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Hi Friend,

So, you've heard the news? Ruth Bader Ginsberg passed away this evening. 

Here's a moment of silence for a legal scholar who changed the trajectory of women's rights in the United States. 

Today's Contents:

  • Song of the Week: Juicy
  • A Difficult Challenge: The Rising Teen Suicide Rate
  • Good Reads

Weekly Song: Juicy

This was a late pick, but here we are. Juicy is the biggest hit of the Notorious B.I.G., also known as Christopher George Latore Wallace. Like the notorious RBG, he died prematurely. The song Juicy is clearly autobiographical, going from an impoverished childhood to worldwide fame. I hope we can go from negative to positive. That we won't let 'em hold us down. 

Juicy by the Notorious B.I.G.

We used to fuss when the landlord dissed us
No heat, wonder why Christmas missed us
Birthdays was the worst days
Now we sip champagne when we thirsty
Damn right I like the life I live
'Cause I went from negative to positive
And it's all, it's all good
And if you don't know, now you know

You know very well who you are
Don't let 'em hold you down, reach for the stars

You had a goal, but not that many
'Cause you're the only one, I'll give you good and plenty

Declarative Statements Spotify Playlist

And if you don't know, now you know: Teen suicide rate and The Social Dilemma

Social interaction is the defining aspect of humanity. Our brains detect, react, and respond to the social behavior of other humans. We know instinctively that our success is dependent on our ability to collaborate with others and be a member of an 'in-crowd.' Understanding how we engage with others positively and how we become a valuable member of a tribe starts at a young age.

Recently, internet-based technology companies have dramatically altered the human social experience. The world is online and interconnected. New tools allow us to share, comment, like, and engage, whether we seek affirmation, conflict, or are merely browsing. The companies behind these tools are sophisticated. They have neuroscientists and psychologists on staff to develop sophisticated reward systems to drive engagement on their platforms and thereby achieve growth.

Internet-enabled platforms filter adolescents' access to the world. The average student today spends 9 hours per day on media. Facebook. Snapchat. TikTok. Fortnite. Discord. Social media is their social world. Covid-19 has only accelerated adoption, and the trend is not going away. This phenomenon was recently profiled in a Netflix special called The Social Dilemma. Social media can be positive, but left alone the product design can prey on the worst human instincts.

While social media use has surged, there is a health crisis also underway, seen with accelerating rates of teen depression, eating disorders, and anxiety. It's an epidemic of massive proportions. The CDC reported that the suicide rate for persons aged 10–14 nearly tripled from 2007 to 2017 (see figure below). This steady increase coincides with the timing of when social media became more prevalent. Studies have indicated the negative impact of social media on teen mental health.


Social and emotional well-being is often an invisible challenge. It's difficult to measure and particularly complicated to solve. Adults (educators and parents alike) struggle to keep up with the latest tools, apps, and lingo. Adult awareness rarely goes beyond the basics. Most adults seem out of touch and give advice that doesn't stack up with reality. Discussion from parents often feels like a lecture - a list of 'don'ts' instead of advice on what to do.

But not all is lost.

Yes, social media isn't going away. But there are ways to use its power for a positive. It can be taught. It can be learned. Just as there are hacks to make you Indistractable, there are techniques and tools to use social media as a positive social and emotional tool.  Stay tuned for that next week... 

Sensible Investing: Good Reads

Airtable, a company that has created a step-change improved version of the Excel spreadsheet, announced a big funding round. Founder and CEO, Howie Liu, shared his vision for how "software users become software creators". Airtable was the original low-code, no-code. 

Opendoor, the real estate listing company, has announced its public listing as part of a SPAC managed by Chamath Palihapitiya,  founder of Social Capital. Here is Chamath's investment memo, and here is the original Opendoor Series A pitch. 

40 questions for startup founders to ask VCs during fundraising. Also a great set of questions for evaluating any business. 

Exit to Community? Tech companies creating and building communities are all the rage. But could a company actually achieve a financial exit to one? Here are a few ways that could work. 

Antarctic Glaciers Are Growing Unstable Above and Below Water. Keep the good news rolling right? Here are the details in Wired on new studies that show fractures on surface ice and warm seawater melting the ice from underneath.

We Just Need the Government to Work Again. Or at least The New Republic makes the argument that we should evaluate politicians based on their ability to deliver results. It doesn't matter if you believe in big government or small government, it's hard to argue against a baseline of effective government. 

Not feeling great right now, folks. But tomorrow is another day. 

Thanks for reading, friends. Please always be in touch.  

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Katelyn Donnelly
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