Cultivating Meaningful Digital Space

Cultivating Meaningful Digital Space viget.com5 days ago in #Silicon Valley Love46

As we all scramble to adjust to a mostly remote lifestyle in the wake of COVID-19, there is a collective grief over the loss of gathering outside of our front doors. There has been a lot of conversation about how to adjust to remote work. ‘How do we maintain productivity? How do we support people working with family? How do we adjust workplace culture in digital space?’ As the months draw on, it’s equally important to talk about how to adjust and make meaning out of remote social lives. This is particularly important for maintaining a sense of mental wellbeing. Even as states and countries begin the slow work of re-opening, it is clear that the next few months will continue to necessitate digital space as an important part of how we now must gather. So what constitutes as digital space? I like to think of digital space as the space created with the internet. It is the agglomeration of all the websites, apps and more we connect with on the daily. Digital space is not constrained to geography or definite boundaries. In the last decade websites and apps have built the base of digital space that’s become critical to our lives. A 2017 study noted that 39% of heterosexual couples reported meeting their partners online, compared to 22% in 2009. In what would have been unheard of just 20 years ago, online dating has become the most common way for Americans to find romantic partners. Mundane parts of our lives have also been equally influenced, most of us now take for granted our use of google maps and other GPS systems to get us to unknown locations, we track our steps through digital counters, we regularly communicate using apps like facebook messenger or Whatsapp. Not to mention the endless ways we connect and broadcast using a myriad of social media platforms. To cultivate meaningful digital lives we must transform our digital spaces into digital places. Digital places are spaces we imbue with meaning. Places are spaces we cultivate with stories, emotion and attention. And now in this time of ‘physical distance’, places are where we can maintain and strengthen social bonds and community. Digital spaces have limitations and constraints – they aren’t made to replace our restaurants, movie theaters and public parks. Physical connection, touch, and ambience cannot be replicated digitally exactly, and, frankly, do not need to be. To transform a digital space to a digital place, we must be cognizant of the weaknesses and rely on the strengths of digital mediums. And the strengths of digital mediums are that they allow us to connect with people we might have long lost contact with, they help us learn easily about worlds far and wide, and they allow us direct intimacy and spaces of safety. Cultivating meaningful digital space is about recognizing how to see these spaces as places. Now, more than ever, as we continue to find ways to gather digitally, it is important for us to re-map our digital spaces to be imbued with a sense of place. Here are some of my tips on how you can do so. Tip 1 Build out meaningful digital gatherings with loved ones. Gatherings are integral to community wellbeing. We spend a large part of our lives gathering with people. New social restrictions have meant we need to bring these gatherings to digital platforms. Priya Parker, writer of the Art of Gathering,  » Read More

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