A Moodboard for the Future
If you’ve ever bookmarked a webpage and not gone back to it, you may want to do that now.
by Sohnee Harshey
May 2nd, 2021
What if? Isn’t that the question we ask ourselves most often? Whether to dwell on the past or to anticipate the future or even in a simple attempt to make sense of the present.
I was introduced to the world of digital well-being through an app on my phone sometime in the middle of last year. I had always done some kind of time management intuitively, but setting a daily time quota for screen time began to seem exigent as the new reality of online life—work, friendships, entertainment et al—and resultant fatigue took effect. Instagram in particular was challenging; one more cake, one more DIY project, one more ad for an online art course, one more vacation for the future that seemed just out of reach. Part addiction and part guilt led me to wonder why, despite my digital well-being app, Instagram was increasingly becoming a place of digital well-being for me. Endless scrolling had never felt better. There were so many things to learn, to do, to be.
There were so many things to learn,
to do, to be.
Retz, T. (2018). Conclusion. In Empathy and History: Historical Understanding in Re-enactment, Hermeneutics and Education (pp. 213-218). NEW YORK, OXFORD: Berghahn Books. doi:10.2307/j.ctvw0490w.16
Retz, T. (2018). A Conceptual Portmanteau. In Empathy and History: Historical Understanding in Re-enactment, Hermeneutics and Education (pp. 57-70). NEW YORK, OXFORD: Berghahn Books. doi:10.2307/j.ctvw0490w.8
In early 2021, I scrolled through my “Saved” items in search of an apt meme for a friend. Instead, I found myself refreshed with content curated over months of the pandemic-induced lockdown. These were all the things I wanted to somehow incorporate in my own life. The posts were my ‘what if…?’ for the future.
When I started writing this piece, I thought it would be fairly simple to choose from these posts. Because who doesn’t love to-do lists, right? But there was more to it. The posts also made sense of the times—the doubts, the anxieties, the fraught socio-political landscape, the desires. It was not easy to just “do”. There would often be chaos.
Waves upon waves
Until we lose count
Frantic breaths under new masks
Hoping we don’t
Work becomes rest; rest becomes work
Will it get better?
The Himalayas became visible from a dusty town during the pandemic because the air became cleaner after three whole decades. In not doing what we did for those decades, we rediscovered something. When locked down, we saw each other more clearly too. We saw the details, in nature and in society. When we were safely in our homes, we saw migrants making their way to theirs. From our windows, we saw the routines of the birds we had not noticed in years.
I imagine myself leaning against that giant cushion and reading all afternoon. Or looking out of the window into a green neighbourhood. Or basking under the warm light from the lamp in the evening, talking to a loved one.
But why did I want this? Was it to compensate for the non-existence of an “outside”? Or was it a need to create a sanctuary within?
What do we really need?
I have thought about the cycle of waste for many years now—”doing sustainability imperfectly”, —reducing, reusing, upcycling, composting and the like. Or even just not throwing in the hope of someday doing one of the above. And so, there remained a box of e-waste in one corner of my room, gathering dust and more objects for over half a decade. Efforts to find solutions with the state were thwarted by missing information, bureaucratic hurdles and inefficiencies. Does technology fail us when it can’t account for its life cycle? Or is it our governments? How do we hold ourselves accountable for things that no longer have “value” in our lives? Have I found an anchor for my ideology and imagination on Instagram? Perhaps. To me, “Saved” items are the articulation of a utopia; feminist, sustainable, empathetic, equitable. They let me think about ways in which the quest for a future allows me to reflect on the present.
If there is one thing that never ever happens completely and exactly how we want, it is change.
Who creates value? How do they do it?
Is there a cycle that needs to be broken?
How much change is enough? I don’t know, you tell me.