Digital Life

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Ethel’s Club Founder Naj Austin delivers critical tips and reminders

Last year, after just four months of opening Ethel’s Club, a social group and safe space invented for people of color, founder Naj Austin had to make a hard pivot from IRL to virtual fellowship amid a global pandemic. A heavy undertaking given the circumstances and uncertainty of the world. But Austin was game for the unforeseen challenges and refocused to build a path forward that is all about “creating a digital space that speaks to people in a way where they gravitate toward it.”

In Active Voice, writer Brianna Holt’s new interview series for GEN, where Holt catches up…

I (mostly) avoided books, texts, mags, and social media for a week. It was hard but worth it.

Photo: JGI/Jamie Grill/Getty Images

I went on a seven-day reading diet and while it didn’t change my life, it certainly inspired some… adjustments.

For an entire week, I didn’t read a single novel. I stayed off Facebook and Twitter, I avoided my three-newspapers-a-day with coffee in the morning, I skimmed texts and only responded if an emergency, and I avoided my newly acquired poem-a-day habit thanks to a new-to-me daily read of Rumi. …

If not managed well, our news consumption will consume us

Black woman at work holding a phone while looking at her laptop.
Black woman at work holding a phone while looking at her laptop.
Photo: Jose Luis Pelaez Inc/Getty Images

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We’re living in wild times with a daily news cycle that’s giving us severe whiplash. In just the past few days, we’ve discovered Ice Cube’s dangerous political ideologies after word got around that he worked with — and was being used by — the Trump administration. Jeffrey Toobin’s Zoom meeting got a little out of hand, as many folks joked, though the seriousness of it was no laughing matter for others. Feds revealed Russia and Iran interfered with our presidential election. Covid…

‘Random messages from your ex’ is the new virus sweeping the nation

A photo of an annoyed black woman on her phone.
A photo of an annoyed black woman on her phone.
Photo: izusek/Getty Images

It started out as a typical day. I was working from home (like most of us) and had taken a break from a round of editing when I received the message that would throw my whole day off course. Brief in length, but heavy in its audaciousness nonetheless, I shook my head in disbelief (?) when I realized who the note came from.

“Stay safe out there,” he wrote. “Don’t catch the virus.”

With the strength of Harriet Tubman and all 300-plus slaves she freed, I took a deep sigh and rolled my eyes. It was just eight words. Eight…

During a public health crisis that compels us to stay indoors, these digital communal moments are opportunities to lean into joy

A photo of Toni Braxton.
A photo of Toni Braxton.
Singer and actress Toni Braxton attends the SAG-AFTRA Foundation Conversations screening and Q&A of “Faith Under Fire” at the SAG-AFTRA Foundation Screening Room on June 11, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. Photo: Amanda Edwards/Getty Images

I’ll never forget that epic night in Club Quarantine when DJ D-Nice’s Instagram Live stream reached 100,000 participants. Kevin Hart tried to buy out the bar, but his card kept getting declined. Gabrielle Union was in the middle of the dance floor with fans, who quickly became friends. It was wild when Bernie, Biden, and Elizabeth Warren came through, but everyone lost it when Forever First Lady Michelle Obama stepped into the building. A few weeks later, Teddy Riley and Babyface represented for Black uncles around the world and lost to technology. We laughed when we learned Tyrese was probably…


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