Sponsored by Comcast
A rainbow is a perfect intersection of certain elements to make a thing of ephemeral beauty. These striated arcs of color bring joy universally. The thing is, the same can’t be said for rain. Rain ruins days and puts a damper on the mood and yet there is no rainbow without rain. There is no doubt that “this uncertain time” is quite the rainstorm. We are all adjusting slowly. I can’t count the number of times I have remarked what a life saver connectivity has been getting us through it. When I talk about connectivity I‘m not just talking about wifi and screens. Oddly enough, quarantine and isolation has created connectivity within families, among community members, across communities, and within racial divides. Sponsored by Comcast New England.
In the Beginning
We know very little about what the new normal will be. I do know it will be different and I have faith that it will eventually be better. When we first found ourselves at home for work, school, and life in general, I was in awe at how quickly, albeit not seamlessly, schools, and workplaces adapted. Cambridge students were sent home with computers and those who needed it were given hot spots for connectivity. In addition, Comcast began offering low-income families who live in a Comcast service area 60 days of complimentary Internet Essentials service in early March. Incredibly, with this seismic shift in our lives, connectivity in terms of wifi did not collapse or even struggle.
At a recent virtual event with fellow writers and influencers, for Comcast, the company talked numbers from when the the world as we knew it shut down. According to Comcast, video conferencing was up more than 200% since March and overall network usage was up more than 30%. Comcast is clearly a couple steps ahead of need in terms of infrastructure or we would have felt the shift in our every day lives.
As a parent, one of the most important things I want for my children is to be raised by people that are pro-active not reactive. Being reactive takes little thought. A child falls out of the grocery cart they were standing in and you instinctively turn and grab them before they hit the ground. That’s reactive. Knowing that your child will likely stand in the grocery cart as soon as you turn your back is pro-active. It takes knowing your subject and planning action. Laying out some consequences before you turn your back. That’s not to say you need to be a helicopter parent or that there won’t be times you need to just react, but not only are you changing how something plays out, you are making your child an active part in thinking through what is about to be played out. This is a skill they will spend their entire lives learning so why not start it young.
As we all approach this new normal we can attempt to keep living as it was before and react to whatever comes our way as we did before. Or, we can be pro-active by creating new paradigms, listening to more voices, dismantling broken systems, asking more of our community members, brands, companies, friends, and peers. Having television and media choices that help us wrap our heads around this new normal definitely speeds up the process. Having big brands stand up, speak out, dismantle and rebuild their biased structures also helps us keep up this work and feel hopeful for change.
What the World Needs Now
- anti-racist action
- some sense of control
Black Lives Matter is more than just posters and signs we hold up. They say history repeats itself, but hopefully we have reached a moment in time where his/story; his white Eurocentric story is not the story. I think art, film, television, and theatre are reflecting that. The Black Lives Matter movement as seen and heard by Comcast is not only about having had a dedicated team focused on diversity and inclusion for over a decade, but it is about actively being anti-racist and changing the construct within which we have blindly been accustomed to living.
Comcast recognized that, while people are stuck at home spending more time than ever in front of the tv, having a Black Voices Black Stories tab was an obvious start to amplifying Black voices and stories. This is not to say that Comcast or any of us have done nearly enough until now to address being Black in America, but we can all only start from where we are. Comcast has a $100 million three-year plan for funding social justice and equality efforts . For me personally, changing the colour of what I consume from media and social media, entertainment, books, and material goods has been a priority. If you have not made the time to explore Black Voices Black stories, just say it into your remote microphone and make it a priority to watch at least one of the offerings.
Balance & Some Sense of Control
Balance is important especially when all the routines and schedules that once governed our lives are tossed out the window. As you know I’m a huge fan of Xfinity Xfi. Each family is different, but most of us allowed screen time to increase during quarantine not only for virtual school sessions but also for everyone’s sanity while sheltering in place. The X1 app allows you to put limits on everyone’s screen time and also set a schedule. I started off quarantine asking each of my teens to make a schedule for themselves. They both rejected that idea strongly. My next approach was much simpler. We had two rules: you need to be dressed by noon and you need to do some sort of outdoor activity by 3 p.m. Of course, I had also set screen time limits. For my family of four, finding balance between being stuck together at home and enjoying time together at home was important. This led us to start watching more shows together and bringing back the movie nights we used to have when the kids were younger because now without sports, full time school, and social events all our calendars suddenly opened up again.
Another thing everyone has heard me say on repeat during this pandemic, is “Can you imagine how much harder this time would be if we didn’t have such amazing access to one another thanks to the Internet and our smart phones? Could you imagine what it would be like if it were the 80’s or 90’s when our television and at home entertainment options were a tiny fraction of what they are now? We were happy to discover, completely integrated through X1, more shows on Hulu and Peacock, which is NBCUniversal’s streaming service. In terms of “me time” I have been reliving my teen years when I used to watch late night television religiously. Instead of David Letterman, I’m watching Jimmy Fallon’s at Home Edition of Late Night. These little routines are sanity savers and I also am inspired because I have been so impressed with how people are making this new normal work for them. My daughter and I have enjoyed World of Dance on Peacock and my son and I have decided to start watching horror movies together. Peacock has been available as a preview for Xfinity X1 and Flex customers since April, it launches nationally on July 15th for $4.99/month and will remain free to Xfinity X1 and Flex customers.
Joy is a tough one when the world seems to be spinning out of control around us thanks to: a pandemic we don’t understand, polarizing politics and news, and being faced with an unknown new normal on so many levels. Luckily, I’m an optimist and I see the new normal as an opportunity rather than something to back away from. I mentioned connectivity at the beginning of this post, and although we were scared and stuck at home at the time, what I saw when we were all asked to shelter in place were so many families together going on daily walks. I saw college students and parents being given “bonus time” together that would not usually exist. I’m not saying all these moments were as perfect as a 1960’s sitcom, but the were moments of connectivity that wouldn’t usually exist.
I recognize that it was not easy for anyone, but I found joy seeing schools and teachers find new ways to work with their students. While the pandemic highlighted inequities among our communities, I saw individuals, brands, and grassroots organizations take action to bridge those gaps. Seeing my public school system make efforts to provide access to Internet, meals, books, and more to those who need them is the first level of joy. Seeing restaurants help feed one another, unemployed workers, essential workers, while struggling deeply themselves was heartening. Seeing big brands step in like Comcast extending free public wifi access through the rest of the year, and offering Internet Essentials Program program for low income households is the second level of joy. Seeing mass amounts of people marching and demanding changes in systems that are inherently racist is the penultimate level of joy. Knowing that we are at a point of no return to an old broken, racist, inequitable normal is an odd but ultimate level of joy. Seeing companies and brands step up their game to do the same is even more powerful. I’m not saying I will see equality in my lifetime, but I do have faith that we are walking a different path and we’re walking it hand in hand. And if you’re not, then get out of the way!