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The undercurrents of the future. A publication from Medium about technology and people.

Mental Health

In OneZero. More on Medium.


The feature uses photos to track body fat percentage and to create a 3D model of your body

The moment Amazon announced its first fitness band, the $99 Amazon Halo, my social feeds lit up with bafflement and concern over its emotion-detecting software, which listens to your speech to discern your mood. While tracking voice tone is certainly strange, I was immediately far more concerned about the Halo’s body-scanning feature. The feature requires users to take several photos of their body from different angles with their smartphone, which the app then analyzes for body fat percentage. …

Big & Mini helps promote intergenerational connection while combating social isolation

OneZero: What is Big & Mini?

Aditi Merchant: Big & Mini is a nonprofit organization that works to connect young adults with seniors (typically over 60 years old) to form mutually beneficial connections and combat loneliness. It is a virtual platform, so all you need to join is a computer or phone. After going through a quick application process and background check you can be connected with someone who has similar interests and is from a different generation. The two individuals are able to talk with one another and learn about each other’s life experiences. …

Makers of therapy bots say they can help manage the ‘tsunami’ of latent mental illness emerging with the stress of the pandemic and unemployment. But are they ready?

On a hot afternoon in June, I downloaded a free mental health app called Woebot. I was feeling somewhat worn out and anxious from too many hours reading news about the double pandemic of Covid-19 and systemic racism, and the hubris of too quickly reopening the country. Woebot claimed it could help.

“I’m an emotional assistant,” Woebot explained, after asking about my mood, which was sluggish and pessimistic. “I’m like a wise little person you can consult with during difficult times, and not so difficult times.”

“You’re a person?” I replied, selecting from a list of responses.

“I’m not a…

The result feels like a mental DDoS attack

BuzzFeed once called 2016 “Actually The Worst Year.” It didn’t hold the record for long. In six short months, 2020 has already delivered Australian wildfires, election controversies, the coronavirus pandemic, a massive increase to the surveillance state, the murder of yet more Black people at the hands of police, violent resistance to national protests in support of Black Lives Matter, and the list goes on.

It’s a lot. And our ability to process it all may be reaching a critical limit.

A growing body of research highlights the strain on our ability to read, understand, process, and take action on…

The internet is very good at bringing up things from our past, but what if we don’t want to be reminded?

In late November of 2018, Facebook users who logged onto the platform found themselves flooded with old messages reappearing in Messenger as unread. The sudden surge of messages came from a bug that Facebook resolved the same day. But even after the messages vanished, the blip had a lasting effect on some users. As one journalist who saw messages brought back to life told The Atlantic, it was “yet another weird way that your past can come back to haunt you.”

Like the old Facebook messages, there are lingering reminders of the past in all our digital spaces. Odds are…


Why you spiral on social media, and what to do instead

In Microprocessing, columnist Angela Lashbrook aims to improve your relationship with technology every week. Microprocessing goes deep on the little things that define your online life today to give you a better tomorrow.

When I first started social distancing, the amount of time I spent on social media was revolting. My phone’s battery struggled to keep up with the hours I spent refreshing Instagram, staring blankly at images of people’s new bread habits or pleas from restaurants for help. Twitter’s black hole superpowers became biblical in force as I reloaded and read, reloaded and read. …


Online humor can be therapeutic, but it must be shared in certain ways

“The worst thing I ever did for my mental health was treat my depression, anxiety, or suicidal ideation as a relatable meme,” wrote @trashcommunist on Twitter. “Destigmatize these things yes but don’t make light of them, getting help is way cooler than not.”

@trashcommunist’s observation immediately caught my attention. As someone with an anxiety disorder, I’ve often found great joy in anxiety-related memes, which add humor to an experience that can be very painful in the moment. But for the makers and viewers of these memes, these attempts at levity might have a negative effect on their mental health.


Why my experience in therapy and working at The Crisis Text Line has taught me to trust the iPad

About eight months ago, I sat in a counselor’s office at my university and we closed the therapy session with her asking me how I was doing.

“I’m doing a lot better,” I said. “Thanks for all the help you’ve been. It means a lot.”

But in truth, I was lying. I was actually doing worse. Life had gotten harder and I was faced with unorthodox challenges and grief that inevitably made me barely able to sleep. I was drinking too much, taking out my anger on my friends, and behaving in a multitude of other self-destructive ways.

I was…

Why I think social media can be good for your mental health if you curate your communities

A side view of a non-binary African American person using their smartphone.
A side view of a non-binary African American person using their smartphone.

An increase in the use of social media directly corresponds to a decrease in overall mental health and well-being, according to a number of studies conducted in the past 10 years. This seems to be particularly true for teens. One study from 2013 suggests Facebook may erode subjective well-being, or moment-to-moment happiness and overall life satisfaction. Another from 2017 studied looked at the relationship between social isolation and social media use and found that young adults who spent significant amounts of time on any of 11 well-known social media sites — including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat — had far…

Digital mental wellness surveys could be the future of school screening, but experts warn they could expose students’ private information

In an effort to curb substance abuse and flag student mental health issues, in 2018, Washington state’s King County started giving students an unusual electronic survey.

The Check Yourself screener, which is conducted in classrooms on school-issued iPads or laptops, first displays a short disclaimer indicating that the collected information is confidential but not anonymous to the school. Students who click “I accept” are then asked a series of questions about their gender identity and who they are most likely to have a crush on, as well as their age and race. …

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