Holiday Break Homework, 2020

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Hopefully you’re getting some time off in the next couple of weeks, and I’ve created some homework for you in case you have some down time this year – but don’t worry! It’s going to be easy. 

I shared a similar holiday break homework assignment in 2019 and got a lot of great feedback. Of course, it included assignments like going to a VR arcade and asking your family where they get their news – things that I do not condone for 2020.

But that doesn’t mean a little couch time over the break can’t be profitable for setting you up for success in the new year. And given all I’ve learned and challenged within myself this last year, I will also admit this advice is for white collar knowledge workers who have the privilege of taking some time off. So if that’s you and you can use your time or means to help others less fortunate and privileged while still taking a well-deserved break, please do so!

And if you able to take some time off to recharge, here are some suggestions how to spend a little of that couch time to get a leg up on 2021…

  1. UNPLUG: Pick at least two days you won’t check your work email. Delete it from your phone if you don’t have the willpower not to look. You’re on PTO. It’s okay to take TWO DAYS OFF from checking it. Maybe try for five and settle for two. If you’re like me your “surge capacity is depleted” and without recharging, you won’t be ready for next year.
  2. GOAL SETTING: Write down 1-3 goals for Q1. Share them with your mentor, boss, and/or post them online. Accountability goes a long way. Don’t worry about planning for the whole year or making them massive stretch goals. Setting some achievable goals for January, February and March is plenty. Especially in the middle of a pandemic. But be intentional.
  3. AMONG US 101: If you haven’t already, this is your time to download Among Us and spend at least 20 minutes playing with family and/or strangers on the internet with the purpose of exploring what it’s like to play a massive multiplayer game that is also a social network (a trend that will continue in 2021). Don’t be overwhelmed, just jump in. It’s surprisingly addictive, and playing with family members while talking on the phone/FaceTime is so much much fun. Links to play on iOS/Android/Steam/Nintendo here.
  4. GEN Z SOCIAL TRENDS CRASH COURSE: While you’re doing all the holiday Zooms this year and run out of things to talk about, ask your niece and nephews who their favorite TikTok, YouTube and gamers are to watch. Ask them to text you their favorites. Don’t judge. Don’t play the “I’m old” card, either. Just ask questions and learn. And if you can, play Among Us, Roblox, Fortnite or whatever they’re interested in with them. Spending time with young people and genuinely showing interest in what they care about is both the right thing to do and also will help you better understand and be prepared for emerging trends in 2021. Double bonus!

That’s it! Binge a show! Read a book! Play a game! Don’t pressure yourself to drive a ton of progress during some of your only days off during a global pandemic, okay?


The most thorough review of an episode of Clarissa Explains it All you will ever read

The folks at the AV Club wrote one of the most thorough and compelling reviews of an episode of Clarissa Explains It All you will ever read. And it just so happens it was an episode about the dangers of watching television.

And since I’ve been re-reading Neil Postman’s Amusing Ourselves to Death (written 30 years ago about the dangers of television), I found this particular analysis extremely compelling…

Television is a vast wasteland that’s nevertheless peppered with oases. It isn’t Roddenberry’s light diversion. It’s an aggressive medium, a tool for the dissemination of relatively quick, cheap, and above all unchallenging product directly into your home—don’t get up!—funded by massive corporations interested in maintaining the establishment by reinforcing conservative values, and I mean that aesthetically as much as socially.

It’s a creeping weed spread across pop culture, routinely crowding out the best and boldest, the new and the experimental. It’s easy.

But it also has all of the values Clarissa demonstrates and more. Correct me if I’m wrong, but Clarissa never defends the content, does she? She could have cited Blackadder, Twin Peaks, or Fishing With John, or someone a bit older might have, anyway.

The utilitarian defense works, but personally I think television is capable of great artistic achievements, too. Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman is all the defense television needs.

But Clarissa plays it safe at the end: Television’s fun, but shouldn’t we really be playing charades with our families? There’s some irony there.

If we were playing charades with our families, we wouldn’t be able to watch Clarissa do that with hers.

via Clarissa Explains It All tried to ban TV—on TV · TV Roundtable · The A.V. Club.