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Longevity

The good things social media is giving the world

As a digital anthropologist, I’ve spent a lot of time in online communities, studying social media as well as netnographic research and humans using technology in the real world. I’ve seen the good, the bad and the ugly over the past decade. While much may seem bad, I’ve seen a fair bit of good and I’m starting to see some broader positive societal trends coming out of social media. Let’s take a look. Animals: From cats being mean to silly and cute dogs and wildlife caught in the act, we can see a shift across many countries and cultures in how we see animals. From pets to wildlife. Although there isn’t any hard scientific evidence yet, anecdotally, we can suggest that humans, who are also animals, are perhaps evolving more meaningful relationships with our fellow animals ad we learn about them and how we can interact. The good that may

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Health

Weight loss ads are finally being attacked

Seems like today there’s a constant barrage of weight loss ads all over social media. Now, they’re coming under fire and things are changing and Pinterest is leading. From dietary supplements to “amazing” pills, appetite suppressants, surgery and more, these ads are everywhere. Many of them use “triggers” such as BMI (Body Mass Index) and body-type shaming to get clicks and sell their products online. They can be psychologically harmful to many, including teenage girls who’ve little knowledge of how they’re being targeted. These ads play into their existing social anxieties and just make things worse. Some of these products even claim, without evidence, that their products can be applied to or worn on the skin. Instagram recently shared online resources and some warnings to help people find better information around their options. Recently, Twitter came under fire for a constant barrager of ads from DoFasting, an app that helps

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Longevity

Keeping your cool in the age of unreason

Christoper J. (Chris) Ferguson, a professor of psychology at Stetson University in Florida, is interested in madness, especially among the influential. His latest book is “How Madness Shaped History: An Eccentric Array of Maniacal Rulers, Raving narcissists, and Psychotic visionaries.” He uses “madness,” loosely defined, to mean personality disorders and other ailments that allow a certain effectiveness, and often ruthlessness, that is not possible for those with major illnesses like untreated schizophrenia, major depression, and bipolar disorder. These strange people – consider Alexander the Great, Caligula, and Hitler, as extreme examples – sometimes exploit difficult times. They provide simple and simplistic solutions to difficult issues and are often adept at persuasion. Some modern leaders may not be as extreme, or maybe they are still waiting their turn. For a variety of reasons, these oddballs attract followers. Eventually, chaos ensues and they fall from grace. But in the meantime… Today, in

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Longevity

Understanding gaslighting

This all too common social media problem can hurt our mental wellbeing and create self-doubt. You can fight it. So what is gaslighting anyway? Basically, it’s when someone online says things to distort reality, well, your reality, changing up facts. Or ass Kellyanne Conway called them; alternative facts. It is a form of psychological abuse intended to hurt and sometimes not just yourself, but those in your social network. The goal of the person doing the gaslighting is to make you doubt what you’ve really experienced is real. The term gaslighting is thought to have come from the 1938 hit movie thriller Gas Light, in which a woman’s husband constantly pushes her to doubt herself and her reality. His goal is to get her to commit herself to an insane asylum so he can get her inheritance. Although the movie thrust the modern term of gaslighting into modern society, it’s

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Longevity

Thank the hippies for social media

Seriously. It’s the hippies we should thank for today’s digital social media. All born, essentially, out of the 1970’s hippy collectives around San Francisco. But hippies rejected modern society you say! Off they went into the hills, grew long beards and neither men nor women shaved and they ate “strange” food. Many would become vegetarian or vegan. The First Iteration of a Social Medium was Analog Arguably perhaps, the forefather of today’s social media would be Stewart Brand. He created the hugely popular Whole Earth Catalog in the late 1960’s. He also slammed it shut in 1971 because it became too much of a business. The very essence of the Catalog was that it was written by the people. It had no linear flow, it was a literal mash up of stuff. People sent in information on the tools they developed and reviews and comments were published. It had no

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Longevity

The algorithm explained in plain English

In just about any magazine or news report today, somewhere we hear about algorithms. How they rule the world or will rule the world. They’re almost synonymous with any article written about the tech giants from Google to Amazon to Facebook. But what is an algorithm anyway? Why are the so important? In the simplest term, an algorithm is a recipe. It’s not the ingredients that go into the recipe, it’s the process, the steps in a recipe. An algorithm would tell you the process to make a stew through each step; cook stew meat, finely chop vegetables, add beef broth, add in broth and vegetables to meat, heat until ready. You can use the same algorithm every time you make the stew, except you may add different spices or vegetables, which is the “data” or ingredients. Humans have been using algorithms for thousands of years. Algorithms are at the

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Health

Digital health during the coronavirus pandemic

As the world fights the coronavirus, COVID-19, we’re being inundated with a constant feed of news and digital notifications. Here’s some coping strategies. It’s not only our physical health that we need to take care of during a pandemic, but our mental health as well. For ourselves, family and friends. While you yourself may have good coping strategies, it’s likely you know someone who doesn’t. Keeping your mind healthy and as stress free as possible also helps your immune system. For when we get stressed our immune system can weaken. Digital Health Strategies for Coronavirus Pandemic Mute Notifications on your smartphone On your smartphone, you can mute the notifications you get. Both iPhones and Android phones automatically turn notifications on by default. So go into your settings on the phone and look for notifications. Check off the ones you don’t want and maybe most importantly, look for news apps you

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Longevity

Is Facebook just a reflection of society?

Seemingly from every angle, Facebook is under attack, sometimes justifiably so, other times, perhaps a little overzealously. We are quick to blame Facebook as we are Twitter, Google, TikTok, Snap or any other social media platform. But is it really the job of those platforms to determine social behaviours and norms? Etiquette, and what is real or fictional? Perhaps we as humans need to also take a step back and look at ourselves as a global society and species? Facebook has become the punching bag for all that ails us on social media today, the focal point. But it is not Facebook that creates and disseminates divisive political content, that is done by political parties and very often now, foreign actors such as Russia and China intent on destroying democracy. Angry comments, fighting over who is right and wrong, sharing revenge nudes of exes, bullying, ghosting, throwing shade…these are not

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