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On ‘looking for a human being’ and the impact of social media

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“Three billion people, around 40% of the world’s population, use online social media — and we’re spending an average of two hours every day sharing, liking, tweeting and updating on these platforms, according to some reports. That breaks down to around half a million tweets and Snapchat photos shared every minute,” BBC Future reported.

Every epoch of technological development precipitates a change in the social dynamics of a culture. The cultural shift of the Information Age has emerged through social media platforms including Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, Pinterest, Instagram, Snapchat and TikTok. Through these, people can communicate around the world, interact with strangers or celebrities, be entertained and create content. However, as use of technology grows, time spent in the real world diminishes. Social media promotes widespread interaction at the expense of authenticity of relationships, a proper view of life and happiness.

Social media promotes surface-level relationships over deep relationships. The Child Mind Institute determined that texting is “less risky” than conversation because it puts distance between those communicating. This distance trades safety for reality. Susan Tardanico, CEO of the Authentic Leadership Alliance, wrote this in Forbes: “Studies show that only 7% of communication is based on the written or verbal word. A whopping 93% is based on nonverbal body language. … With 93% of our communication context stripped away, we are now attempting to forge relationships and make decisions based on phrases. Abbreviations. Snippets. Emoticons. Which may or may not be accurate representations of the truth.”

Online interactions are the barest form of communication available, digitized by generic text that lacks the visual and aural nuances of face-to-face interaction. Online communication has remarkable capabilities: People separated by distance can communicate instantly. However, communication must not be exclusively online as humans are made for genuine, face-to-face interaction. Social media encourages a lack of real communication and a shallowness that mars not only relationships but also one’s grip on reality.

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Social media promotes a false view of life. Cognitive anthropologist Bob Deutsch explored the importance of storytelling and creativity in life on Entrepreneur.com, proposing that social media detracts from the human narrative: “While social media ‘stories’ are certainly creative endeavors, they are made in hindsight and are linear representations crafted to project an idealized version of a person’s interests and lifestyle. It all seems a bit too tidy and curated.”

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Worse than hiding or destroying storytelling, social media peddles a cheap alternative as the real thing. These false representations become the social norm. Pop and rap artist Jon Bellion writes in his song “The Internet,” “Life became dangerous/The day we all became famous/No one cares if you’re happy/Just as long as you claim it,” acknowledging the willful neglect of people’s actual condition and the rapt attention to their online presence. This standard of perceived perfection is dangerous. Paul cautions in Galatians 6:3 that “if anyone thinks they are something when they are not, they deceive themselves.” Social media perpetuates a false view of life, a pitfall to believers and nonbelievers alike. Furthermore, social media accommodates destructive patterns in personal and social thought.

Social media reinforces instant gratification. Kevan Lee, director of marketing at social media management company Buffer, says that the “ideal character count” of a Facebook post is 40 characters, citing that “posts with 40 or fewer characters receive 86% more engagement than posts with a higher character count.” The ideal character count of a Tweet is 71-100 characters; a URL domain, eight characters; a hashtag, six; a title tag, 55; and an opening paragraph to an article, 40-55. Any additional characters and people are less likely to respond or remember the information. Social media is built on easily digestible bits of information that feed an increasingly diminishing attention span.

Even more concerning are the results of a 24-hour social media detox experiment on 1,000 students from 10 countries conducted by the International Center for Media & the Public Agenda at the University of Maryland and reported in Science Daily. Most were unable to go a day without social media, and described themselves as “Fretful, Confused, Anxious, Irritable, Insecure, Nervous, Restless, Crazy, Addicted, Panicked, Jealous, Angry, Lonely, Dependent, Depressed, Jittery and Paranoid.” These responses are comparable to those of drug withdrawal. Social media has become an addiction.

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Social media is not inherently moral or immoral; it is a tool that must be used wisely. The BBC Future article noted: “As with food, gambling and many other temptations of the modern age, excessive use for some individuals is probably inadvisable. But at the same time, it would be wrong to say social media is a universally bad thing, because clearly it brings myriad benefits to our lives.”

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Social media allows distant friends to stay connected, ideas to be shared, and provides a platform for creativity and storytelling. However, people must take caution when using social media, as social media is predisposed toward inauthenticity. The Greek philosopher Diogenes the Cynic supposedly said, “I am just looking for a human being.”

Perhaps another human being is waiting to be found just past the screen.

Emma Hasting is in 12th grade at Dayspring Christian Academy.

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LinkedIn Makes its 20 Most Popular LinkedIn Learning Courses Freely Available Throughout August

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Looking to up your skills for a job change or career advancement in the second half of the year?

This will help – today, LinkedIn has published its listing of the 20 most popular LinkedIn Learning courses over the first half of 2022. In addition to this, LinkedIn’s also making each of these courses free to access till the end of the month – so now may well be the best time to jump in and brush up on the latest, rising skills in your industry.

As per LinkedIn:

As the Great Reshuffle slows and the job market cools, professionals are getting more serious about skill building. The pandemic accelerated change across industries, and as a result, skills to do a job today have changed even compared to a few years ago. Professionals are responding by learning new skills to future-proof their careers and meet the moment.” 

LinkedIn says that over seven million people have undertaken these 20 courses this year, covering everything from improved communication, project management, coding, strategic thinking and more.

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Here are the top 20 LinkedIn Learning courses right now, which you can access via the relevant links:

  1. Goal Setting: Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) with Jessie Withers
  2. Excel Essential Training (Office 365/Microsoft 365) with Dennis Taylor
  3. Interpersonal Communication with Dorie Clark
  4. Cultivating a Growth Mindset with Gemma Leigh Roberts
  5. Project Management Foundations with Bonnie Biafore
  6. Using Questions to Foster Critical Thinking and Curiosity with Joshua Miller
  7. Essentials of Team Collaboration with Dana Brownlee
  8. Unconscious Bias with Stacey Gordon
  9. Learning Python with Joe Marini
  10. Communicating with Confidence with Jeff Ansell
  11.  Speaking Confidently and Effectively with Pete Mockaitis
  12. Learning the OWASP Top 10 with Caroline Wong
  13. Power BI Essential Training with Gini von Courter
  14. Strategic Thinking with Dorie Clark
  15. SQL Essential Training with Bill Weinman
  16. Developing Your Emotional Intelligence with Gemma Leigh Roberts
  17. Communication Foundations with Brenda Bailey-Hughes and Tatiana Kolovou
  18. Agile Foundations with Doug Rose
  19. Digital Marketing Foundations with Brad Batesole
  20. Critical Thinking with Mike Figliuolo
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If you’ve been thinking about upskilling, now may be the time – or maybe it’s just worth taking some of the programming courses, for example, so that you have a better understanding of how to communicate between departments on projects.

Or you could take an Agile course. If, you know, you don’t trust your own management ability.

The courses are available for free till August 31st via the above links.

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Instagram Is Rolling Out Reels Replies, And Will Be Testing A New Feature Which Informs …

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Instagram has added a few more social features to the platform, with Reels Replies being rolled out. Along with the Replies, anew feature is being tested that shows when two users are active together in the same chat.

Reels has been performing much better than perhaps even Instagram ever anticipated. The TikTok-inspired new video format (which officially claims to have absolutely no relation to the former) had some trouble really finding its footing initially. However, Reels has grown massively and while it may not be a source of the most direct competition to TikTok, it is indeed a worthy alternative.

Reels has grown to the point that it has a massive creator program attached to it, and the video format has even been migrated to Facebook with the goal of generating further user interest there. Naturally, with such a successful virtual goldmine on its hands, Instagram has been hard at work developing new features and interface updates for Reels, integrating it more and more seamlessly into the rest of the social media platform. Features such as Reels Replies are a major part of such attempts at integration.

Reels Visual Replies are essentially just what they sound like: A Reel that is being used to reply to someone. It’s a feature that’s been seen frequently across TikTok as well. Reel Replies essentially take a user’s comments, and reply to them in video format. The comment will then show up within the Reel itself as a text-box, taking up some amount of space, and showing both the user who issued said comment along with the text. The text-box is apparently adjustable, with users having the ability to move it around and change its size depending on where it obstructs one’s Reel the least.

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Overall, it’s a fun addition to the Reels format, even if the credit should be going to TikTok first. At any rate, it’s an example of Instagram really utilizing Reels’ social media capabilities, outside of just serving it up as a form of entertainment.

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Speaking of social media capabilities, a new feature might help alleviate one of the most common frustrations encountered across all such platforms. Isn’t it annoying when you see that a friend’s online, but isn’t replying to your chat? Sure, they’ve probably just put their phone down to run a quick errand, but there’s no way for you to know, right? Well, there sort of is now! Instagram is beta testing a new feature via which if both users are active within a chat, the platform will display that accordingly. It’s a work-around, sure, and one that’s currently being tested for usefulness, but it’s still a very nice, and even fresh, addition to the social media game.

Now, the active status will only appear when you are both active at the same time.#Instagram #instgramnewfeature@MattNavarra @instagram @alex193a pic.twitter.com/2chGZP9hr4

— Yash Joshi  (@MeYashjoshi) December 10, 2021

Read next: Instagram Plans On Allowing Users To Return To Its Old Chronologically Sorted News Feed

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5 apps for scheduling Instagram posts on iPhone and Android

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Alright, we get it. You’re an Instagram Nostradamus.

You know exactly what you want to post and when you’re gonna want to post it. Maybe there’s a meme or comment you want to make that you know will be totally relevant for a future moment or event. Or it could be that you’re an influencer and you want to make sure you keep a steady stream of content coming, so you want to schedule posts for times when you know you won’t be active (or won’t have internet access).

You’ll be happy to know there are apps that are specialized for just such situations. So listen up, InstaNostradamuses…Instagrostra…Instadam…Insta…uh…you guys (we’ll workshop it. No we won’t. We’ll probably just abandon that effort completely. You’re welcome) — these are the Instagram-post-scheduling apps for you.

While all of the iPhone apps below are free to download, they all have some in-app purchases.

1. Planoly

PLANOLY

We’ll start with “official partner” of Instagram, itself, Planoly — an Instaplanner that uses a grid to let you plan, schedule, and publish posts (as well as Reels) on Instagram. The app also lets you see post metrics and analytics so you can make sure your post didn’t flop.

Planoly is available for iOS on the Apple App Store and the Google Play store for Android.

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2. Buffer

BufferCredit: buffer / app store

Buffer is another Instagram post scheduler that helps you plan your posts and analyze feedback once they’re published. Use a calendar view to drag and drop posts into days/time slots for easy scheduling.

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Buffer is available for iOS on the Apple App Store and the Google Play store for Android.

3. Preview

PreviewCredit: preview / app store

Preview offers typical post-scheduling tools and analytics along with a few helpful extras. Get caption ideas, recommendations for hashtags, and more.

Preview is available for iOS on the Apple App Store and the Google Play store for Android.

4. Content Office

Content OfficeCredit: content office / app store

An Instagram post scheduler with a visual boost, Content Office allows users to plan and schedule Instagram posts while learning “marketing and visual guides to grow your brand on Instagram.” Like aesthetics and using visuals to create cohesive themes? Maybe this is the Instaplanner for you.

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Content Office is available for iOS on the Apple App Store.

5. Plann

PlannCredit: plann / apple store

You’ll never guess what “Plann” lets you do…

Aside from scheduling posts, get content ideas and recommendations, as well as strategy tips to ensure you’re maximizing your Instagram engagement. Ever wonder when the best time to post something is? Plann can offer you some help with that.

Plann is available for iOS on the Apple App Store and the Google Play store for Android.

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