Jess Thoms

Hi, we live here now

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Photo: tommaso79/iStock/Getty Images Plus

In December 2019—or as we now refer to it, the Before Time — the online magazine Man Repeller predicted that 2020 would be “the year of being not extremely online, not extremely offline, but rather medium online.”

An oversaturated 2019 left many of us reflecting on how we could have a more wholesome, balanced relationship with social media and our rate of online consumption in the upcoming year. “Medium online” offered a moderated approach to technology, using it for only practical and purposeful tasks and rejecting the rest. …

And the unlikely way I created a new habit.

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Photo by Prophsee Journals on Unsplash

With no reason to leave the house in lockdown last year, I didn’t bother seeking any kind of productive routine, only survival.

As quarantine extended so did my sleep. Waking up was hard.

Without a coworking space to physically drag myself to each day, I could justify working from bed. I simply creaked open my laptop. The privilege of only requiring an internet connection to work made laziness all too enticing. Waking at a ‘reasonable’ hour seemed absurd. It’s a pandemic, I said to myself. It’s fine to sleep until noon.

That lasted until day 42 inside. With no control over the external state of the world, I looked internally. I mulled over the goals I so desperately wanted to accomplish for my mental wellbeing. Exercise, meal planning, creative writing. …

How 2020 led us back to bad habits, and why we shouldn’t care.

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Photo by Prateek Katyal on Unsplash

Slate published an article on New Years Day 2020, (oh how hopeful we were) titled ‘In 2020, Skip Your Resolutions — Embrace a Vice’. Well, we certainly did.

For many, the pandemic destroyed healthy habits and encouraged us to use unhealthy coping mechanisms like overeating, increased alcohol consumption, lack of exercise, and even smoking.

Slate’s first examples of vices are tame: using Q-Tips, Twitter, and ditching family dinners. Then, they eerily predict the year ahead: smoke, doom scroll, go back to your ex, sleep in, drink on the job, and stop working out.

Their reason for embracing a vice? …

Your inner self is the best place to travel.

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Photo by Scott Webb on Unsplash

A popular meme shared widely in the early days of quarantine read:
“How are the ‘catch flights, not feelings’ crew holding up?”

Fair question.

On March 12th, my home was a room in London where I based myself between travel. Home was always a floating idea, an open ended question. A suitcase. On March 13th, the day the shit-hit-the-fan for me (and millions of others), home was suddenly the only place to go — so it was time to decide where that should be.

Is home where your friends are? Family? Work? Work is in the cloud, a privilege I can take anywhere, which is why home was always in a suitcase. Countless people once chased the thrill and independence of living abroad for the lifestyle and opportunities. With the world shut down and working remotely — where to now? …

On this day: You had an entirely different life.

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Photo by Roland Denes on Unsplash

Like many Snapchat users, I’ve noticed the jarring effect of opening my Snapchat Memories to see what I was doing 1, 2, 3 years ago ‘On This Day’.

It’s deranged to open your phone in the middle of a year in quarantine to see yourself at a sweaty music festival, or hugging friends abroad. On this day: Happy. Drunk. At a festival. On a plane. In a restaurant. Hugging friends. On a beach in Europe. Kissing a stranger. On this day, a snapshot in time was created, and it’s a bleak contrast to our current reality.

Yet, these memories are equally hopeful in the way diligent users can see our personal evolutions captured so eloquently in a yearly snapshot. …

A digital workout has become the highlight of my day.

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Photo by Elena Kloppenburg on Unsplash

I once scoffed at the price of subscriptions to online exercise classes. I thought nothing of paying triple the cost to be physically in the studio.

At first, I was devastated to not be able to go to my regular pilates and yoga classes. Now, physical proximity is something to fear. The thought of going to the gym makes me queasy. The common use mats, the shared exhales and inhales. The prolonged closeness to another, sweaty individual. A potential harbor of disease. It’s hard to not think like this.

Reflecting on my time spent at a large gym, I remembered coming down with constant colds and the flu. …

An interview with digital nomad Paul Thomson.

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Photo by Yu Kato on Unsplash

This week I read two very different New York Times articles about digital nomads.

Nomads then, and nomads now. The first story is a pre-COVID glorification of this lifestyle that defies traditional 9–5 jobs, and the next is a brutal mid-COVID critique of the same individuals, offering them little sympathy or understanding.

“The world is your office,” the first article lauds, with the caveat that “You can go anywhere, as long as you never stop working.” It’s a feature on the co-living start-up Roam, written in early 2018. An entirely different world.

Enter: 2020. A starkly different NYT article reads, “The Digital Nomads Did Not Prepare for This”.

Lean into the unknown.

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Photo by Andrew Neel on Unsplash

In my family we have one forsaken curse word. The ‘P’ word. Not ‘P’ for pandemic. It’s P for plan.

Screw plans.

It stemmed from my Dad (sorry Dad) asking after my post-pandemic ‘plans’ in the middle of quarantine in April. The world was swirling deeper into chaos each passing day, even hourly. How was I supposed to know when the pandemic would end?

For once, probably the first time in my life, I conceded.

“I don’t have a plan.”

The word ‘plan’ has become our inside joke, representative of the ridiculous pressure and metaphor of decision making this year. …

It’s not about sabotage. Quite the opposite.

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Last year The New York Times published a piece in support of letting go of your grudges.

However, I love a good grudge.

I still hold one against the classmate that pushed me off school swing which resulted in a broken arm. It’s been over twenty years. I also manage a suite of grudges against various people that have both annoyed me, crossed me, or just generally dislike me. These people aren’t friends (or even acquaintances), and are actually lovely, stable people. They just make good grudges.

Holding a grudge against someone is suddenly both common and controversial — popularly coined as having a nemesis — and supporters are using their fantasy adversaries for accountability, motivation, and sometimes pure enjoyment. …

How the trope ignores privilege, and the rest of our lives.

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Photo by Milo Bauman on Unsplash

If the goal of hustle culture is to exploit every hour of one’s day to be economically viable, where is the space for health, rest, and pleasure?

Hustle culture strives to be the great equaliser. As Sarah Kessler outlines for her story on the king of hustle Gary Vaynerchuk, it’s the “idea that anyone who applies enough talent, grit, and passion can start a multibillion-dollar business — or achieve whatever their dream is — if they hunker down in their proverbial garage and put in the work”. …


Jess Thoms

Writer, marketer, founder. Read my newsletter, it’s fun!

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