This year I’ve been extremely online.
I streamed almost every 1pm media conference. I was addicted to the Guardian and The Spinoff’s live Covid blogs. I read countless think pieces about BLM and the pandemic and US politics. I shared some social justice Instagram slideshows, and sent so many memes to so many different group chats. I spent a lot of time doomscrolling, and I followed a lot of #cottagecore aesthetic accounts on Instagram. I refreshed Twitter every second for updates on the NZ and US elections. And I really got into TikTok.
The algorithm of the black hole of the internet - and the chaotic energy of 2020 in general - has meant that it has been a Very Tough Year™ for my attention span.
This relentlessness of the digital space is not new, but 2020 hit fast forward. It was something we talked about a lot when we first conceived the idea of Ensemble back in April. Rebecca had spent six months really unplugged while living in the Coromandel, and I had gone from the pressures of regular print deadlines to absolutely none. This was at the start of the pandemic and lockdown, and like many others who were newly unemployed and had the luxury of not having to deal with children or older family members, I found that because I had no routine, nothing to do and nowhere to be, the rhythm of the internet came to structure my days. I knew that launching a website, of all things, during this time would not exactly be great for my great digital distraction of 2020. But I wanted to try do something new.
What we didn’t want to do was fall into the digital trap of churnalism and the generic SEO listicles and stolen content that many fashion and lifestyle platforms - and Instagram - seemed to revert to. Content for the sake of content. I know there are often legit reasons for that (traffic, engagement, blah blah blah). But in rethinking everything we knew about media and fashion and ‘women’s interest’ content, we wanted to try and reconfigure the pace too. We half jokingly called it ‘sustainable content’.
That’s what we were thinking of once again when we began our planning for the holiday period. Initially, we considered embracing the incredible momentum that’s been building and publishing throughout, with content we’d created in advance. But having been there, done that in previous roles, I knew that was not the answer - for our stress levels, mental health and our original ‘sustainable content’ goal. It’s been a fucking hard year, and we need a break! Like, a real one.
So we are on holiday, out of office, offline. We’re at the beach; in the backyard; wearing a bikini and not feeling bad about our cellulite; actually finishing a book; making bread; eating a Fruju or a real fruit ice cream.
We won’t be here for two weeks, and there will be no new content.
If you’re hungry for a good online read, we have lots of them in our archive. We’ll have some ‘summer re-issues’ of features that the majority of our new readers and followers likely haven’t yet read or seen - like our shoot and profile of incredible wāhine Māori Chelsea Winstanley, or my takedown of out of touch fashion magazine models, or Lofa’s amazing story on activism (so relevant after the year that’s been) and Rebecca’s confession that she only washes her hair every six weeks.
And if you want to stay connected, follow Ensemble on Instagram where we’ll be posting sporadically, and on Spotify where we’ve created a deeply uncool but very fun summer playlist for dancing, relaxing, having fun in the sun (or rain: we know that it’s an NZ summer).
We’ll be back here from January 11, and we’re already so excited about the possibilities ahead. It has been the honour of our careers to establish Ensemble as a fresh and exciting platform that offers something meaningful for women, on our own terms - and we can’t wait to do even more in 2021. See you online then!