- The B-Side
- 🤯 Could TikTok be … good for you?
🤯 Could TikTok be … good for you?
Plus: ❄️ Snowstorm coming in hot!
It’s Monday, Boston.
🍩 Need a post-Super Bowl pick-me-up? Rewatch the epic Dunkin’ commercial featuring the Massachusetts holy trinity (Ben Affleck, Matt Damon, and Tom Brady). And if you end up trying the new DunKings iced coffee, let us know if it’s any good.
👀 What’s on tap today:
Finally, a REAL snowstorm
Your Valentine’s Day bailout
Puppy Bowl MVP
HEALTH & WELLNESS
The screen time report scaries
Image: AP/Jeff Chiu. Illustration: Gia Orsino.
We’re in the home stretch of winter blues season. As we near the finish line, we’re investigating one last hack for beating the winter blues: lowering your screen time.
We asked local experts if getting off your phone can really keep the winter blues at bay. Here’s what they said:
📲 Turns out, screen time isn’t an inherently bad thing. “Too much screen time has been linked to depression and stress … but it’s not a causal relationship,” said Dr. Alexandra Gold, a psychologist and fellow at Harvard Medical School. That is, screen time doesn’t necessarily cause depression and stress on its own. The negative effects of screen time mostly come about as a result of individual habits, like the kind of content being consumed, the time of day it’s consumed, and sometimes, the amount of time you spend on it, she said.
😴 But that’s not to say it can’t cause problems. For example, doom scrolling late at night can be a problem insofar as it interferes with your melatonin levels and interrupts your sleep, said Dr. Gold. And, since we know that getting that sunlight and moving our bodies can help fend off the winter blues, relying on a screen to unwind instead of “getting out in nature, getting more natural light, seeing people face to face,” can also negatively impact your mental health, she said.
👍 The positive effects of screen time are personal. “There’s space for [screen time] in positive mental health,” said Dr. David Bickham, the research director at Boston Children’s Digital Wellness Lab. “There are all sorts of ways to enhance our lives with it,” like helping us stay connected to loved ones, pursue hobbies, or wind down. But positive content is subjective: In order to determine what’s going to be good for you, “it’s all about checking in with oneself,” said Dr. Gold. The key is to understand how different content makes you feel, and moderate from there.
🤳 Intentionality > type of content. And since very little content is objectively bad or good, a better way to figure out how screen time might impact you personally is to look at the issue in terms of intentionality, Dr. Bickham said. Focus on “[making] decisions about what you want to see and how you want to see it,” rather than letting the algorithm do it for you. Some good places to start? Ask yourself: When is it a tool that makes me feel better? Or, when is this device trying to capture my attention?
TOGETHER WITH THE MFA
Your 2024 Lunar New Year could be filled with…
🐉🎆 Luck, success, and unforgettable experiences — starting with a festive Year of the Dragon celebration at the Museum of Fine Arts. Immerse yourself in Chinese, Korean, and Vietnamese art while scoring a deal with a $5 minimum, pay-what-you-wish general admission on Feb. 15. From Chinese brush painting and Sagunja, to cultural dance performances and holiday themed dining, there's something for everyone to enjoy. Tickets are available in person on the 15th after 5 p.m., so make sure to mark your calendars and greet the Lunar New Year with artistry and tradition.
🍗 What’s the most elite Super Bowl snack?
Let us know below!
Quick & dirty headlines
Image: Suzanne Kreiter/Globe Staff
🌨️ It looks like the snow gods are answering our prayers. We’re going to try not to jinx it, but it appears as though Boston’s going to get a significant amount of snow very late tonight and into tomorrow (most of Mass. is under a winter storm warning). Since our position on the coast always makes snow forecasting a little tricky, projections are still split on whether we’ll be in the four to six inch zone or closer to eight to twelve, but regardless, it’s almost sure to be plowable, and to significantly impact commutes across the state. It’s a perfect opportunity to play that WFH card.
🍎 The new Newton teachers contract is officially official. Following the longest teacher strike in Mass.’ recent history, the Newton School Committee officially approved their new teachers contract last Thursday. Big ticket items in the contract include a 12.6% cost of living increase over four years for teachers and classroom aides and an expansion of paid parental leave, among other things. Plus: The district plans to make up missed days by holding classes during a chunk of February break.
🚌 Brookline bus riders, rejoice! After years of back and forth, the town of Brookline and the MBTA have finalized an agreement to try out a bus-only lane on a severely bottlenecked section of several major bus lines like the 60, 65, and 66. This trial period will start in the spring and last a year. The tradeoff: The new bus lane is almost certainly going to cause a slower commute for drivers, which has been a hot topic among Brookline residents in the past. That said, the year-long pilot will help officials determine whether the compromise is worthwhile permanently.
⏰ Wait … you still haven’t made Valentine’s Day plans? Don’t worry, we’re not here to judge you, but your window is definitely closing. Thankfully, if you’re still looking for plans, this epic OpenTables feature lets you scroll through spots around Boston that still have open reservations for Wednesday evening, and TBH, there are still some seriously solid options left (especially if you’re willing to eat outside of the 5 to 7 p.m. window). You’re welcome!
THINGS TO DO
🎞️ Start prepping for the Oscars. Coolidge Corner is always here to support our cinephile dreams, and their Oscar-nominated short films compilation, screening Friday, is no exception.
🌶️ See if you can handle the spice. It’s your time to shine (‘cuz you’ll be sweating). Tenderoni’s in Fenway is giving guests a shot at their weekly Hot Ones challenge (yes, it’s exactly what it sounds like).
💕 Make new connections. Head to CitySpace tonight for WBUR’s take on speed dating. Anyone from 25 to 35 years old can buy a ticket to chat with other monogamous Boston singles over “big talk” prompts.
👩❤️👩 Drag your friends out for Galentine’s. Valentine’s Day can make you want to stay in — that’s what drag karaoke is for! Tell your gal pals you love them and bring them to Painted Burro on Tuesday night.
— Written by Claire Nicholas
🎉 Want more things to do recommendations? Refer five friends to unlock three bonus items. For those who already have, enjoy below.
🍕 Say “I love you” with pizza. Both Bardo’s locations are offering a sweet Galentine’s/Valentine’s dinner deal where you can get a half pickle, half bacon pizza, four wings, and 12 pretzel bites for just $15!
Embark on a fantasy adventure. Join Night Shift Brewing in Everett on Thursday for Dungeons and Dragons and you’ll be on your way. Newbies are invited to play at the beginner’s table.
🎸 See your favorite TikTok artist take the stage. Simon Robert French got his start with his viral song “Robert’s Place” on TikTok. Give him a warm welcome to the city on Saturday at the Cantab Lounge.
ONE LAST THING
Our Puppy Bowl MVP
Image courtesy of Animal Planet. Illustration: Gia Orsino.
If you thought Massholes were underrepresented on Sunday, think again. Meet Max, a.k.a “Big Man,” a rescue puppy from Waltham who was Mass.’ sole representative in yesterday’s Puppy Bowl XX, out of the 131 furry players.
Max, who competed for Team Fluff yesterday (under his nickname Big Man), is an eight month old Chihuahua-Pomeranian mix whose favorite activities are playing fetch and having his photo taken.
And despite Team Fluff’s devastating loss to Team Ruff, I think we can all agree that everyone (though especially Max) was very, very good. Check out the Puppy Bowl’s adorable roster here.
— Written by Gia Orsino and Emily Schario
🐶 Thanks for reading! I’m no talent recruit, but I could easily see a Brady-like career in Max’s future.
😍 The results are in: Most B-Siders are keeping it casual this V-day, with 43% of you celebrating in a “low-key” way. One reader said: “homemade heart-shaped pizza night for the win <3.”
💜 Special shoutout to today’s sponsor MFA Boston, for supporting local journalism and bringing culturally rich experiences to our city.