GOOD

These Quirky Cartoons May Be The Key To Conquering Social Anxiety

“It takes the edge off of this wondrous challenge of being a human”

Ani Castillo, Image via Miamigo.ca

When Mexican cartoonist Ani Castillo first moved to Canada ten years ago, she quickly found herself overwhelmed by her new city. Learning a new language, being isolated from her family, and having to make all new friends compounded the everyday stresses we all face. Following the advice of a renowned psychiatrist, Castillo began channeling her anxieties into cartoons that both helped her cope and resonated with a wide audience.


GOOD had the chance to speak with Castillo about her art and how pursuing creative projects can help all of us manage the anxiety of being a human in a rapidly evolving world.

Ani Castillo, Image via Miamigo.ca

Your Emoticons For Complex Emotions illustration is funny but speaks to something very troubling as well. Do you think the limits of communication keep us from fully expressing ourselves?

I feel like I grew up along with technology, so I’ve greatly benefited from it, along with my generation. I’ve met most of my collaborators, friends, and husband all through the internet and I’m very happy for its existence.

At the same time, I notice how young people (and even older people) when given the choice, lean towards the most technologically heavy means of communication, since it’s painless and convenient. And the more the technology, the least amount of information we’re getting from anyone. We don’t get the squints, the raised eyebrows, the widening eyes, the changing tone of voice, the coughs, the nervous laughter, the loving gaze, the hugs, the warmth, etc. And we’re not able to give the same thing in return. There is a lot of room for separation and misinterpretation.

Ani Castillo, Image via Miamigo.ca

Writing has always been a wonderful way for people to communicate. We’ve used it for thousands of years and it has served us quite well. The difference is that now we’re trying to write super fast, to a greater number of people and have the pressure to keep with the screen ‘persona’ we’re creating. We’re becoming an avatar of ourselves, at least to our wider audience.

Is it all bad? Not necessarily. We’re the first generation figuring out how to take advantage of and deal with technology. It’s a wonderful gift and a burden. We’re like the first monkeys to stumble upon a singular looking rock. We’re at the stage of poking and prodding. I have the hope we will get better as we go.

How different do you think society would be if we were all a little more open and honest about our feelings?

I think we’re actually moving into that direction, and it makes me really excited about the future. People are sharing more and more about their struggles with loss, mental health, and all kind of fights they’re fighting at the moment. And that will only make us more used to that as a new normal, as well as more conscious about how it is to live inside our fellow humans’ shoes.

Ani Castillo, Image via Miamigo.ca

What advice can you give people who may not be great at drawing but are still looking for an outlet for their anxiety?

Humans are designed to think and think. It’s what makes us interesting, creative and productive, but it can really get out of hand. And the busiest thinkers tend to be the most anxious.

Most people I know feel better when they do something creative during their day. It could be writing, taking pictures, singing, playing an instrument, etc., as well as some kind of physical exercise and hanging out with people. It takes the edge off of this wondrous challenge of being a human. Even just having a tiny notepad and writing the good things that happened during the day, taking a walk and calling a friend makes the day a happier one.

Also, meditation! It’s like the red pill from The Matrix. You can see your thoughts for what they are and that saves you a lot of inner struggle and heartache.

Clearly your anxiety has informed your art. Is there something positive to be said for "feeling all the feels," as painful as it may be at times?

The feelings we feel are always there, so you’re better off letting them be. With uncomfortable feelings, we either feel them or we numb them. Numbing them tends to happen through unhealthy behaviors like binge-watching TV, surfing the web too much, overeating, drinking, drugs, sex, etc. Feeling is harder but it’s closer to our real nature.

When we can turn our difficult feelings into art or share them with others, well, I think that’s the best outcome of all. We can be sure that someone else in the globe is going through a similar pain. And maybe, just maybe, we can help them feel less alone.

Ani Castillo, Image via Miamigo.ca

This interview has been edited and condensed.

Articles
via Honor Africans / Twitter

The problem with American Sign Language (ASL) is that over 500,000 people in the U.S. use it, but the country has over 330 million people.

So for those with hearing loss, the chances of coming into contact with someone who uses the language are rare. Especially outside of the deaf community.

Keep Reading Show less

Looking back, the year 1995 seems like such an innocent time. America was in the midst of its longest streak of peace and prosperity. September 11, 2001 was six years away, and the internet didn't seem like much more than a passing fad.

Twenty-four years ago, 18 million U.S. homes had modem-equipped computers, 7 million more than the year before. Most logged in through America Online where they got their email or communicated with random strangers in chat rooms.

According to a Pew Research study that year, only 32% of those who go online say they would miss it "a lot" if no longer available.

Imagine what those poll numbers would look like if the question was asked today.

RELATED: Bill and Melinda Gates had a surprising answer when asked about a 70 percent tax on the wealthiest Americans

"Few see online activities as essential to them, and no single online feature, with the exception of E-Mail, is used with any regularity," the Pew article said. "Consumers have yet to begin purchasing goods and services online, and there is little indication that online news features are changing traditional news consumption patterns."

"Late Night" host David Letterman had Microsoft founder and, at that time the richest man in the world, on his show for an interview in '95 to discuss the "the big new thing."

During the interview Letterman chided Gates about the usefulness of the new technology, comparing it to radio and tape recorders.

Gates seems excited by the internet because it will soon allow people to listen to a baseball game on their computer. To which Letterman smugly replies, "Does radio ring a bell?" to laughter from the crowd.

But Gates presses Letterman saying that the new technology allows you to listen to the game "whenever you want," to which Letterman responds, "Do tape recorders ring a bell?"

Gates then tells Letterman he can keep up with the latest in his favorite hobbies such as cigar smoking or race cars through the internet. Letterman shuts him down saying that he reads about his interests in magazines.

RELATED: Bill Gates has five books he thinks you should read this summer.

The discussion ends with the two laughing over meeting like-minded people in "troubled loner chat room on the internet."

The clip brings to mind a 1994 segment on "The Today Show" where host Bryant Gumbel and Katie Couric have a similar discussion.

"What is internet anyway?" an exasperated Gumball asks. "What do you write to it like mail?"

"It's a computer billboard but it's nationwide and it's several universities all joined together and it's getting bigger and bigger all the time," a producer explains from off-stage.





Culture
Photo by Li-An Lim on Unsplash

The future generations will have to live on this Earth for years to come, and, not surprisingly, they're very concerned about the fate of our planet. We've seen a rise in youth activists, such as Greta Thunberg, who are raising awareness for climate change. A recent survey indicates that those efforts are working, as more and more Americans (especially young Americans) feel concerned about climate change.

A new CBS News poll found that 70% of Americans between 18 and 29 feel climate change is a crisis or a serious problem, while 58% of Americans over the age of 65 share those beliefs. Additionally, younger generations are more likely to feel like it's their personal responsibility to address climate change, as well as think that transitioning to 100% renewable energy is viable. Overall, 25% of Americans feel that climate change is a "crisis," and 35% feel it is a "serious problem." 10% of Americans said they think climate change is a minor problem, and 16% of Americans feel it is not a problem that worries them.

The poll found that concern for the environment isn't a partisan issue – or at least when it comes to younger generations. Two-thirds of Republicans under the age of 45 feel that addressing climate change is their duty, sentiments shared by only 38% of Republicans over the age of 45.

Keep Reading Show less
The Planet