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The Rise of the ‘Instagram Face’

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An awakening has been taking place in the physical world against the beauty model that has been dictated to us for years. But in the digital arena, where younger generations spend most of their time, social media determines what is considered beautiful.

The two opposing struggles are taking place in parallel. In the physical world, the struggle goes against the latent pressure exerted on women to conform to an unrealistic beauty ideal. As part of the struggle, various media outlets have presented women whose bodies don’t correspond to the so-called ideal. All those women who had previously been excluded from the covers of magazines, television series and the public agenda, have become “legitimate.” At the same time, a trend of influencers have begun to upload to social media photos of themselves without makeup, and even photos in which they highlight stretch marks, body hair or other supposed flaws.

Meanwhile, social media acts with its own rules. The beauty ideal escalates without any barriers and brakes.

An example that encapsulates the processes of extremism taking place on the web is Tai, the AI chatbot developed by Microsoft, which was supposed to simulate a teenage girl who invited users to communicate with her via a Twitter account, in order to become an intelligent virtual entity quickly learning humanity through social media interactions.

Within hours of being aired, it turned from an innocent app that answered questions like the weather forecast or recommended restaurants into a neo-Nazi who shared its hatred of Jews and sympathy for Hitler. It learned that the neo-Nazi’s favorite candidate, Donald Trump, was “so cool” and that feminists should be humiliated. Microsoft was forced to discontinue the experiment and issue a public apology.

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Tai’s story provides an important lesson of the escalation that the human race goes through in social media. In the absence of a framework of rules of what is allowed and what is forbidden, escalation will be guided by the two forces that drive us — aggression and sexuality. If we go back to the beauty ideal, not only does it not promote a healthier beauty ideal, it brings about new and unfamiliar mental disorders.

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‘Instagram Face’

Technology has reshaped our beauty ideal and is doing a great job communicating that gospel to the masses. One of the bizarre legacies of the past decade is the popularity of the “cyborg look,” which has been adopted among influencers.

The most accurate description I have seen of the phenomenon was suggested by Jia Tolentino of The New Yorker: “the gradual emergence, among professionally beautiful women, of a single, cyborgian face. It’s a young face, of course, with poreless skin and plump, high cheekbones. It has catlike eyes and long, cartoonish lashes; it has a small, neat nose and full, lush lips. It looks at you coyly but blankly, as if its owner has taken half a Klonopin and is considering asking you for a private-jet ride to Coachella. The face is distinctly white but ambiguously ethnic — it suggests a National Geographic composite illustrating what Americans will look like in 2050, if every American of the future were to be a direct descendant of Kim Kardashian West, Bella Hadid, Emily Ratajkowski and Kendall Jenner (who looks exactly like Emily Ratajkowski).”

It is unclear what came first. Were the filters created in the image of the influencers, or did the influencers shape their faces to resemble their own poltergeist? Either way, the cyborg look spread rapidly, and today the Instagram face has become the new beauty ideal.

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Related Article: Marketers Beware: Influencer Marketing Fraud Is Real

Rapid Internalization of the New Beauty Norms

The internalization of accepted beauty norms is much more effective when there is active involvement in the learning process. The active involvement of users is reflected in the gamified interaction offered by the social media platforms. The ability to Like, write a comment, compare, share.

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Once the desired beauty ideal has been internalized, users are given tools or features to change their appearance to suit the accepted beauty ideal such as editing the image, choosing the ideal filter, the right background.

A survey conducted by the Renfrew Center Foundation among 1,710 adolescents in the United States revealed that more than 50% filter the images before socializing them. And you will not be surprised to hear that the majority of them are women. One of the significant consequences of obsessive filtering is the emerging tendency to self-reification and self-evaluation. Treating myself as a third person, as an object to be observed and valued, in the same way another person observes and judges from the side.

Social media encourage users to be involved and take an active part in the process of evaluating others and themselves. Users examine their images, editing and shape them to fit the accepted beauty ideal.

Related Article: The Two Sides of the ‘New Normal’

Snapchat Disorder

The effect of the filters is already far beyond amiable amusement or unharmed retouch. The filters and the entire game played on the networks affect the mental health of the users. According to a study published in the JAMA Facial Plastic Surgery journal, apps like Instagram, Snapchat and FaceTune allow users to achieve a level of perfection that was previously only observed in beauty magazines — only this time they are in the role of model.

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Plasticist Tijion Asho noticed that if in the past patients came to him and brought pictures of celebrities they want to look like, today they come for with filtered pictures of themselves. The phenomenon of people wanting to look like their digital persona is called Snapchat dysmorphia. According to a study conducted at the American Academy of Facial Surgery, 55% of plastic surgeons testified that in they have performed plastic surgery aimed at helping women resemble their image in Snapchat.

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Even though humanity has always cherished beauty, in the last decade our obsession with looks has reached an unprecedented peak. The time spent on social media creates an urge to achieve an impossible beauty ideal that the only thing that can fix it is not cosmetic intervention, but mental health care.

Related Article: Is Your Time Online Time Well Spent?

Liraz Margalit, PhD, is a digital psychologist, customer & user behavior specialist, and an international keynote speaker. She integrates cognitive psychology and behavioral economics perspectives to analyzes consumer behavior and deliver actionable insights for business stakeholders.

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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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