What is the nutritive value of digital content? New initiatives help consumers build and stick to healthy digital diets.

As consumers conduct more and more of their daily lives online—patronizing virtual venues, engaging with digital communities and seeking app-based companionship—the line between digital identity and physical being is blurring. With this shift, overall health management is increasingly taking digital behavior into account. Now, a string of recent projects is assessing digital content for its nutritional value.

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AeBeZe Labs's digital nutrition table of elements

“Digital nutritionist” Michael Moskowitz, CEO and founder of AeBeZe Labs, is pioneering the quest for healthy digital consumption. AeBeZe Labs has created a number of tools—including a digital nutrition table of elements, digital nutrition labels and personalized digital nutrition plans—to guide consumers in creating balanced and nourishing digital diets and building “stronger behavioral and emotional health when consuming media.”

The company’s Moodrise 1000 platform identifies films, shows and videos that feed the mind and stimulate specific emotions. The catalogue is organized by mood state—calm, connection, energy, focus, happiness and motivation—and spans popular platforms to help viewers identify the media that will help them feel their best.

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Global health leaders also recommend healthy, mindful consumption. World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines for coping with COVID-19 include the recommendation that individuals “find opportunities to amplify positive and hopeful stories.” Additionally, WHO, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Health Service (NHS) all recommend limiting time spent watching the news to lessen anxiety and instead focusing on facts from credible sources in small, manageable bites.

With this growing understanding that the content we consume online can fuel or deplete us in the same way as the food we physically ingest, platforms are actively working to make their content healthier and less toxic.

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BLKNWS courtesy of Instagram

Conceptual news project BLKNWS is “an antidote to a toxic news cycle,” wrote Dazed. The multi-hyphenate project—part news network, part modern art and part cultural critique—aims to expose and counteract racial biases in reporting by offering an alternative to the harmful representation of Black stereotypes perpetuated in mainstream news.

After debuting at the 2019 Venice Biennale, BLKNWS has been broadcast at the Underground Museum, Stanford University, and a barbershop in Washington, D.C. The next iteration, which will run from September 6, 2020 through spring 2021 as part of Hammer Museum’s biennial Made in LA 2020: a version, will bring the work to its largest audience yet, broadcasting at sites across Los Angeles to reach people in their everyday environments.

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BLKNWS courtesy of Instagram

The project is a powerful exploration of how media content can be manipulated and contaminated. “As Black people, we’ve never had a New York Times or ABC or CNN,” artist and BLKNWS creator Kahlil Joseph told Surface magazine. “News, as I was learning, in the industrial-news complex, is a current event or a human-interest story or some version of someone’s opinion.” The project, he explained, aims to “redefine how Black culture is experienced, viewed, and communicated.” As Artnet reported, the project is “a prescription” for contemporary audiences, providing a corrective lens for mainstream media.

Following in Joseph’s footsteps, music mogul Sean “Diddy” Combs announced the creation of his Revolt Black News program in April, 2020. And at the end of May, Wikipedia set new rules to combat toxic behavior among staff.

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Digital health management, which historically focused on detoxing and limiting screen time, is now evolving with prescriptive doses of content for mental and emotional nourishment. “The potential dangers of indiscriminate content consumption are not reliant simply on the volume or frequency of exposure,” Moskowitz wrote in a May 2020 Fast Company article. “It is the nature of the materials themselves that matters most. When it comes to mental health, the contents of your content are key.”

Main image courtesy of Teamlab Borderless