A black typewriter on a wooden table with a blank white sheet of paper featuring the Young W logo.
A black typewriter on a wooden table with a blank white sheet of paper featuring the Young W logo.
Photo: Dahlia Katz

Time for arts & letters

Make this the year you discover the analog lifestyle.

Photo: Dahlia Katz

Did you want to be on your phone less this year?

You know you want to get off the phone more. You are curious, creative and adventurous and know there is a whole world out there to explore. If only you had the time and the energy...

How about doing something that draws you in so much that the phone becomes irrelevant?

We believe it's not just about getting off the phone, it's about what you do with that newly found offline time. Anyone can tell you to get off the phone. But once you've put the phone down, then what? What now? 

I often feel...

You may agree with one of the below attitudes or fall on a spectrum of somewhere in between:

  • I think the arts are important, somewhat. I may feel I’m not doing enough cultural things and that I should definitely do more.
  • Or I’m someone who is very concerned about my seeming lack of knowledge. I feel very bad about not doing more. Because it is so important to be cultured. Or at least appear to be.
  • Or I may feel that yes, the arts are important, definitely, and that I’m already doing plenty. At least have done it in the past, at some point, that is. And that I already got all the culture in my life that I need. It’s definitely something people should do and I’ve got it covered.

Our view: We don’t believe in shoulds.
It’s not about doing lots of “cultural” things, out of some feeling of obligation, because you feel this is expected from people like you, or just so you can say you did them. The world of Arts & Letters is abounding, like a sumptuous treasure chest full of marvels and wonders and you get to pick from its riches based on your own tastes, desires and needs. There is so much to choose from, and no right or wrong. And there are no shoulds, you simply pick whatever suits you, as little or as much as you like.

Yes, that is true. Food and shelter are becoming more and more unaffordable every day. This is true for many countries in 2024. You may not have any or only very little money to spend on leisure pursuits. And even if you are lucky enough to have some money, you may not feel the need to prioritize Arts & Letters. Other things are more important. Restaurants maybe. Take-out or delivery food after a stressful day at work. Coffee. Going out with friends. Travel. The vacation you truly deserve.

So if you are already spending money on some outing, it better be good. At those ticket prices you may not be willing to take a risk. And if you don’t even know if it’s really good and really worth it, you may as well save that money and stay home.

This is always a very tricky situation, because artists, artisans, makers and other creators must obviously earn money too, because we are all together stuck in this capitalist system.

Our view: We do believe that artists should be able to earn a living off of what they do. And for the moment, while we are still living in a capitalist world, paying for art, goods and services with money is the way to ensure that this is possible. But we are also very grateful for the many free and pay-what-you-can-afford options that are out there, for example for performances and live events, and make an effort to highlight them whenever we can. We also believe that if you want to go analog, there are many ways to do that and it doesn’t always have to involve spending lots of or any money. It doesn’t matter if you use a fancy notebook or write on the back page of random papers you have lying around – they are both analog and that is what counts.

You just moved into a new apartment at the edge of the city and don’t have a car. Or you do have a car, but parking is always a hassle. Or maybe you have moved back in with your parents in the suburbs where there isn’t a lot going on. And if you’ve moved far away, to a place where housing is affordable, you now barely come into the city anymore because it’s really inconvenient and the drive is just too long to be practical. So you wonder, why is all the good stuff always happening downtown?

Our view: You don’t need to be in the downtown core of a large city to experience Arts & Letters. There is usually more going on locally than you think, but some of it could be hidden unless you actively look for it. No, it probably won’t be a major exhibition by a world-famous artist in a major museum, but taking in Arts & Letters doesn’t always have to be doing this flashy, high-profile thing everyone is talking about. There is usually lots of culture and history to explore even in the smallest of places. Think a local archive, a venue that puts on concerts, a community theatre group or a window display that showcases local artists. These are unexpected and precious gems for you to discover.

Can my kids come? If not, I don’t have time for this now, so please check back in with me in 5, 10 or maybe 15 years.

Our view: we get it. It can be extremely difficult to find and arrange (affordable) child-care and this is an added cost that needs to be taken into account when planning things like an evening out, for example. One option would indeed be to stick to child-friendly options for the time being. The alternative is to make the rare and special occasions of child-free outings more adventurous by choosing to experience something truly unusual and novel to you, something that you have never done before.

I pretty much have no time at all for any of this. (Plus, I already work two jobs with an added side-hustle. What leisure time?)

Our view: We know that many people are in this situation. Free time can be non-existent due to work pressures and family obligations. However, we know that some people reading this will sometimes have some free time. And that some of you are not always deliberately choosing what to do with that free time, but are sometimes acting during their leisure time as if on auto-pilot. In those cases, the lack of time may have to do with what activities you prioritize and what you deem as most important in that very moment.

I have lots of different interests, but haven’t engaged with many of them in a while. Sometimes my schedule is hectic, I get distracted with other things and there is never enough time in the day. So although I technically do have hobbies, I don’t practice them with any regularity.

Our view: this sounds very familiar and we can very much relate. It’s great that you already have hobbies and interests. No need to put any pressure on yourself to engage with them with any consistency. As long as you know what those hobbies are, there is always the opportunity to go back to them later when the time is right and to pick things up where you left off.

I work on a screen a lot, mostly from home. My work bleeds into my personal life. It’s hard to disconnect from work in the evening. It’s hard to turn work-mode off completely and enjoy the little down time I have.

Our view: Again, we can very much relate. The days and weeks all blend into each other and constant work stress turns our life into a slog. You don’t notice the time passing by and suddenly it’s winter again and you wonder where the year has gone. However, we noticed that this is more common if you do the same thing every day, day in and day out. As soon as you introduce tiny bits of novelty into your free time (and Arts & Letters is the perfect ingredient for that), time seems to magically slow down. The more unusual, new, things you do, the slower time seems to pass. You’ll be more present every day. This is because you can remember the unique things you encountered each day, because not every day was the same.

Going to some cultural event is often not that easy, because I first need to gather all the info about the what, the where and the how. Usually that means doing research and looking things up online. Sometimes this can be confusing and complicated. It’s an effort I don’t always have capacity for, so I often stick with familiar pastimes that are easier to organize, like hanging out with friends in the park or watching Netflix.

Our view: Indeed. We hear you. Picking a theatre show to go see may not be entirely as straightforward as picking a TV show on Netflix. Things can be complicated. Helping with this is one of the main goals of Young W: making the vast world of Arts & Letters more approachable and less confusing, by presenting it in a clear and easy-to-understand manner. For now, know that when you do things more often, things automatically get easier. If you follow this advice, picking an opera may eventually become as simple as picking a movie to see at the cinema. If you can, try things out often, even if it is only for brief amounts of time. Usually starting is what takes the most amount of effort – once you get going, you may like it so much that you don’t want it to stop and are already looking forward to next time.

I feel constantly overwhelmed. I want to live a more analog life, really, I do, but I’m just too busy.

Our view: yes, of course. We understand. Everyone is busy these days. It’s been like this for decades. We really don’t want to add to your sense of stress and overwhelm. Don’t try to do too much. Pace yourself. Do a little bit at a time, not everything all at once. Start very small and be happy with whatever you have capacity for at the moment.

Work is intense these days. I feel like everyone is just looking out for themselves, and I know I need to always be on in order to not get left behind. It can feel like a real shark tank sometimes. When I’m not working, I just want to switch off my brain for a bit. The day has been tiring enough. I’m not ashamed to seek out easy entertainment on social media, like cat videos or cute pictures of red pandas. You can only do so much in a day and the idea of doing anything intellectual at the end of the day or even on the weekend sounds like just too much.

Our view: again, totally understandable. Work is such a central focus point in many people’s lives, that even for those who have the means to prioritize leisure time, doing so seems frivolous. Mindless entertainment is fine, but depending which platform you use to be entertained, know that you are not fully in control about what you get to see. The algorithm is. If you want to choose your entertainment for yourself, you’re better off attending a random music concert and experience the visceral sensation of the music coming alive in front of you. People often feel that certain types of art forms are not things you can just walk into, off the street so to speak, because there is this pressure to know the context, the history, the genre, the performers, and what it all means. If you want to shut off your brain and relax, just make the conscious effort to walk into a concert without knowing any context. That’s analog, yet mindless entertainment, but one that you actively chose for yourself. Similar to the way people used to walk into a restaurants in the olden days, without looking up all the online reviews. Hey, this looks good, why not, let’s go for it…

Yes, I’d love to try out new things, but where would I even go and where would I start? There is just so much choice and I don’t even know what I like. Maybe it’s best to stick to streaming and scrolling: easier, more convenient and entertaining enough for me.

Our view: If you are unsure of how to live a more analog life and how to go about starting to explore the world of Arts & Letters, Young W can help with that. We offer a unique product called the analog lifestyle kit – see the section “Still not sure how to go analog? We’ve got a product for you” below for details. To make it even more fun, you can also gift the analog lifestyle kit to a friend or family member and complete it together with them as a group.

I usually rely on my friends to tell me what’s on and what to go see. If I don’t hear about a particular thing from friends, from (social) media or from some other influential source, chances are it’s probably not worth checking out. If it were really that good, word about it would have made its way to me eventually.

Our view: Recommendations from friends can be nice, but just like you shouldn’t be a passive consumer and delegate all your choices to the algorithm, your friends shouldn’t be the only ones who determine what you see and do either. You may believe that because they are more experienced than you, it’s better to defer to their judgment and tastes. However, even if you are new to things, we’d still encourage you to make your own choices regardless. You don’t need to wait for luck & adventure to come to you, go seek it out yourself. It’s nice to have your own taste. And be especially careful if your friends are picky art snobs or if you’re afraid they think YOU are the picky art snob who wants to do Arts & Letters things they wouldn’t approve of. Your tastes may differ and they may not fully appreciate what you like and why. Don’t let anyone make you feel bad about your tastes. Your taste is your taste, everyone’s taste is different and variety is the spice of life. Besides, by having your own taste you may even discover something new & exciting that none of your friends are doing yet or make new friends along the way.

I can’t disconnect from my phone, because then I would miss out on the family group chat with the cousins, that latest thing that makes my blood boil on X that everyone is talking about and that makes me so angry and a bunch of other important things.

Our view: yes, valid points. However, FOMO doesn’t just apply to the digital world. It relates to the world of Arts & Letters too. Culture is by nature ephemeral. Certain artists, writers and thinkers working in a community, the impact they have on a place and how they can define an era, all of that is fleeting. The present moment is unique, and it will never come back. Although this is obviously a theoretical question, would you have preferred to be on your phone in early 1500s Florence, 1880s Paris or 1960s San Francisco too? This is not necessarily something that you can see while you are living through it and are in the midst of it, but sometimes you don’t know what you missed until after it’s gone. Our belief is that 2024 is a good year to stop feeding the machine of big tech and to get back out there in-person to discover the communities around you.

Okay, it’s nice to go see and do stuff just for the sake of engaging with arts & culture and whatnot, and for the sake of supporting artists and such, but seriously, the price needs to match what I’m getting out of it. The value has to be there and I’m afraid, sometimes it just isn’t there. Why would I pay that much money for [this]? Plus, my time is worth something too.

Our view: we couldn’t agree more. Of course what you see, do, purchase, engage with, visit, attend and make an effort to seek out MUST have value for you. However, we also know that value is not an absolute thing. Value is relative. What you value now may not be the same as what you value years from now. Value changes over time. Value changes if your surroundings change. If everyone around you all of a sudden values something more, you may do so too. Have you ever assigned a low value to something at first (maybe because you knew little about it), but then were surprised afterwards about how much you valued the experience? Value cannot always be easily assessed upfront. Value therefore is deceiving, so don’t let your perception of value guide you too much. Chances are, you are undervaluing the experience.

If you can relate to any part of what we've just described, we have some simple ideas for you.

We are here to help you to live a more analog life filled with Arts & Letters and have prepared five easy suggestions for how you can make that a reality for yourself this year.

Follow these 5 easy steps:

Set of four notepads. Text on the top right reads: the analog lifestyle. Decorative stamp on the bottom left corner

1) If it's easy to switch to the analog version, do so.

Do at least one thing in an analog fashion if it's just as easy or maybe even easier than using a digital device. Things like always having pen and paper around while being at your desk, for example. Or making paper shopping lists. Switching your calendar to a paper planner. Reading a print newspaper on weekends. Or carrying a small notepad with you at all times to jot down random ideas that pop into your head. While I of course use my computer for email and other work, I do have a paper calendar always lying beside me, plus some pens and scrap paper. Various pretty notebooks are nearby. So for me, using pen & paper when inspiration strikes me has become my default.
Elements of the analog lifestyle kit - chapter 1 - including a ribbon, a stack of cards and a notepad - are spread out on a wooden table.

2) Tie away your phone with a ribbon...

...and then pick an activity that appeals most to you in that moment. This is especially helpful when you feel restless, bored or overwhelmed by so many options, so that you end up doing nothing in the end. To end this decision fatigue, tie away your phone first. This is to make it easier to resist the many ways the phone lures you in with its never-ending notifications, ringing and buzzing. Take some paper and a ribbon or string, envelop the phone in the paper and tie a bow tie around the package. A simple 8.5 x 11" sheet of paper will do. Then pick an activity or pursuit from the 9 pillars of Arts & Letters that you feel most drawn to in the moment and go do that. Be carried away to new and exciting adventures and leave your phone behind. Click the button for a sample activity from all 9 Arts & Letter themes.
Ways to get started with Arts & Letters
A thin green booklet lies on a wooden background. The cover page reads: The nine pillars of arts & letters according to Young W.

3) Go explore, but keep your expectations low.

No matter if you are ready to rekindle your love for things you are passionate about or if you are not so sure yet what you like because many things are new to you, the key is to keep your expectations super low. Don't worry if you do things very inconsistently, for only 5 min at a time. If you don't get very far. If you come across things that weren't really that enjoyable. The most important thing is that you were there, you showed up. You picked up your materials, the book, the brush, the newspaper, the record, the guitar, the map. Was it awesome? Great. Was it less than awesome? Also great. Better luck next time. The less expectations and the less pressure the better. The more you do it, even if the experience is not that spectacular, the more you'll figure out what you like and the more your taste naturally develops. It's not something that happens from one day to the next. It's a slow, sustainable build up, like a muscle you develop as you just keep exploring.
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A stack of books on an old suitcase, next to a phonograph.

4) Say yes to things you feel lukewarm about.

Just like with dining at new restaurants, for example, there is no way of fully knowing if you like a certain cuisine without ever trying it. The same goes for Arts & Letters: you have to be there & try it out for yourself, before you can really know what it's like. Our recommendation: try something at least twice before determining it's really not for you. So next time you're unsure if it's worth the effort, we say go for it. It may be way more interesting than expected.
Collage of images and quotes arranged neatly on a yellow/green/purple board. Type reads from left to right: "Learn a new language", "Practice calligraphy", "Collect used books", "Listen to a poem", "Discover your own city", "See a dance show", "Attend a live debate" and "Get a penpal".

5) Let your heart & your curiosity guide you.

Ignore the voice that says "this is not for you". When you are interested in something, don't think too much what you've heard about that very thing - about it seemingly being "too hard", "too easy", "not sophisticated enough", "too boring", "only for [those kind of] people", "only for insiders". If there are tickets available or it's free & the organization specifically invited the public to attend, then it's for you, regardless of your prior knowledge or experience. They are probably quite happy that you are interested in what they do and decided to show up.

Still not sure how to go analog? We've got a product for you.

The components of the analog lifestyle kit: they include a stack of printed cards, a notepad, a small fountain pen and a log book, among others things.

The analog lifestyle kit

It’s called the analog lifestyle kit and it turns going analog into a game.

Going analog may not sound fun, but if you feel your phone has tricked you into spending your free time online, this kit will help you trick your brain into spending your free time offline.

You can purchase one kit if you want to go solo on your analog journey, or you can buy additional kits if you want your friends to join along.

We’ve made it playful and with recommendations customized to your region.

This product is what we believe Young W is all about: getting more people out of the house and experiencing the world again — the world outside their phone.

Click here to get the analog lifestyle kit.