Two brief thoughts on online GA

I was finally able to retrieve my delegate credential for the online General Assembly (GA). Which prompted me to log in to the Whova event management portal for GA.

As I poked around, two things caught my eye.

(1) There’s a friendly prompt to answer an icebreaker question. Great idea for an online space, so I clicked through. The first icebreaker question that appeared was “What’s your favorite place of all the places you’ve travelled?” and you are given a list of countries around the world to choose from. This is a classic question used to establish your your socio-economic class: choosing, for example, Papua New Guinea places you in a higher socio-economic class than choosing, say, Canada or the United Kingdom. There are other icebreaker questions you can choose from, of course, but choosing this question is a good way to establish yourself as being part of the upper middle class.

Anyway, I decided to skip the icebreaker question.

(2) I noticed that there were quite a few online sessions aimed at teens. Given that increased screen time correlates with decreased mental health in teens, I’m not sure how I feel about this. It’s great that GA organizers are trying to serve Generation Z. But it’s more screen time….

Actually, screen time has been associated with depression among adults, too. Depression is actually one of the biggest health risks for clergy (substance abuse is another). I check in periodically with a psychotherapist, so I don’t believe I am currently suffering from depression. However, I do find that the thought of spending much time with online GA leaves me feeling — well, depressed.

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