Barcelona: November 11-13, 2021
Planet Earth: November 11-18, 2021
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IAM Weekend 21 > Workshops

Situating Social Media Care Based Protocols

Hosted by Caroline Sinders and Dr Romy Gad el Rab
Design researcher and artist / Psychiatrist and digital researcher

Inside of big tech monopolies, how can we situate care, mitigate anxiety and create user led transparency and deeper understanding of the emotional harms caused by social media? Words like addiction, anxiety, and harm used across media, tech whistleblowers and the general public- but there’s little medical research on anxiety, harm and addiction caused by or furthered by social media.

Participants are invited to take part in a mediated group working session, elevating emotional harms, led by online harms researcher Caroline Sinders and Psychiatrist and digital researcher Dr Romy Gad el Rab.

In this workshop, we aim to create a working session, public data repository, and a call to action to situate what our feelings are within social media, and how social media needs to change for users. We can imagine a regulated and broken up Facebook, a cooperative Instagram, or perhaps new policies that better reflect and respond to the harms created by social media.

This workshop is a group exploration of our relationships with technology, discussing individual and collective effects of technology on our mental health, and considering what community led self-care in this space could be as well as what is responsibility and what is pain without systems.

Caroline and Romy will set the scene with an introduction on our current knowledge of the interplay with the internet and our mental health and our current understanding of online harms.

Participants are then invited to share insights into their struggles with technology, guided by the ‘therapists’ the group will collectively meditate on personal changes we can each make, but also suggestions for  non addictive design practices, inclusive design and community led design for what platforms or digital commons should have, and how those platforms should function if built with care over capitalism.

We believe in community led repair, we believe in transformative and restorative justice, and we believe in community action. As researchers, we are deeply inspired by the Design Justice ethos, mutual aid networks, community led and created health initiatives, and Cassie Thorton’s work on feminist peer to peer health networks. We believe that in this under researched area of technology caused emotional harm and anxiety that it is too overtly dominated by the Tristian Harrises of the world, and need to reflect those experiencing the harms, from an intersectional standpoint. All attendees will be asked to treat the workshop with the same respect of a group therapy session, with open discourse, non judgemental approach and confidentiality. While acknowledging that this is of course in a festival setting and a disclaimer that the facilitators are not licensed therapists in this session and will not be providing clinical intervention in the session.

We encourage an open discourse on participants anxieties and problems they may have with being online and will facilitate group support and aims for our tech relationships going forward, focusing on caring and thoughtfulness in the design of digital spaces.

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