Supplements to help you de-stress while democracy fails

Simple illustration of a person sitting anxiously inside a pill bottle, 5 capsules on the ground outside it.
Simple illustration of a person sitting anxiously inside a pill bottle, 5 capsules on the ground outside it.
Credit: nadia_bormotova/iStock/Getty Images Plus

The current political mood eerily mimics the lead-up to every bad thing you ever read about in 10th-grade history. Despite this, you’ve managed to convince your parents that the Covid-19 vaccine will not contain a microchip allowing Bill Gates to track their mall walks. You donated more money than you can afford to the Black Lives Matter movement. You’ve contacted your senators to plead for mercy for the immigrant children still being cleaved from their parents and held in camps at the border. …


We may be physically isolating, but we’re completely overindulging in online communication

A bubble in space, containing a person sitting in a field by mountains, surrounded by mail/heart notification icons.
A bubble in space, containing a person sitting in a field by mountains, surrounded by mail/heart notification icons.
Illustration: Randi Pace

“We need to get off our screens.” This is the first line I wrote in a journal on a camping trip to Grover Hot Springs in the Eastern Sierra Nevada. The note was scribbled hastily, almost desperately. Isaac Newton invented calculus during a plague, and similarly, I returned from the mountains with this Eureka gemstone. I’ll take my Nobel over Zoom, thanks.

Perhaps the reason this simple thought struck me as a grand epiphany in the moment was that getting off screens wasn’t actually the intention of the trip. This was no digital detox (a term I’ve always despised). …


The social media app offers more than dopamine hits

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Photo: Prateek Katyal/Unsplash

Back in May, Instagram began to test something radical on its platform, undercutting what many considered its most critical component: the “likes.” The beta test was limited to Canada and six other countries, but last Friday, despite waves of protest from users, Instagram announced it was expanding the change to the United States as well.

In this new version of the world’s favorite image-sharing platform, you (the poster) can still see how many “likes” your post has generated and who gave you those “likes.” …


There’s no one else to blame when you’re your own boss

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Illustration: Adrienne Lobl

Last year, I got laid off. I had been working for a toy and hardware startup, and the whole vertical was floundering in the wake of Toys “R” Us committing public suicide. Instead of diving back into the industry’s murky waters, I decided to expand my universe, rise to the challenge of my Facebook feed’s motivational quotes, and sell my sales, writing, and admin skills out in parceled pieces—I “went freelance.”

To prepare for this self-starting, self-directed career shift, I read many articles on how to deal with what, behind the Bohemian glamour, it lacked: consistent paychecks, HR departments, and those affable, annoying adult siblings whom you spend the majority of your waking hours with (“co-workers”). The technical articles helped. …


Bots got me a coveted Yosemite reservation—should I feel guilty?

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Photo: Getty Images

“How did you get this site?” I ask the man sitting across from me at a picnic table in Yosemite Valley’s North Pines Campground. It’s Memorial Day weekend. I estimate this site has been sold out since 8:01 a.m. on November 25, 2018, approximately one minute after it became available online.

This man — a friend of a friend — had generously extended an invitation for me to join their group on the trip, and of course, I said yes. This is one of the hardest-to-get campground reservations in the United States.

I’m thankful. I’m impressed. …


Introducing your guides to inner peace

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Illustration by Aaron Alvarez

Beyond the publicity and crowds of Burning Man, a series of smaller weekend-long EDM festivals have become a common feature along the spine of California. Some boast free yoga classes under redwood boughs and come-one-come-all “squish tents,” while others advertise technicolor-forest escapes and high-budget art installations. With a title that could double as a Neil Gaiman novel (Northern Nights, Lightning in a Bottle, Stilldream, Nocturnal Wonderland), and a soundtrack of teeth-numbing bass, they all have a common mission: to bring the world together under a banner of ecstasy-fueled “oneness.”

Considering heading to one of these Dionysian weekends of self-discovery? …


We all want the solitude of wilderness. What happens when we have to share it?

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Photo by Jared Rice on Unsplash

Last year, I made a resolution to go outside more.

Like most millenials, I am riding the cultural tide of reconnecting to nature. Perhaps it’s because I spend most of my day, staring at a computer screen — that’s what work is now. Or, perhaps it’s because I’m afraid that I might never afford a house with a proper backyard, and I’m part of the last generation that played outside. Either way, the itch to reconnect to something less polished than a Marie Kondo living room, and more authentic than Instagram became overpowering at some point in 2018. …


We are witnessing two migrations. One is a continuation of the California dream. The other no one talks about, though it affects nearly everyone I know.

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I’m driving down the 101 toward San Francisco International Airport. A gray blanket of fog pours over the hills in the distance, smothering what would be a luminous California sunset. Eleanor is sitting next to me in the passenger seat taking deep breaths. She does not like to fly.

I hesitate, then finally ask what’s on my mind, cutting the air between us. “I don’t want to put any pressure on you, but since this is the last time we’ll be hanging out for a while, I feel like we have drifted over the last year. Is there something I did wrong? Is there something you want to tell me? …


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^This guy tho

This is not an essay. This is a request.

The public conversation about sexual assault taking place online is getting exhausting, especially for women. And, also, men.

Women are exhausted because, essentially, they are now reliving sexual trauma nearly every time they open their computer, check twitter, or turn on their television. It is also partially because women are confessing, sharing, revealing and all but literally begging for the widespread problem of sexual assault to be addressed — but we are doing all those verbs at a brick wall. A potential rapist was rushed to confirm to sit on our nation’s highest court, where his job is to serve the very thing he couldn’t give his likely victim: justice. …


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From the anonymous New York Times intelligencer to openly urging each other to change their opinions to win elections, more and more Republican heads are stepping out to say they are, in fact, aware that Donald Trump is not merely controversial, but a truly hazardous threat to American democracy who shouldn’t be in the oval office.

By essentially parroting the sentiments that other party leaders, and even celebrities, were cautioning about Trump months to years before the 2016 primaries, Republicans in 2018 are suddenly trying hard to separate their party’s image from the man they wreathed in support in 2016. The popular theory for this about-face is that they are losing a lot of voters. …

About

Diana Helmuth

Non-fiction author. Post-modern cupcake. California, Culture, Nature, Travel & Startups. dianahelmuth.com

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