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Still Online?: Feeling invisible in the social media age – Duke Chronicle



In his latest special, Inside, comedian Bo Burnham begins his song, “Welcome to the Internet” by teasing, “We’ve got mountains of content—some better, some worse… We’ve got a million different ways to engage!” As Burnham sings, I’m just reaching the bottom of my Instagram feed, where I’ve spent nearly an hour scrolling through a never-ending stream of posts. When I’m done, I turn to TikTok instead. Another hour disappears. 

But these platforms want you to do more than just consume content. Instagram’s slogan is “capture and share the world’s moments.” TikTok’s is “make every second count.” As Burnham suggests, the only way to meet the endless demand for Internet content is with endless supply. Yet while these platforms constantly beckon me to chime in and share parts of myself, I resist the urge. I have never made a TikTok. I’ve posted on Instagram once in the last year. But this isn’t a typical tirade against the conceitedness of social media feeds or the emptiness of online discourse. Instead, it is a lament: in a world in which millions of voices are constantly reverberating across the Internet, I cannot find a place for my own.

Once upon a time, there were distinct creators and consumers on sites like YouTube and Tumblr. I grew up on the “old Internet,” dominated by online forums, where the veil of anonymity protected me as I lurked in on others’ conversations. Over the years, however, the ability to strike up conversations with strangers became less novel, and the Internet became a tool for showcasing, rather than depersonalizing ourselves. Nowadays, everything on the Internet is meant to be shared. This societal shift makes holding out from that ecosystem of creation harder than ever before. On Reddit or Twitter, being an infrequent poster makes you enigmatic. But on Instagram or Snapchat, where the entirety of your extended social circle can see how much (or how little) you have to show them, being inactive just makes you uninteresting. Where we once reveled in anonymity, nowadays social media prizes intimacy—or, at least, its pretense.

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Even though we know deep down inside that abstaining from posting online frequently doesn’t make us less valuable, we’re naturally wired to follow this line of thinking. Subconsciously, we seek the approval of those who are popular—a metric conveyed to us by follower counts and retweets. Too often, we correlate the size of one’s social network with their social net worth. The pandemic further exacerbated this trend, making online interactions more integral to our perceptions of each other than ever. Before I began college last year, the brunt of my conversations with future classmates occurred through the Internet. For the first time, I began to feel as if my online networks shaped my real-life ones. In a year in which meeting new people was a rarity, “I’ve seen you in the GroupMe” or “I think we follow each other on Instagram” became as good an icebreaker as any. Otherwise, you were easier to forget, more likely to slip into the background unnoticed. Burnham concludes his frenzied song with, “[on the Internet], apathy’s a tragedy, and boredom is a crime.” If he is right, then inactive users are the Internet’s outlaws.

So this is a callout post: not just for me, but for the plenty of friends I have that are like me: those who “don’t really use social media,” who still haven’t downloaded Snapchat, who say that they “don’t have anything worth posting.” Some people are content staying mostly offline, unencumbered by how others perceive them. Personally, that level of self-confidence still eludes me. So if you are like me – and you’ve made the god awful, horrendous decision to tie your self-worth to Internet clout, maybe it’s time for us to rethink what and why we share.

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Rather than following the clichéd advice to delete social media and turn inwards for self-contentment, however, I think the solution is to post more. Specifically, if the Internet now facilitates the brunt of our social interactions, our daily habits should reflect that, keeping us connected with our friends and loved ones. Not everyone wants to post their meal photos or their puppy videos for everyone to see. But features like private stories and “finstas” already serve as contemporary replacements for diaries, granting us the permission to choose exactly who gets to know the details of our personal lives. Sure, digital intimacy will never replace the warmth of real, in-person connection, but eighteen months into a bitter pandemic, it is a way for us to feel marginally less invisible.

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This advice seemingly contradicts Inside, a two-hour ramble from Burnham that, at its core, is a long-winded way of pleading, “can anyone just shut the fuck up?” Of course, not everything is worth posting. When we fall too deeply in love with the sound of our own voice, we begin to post just to hear ourselves talk: inflammatory rhetoric, meaningless arguments, misinformation. On the massive playground of the Internet, preschool recess rules still apply: if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it. This piece is not a call to action to castigate or belittle limitlessly under the pretense of self-expression. Instead, it is a reminder that we can select our audiences more carefully; then, once we find them, we can be more expressive, more kind, more vulnerable. Otherwise, we are partaking in the online equivalent of screaming loudly in the middle of the jungle gym, a move that will certainly not make us more popular – or less alone.

Moreover, we need to reconsider the notion that only select aspects of our lives are worth sharing with those around us. Sometimes, it might feel as if TikTok and Instagram have been overrun by influencers with carefully constructed feeds and starry sponsorships. In reality, social media is still dominated by ordinary people sharing ordinary aspects of their lives. We need to break out of the mindset that we are all future micro-influencers in training, constantly striving to emulate their curated personalities. We should unlearn the notion that we “have nothing worth posting” and start realizing that the parts of ourselves that make us interesting can show on the Internet, too. The rise of photo dumps and “until tomorrow!”s on Instagram is a start in that direction, scattered collections we post not for their aesthetics but because they showcase parts of ourselves that we want the world to know. Put another way, we should reclaim social media as a tool to shape the way we want others to see us instead of using it to determine how we feel we should be perceived.

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Above all, the Internet is constantly evolving, and we, too, need to rethink and re-evaluate whether our online habits are making us happy. Achieving “digital wellness” has never been more important, but there are no easy instruction manuals for self-fulfillment. No one size fits all, but I argue that opening ourselves up to a little bit of vulnerability is an important first step in the right direction. 

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





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 …





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

— 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





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


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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