Think Like A Tortoise
Last month, we introduced you to our new friends over at Tortoise Media. They’re a newsroom like no other, who focus on slowing everything down and looking at the big stuff. For the past couple of weeks, we’ve been part of their virtual ThinkIns, and so many of you have been getting involved, sharing your opinions and letting your voices be heard.
Here’s a rundown of everything we’ve chatted about so far, and what’s coming up next:
Session One: Social media during lockdown - should we go offline?
Our first session covered a pretty big part of everyone’s life - social media. We looked at fake news, stressful headlines and insta-envy, and asked the question ‘is social media doing us more harm than good?’
Joao started us off by saying that “social media is a blank canvas. It can provide relief, but it can also bring anxiety.” And that’s true. Now more than ever are we able to be in touch with people, even if we can’t see them. But, the influx of posts about people’s lockdown lives and ‘coping mechanisms’ such as daily workouts and banana bread baking can end up making you feel like you’re not being productive if you’re not doing something. The good news is, most had the perspective that it’s nice to see what people are doing, understanding it’s a filtered view; they’re just showing the good bits, and not the harder things.
And then there’s fake news. Fearmongering. Constant headline after headline. Who are you supposed to trust? And how do you go to the right sources? Isla said she’s “consuming news conscientiously, rather than habitually”, and Sean said going to reputable news sources like the BBC and The Guardian make him feel better.
Overall, this session taught us that social media is what we make of it. We're lucky that we have information at our fingertips, but we’re even luckier that we have some sort of control over what it is we take in. It’s great that we’re able to use it to navigate through this uncertain time, as long as we’re doing it thoughtfully.
Session Two: Life in lockdown
Session two came in at around week five of lockdown, so we wanted to know how you’re coping and what lockdown has meant for you and your families - from school being closed to jobs being furloughed.
One of the main things you talked about was trying to stay positive, and finding what works for you - after all, we’re all going through this, but we’re all different. Joseph said “I’ve been keeping myself occupied, not trying to get wrapped up in all the noise about exams and coronavirus. What’s happening right now is out of my control”. And a lot of you agreed with this mentality. “You’ve got to find solutions,” suggested Oliver. For Isla, she looked internally for the right solution: “I have friends who share their daily work routines on Instagram, and post that they’re working from 10am to 6pm. But it’s been important to figure what I want to do to make myself feel good rather than just following someone else’s set guidance.”
One way or another, you guys said how important staying active has been during the lockdown. And that doesn’t necessarily mean working out every single day. “For me” said Phoebe, “motivation comes from being more politically active.” Others of you also expressed interest in learning new skills, taking care of your bodies and minds, or simply doing a bit more to maintain relationships.
Most importantly, you said, was not putting pressure on yourselves. There’s sometimes a feeling to come out of this lockdown as a ‘new’ person who has a new look, new language under their belt, new ability to do the splits, or a new favourite recipe. But actually, it’s fine to spend the lockdown simply, like Hilai said, “Just look after yourself, eat well, sleep well, and spend time with your family.”
Session three: Life after lockdown - what should we change?
Moving on from what life is like during lockdown, in this session we opened the floor to you to discuss what changes you’ve seen during this time that you’d like to keep for life after lockdown.
For a resounding number of you, technology has been opened up in different ways. William realised technology brings people closer, and said “I’ll continue to do Zoom calls with my whole family for the rest of my life.” And for Joshua, face-to-face conversations aren’t easy, but being online more has helped him become closer to his friends, ask for help and break down social barriers.
A lot of you agreed with this sentiment, saying that conversations about mental health have opened up, people are checking in on each other more, and there is more of a sense of solidarity at the moment, which definitely needs to be kept up once lockdown has been lifted.
School and exams were cancelled for a number of you, and it got you thinking - could this be an opportunity to overhaul our education system? Sofie argued that there is too much emphasis and pressure on exams, and the pandemic has shown just how much stress many students experience during the examination period.
Overall, you agreed that life after lockdown is going to be different. The ‘normality’ that we once knew isn’t the ‘normal’ we’ll go back into. But, it’s possible that some of the changes we’ve made over the past weeks and the months ahead will be positive - and up to us to create.
Session four: Carbon neutral by 2030 - how can we do it?
The climate crisis is something that we all agree needs to be tackled. But what can we actually do? We posed a couple of questions to you - what sacrifices are you prepared to make to reach carbon net neutrality by 2030, and whose responsibility is it, really? Governments? Business? Or individuals?
2030 is not that far off, and reaching net neutrality by then can sometimes seem difficult. But none of you seem to think it will be impossible, which is great news! However, the main concern is not so much about whether we’ll get there, but more about how we’ll get there.
Stella and Nabeeha agreed that it’s everyone's responsibility - both individuals and the government. Nabeeha argued, “we can work with the government to emit less carbon by using less transport, sharing cars, eating less red meat and wearing less fast fashion,” And Stella agreed, saying, “a lot of people won’t be motivated if they feel they are the only ones making a difference...Government regulation is how we overcome that.”
Jakub also had something to say when it came to responsibility: “We need to change the way we personally shop because our power is in our pocket. But we also need to address the corporate side because this is a very deeply-rooted problem, and it’s rooted in consumerism.”
The climate crisis on it’s own is pretty big, but throw a global pandemic into the mix and what happens? Well, weirdly, the planet itself recovers a little bit. Isla pointed out that the air is cleaner than in decades. There are no contrails in the sky. Carbon emissions are down. However, it comes at the cost of losing lives, losing jobs and more. “This could give a bad name to reducing carbon,” she said.
To end the session, we discussed what practical things we can do to try and reduce carbon emissions in a positive way. Gray advocated using mini-buses instead of cars. And Yemi pointed out that “other countries have permanently repurposed roads for bikes since the pandemic started, and the UK should too.”
Overall, the ideas around getting to carbon net neutrality by 2030 were positive. You all agreed that doing your part, no matter how big or small, will start making changes for the better.
Missed these ThinkIns but want to share your opinions? Great news! We’ve got four more free sessions coming up over the next few weeks. Just click through on each link to book your spot, and get ready to pull up a seat at the virtual table:
Session Five: Should volunteering be mandatory?
The idea of reintroducing a universal system of voluntary work has had some long term advocates. Could this kind of national service be the only way to save the arts, heal the generational divide and generally ‘build back better’. And should it just be for the young, or for everyone?
Date & time: May 14, 4pm
Session Six: Is an exam free education system really any fairer?
The cancellation of GCSEs and A-levels this year took the current cohort by surprise. For some, getting let off exams is a blessing in disguise, for others it's a disaster. But could independently monitored teacher-pupil assessment be a long-term option to improve social mobility, reduce stress and even out the gap between state and private education?
Date & time: May 21, 4pm
Session Seven: Should a bus driver earn as much as a banker?
The virus has exposed just how unequal society already is. The economic cost of the lockdown threatens to usher in a new wave of economic hardship, which could disproportionately affect the young. Could the country’s recent emphasis on the importance of ‘key workers’ help to find alternative ways to recognise the value of all forms of work in a new way - from the cleaner to the consultant, the bus driver to the banker. How might we start to rebalance who is worth what?
Date & time: May 28, 4pm