Our mental health pandemic is only getting worse

Depression and anxiety are at all time highs, especially among people deemed "essential workers"

Sree’s newsletter is produced w/ Zach Peterson (@zachprague). Zoom fatigue is real, folks!

Scroll down for Read Something; Watch Something; a weekly tech tip from Robert S. Anthony (@newyorkbob), and much more.

TUNE IN: #NYTReadalong - Our guest this week for #ValentinesDay was Daniel Jones, Modern Love Editor for The New York Times. He oversees the Modern Love column, podcast, Tiny Love Stories and the TV series on Amazon Prime. Here’s producer Neil Parekh’s thread on the show.

My Digimentors team is working with companies and nonprofits around the world to create virtual and hybrid events. We’ve worked on events for 50 people and 100,000 people. See our new brochure. Don’t cancel or postpone your conference - contact us! sree@sree.net


For the last year, loneliness has been a way of life, and a way to survive. And it’s taking a toll. The Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) has a new study that paints a picture of a country that is hurting.

You can read the whole report here:

The study is very accessible, and it’s worth your time. For me, what stands out the most is the thing that has stood out since the crisis began: the people being hurt the most are people of color.

It’s been a painful year, and if you need help, reach out. Also, if you know someone who needs someone to talk to, help them. Maybe you are the person they need to talk to, maybe they need help finding someone to talk to - just help them.

Not everyone can afford therapy, but there are some reasonably-priced online services. Often, it’s the time that feels like a bigger investment, and for essential workers and people taking gig jobs for second (or third, or fourth, or…) sources of income, time is a vanishing resource.

So, on this Valentine’s week, I’m asking you to spread the love a bit. Reach out to someone—anyone!—and have a chat. It doesn’t need to be the most serious conversation in the world, and it’s probably better if it isn’t. Take a break from doom-scrolling and make a call. Talk about music. Talk about TV. Talk about kids.

Talk about whatever you want… just please make that call.

- Sree


Read Something

The work-from-home revolution is leading to a boom in employee surveillance. Personally, I think it’s better to build trust with employees than to monitor their email habits, but the reality is that pretty much every major company does this and it’s only going to grow.

Tech Tip: Warm Cyber Tips for the Dead of Winter

By Robert S. Anthony
Each week, veteran tech journalist Robert S. Anthony shares a tech tip you don’t want to miss. Follow him @newyorkbob.

“Let it Snow” might have been a cheery tune during the holiday season but given the recent nasty weather those singing it out loud now risk injury. Most of today’s tech devices have some level of resistance against the cold, but once the weather forecast includes words like “brutal,” it’s time to keep a close eye on them.

Like you, mobile devices prefer moderate temperatures. Apple’s iPhone 12, for example, is rated for safe operation between 32 and 95 degrees. Once things start to freeze, however, the lithium batteries in cell phones and other gadgets start to lose their ability to hold a charge, which is not something you want to discover while your car is stuck in a snowbank.

Keeping your phone close to your body helps keep it warm and can add minutes to talk time. Of course, with cold weather comes travel delays. Take along a power bank—even the small ones provide at least a charge or two for most phones.

The Zippo HeatBank 3 Rechargeable Hand Warmer is both a hand warmer and phone charger. A USB port provides a place to plug in phones and other devices while the unit’s 2600mAh lithium polymer battery provides up to three hours of adjustable warmth, according to Zippo, a company better known for its fuel-powered cigarette lighters and hand warmers.

Phoozy thermal phone pouches from Exclaim IP, LLC promise not only to keep phones tucked inside them warm in the winter, thus extending battery life, but they’re also designed to deflect heat in the summer. While it’s not an issue at the moment, Phoozy pouches also float.

Another heat option is the Ignik Phone Warmer, an air-activated warming patch which sticks to phones. Once activated by removing a label, the tiny units warm up and keep phones at safe operating temperatures for up to 8 hours, according to Ignik Outdoors, which also makes hand warmers which work the same way.

Hopefully, spring temperatures and the end of the pandemic will be here sooner or later. Until then stay warm—and watch that battery meter.

Read Something Else

This report from DFRLab is as comprehensive as it can get…and it paints an ugly picture of the events of January 6 and the digital trail leading up to that day. An absolute must-read.

Watch Something

Mark Luckie (@marksluckie) has led media partnerships for Facebook, Twitter, and Reddit, and is a former journalist with the Washington Post, Center for Investigative Reporting, LAT, and Entertainment Weekly. The Root has named him as one of the most influential African-Americans. He also has a new novel about life in Silicon Valley, “Valley Girls.” If all of that isn’t enough reason to watch my discussion with him, I don’t know what is!

Odds & Ends

🗞  TUNE IN: #NYTReadalong - Our guest this week for #ValentinesDay was Daniel Jones, Modern Love Editor for The New York Times. Watch the recording: FBYTTwitterLinkedIn. Here is producer Neil Parekh’s thread on the show.

The Readalong is followed, on Sundays at 11 am-noon ET, by a new medical show I’m co-executive producing with surgeons Sujana Chandrasekhar, M.D. (@DrSujanaENT), and Marina Kurian, M.D. (@MarinaKurian), called She’s On Call (watch live or later).

After 250 episodes in 250 days, my global show has moved from daily episodes to 1-2 times a week. The best way to know when I’m on the air and see all my archived shows, is to subscribe to my YouTube channel or my Whatsapp alerts.

The Sunday #NYTReadalong is sponsored by Muck Rack. Interested in sponsorship opportunities? Email sree@digimentors.group and neil@digimentors.group.

🎧 Every Saturday, I host a call-in show on WBAI 99.5FM (@wbai) - "Coping with Covid19" - focused on being helpful, hopeful, and focusing on the pandemic's effects on society’s most vulnerable. Listen live Saturdays from 12-1pm ET, or later. And, of course, call in or tweet questions for us using the #wbaisree hashtag. Listen to a recent episode here!

👀 Did we miss anything? Make a mistake? Do you have an idea for anything we’re up to? Let us know! Let’s collaborate!