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Don’t turn your back on Instagram poetry

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Rupi Kaur’s poetry tastes sour. As I perused her latest works via Instagram, it was clear Kaur was attempting to nurture my spirit with empowering insights and relatable musings on heartbreak and injustice. Instead, I left her page feeling unimpressed and dull. Kaur’s poems read more like overused girl-boss Pinterest quotes than engaging literature. It would not be difficult to confuse her Instagram bio, which reads “my 3rd book ‘home body’ / is available everywhere books are sold,” with one of her poems. Kaur’s work just doesn’t seem to hold the intuitive something that great poems do. 

However, my critiques of Kaur’s poetry are equally as mundane as her poems. Kaur’s enormous success as an author completely overshadows nitpicky analyses of her literary merit. In fact, Kaur breathes life into the poetry community. Her popularity marks an unprecedented expansion of poetry’s creation and consumption into the digital realm, challenging literary gatekeeping and inviting us to rethink what “good” poetry even means. 

Kaur is not only the queen of Instagram poetry with 4.3 million followers, but is also a wildly successful author. As of March 23, her latest book “Home Body” dominates Amazon’s Best Sellers in Poetry at number eight, and her 2015 publication, “Milk and Honey,” sits comfortably at number seven. Kaur was even recognized in Forbes’ 2018 30 Under 30 in Media. Clearly, Kaur can do without my support; the numbers speak for themselves. 

Is it even fair, then, for me to say that I think Kaur’s poetry is bad? I argue that it is, in fact, fair and warranted. Exploring Kaur’s success reveals two principles: There is a difference between “good” and “successful” and — despite our efforts to treat taste as objective — calling art “good” or “bad” is nothing more than a personal opinion. 

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Kaur’s supporters might argue I am wrong in calling her poetry bad, pointing me toward her massive sales and social media platform as proof. To this, I respond with the fact that “successful” is not at all synonymous with “good.” 

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We might say PSY’s “Gangnam Style” was a successful song, but most sane people above the age of twelve would hesitate to say that it is a good song. Likewise, I am happy to admit that Kaur’s work is massively successful without agreeing that it is good. In fact, Kaur’s genius lies not in the poetry itself, but in the way she capitalized upon the power of social media to reach an impossibly large and diverse audience. One would never think that poetry, which is meant to be thought-provoking and complex, would survive on social media, which generally serves us quick and thoughtless entertainment. Kaur consistently debunks this paradox, demonstrating that social media outreach may, in fact, be integral to poetry’s survival as print dies out and digital media thrives. 

Moreover, when we use “good” and “successful” synonymously, we operate on the false assumption that literary merit can be measured objectively. This is impossible. Poetry is an inherently subjective human practice. Its quality cannot be proven by a lab test or even a logical argument. Poetry is governed by emotion, not rules; it is inextricably tied to the subjective emotional experience of the individual. No matter how much I may dislike Kaur’s poetry, it may only be bad to me. My judgment of a poem cannot amount to more than a personal opinion without denying poetry’s essence, which is inherently irrational, illogical and entirely individualized. Determining whether Kaur’s poetry is good or bad is, therefore, a misguided endeavor. 

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Those of us who dislike Rupi Kaur’s poetry may try to discredit her work by labeling it as “Instagram poetry” — a term denoting meaningless, fluffy poems fit for social media consumption only. This way of thinking will only lead to the death of poetry. Instagram poetry dismantles the very mechanisms which limit poetry’s reach — literary gatekeeping, antiquated mediums like print and countless traditional constraints that police “real” poetry. Instagram poetry makes sharing and consuming poetry easier, wider and more accessible than ever before. It transcends limitations. 

Kaur deserves credit for transforming the way we understand and consume poetry, and I don’t have to enjoy her work to see that. Regardless of the mixed reviews, Kaur is a major contributor to poetry’s integration into the digital world. Even more importantly, she inspires countless other writers to transform their social media usage from a mindless pastime into a tool that can support and bring visibility to their work to a degree that no other publishing medium can. At the end of the day, I won’t give Rupi Kaur a follow, but she doesn’t need me — she has 4.3 million others to back her up. 

Alexic Hancz can be reached at ahancz@umich.edu.

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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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Social networking websites launch features to encourage users to get boosters

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Facebook Instagram and TikTok are launching new features to encourage people to get their coronavirus booster jabs.

From Friday, users will be able to update their profiles with frames or stickers to show that they have had their top-up jab or aim to when they become eligible.

It follows on from people previously being able to show they have had their first and second jabs on certain social networking websites and apps.

TikTok also held a “grab a jab” event in London earlier this year.

I urge everyone who is eligible – don’t delay, get your vaccine or top up jab today to protect yourself and your loved ones

More than 16 million booster vaccines have now been given across the UK.

People who are aged 40 and above and received their second dose of their vaccine at least six months ago are currently eligible to have their booster.

A new campaign advert is also being launched on Friday, which shows how Covid-19 can build up in enclosed spaces and how to prevent that from happening.

Vaccines minister Maggie Throup said:  “Getting your booster is one of the most important things you can do to protect yourself and your family this winter.

“It is fantastic to see some of the biggest household names further back the phenomenal vaccine rollout, allowing their users to proudly display that they have played their part in helping us build a wall of defence across the country.

“I urge everyone who is eligible – don’t delay, get your vaccine or top-up jab today to protect yourself and your loved ones.”

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