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Barrie native, social media influencer remembered as ‘magnetic force of nature’

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Lee MacMillan had reportedly been victim of cyber-bullying, and several of her Instagram stories pointed to those struggles prior to March 26 death in California

Friends and family of Barrie native and popular van-life social media influencer Lee MacMillan are devastated after police confirmed she took her own life late last week.

According to the Santa Barbara Police Department, MacMillan was hit and killed by a train on Friday, March 26. Authorities said the 28-year-old had been reported missing after she left her Santa Barbara home earlier that day without taking her car, wallet, keys, identification and cellphone. They feared she may have been suicidal after she had expressed suicidal ideation for the last month. 

MacMillan, who grew up in Barrie, had been living in Santa Barbara, Calif., but had spent the last several years travelling and documenting her van life on Instagram. Her account, Life With Lee, had nearly 80,000 followers from around the world.

She had reportedly been the victim of cyber-bullying and several of her own Instagram stories pointed to those struggles.

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“If what I have to say doesn’t sit well with you then I wish you well as our feeds untangle. I am a real person who has grown, changed and moved on with my life. If you have a hard time seeing me happily in love then please unfollow me now,” she wrote in a Dec. 13, 2020, Instagram post. “I will not accept any comments about my past relationship. If you wish to leave your unsolicited opinion of my personal choice about who I date you will no longer be welcome here and I will block you.

“This is an open-minded community where I encourage constructive and thoughtful dialogue, but if you leave unproductive hateful comments you will be blocked as well,” MacMillan added. “I am well aware of the consequences of sharing my life online. That doesn’t excuse people for being rude, careless or abrasive. If you hide behind a hidden profile leaving comments that don’t add value to this community you will also be unwelcome.”

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In a post a few weeks prior, MacMillan expressed her fear about sharing the news she’d found love again. 

“I am genuinely afraid to get hurt again…  from the unsolicited opinions I will receive online when people who know nothing about me will feel righteous behind their keyboards and hidden profiles because what — they don’t like to see change? Yes, of course — just ignore them — you can’t please everyone, nor do I want to,” she wrote. 

“I have done a lot of inner work to create boundaries around whose opinions matter to me. But, it’s who I am to my core to think about other people and I don’t want to hurt anyone, ever. So I’ve been keeping this exciting news close to my heart for a while now. It makes me a little sad that something so exciting and special also has this vail of fear attached to it,” MacMillan added. 

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Steve Ricalis and the team at Donaleighs restaurant in downtown Barrie are still trying to wrap their heads around the loss of one of their own.

“She was a great girl. There is not one bad thing I could say about that girl,” Ricalis told BarrieToday. “She was smart, articulate. It’s just so sad that her life ended that way.”

MacMillan, who had worked at the Dunlop Street East pub on and off for about four years before setting off on her trek around the globe, was never shy in sharing her struggles, he added. 

“She was back here about six months ago and we knew she was having a hard time,” Ricalis said. “She wasn’t shy about it. We all tried to talk about it. It’s just so sad she had to go through that and be in such a dark place by herself. I guess she just wanted the pain to end.”

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Although an in-person celebration isn’t possible at the moment due to COVID, Ricalis said he and the rest of the team will find a way to honour their friend.

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“We have an annual golf tournament and pick a charity,” he said. “We will do charity of her parents’ choice.”

Barrie photographer Nic Laferriere was friends with MacMillan, and while he chose not to speak publicly about her death out of respect to the family, he expressed his grief on her Instagram page. 

“Could not only light up any room she walked into, but also make every individual she came into contact with feel seen AND heard. One of the best friends you could ever ask for. Love you,” he wrote. 

“After living an extraordinary life and fighting a brave battle with depression, our hearts are shattered. … She was the brightest light, a magnetic force of nature and was loved by so, so many,” reads a statement on the GoFundMe page set up by friends and family — including her partner Jordon Chiu — to raise money for mental health awareness and to combat cyber-bullying.

“If we can do one thing for Lee now, in the midst of this soul-crushing loss, it’s to spread the message that mental health is just as real as physical health, and that illness can strike anyone, no matter how unlikely they may seem,” Chiu added. “Lee’s struggles with her mental health were also compounded in her last months of life by persistent and often vicious cyber-bullying, and we want to drive home the point that cyber-bullying has real life consequences — the people on the other side of the screen have real lives, real feelings, and real struggles of their own.” 

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Chiu, who is organizing the fundraiser which has already raised nearly $120,000, noted MacMillan was an advocate for mental health and was always candid and open about her own struggles.

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“She was receiving help: from professionals, from family, from friends. She had support around her,” Chiu said. “She was not alone, she was not trying to fight this alone. And yet she still succumbed to this terrible illness. It is more nuanced than we can, or do, appreciate or understand.”

Chiu asked people to check in on their loved ones. 

“Ask them genuinely how they’re doing. Be available to help. To listen. To offer help. Remove the stigma of asking for help,” he said.

Chui also created the hashtag #speakupforlee and is urging people to share it.

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“You never know who is struggling quietly,” he said. “And hold your loved ones tight. Tell them you love them. Because life can change in an instant. We will miss her with every (fibre) of our hearts.”

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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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