father’s radio. Before leaving, and knowing we weren’t going to see any television in Ceylon (as they still called it), he had recorded the audio of the opening credits and a few minutes of our favourite TV shows, B.J. and the Bear, The Six Million Dollar Man, The Incredible Hulk, on a cassette tape and sent along his Realistic radio so we could play them. I asked my sleepy mother for my father’s radio: grey metal, with a black leatherette wristband (he gave it to me twenty-five years later, but the cassette was missing). She said the radio was in the luggage. I asked my sleepy mother for the luggage. She shook her head. A mother travelling across the world on her own with three small children wasn’t in a mood to explain the concept of luggage checked through to final destination. She went into her purse and began mining — was I going to get a chocolate? A toy? Both? She took out a carton of toothpaste. She opened it, dropped the tube into her purse, and gave me the carton. “You can go to sleep, or you can play with this until it’s time to go to Ceylon.” I stayed awake. I played and played with the empty toothpaste carton. It was, in the total absence of anything else, incredible. As long as we’re living in it with time on our hands and ideas in our heads, there is no world without technology.






Last year during my class on the social psychology of emotions, I read a paper that demonstrated that positive emotions of humans can effectively predict a lower level of pro-inflammatory cell il-6 and decreased abnormal inflammation of the human body. Among the seven positive emotions being investigated, awe is correlated at the most evident level. Awe is often activated when people marvel at the splendour of nature and feel their own exiguity in front of it. This finding just enlightens me that appreciating the beauty and the magnificence of nature does not only mentally comfort us but also grants us physiological benefits. The world is beautiful and lovely. Imagine a world without media, in which we humans can again pick up the overlooked - yet most genuine and precious beauty again.






How Bumble decided not to answer questions on the love search through dating apps.

Is love searchable or swiped? The Foolscap reached Bumble avid for answers on its take on how people flirt and love through dating apps. Founded by Whitney Wolfe Herd, Bumble is a dating app that has revolutionized search love along with other applications. The app claims to have a feminist approach because it empowers women to make the first move. It’s apt for women to initiate a virtual conversation with a match. However, after the first move, women can fall into the well-known limbo of dating apps. There is a chance to be corresponded (politely or poorly) or to be ignored. Online dating and texting through technological surfaces erupted a new category that is not gender-related: ghosting. Have you ever experienced saying “hi” to a stranger in a park or cafe to see this same stranger literally running from your “hi”? The theme of finding love has been inspiring humanity for thousands of years, and Bumble has proven to be a successful tool to build connections through an online interface. The Foolscap team has prepared a few questions on how we connect, date and pursue the quest for love. Initially, there was genuine interest from the company to answer our questions. However, after conversation through their public relations and communications agency, we heard polite and sincere refusal. However, we learned that Bumble is more interested in exploring potential participation in any events or speaking opportunities that allow them to engage and connect with the student community directly. The Foolscap praises unanswered questions, and we share them with our readers.

1. Bumble can't offer the thrills of an in-person interaction when matching someone, but it opens possibilities for self-expression. What is the most valuable aspect of Bumble that first contacts in-person can't offer? 2. Our theme is Imagine a World without Media. Is that possible to imagine a world without Bumble or any dating app in the contemporary digital age? 3. Has anyone from the Bumble team met their partners on Bumble? 4. Bumble asks its users: Make moves that matter. How do we know what kind of moves matter? 5. Technological revolutions, like printing, transformed the way we relate to the world; the internet did the same. During the pandemic, people mostly looked for romance only by using their virtual profiles. Now we are going back to “normal” life. However, we learned how to rely on our profiles to make connections. We wonder if dating apps replaced the spontaneity of meeting new people in person by chance. Do you think is the end of finding love in person? 6. This new technological revolution created great ways of expressing liking, such as emojis, memes or gifs. However, there is also ghosting, unmatching and blocking someone. What is your take on this now common dynamic of dating life?



IMMEDIATE RELIEF Time…is what keeps everything from happening at once


A world without media—the phrase conjures images of blank screens and empty pages. Trees still grow and wind still blows, but deprived of the human membranes through which our words, stories, and selfies pass, such a world can only feel bereft of something vital and vibrant. Media, from this perspective, it what brings us closer to each other, to the world, to our very selves. Etymology, however, offers a different view. A world without media would be, in a literal sense, immediate. The unsustainable singularity of infinite energy and density in that infinitesimal instant following the Big Bang would offer one image of such a world. But our own historical moment offers another one. All too often, we find ourselves incarcerated in claustrophobic confines of our own creation, hunched over the sleek black slabs (which emerge, in idle moments, from pockets and purses), that reveal, to swiping fingers and scanning eyes, narrow slats on infinite scrolls. The world of what we call media bears far too much resemblance to the hot, dense, spaceless one that we surmise must existed only briefly at the dawn of time. Little wonder, then, that the habits of gratification and avoidance which are inculcated by innumerable apps and Procrustean platforms can cause what one psychologist calls an “inward collapse of attention, which leaves us stuck in our heads, worrying and ruminating.”2 Rather than being an empty, lonely husk, devoid of feeling and thought, a world without media would be an unlivable as one supersaturated with it. And if a balance must ultimately be struck between the two, it is obvious which one has receded from our view.

1. Ray Cummings, The Girl in the Golden Atom (Lincoln: U of Nebraska P, 2005), 46. 2. Trent Beattie, “Harvard Psychiatrist Reveals Healthy Ways to Channel Coronavirus Concerns,” National Catholic Register, April 17, 2020, <>.




Canadian writer, researcher, and media presenter, Latif Nasser, is a conveyer of curiosity. He has crafted a natural ability to ask questions into a mission: finding weird and peculiar stories wherever he goes, a description given by Jab Abumrad. Nasser is one of the hosts of Radiolab, a podcast that celebrates science, stories, and curiosities, he is also the creator and presenter of the Netflix series, Connected (2021). From a conversation that started on Twitter, then to email, and ended on Zoom, Nasser told The Foolscap about his journey from academia to journalism and revealed what it is like to be a scholar in the media industry. Son of Lebanese parents and growing up in Mississauga, he dreamed that he would one day attend the University of Toronto. Nasser didn't go to U of T but became a Ph.D. candidate in the History of Science at Harvard with the conviction that it was temporary. However, he liked the program and decided to stay. It was during his time as a graduate candidate that he learned about podcasts. Radiolab stood out to him because it “wrestles with big ideas with humour and emotion.” Nasser started to pitch stories for the show, tried cold emailing, and after several rejections, one of his stories was pitched. It was about King Philip II returning a miracle to God and commissioning a mechanical version of monk Diego de Alcala to the clockmaker Juanelo Turriano. Nasser had no background in journalism, but his first story was accepted and went viral. After graduating, he became a reporter, producer, and fact-checker of his stories for Radiolab and other media outlets such as the Boston Globe.

When asked about the intersection between academia and media, Nasser answered with effortless simplicity, stating that the two fields are compatible, if not complementary: “academia and media are very different but very similar. Whereas academia is premised on arguments with stories tucked in, the media, it's usually stories with arguments tucked in, so it's just the opposite thing.” Nasser maintains an ability to be unpretentious and to “keep it simple”--a rare talent in the times of social media super profiles. He presents complex ideas in simple and entertaining ways. Who would imagine that an episode of Connected about poop could elicit broader sociocultural discussions regarding subjects such as philosophy, history, environmentalism, and science? At times he uses his Twitter to prompt the audience’s curiosity with simple questions that would become interactive quests. For instance, Nasser tweeted his son’s question, “Is there anything that we have exactly three in our body?”. The thread saw all sorts of answers from his followers: “three layers of skin,” “you can tell him about the third eye,” “the aortic, pulmonary, and tricuspid valves of the heart (usually) have three leaflets,” “nipples”. Nasser’s curiosity is the bridge between unpretentious and great conversation wherever he goes. When asked to offer advice to the Book and Media program students, he mentions that times are different but touches on an elementary point, to not erase themselves. “I've seen people try to turn their back on all they've done before, they cannibalize themselves.” Latif asks: “Everyone has a voice, right? I am not special, but we all have those things that we know better than anybody else, and we can see in a way that other people can't see. We all are sort of special by virtue.” Nasser asks students not to erase themselves and their experiences because those will take them where they want to go.




The Foolscap: Watching Connected and listening to Radiolab, I came to think that a big motivator in our lives is curiosity. We are curious about things, from wondering about who watched our social media stories to a pig's ability to express emotions (a reference to your show). As you said, “we were born watchers.” I believe that curiosity can be one of the reasons for us to become avid watchers. Do you think that the media, in general, helps to feed our natural ability to be curious or hinder it? Latif Nasser: I think you are right, mass media can do and does both. It can open us up to question and consider things we never anticipated, but it can also shut down curiosity by (often falsely) reinforcing our pre-existing ideas. There are a lot of people in a lot of fields tackling this exact problem (not least of all, law/government, computer science, sociology, journalism), but I think it's on all of us to boost our critical faculties to get better at sniffing out lies and to become more skeptical of stuff that confirms what we already think.

The Foolscap: Is there any part of the day that you feel “disconnected”? If so, how do you feel about it? Latif Nasser: I feel disconnected sometimes. I sometimes feel it in a dejected way, like I'm cut off from friends or family or sense that something exciting is happening somewhere. That said, I know that in the most basic sense there's no way to really disconnect yourself from the world around you. And this was the thesis of my TV show. The air you breathe, the water you drink, even the poop you poop, every one of these essential human tasks enmesh you in, to quote MLK Jr: “an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny.” We are implicated in one another's lives, and in the broader life of this planet. That's just a fact. And remembering that when I do feel dejected and disconnected, I just need a kick in the pants to get me to do something.

The Foolscap: Do you agree with Mark Deuze’s (author of Media Life) statement that we live in media and not with media? Latif Nasser: Not totally sure if I understand the statement (Prof Tardif is exactly the sort of person I go to with these kinds of questions), but I do think all of our brains are much more porous than you might imagine when you look at a skull. The thoughts and beliefs you have, that you are even capable of having, are to a huge degree sculpted by where and when and how and with whom you live, and, of course, the media environment all around you. Everything from the paintings up on the walls, the songs playing on the radio, and what you do on your phone to procrastinate. It's an entire ecosystem.




I became a vegetable



IRIS GILDEA hen I sat to write with this prompt of a world without media, my imagination immediately removed human-created technologies we tend to associate with media and returned me to the origins of our discipline’s study of communication and meaning-making: The gentle waves of the ocean washing up onto shore and back out to sea. The glistening of evergreens, as sunlight catches their branches just after a sudden Autumn downpour. The smells of soil mixed with the dryness of summer drought. Ravines speaking of adventures waiting to be made as brambles pull at you and hold you back a moment from you projected path, inviting time to reconsider. Ravens cawing as the wind catches in their wings soaring overhead, speaking a language so familiar to the human body and psyche the moment it is heard, as if these creatures deliver to you an inheritance of language forgotten, waiting to be remembered.

These images of nature speak to me of the origins of living systems and interfaces of communication and meaning making. They speak of encounters with ecosystems of which humans have always been a part. Our advancements of technology and ‘progress’ seem to have carried us away from remembering that nature is a medium of information and connectivity that we all have the ability to communicate with. Such communication is a condition of embodiment and does not require any intermediary technology. Indigenous cultures have offered the wisdom of land-based knowing to those of us from colonial heritages for centuries and yet, the paradigms of colonialism and capitalism continue to organize society around systems of meaning making that disconnect us from our heritage of interconnectivity and land-based ways of knowing. In the current climate crisis, we are all of us called to consider how individually and collectively we can reclaim what deep ecology calls the eco-self, the part of our selfhood and consciousness that feels, from the inside out, its connection with earth and therefore chooses to act and live in ways that nurture and support its future. How can media help us to do this in an authentic way? This is a question Media Studies surely needs to address and perhaps imagining a ‘world without media’ is one route into cultivating the embodied mindsets required to build a future that does not replicate the damage we have done.






darling i am lost without you a lipogram


the bed’s all freeze, head all ache, hands all absence and stale water. ears can’t handle the lack and beg speech: wake. knees repeat pleas, ever late. palms sweat at the death warrant. weeks, weeks stretch ahead. need the feet-creased carpet. need the tea kettle set at breakfast. need the latch creak as the tender heart enters and sleeps near. need the warm call beep. need the even teeth gleam. need the tear fresh after a remark. need weeds taller, seas blacker, avalanches greater than the earth can create. sweetheart, speak backwards. please, retrace the steps, take the path we travelled, trap the freed.



WHEN SCREENS BREAK NINA KATZ At last Can I finally reach you? Past the phantasmagoria of Quicksilver acquaintances And visible thoughts and swelling bubblesCan I finally reach you?


Your eyes are threaded with red, Burned from blue, and in Their fleeting attention I see Myself No less distressed, Barely there, A ghost. I’m terrified you love that tiny idea of me. But let’s discard all of this, Abandon plastic and galaxies, Those elegant, sparse, witty nothings, Let’s fling them aside, Ecstatic as the shatter Spreads through our lies, Let’s shut our eyes And blot it all away. It is less than nothing; Never was. Now, it is You. I. Can you finally reach me?




Our humanness demands that we reach out to each other with both our hands and our whole voice. And if we still can't reach each other we'll have to create a thousand new ways just to connect.










When it comes to "a world without media," I think of my hometown, which is not in a big city, but is the most primitive town on the edge of a mountain.Our family's cottage is in a small town called Fangjia. It was an almost non-existent place sparsely populated and not well-known. Young people go to work or study in big cities, and only the pale elders are willing to stay and cultivate their own small plot of land.

Until the Spring Festival, the most important festival of the year for Chinese people, the young people will come back to Fangjia, like migrating fish, reuniting to share the ups and downs of the past year. After a short reunion, the separation will be staged again. People with reluctant smiles waved goodbye to their elders and got into the car bound for the skyscrapers.




However, that all changed in January 2020 because of Covid-19. The township government blocked the road to the city, and my family and I were "trapped" in Fangjia, a place with very poor internet connection.

This is an old tree in the courtyard, and it has been standing there for more than 100 years. In a remote countryside, only the stars and the moon can illuminate the night sky. They are like guides in the boundless confusion, dotted in the vastness as dark as the abyss. We lit firewood under the peaceful night sky, our family sitting together. Some people were chatting, while others listened quietly and let the warm fire shine on their faces. We lost our connection to online society, but we didn’t feel a sense of panic or loneliness.



My cousins and I have a near-crazy love for BBQ. We sourced materials for grills from dusty warehouses and pristine woods and put them together. We also killed my grandmother's chickens on the back hill without permission - it made her angry for a long time. Fire was pretty much the only thing we were most exposed to during that time. We were into throwing all kinds of weird waste into the fire and watching them turn to ashes. We had tried a plastic bag, which had emitted a pungent chemical smell as it burned and quickly curled up into a black blob of oddly-shaped material, like a struggling octopus. There were also feathers plucked from the chicken, which smelled like burnt vegetables. Our favorite thing to do, however, was to bury sweet potatoes under the ashes after the fire had gone out, and dig them up after a few minutes; they would end up soft and sweet, a dessert that our whole family loved.

If someone had asked me to imagine a world without media before going through all this, I would have thought it was a barren, terribly boring world. Maybe it's because social platforms and networks have brought me the convenience of study and work, and online games have become my main pastime in my spare time. However, after losing all that modern and traditional media, I still found meaning and joy in life in that remote town. Granted, it is impossible to live in a world where media does not exist at all, even during the period of living in Fangjia. But the experience of being "trapped" made me reflect on whether I was restricted by the media from looking out to the wider world.




PAUSE FOR SLOW MEDIA Jennifer Rauch, author of Slow Media: Why Slow is Satisfying, Sustainable, and Smart, went offline for six months and spent one year without a cellphone. She reveals to The Foolscap why and how sustainable media can be nurturing and effective.

“Fish did not discover water.” McLuhan’s famous analogy about how humans interact with media was a template for Jennifer Rauch’s presentation about Slow Media for the McLuhan Seminar in Technology and Creativity at St Michael’s College. Following the fish analogy , Rauch said, “You can’t clearly perceive a substance or situation that you are immersed in.” To understand digital media and its effects, we need distance from it. Jennifer Rauch is an award-winning writer, educator, researcher, and professor of Journalism and Media Studies at Linfield University. Her book, Slow Media Why Slow is Satisfying, Sustainable, and Smart (Oxford University, 2018), came from a place that we are all very familiar with. Like fish swimming in water, Rauch would spend hours in front of the screen without accomplishing all the tasks she had planned. Time spent on off-screen activities was diminishing. Why was she not practicing her hobbies like before? As a journalist and media researcher, Rauch devised an ambitious and brave adventure: to go offline for six months and one year without a cellphone. She was drawn to “the idea of slowness and the connection of being offline and nurturing multiple dimensions of my personality.” This statement sounds almost utopian in a post-pandemic world. It’s perhaps the “impossibility” of going offline that makes her book’s manifesto an urgent plea. Rauch is not against technology, as she praises technology as a source of information and a means of communicating with long-distance friends, she also mentioned with humor an app she avidly uses to identify bird species by their calls. She said, "It's like Shazam for birds."

Slow Media itself was inspired by Slow Food, started by Carlo Petrini and his Italian colleagues, and her book came nine years after her experiment. Rauch had previously created a blog in 2009 to share articles and insights about the benefits of the movement. Rauch explains that “A lot of people think that Slow Media is about pace, It’s not about going slow all the time. It’s truly about sustainability, about being able to vary paces, getting the pleasure of the variety of different speeds rather than just going full blast all the time.” The environment in which the conversation with Rauch took “place” exalted the dynamics of our cultural and simultaneous mode. Rauch talked from her house where her cats didn't show up (as expected), while all of us were surrounded by a fireplace and VR oculus. In front of the big screen where Rauch appeared, students commenced a digital detox after their phones were locked away through a "sealing ceremony." One student said he was terrified about going offline for three days, although his partner was very excited about it. He said, “It’s because I rely too much on my cell phone and internet, so she is happy about it.” In the interview that follows, Rauch gives more glimpses of Slow Media and reminds us that there is more to life than being productive. There are other dimensions, other activities that we can nurture face to face. “Slow Media is not about prohibition but about giving yourself permission to explore other realms of your senses,” she said. “It’s all about finding new ways of thinking and being.”


The Foolscap: You relate Slow Media with sustainability. You mention in your book that you see sustainability in a broader way. We would like to understand more about this concept of sustainability in digital media. Jennifer Rauch: The social sustainability aspect of it is that we only have so much time and energy to put into digital media. It’s exhausting to be constantly stimulated and feel we never have any sort of free space and free time. You can use the environmental metaphor here. In the same way farmers need to leave the land alone for a while, we also need to give ourselves a break. Sustainability is about reconnecting with your local community and with your local environment, as well as with your body and your senses. If we’re going to live in an environmentally sustainable way, we have to better understand the ecosystems that we live in and the connections that we have with them, as well as with other people who live physically present with us.

Peter (student): In terms of how social media has been affecting our lives, our brains and minds have been desensitized and our mental health has been declining. On Instagram, TikTok, Snapchat, Twitter,you see people around the world displaying the best picture of themselves. What’s your opinion about this topic? Jennifer Rauch:There has been a lot of research showing especially young people, and young girls, feeling worse about themselves for being on social media all the time. There is a certain level of social judgment that can amplify this. One of the things I have been surprised about, if you don’t know anything about the history of media research, is that we have gone back and forth between powerful effects and limited effects. Some people think of media in terms of technological determinism, that it changes who you are, that it has a strong effect on us. Other people think it doesn’t. They think that it’s all about us controlling technology, to gratify ourselves and get what we want from it. And that we are underestimating people by suggesting that they’re so gullible, that they believe everything they see on TV is reality, that they think that Facebook represents reality. But in a way, it does work at this interesting unconscious level. Digital media has a strong effect on people. What do we do about that? When I started doing this project, I felt young people overall thought digital media was great, but I think it’s flipped now. Students in my class -- who are not necessarily media majors -- see media as having a powerful effect on them and everybody around them. They are very worried about it. They really feel they can’t live without digital media, and they are seeing the flip side of the addiction. Professor Granata: What do you think about the next frontier of digital media? How can we modulate Slow Media on Metaverse? Jennifer Rauch: Are you a big VR user, Paolo?



Professor Granata: Comparing the idea of digital detox, a digital diet, with meal consumption, we don’t eat a lot, but we do eat many things simultaneously. What’s the best advice for dealing with the disruption created by multitasking? Jennifer Rauch: It’s challenging, and I have been training myself not to do it. I feel I have too much to juggle when every morning I open my browser with 12 different tabs. It takes a little practice. If you look at the research of multitasking, you will find out that multitasking is actually less efficient than monotasking. In that case, you get this sort of hormonal buzz and feel, “Oh, I am doing so many things. This is exciting, and I am getting stuff done!” But the reality is that our brains are not computers; they don’t work like a CPU! They can’t run many functions in parallel. They are switching between tasks, and as we switch, we actually lose a little bit of time, making us less accurate. It’s deceptive. We can feel great multitasking, but in reality, if we do one thing at a time, we do each of those things better. Research shows that our brains do have a limit on how much they can process at one time. It’s a little less than two streams of information, so we can’t listen to two people talking at the same time and hear what they are both saying because we are switching back and forth. We are missing a little bit each time we switch our attention.

Professor Granata: This is a class based on VR. Our students will receive a set, and we will do some experiments based on virtual reality. We are exploring the boundaries between virtual reality and hyper-reality. How can we practice Slow Media in this kind of technology? What is your take on the immersive digital media environment? Jenifer Rauch: I probably have a bias because I find the real physical world so interesting. I don’t feel like going to a virtual one! I’m interested in how you are experimenting with VR and what connections you are making. Professor Granata: We are exploring VR not just to replicate the real reality. Virtual reality would always be worse than real reality. Still, there is a potential to explore some impossible things like travelling back in time and doing something that is not possible to do in your real life for educational purposes and entertainment. VR can stimulate us to rethink how we use education to create new realities to enjoy and stimulate our minds. Jennifer Rauch: We can also tie this into the pandemic experience. We have been learning in the past couple of years that, as wonderful as our bodies are, they can be liabilities when there is a global pandemic going on. Physical movements have been constrained, and virtual media can make an outlet for us. Selena (student): You mentioned the news diet, and I wonder about the great chance of missing important news. How do you catch up with what is going on with the world after detox?

Jennifer Rauch: It might sound ironic for me, as a journalism professor, to tell people not to pay attention to the news, but many things come down to a question of quality versus quantity. News tends to gravitate towards the same thing repeatedly, and in many cases, breaking news is not accurate. I recommend looking for more comprehensive analytical sources of news. If you read one story about a current state of an issue, it can bring you up to speed on everything that has been happening in the past week or month rather than getting redundant pieces. For example, there is Delayed Gratification, a British magazine; every three months, they write about things that happened in the previous three to six months. It can give you a more comprehensive picture and understanding of what happened. Having a later, curated view of what happened can be helpful. At the same time, especially during the first year of the pandemic, you had daily news that would affect you on the ground. What you did today would depend on the state of the world, where the pandemic was. I learned how to appreciate breaking news when it is truly relevant. It’s hard to get the right balance. The Foolscap: I saw many selfies and hashtags on Slow Media, Slow Food, Slow Fashion, and mindfulness on social media. I have the impression that if we don’t share or post our actions on the internet, we don’t want to do it. Is Slow Media about doing a unique and individual experiment? Jennifer Rauch: Slow Media can be a social experience in the same way you go on a diet and you have a group supporting you. You can ask your friends to participate, pull your friends a little bit into your orbit with you.








Students from The McLuhan Seminar in Creativity and Technology had an unusual weekend. They experimented a 'Digital Detox,' and went for a weekend without their phones, computers, and other digital devices. Each student was required to psychologically prepare themselves, formulate a plan, and structure their time with various off-screen activities for the detox. After their phones were ritually sealed, students kept track of their thoughts and experiences in journal entries. This unique social experiment prompted students to reflect on the role of technology in their lives, the benefits and problems with digital technologies, and the implications in our relationship with them. Although each reflection has its unique voice, they all conflate within moments of claustrophobia, boredom, and sleepiness. Students gained perspective on their lives and learned more about themselves. More importantly, in its absence, students could critically reflect on technology. To begin, the detox altered basic conceptions of time and reality. The absence of familiar devices, combined with strong impulses, induced a feeling similar to withdrawal syndrome. Not surprisingly, this "extended" time, made a weekend feel like a year without their devices. Furthermore, students noted that being separated from their devices and normal activities brought about a sense of unfamiliarity or dystopian-like reality. This is because students felt disconnected and like they were missing out from their digitally connected lives. On the bright side, students were able to find moments of peace and self-reflection despite their constant anxieties. Students connected with the physical world, while discovering new activities and opportunities their devices could never offer. They found time to reconnect with friends in person, rediscover old hobbies, and truly find themselves. Each student recorded unique thoughts and experiences, but one thing stays the same: like a fish out of water, we will never truly understand a medium unless we are separated from it. We share a few experts from their articles and you can read all the preparation steps and their Digital Detox Manifesto using the QR CODE on the previous page. The Foolscap has one question: What do you do when you have free time, free hands, and no devices?


DETOX JOURNEY ENTRIES “Life is much more exciting when you’re not experiencing it through a lens. Why do we settle to be third-party observers for our own lives?” - Junaid Arshad “This whole course is surrounded by technology and media. It wasn’t the videos and TV shows I missed out on, or the people I couldn’t text, and the social media I couldn’t use. It wasn't the content of the media communications that impacted me. It was the medium.” - Marco Fuentes “The only way to manage my stress is by entertaining myself on my phone. I can’t even eat without watching something on my phone, which has become a very bad habit […] From this experiment, I learned to live in the moment, and that I need to find ways to manage stress and boredom that don’t rely on my phone” - Marco Fuentes “I felt claustrophobic from not being able to access social media or talk to others” - Ipek Akyol “One of the best experiences the Digital Detox gave me was getting lost on my way to meet a friend. Although I felt uncomfortable not knowing where I was and without Google Maps to guide me, it was refreshing to get outside of my comfort zone. I learned to trust myself and got to explore somewhere I had never been before” - Mi Jang “Without my usual mechanisms of distraction, I noticed myself getting lost in thought more frequently and spent more time being mindful of myself and my surroundings” - Samantha Reda

“During the Digital Detox, I felt a constant tug-ofwar between two emotions: the relief that comes with not having to be “caught up” in everything going on in the world, and the discomfort of being “shut off” from everyone else” - Ipek Akyol “What I enjoyed most during the digital detox was the sense of honesty. Whether I was alone in my isolation room or going to Niagara with my friends, I felt more honest in how I reacted to my thoughts, feelings, and external factors. When I experienced a negative feeling, I could not use a phone application as a distraction. When I wanted to reminisce about my life in high school, I could not open up photos on my phone and look at an old photo to feel like I “acted the part” of missing my friends. I realized that before, I would make my thoughts and feelings too easily consumable to myself. Rather than setting aside time to think about my thoughts or letting myself feel my feelings, I would dismiss them and find the “quick fix” in my phone.” - Ipek Akyol “There is nothing that we take for granted more in our lives than technology. If we retrace the evolution of this discovery, it reveals the astonishment and skepticism that each previous generation felt toward this scientific change. The newest generations, however, have grown up in this digital world and are thus desensitized to what will forever remain a tremendous human invention.” - Jennifer L. Racovan



A tale of endurance, conviction, and suffering—a recovery from a near-apocalyptic event. There is nothing that we take for granted more in our lives than technology. If we retrace the evolution of this discovery, it reveals the astonishment and skepticism that each previous generation felt toward this scientific change. The newest generations, however, have grown up in this digital world and are thus desensitized to what will forever remain a tremendous human invention. It is true that the youngest generations harbour excessive dependence on their devices, and I will admit, I count myself among them. Like many of my peers, at any given time, I have at least five social media apps open, dozens of active group chats, and (literally) thousands of photos all contained in my phone. Suffice it to say, most of my free time is stolen by my phone. I generally like to believe that I maintain a healthy relationship with my technological devices—I will not be tempted to check my phone while I am studying or out with friends and family. However, it has become harder nowadays to maintain my friendships without the aid of technology; most of my friends have spread out to different cities and countries. Needless to say, virtual communication is a key ingredient in our metaphorical friendship Super Glue. So, when my professor proposed a digital detox experiment, I was aghast. The mere idea of sealing away my phone for 72 hours was equal parts inconceivable and terrifying to me. Although I possessed a pessimistic mindset about the experiment from the onset, I did have a few activities in mind that I wanted to pursue with the additional free time afforded to me in light of this assignment.

When the time came to seal our cellphones and begin our digital detox, I suppose I was still operating deeply in denial mode; I did not plan extensively in advance, except for some general ideas of what I wanted to accomplish during those three days. Knowing what I do now after the experiment, I would have surrendered a burner phone without hesitation that day.

1st Night – Friday, Feb. 18, 2022 8:01 PM The first minute I spent truly alone, disconnected from everyone (save for the people in Elmsley Hall), was exhilarating. I could feel the adrenaline coursing through me, as if I had just committed a horrible crime. Suddenly, trepidation set in as my mind raced with a million doubts about enduring the long weekend 'sans technologie.'


8:30 PM Either fueled by the adrenaline caused by the sealing ceremony or the cold weather, I sped across campus to reach my salvation—my dorm room. Upon my arrival, I ran into two friends who lived on my floor, and we decided to grab a late dinner at PICO on Bloor Street. As my friends were aware of my digital detox, they were very supportive and eager to announce it to the whole world, including the man in charge of making our pizzas. Even now, I can vividly recall the shock on his face as he laughed and replied with “Oh wow, really?” when my friend informed him of my weekend experiment. Although I possessed enough foresight to print a copy of my vaccination certification, I did not account for the absence of my Apple Wallet. I was quickly enlightened by this gap in my preparation when it came time to pay for the pizza; swallowing back my embarrassment, I asked my friend to pay for me and I promised to e-transfer her as soon as I got my phone back. That was my first lesson of the digital detox:

1st Night Recap


1st Day – Saturday, Feb. 19, 2022

In lieu of Apple Pay, you need to carry around a piece of plastic. 10:00 PM Once dinner was over, my friends and I trudged back to our residence building, cursing Mother Nature for her violent winds that cut through some of our warmth and joy that night. It was when I got back to my dorm, a shivering mess in need of a hot shower, that I learned my second lesson: Singing in the shower without music playing from your phone reveals just how much talent you truly lack. My nightly shower concerts have become somewhat of a personal ritual and a highly-anticipated performance for those lucky enough to live on my floor, so imagine their disappointment when I did not sing that night. 11:00 PM Left to my own devices (nontechnological of course), I basked in the new silence around me and I enjoyed the zero-distraction environment. Depleted of all creativity from the previous day-long seminar I had attended, I decided to turn in early that night and rejoice in my favourite pastime—sleeping.

11:00 AM I woke up to the sounds of birds chirping, the gentle rustling of leaves, the smells of freshly baked bread wafting in from the window—not exactly, but it was nearly as peaceful. Without my phone’s preset alarm to startle me awake from my slumber, I got up leisurely when my body naturally felt rested. As per my usual morning routine, I needed to acquire my daily caffeine fix from my residence’s café, The Buttery. However, I needed a green UCheck in order to enter the premises, so I bent the rules of my digital detox a little in order to sign into my account on my friend’s phone and quickly grab a coffee and breakfast.

12:00 PM Shortly after I finished my rejuvenation ritual, my close friend (Inés) that I met during high school came to visit me. It was a bit of a challenge to arrange our initial meet-up without sending real-time updates on our location via text, so we planned accordingly to meet in front of my residence building at noon.





1:00 PM Inés and I had a lovely lunch together, reminiscing about our high school years and our university life. Although I already make it a personal rule to relinquish my phone when I am spending quality time with someone, I found that our conversation was even more engaging than usual. 3:00 PM After lunch, we spent a lot of time catching up about our lives, dreams, and aspirations since I rarely see Inés nowadays as she goes to school in London, Ontario. Around mid-afternoon, we decided to promenade around the UofT campus. Despite the cold biting at our skin, we had a great time as I gave her the grand tour of my favourite spots on campus. 4:00 PM When we (finally) made it back to my room, I demanded Inés to play some Spanish music on her phone and I forced her to dance with me. Fun fact about Inés: she is half-Spanish and a gracious ballroom dancer. Suffice it to say, she tried (and failed) to teach me multiple types of dance steps like Bachata, Merengue, and Salsa, but we settled on a combination of jumping and swaying our hips to the beat while simultaneously yelling the lyrics at an obnoxious 150 decibels.

6:00 PM It was approaching the time I had previously designated with my parents to leave my dorm and make my way to the subway station in order to commute northbound to my parents’ house in Vaughan, Ontario. Inés generously helped me pack for the ensuing week I would spend at home, and we promptly made our way to Museum station. 6:15 PM Inés had left me. Indeed, she had to take the subway in the opposite direction as me, so we tearfully (I more so than her) departed at the subway station. Now more alone than ever with no music to listen to on my fairly long subway ride, my active imagination took the front seat, conjuring up happy memories and sad thoughts.

7:00 PM My excessively heavy suitcase almost crushed me. Having no one to blame but myself, I still blamed my parents for being the reason why I had embarked on such a physically strenuous journey in the first place. My clever wit aside, I was ecstatic the moment I saw Mother waiting for me at Vaughan Metropolitan station and Father excitingly calling out for me by our car parked out front. In that moment, I felt like everything had fallen into place. 7:30 PM Onwards A homecooked dinner had never tasted so good to me. Truthfully, I do not remember what I ate that night, but the feeling of happiness I derived from that lively dinner with my parents has remained with me. Once we finished eating, Father retired to his room early while Mother and I stayed up binge-watching The Girl Before on Crave for hours that night. It was an intense TV thriller series about a creepy AI-powered house owned and managed by an even more ominous man. God, it made me miss Dakota. By the end of it, I was grateful for my weekend technology ban and my safe, simple, quaint abode.



Mother’s picture of my culinary masterpiece.

10:00 AM Father awoke me from my slumber for no good reason, leading me to question the soundness of his mind. Mother and him had just returned from their weekly trip to Costco, and they somehow postulated that I would self-elect to engage in productive and rewarding activities rather than languish in bed for the entirety of the day. In the end, I joined them for breakfast. 11:30 AM It is important to mention at this moment that I am an extremely skilled cook with multiple successful meals under my belt, not to mention modest. So, naturally, Mother begged me to make the pizza that would be served for lunch.

1:00 PM Desperately wishing I wielded a magical wand, I had to settle for tidying up my room the mundane way: with my own hands. 3:00 PM Entirely fatigued by that manual labour, I persuaded Mother to join me on a walk to the nearest hub of capitalism: Wal-Mart. I had not ventured there with a predetermined goal in mind, but as soon as I stepped foot in that establishment, I was inexplicably drawn down a literal memory lane—also known as the children’s toy section. A fuchsia plush toy in particular seemed to be calling my name, a Care Bear by the (creative) name of Cheer Bear, and I brainwashed Mother into buying it for me. 5:00 PM I decided to embark on a perambulation around my charming neighbourhood. To acquire new photographical content for my admirers to enjoy, I covertly snatched Father’s Sony camera from his basement den and brought it along on my walk.



2nd Day -- Sunday, Feb. 20, 2022


6:00 PM As per the dining rules dictated by my parents, I shared the last meal of the day with them for the politely allotted period of time. Afterward, Mother and I retired to the living room to finish the series we had become engrossed with the previous evening. Much to my dismay and surprise, I did not adequately foresee the plot twist at the very end! My overall rating of the show would be 4/5 stars, with points deducted because of the terrifying AI element that hit a tad bit too close to home.

10:00 PM Onwards Finally able to nestle into my bedsheets and engage in some well-deserved alone time, I was determined to finish a book I had shelved for weeks— The Maid by Nita Prose (not to be confused with the TV show The Maid on Netflix). Over the course of the following couple of hours, I experienced a rollercoaster ride of emotions as I sped through approximately 100 pages! The ending was somewhat satisfying, but I wished for a deeper emotional connection to the characters. That being said, I peacefully slept that night, likely due to the absence of blue light before bedtime and the inner happiness I derived from accomplishing my goal.



3rd Day – Monday, Feb. 21, 2022 9:00 AM It was Mother’s turn to test the sleeping dragon, and she succeeded at waking her up while annoying her at the same time. The three of us had an enjoyable and uneventful breakfast, fitting for the first wee hours of Family Day. 10:00 AM Lately I have been practicing new makeup techniques, mainly because of my obsession with HBO’s Euphoria—especially Alexa Demie’s looks. Thus, without any pressing school assignment to throw myself into, I dedicated my focus and a good chunk of my morning to blending eyeshadows on my eyelids, applying eyeliner to my lash line, and trying new hairstyles. 12:00 PM When Mother grew tired of my selfgrooming habits, she urged me to help her make sarmale. Essentially, they are Romanian cabbage rolls filled with cooked rice, meat, and vegetables. Since Mother reserves this dish for special occasions, I was eager to help if only because I was eager to eat them afterward.





2:00 PM To recuperate from the struggle of making sarmale, I sprawled out on the living room couch and played the recording of the Super Bowl halftime show on the TV. Although my physical exertion had peaked, I could not restrain myself from getting on my feet and dancing to the nostalgic 90s rap tunes. 2:30 PM For the better chunk of the afternoon, I was holed up in my paint room/Mother’s office; I was set on finishing a painting for Mother that I had started the previous summer.

When life gives you a blank canvas, paint lemons!

5:30 PM Satisfied with my chef-d’œuvre, I was ready to proceed with the last few activities I had planned for the final moments of my digital detox. First, I dragged Mother with me on a walk, from which we emerged as human popsicles. 6:00 PM Then, I swayed Mother’s opinion on the merits of being a couch potato to instead join me in a mindful exercise. I led us through a series of stretches for various tense areas of our bodies—I will not claim I cured Mother’s aches, but I did. 6:45 PM The ride to the movie theatres could not have been slower. Father was leisurely driving down the highway, maintaining the safe legal limit, when all I could think about was arriving late for the movie! 7:15 PM We entered the IMAX theatre just as the opening scene for Uncharted began. Sitting there with a bag full of popcorn with extra butter, sipping on a sugary drink, and watching my favourite actor on the big screen, it was probably the highlight of my weekend. 8:00 PM It was official: I had made it! I did not waste a second powering up my phone in the middle of the movie to snap a quick picture of my imaginary husband and shoot a text to the WhatsApp group chat…


Spending an entire weekend with zero access to technology was definitely a leap outside of my comfort zone. The physical absence of my phone helped me gain an important insight; I had developed an anxious tick—I would sneak a glance at my phone screen whenever I was in public settings. At first, it was tough adjusting to the reality of standing on my own two feet, but I found that it was liberating not carrying around that physical weight—I gained more self-confidence and comfort in social environments as a result. By this same token, I noticed a reduction in my stress levels associated with constantly trying to stay on top of my notifications and social media activity. This was a liberating outcome from the experiment as I did not feel guilty or worried that I was missing out. From a comprehensive viewpoint, I recognized that my friends and their dilemmas would still be there three days later, whereas prioritizing my mental health is a rarer occurrence that deserves my undivided attention. Furthermore, having an excuse for not responding to my parents’ frequent calls and texts in turn improved our conversations at meal times and provided the basis for a more heartfelt and climactic meeting at the subway station when I went to visit them for the weekend. In addition to my newfound independence, I appreciated the greater extent to which I lived in the moment and the more vivid memories I retained from them. For instance, I was able to fully enjoy dinner at PICO with my floormates as we sang along to old 90s Pop songs and shared funny stories from our childhood!




My Reflections from a Short-Lived Digital Detox…

Be that as it may, the most challenging part of this experiment was coming up with ideas for fun tasks to fill up my spare time. Regardless of the hobby, I found that I would quickly lose interest and easily get bored, especially when I was painting. Without music or a podcast to listen to, it was strange having to sit in silence for hours with nothing but my thoughts to keep me occupied. And trust me, they did. I tend to overthink every action, speech, and event that has ever occurred in my life, and this erratic cycle was nonstop during the weekend while I was on the subway, getting ready for bed, showering, and carrying out various household chores. What I missed the most during this time was being able to call or text my friends and rant to them about my thoughts and feelings since that always makes me feel better. So, in a counterintuitive way, the digital detox did not provide as much emotional relief as advertised. The major flaw with this experiment is the isolation it produces, particularly in the 21st century. Currently, our world is fractured and being subjected to millions of political, economic, and social conflicts: namely, the Covid-19 pandemic, the Ukraine-Russia war, and a looming global stock market collapse. Couple that with the jarring transition from high school to university, a person’s dependence on technology for their well-being is not that surprising. For me personally, I found it extremely difficult to maintain my happiness and sanity without my phone as I relied on my daily conversations with my closest friends; effectively, I treat my texts with my closest friends as my diary entries, unabashedly spilling my deepest fears and thoughts to them. Without that source of emotional relief, I felt a bit lost and lonelier, thereby dreading my alone time. Although the digital detox provided me with clarity about my true priorities and goals that I possess, it also showed me how significant of a role technology plays in our everyday lives. I was able to enjoy the simpler things in life as well as appreciate their beauty in the absence of technology, but I could not withstand living in the past forever. I can admire how some cultures choose to live in such communities and abandon the digital way of life, yet I felt an element of emptiness when I tried to adopt this vastly different lifestyle.

I do engage in many passions outside of school and work, including painting, cooking, writing, and reading. In spite of that, I also believe there should be a balance between temporarily disconnecting from the virtual world in order to pursue such hobbies and utilizing the amazing human innovation that allows us to connect with thousands of others—which is ultimately the purpose of the human experience. Objectively speaking, I understand the appeal of a digital detox and the merits of having a separate life that does not depend on our technological devices. Nonetheless, I found that this experiment presented more consequences than benefits for me. If I were to repeat this experiment, I would allow myself to listen to music (which can be a therapeutic activity) and call only one friend or family member per day. That way, I would not feel the effects of technological isolation as strongly and I might truly gain more happiness from it.

All in all, being restricted from using my phone and laptop for any form of communication, work, and entertainment felt like the modern-day equivalent of a Freaky Friday body swap; I felt transported back into my tween body when my parents would take away my devices as punishment. In the words of my serious Eastern European mother, “I could not do this digital detox, I am more addicted than you are.” Mother refused to join me on my quest of spirituality and self-enlightenment because she had succumbed too far into the temptations of the modern age. I seriously believed I was experiencing a dystopian reality during those three days, for I remained within the same geographical area and participated in the same leisure and domestic activities as 18th-century women. If there was a silver lining to this digital diet, it would be the scarcity of school work I had completed over that weekend. It was a bleak observation—I dedicate the better portion of my time to my academic studies while barely prioritizing self-care. Perhaps that comes with the territory of being a student at UofT, but I do not want that to define my university experience. There is more to learn from life than work and school, and I am determined to find it.


NOTES ON CONTRIBUTORS Jennifer Rauch is a critical/cultural media scholar and educator. She is the author of the award-winning Slow Media: Why Slow is Satisfying, Sustainable & Smart (Oxford University Press) and Activist Audiences: Engaged Citizens, Alternative Media & the Structural Critique of News (Routledge).

Anna Sokolova is a fourth-year student at the University of Toronto studying English literature and environmental chemistry. They are also the Features editor at the Strand. They love contemporary novels. Aarya Chavan is a second-year student at Innis College. She’s interested in portrait photography, modelling, writing, movies, and pop culture. She’s currently selfpublishing her original poetry collection Christopher Lao is a third-year student majoring in psychology and economics. He likes to explore different media to record or create intimate experiences or memory of mine.

Junaid Arshad is a first-year Math and Physical Sciences student who moonlights as an IT analyst. He is a technologist passionate about understanding the way we interact with technology today and how to ethically deliver technology to the world tomorrow. Junaid is a huge basketball fan, but he may just be more obsessed with basketball statistics than the game itself.

Ipek Akyol is a first-year international student majoring in Computer Science and Economics. She has been a student in the "The McLuhan Seminar in Creativity and Technology" course for the past year. Her hobbies include dancing, playing the piano, and reading psychological essays.

Latif Nasser is co-host of the award-winning WNYC Studios show Radiolab. Latif is the host and executive producer of the Netflix science documentary series, Connected. He has also given two TED talks, and written for the Boston Globe Ideas section. He has a Ph.D. from Harvard's History of Science department.

Iris J. Gildea is an Associate Professor at the University of St. Michael's College and teaches in the Book & Media Studies Program. Her teaching, research and writing are at the intersections of art, media, trauma, feminist studies and deep ecology. She also works in the community, using the arts as a modality of meaning-making for healing trauma. When she's not writing or teaching, she can be found hiking in the B.C. woods with her dog, Gus.

Marco Fuentes is a first-year Rotman Commerce aiming to specialize in Management with a focus on Marketing. Outside of studies, he plays competitive soccer, enjoys meeting new people, and loves finding places to eat around Toronto.

Jennifer Racovan is a first-year student pursuing a BCom degree. She aspires to carve her own career path in the creative industries, toward which the McLuhan Seminar in Creativity and Technology has pushed her one step closer. Presently, she is searching for the next adventure that will expand the limits of her imagination and artistry.

Nina Katz is a second-year student at Victoria College, double majoring in English and Drama, with a minor in Creative Expressions and Society. She loves to read, write, act, sing and tries to spend as much time outside as humanly possible. Randy Boyagoda is a novelist and professor of English at the University of Toronto, where he also serves as Vice-Dean, Undergraduate in the Faculty of Arts and Science and teaches the Gilson Seminar in Faith and Ideas at St. Michael’s College.


NOTES ON CONTRIBUTORS Rebecca Westall is a fourth-year student at University College, majoring in Book and Media Studies with a double minor in French Studies and Anthropology. Samantha Reda is a first-year student at St. Michael's College. Her major is still undecided, but she would like to pursue psychology, philosophy, or digital humanities, to name a few. She enjoys listening to music, working on graphic design projects, and practicing photography in her free time.


Shurui Wu is a second-year Chinese international student at New College, doing a double-major in Economics and Book and Media Study. She is interested in photography. ​She also likes playing online games, so she wants to learn more about game media and develop in related industries. Stephen Tardif is an Assistant Professor at St. Michael’s where he offers courses in the Christianity & Culture and Book & Media Studies Programs. Tianxinyi (Eva) Wu is a recent graduate student from University College, double majored in Sociology & Book and Media Studies. She enjoys doing illustration, photography, and videography.


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