What’s up with Instagram?

What are the impacts of Bill C-18 on social media platforms?

For us to make important financial decisions, we must first be informed. Recent events surrounding Bill C-18, the Online News Act, have ignited a fierce battle between tech giants and Canadian journalists.

This legislation aims to compensate Canadian news outlets for their invaluable content. Tech giants like Meta and Google have chosen to block Canadian news on their platforms in combat—which is the reason why you may have noticed that news content has disappeared from your Instagram feed.

The federal government is throwing their weight behind Bill C-18 and suspending advertizing on Facebook and Instagram altogether. This move is echoed by provincial and municipal governments, including Quebec Premier François Legault. Even big media corporations are taking a stand. 

The Online News Act, enacted by the federal government in June, requires tech platforms to negotiate with news organizations for financial remuneration for the news shared on their platforms. This can potentially bring in over $300 million annually for Canadian news organizations.

Unifor, Canada’s largest private sector union, is urging all provincial and municipal governments to follow the federal and Quebec governments in stopping advertizing on Facebook and Instagram in response to Meta’s threat. The Canadian Association of Journalists calls on Meta to reverse its decision, emphasizing the importance of access to accurate and quality information for a flourishing democracy. 

Recent data from an August 2023 study conducted by Talk Shop reveals that 51 percent of Canadians are concerned about the impact of Bill C-18. These worries highlight a growing unease about the future of dependable news in the digital era.

Even though Bill C-18 was meant to safeguard journalism against dwindling revenues, it has unintentionally pushed consumers to seek news from unaffected sources like newsletters, podcasts, independent news sites, and even X (formerly Twitter).

The union also calls on corporations responsible for a significant portion of the more than $4 billion in annual revenue that Facebook generates in Canada to support local news and Canadian content by halting all advertising through Meta and its subsidiaries. 

The world is closely watching how Canada tackles this issue. As tech giants square off with governments over their responsibilities in the digital era, Canada’s actions will set a precedent for other nations.

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission’s plans to implement the Online News Act are taking shape, promising a potential resolution to the contentious issue. With public consultations, an independent auditor, and a mandatory bargaining process on the horizon, the organization is hoping to establish a fair compensation framework. 

Whether through negotiated agreements or regulatory changes, the outcome will shape the future of digital news in Canada.


To All The Books I’ve Never Read Before

How Bookstagram made me feel ashamed of my reading habits

Did you get into a new hobby during quarantine? Maybe you started something you’ve always wanted to try but never found the time to? Or maybe you dedicated more time to an already existing passion?

Whether you got into a new hobby or not, you’ve definitely seen your friends flock to social media to boast about their new hobbies. And let’s be real, it probably made you feel like shit if you were just trying to survive.

Now I won’t lie, I got really into reading during the first quarantine. With all my newfound time, it was just so easy to pick up a book and finish it in just a couple of days, something I was never able to do before. My new passion also made me discover the reading community community, Bookstagram, BookTube and BookTok. These are all places where people like me could share their love of reading, get recommendations and share our thoughts on our latest read.

I fell for the cute montages and pictures of perfectly-scattered books on beds made up with white sheets, thinking how books were not just about reading, but also about the aesthetics. Don’t get me wrong, I admire the dedication these accounts have for keeping up with their aesthetic because I know my cheap and unstable IKEA bookcase in the corner of my room will never be that pretty.

After following a few accounts on different platforms, I also loved getting recommendations and seeing my TBR (term used in the community to refer to someone’s “To Be Read”) list growing. However, when normal life started again, going back to work and school meant I did not have the same amount of time to dedicate to reading.,Determined to hold onto this new personality trait, as a reader, I made it my mission to not lose the hobby completely.

This is when my love for Bookstagram, BookTube and BookTok accounts turned on its heels. The algorithm started showing me more and more book content that made me feel ashamed that I couldn’t keep up with the creators I was seeing. Posts like, “All the books I read this month” or, “How I managed to read over 100 books last year” made me feel major imposter syndrome. Was I not reading enough to be a part of this community?

Reading for me can be a daunting task. I have trouble focusing, and sometimes need to read one sentence, paragraph or even page, over and over again in order to make sure I understood what I just read.

Being proud of myself for reading a book in one week became an underachievement when I’d open social media and see someone I admire had read three in the same amount of time. I realized the community puts a bigger emphasis on quantity than I originally thought, which made me feel like it didn’t matter what I read, just how much I read. The amount of time I would spend curating my library and TBR to fit my interests and topics I wanted to educate myself on felt like a waste. My 20 books in a year record now looked substandard and like it definitely didn’t necessitate a celebratory Instagram post.

Although I know that this is not the message these Bookstagrammers and BookTubers are pushing, comparison is inevitable. Not meeting the same book count as your favorite content creator makes you feel like you’re not doing it right.

Instead, I’m going to try focusing on what I get out of reading, instead of how many books I read — that is still a challenge. After all, I read a lot of non-fiction books about social issues with challenging and hard to digest content. Why read a lot of books if I cannot take the time to appreciate my growth and learning?

I might not read over 100 books a year, and my bookcase might not be filled with aesthetically pleasing covers, but I would never trade that for what I currently get out of reading.


Graphic by Lily Cowper

The ethics of altering your photos

Are you part of the problem?

It’s no secret that it’s easier than ever to alter your photos. No need to know your way around Photoshop or Lightroom anymore; with a simple slider, you can adjust your photo’s saturation, contrast, brightness, or even completely change how you look. Whatever it is you’re insecure about — your skin, teeth, stomach, or butt — you can easily fix it without going under the knife thanks to apps like Facetune. Even celebrities and influencers do it, with the Kardashian-Jenner clan particularly guilty of editing fails.

Collectively we seem to agree that it isn’t okay for celebrities and influencers to edit how they look in photos and pretend they look that way naturally. This is because social media has been shown to have a negative effect on body image, particularly for young women. If we agree that it’s wrong for celebrities and influencers to do it, then is it wrong for anyone to edit their appearance in photos?

After all, most of us aren’t famous. So, for example, if you follow 100 people and 10 are celebrities or influencers, then isn’t it more harmful to see the other 90 people’s edited photos? Aren’t we more likely to compare ourselves to our friends and peers than to Victoria’s Secret Models or NFL athletes? I want to know: is it unethical for you and I, “regular people,” to alter how we look in photos?

Geneviève Laforce, a Concordia student with over 35,000 followers on Instagram, and over 200,000 TikTok followers, told me she has mixed feelings about photo editing.

“I feel as though the most important thing is to be transparent with it. Like, if you actually do do it, don’t just do it and then not acknowledge it. For example, if I edit my skin, then I say I edit my skin, I will actively tell people,” she said.

“I definitely think that diving into social media at such a young age really did affect the way that I saw my body and see my body now,” says Amanda Wan, a Concordia student and content creator. “I understand that people want themselves to look a certain way. But on the other side, if they’re an influencer or celebrity, they’re lying to their audience because they’re saying ‘this is what I look like’ when in reality, they don’t.”

Wan says we should hold celebrities accountable for how they can affect followers through photos which portray perfection. These photos can be particularly harmful to the body image of younger people who follow them. In Canada, between 12 to 30 per cent of girls and nine to 25 per cent of boys aged 10 to 14 report dieting to lose weight.

Laforce mentioned the role that capitalism plays in creating a cycle of insecurity and impossible beauty standards.

“I think that we’ve created a problem for ourselves, but it’s like a cog in the 21st-century machine. We’re caught up in it, you can’t really get out of it. I think that it’s a problem that’s deep-rooted into society. And it’s gonna take some time to dismantle. But for now, it’s an issue that we’ve created,” Laforce said.

Today’s marketing is focused on making you insecure about how you look, so you need makeup, clothing, teeth whitening, plastic surgery, a gym membership, or laser hair removal. Insecure about your life so you need a car, a house, a puppy, kids, a big wedding, a trip to the Bahamas, a university degree. Capitalism depends on your insecurity and desire for more.

To help solve this problem, Wan suggests that platforms like YouTube feature more diverse creators. Laforce suggests that Instagram start telling you if an image has been altered, “Because although you may not pay attention to it, acknowledge it, your subconscious does if it sees that.”

However, what if altering how you look in pictures actually hurts your own self-image more than it hurts anyone else?

“You need to kind of know your truth,” Laforce said. “Why do I feel the need to alter this photo of myself? Is it to please the societal regard? Why is it going to, in turn, make you feel better about yourself?”

There are no easy answers; navigating social media is complicated. So I don’t think you should be too harsh on others or yourself. This minimizes larger systemic problems which create this rampant insecurity and desire for perfection. This implies that the individual or even the internet is at fault, which creates guilt and doesn’t lead to real solutions.

The truth is that people were insecure about their bodies before the internet, which has only allowed people to perform perfection for a wider audience. So what I’m saying is: do whatever makes you happy, let’s be more open and transparent about curated perfection, and let’s work on challenging the corporations which profit off insecurity.


Graphic by Taylor Reddam


HEAR US NOW! supports artistic practices of BIPOC artists during COVID-19

Concordia’s Ethnocultural Art Histories Research group (EAHR) has done incredible work in creating a space to highlight the works of 20 BIPOC artists during the pandemic.

HEAR US NOW!, an exhibition presented by EAHR, displays various artworks, including installations, photography, and performances that engage with numerous topics, such as climate change, racism, and social justice activism.

According to their website, the EAHR group is a research group led by students from the Department of Art History. Since the summer of 2011, EAHR has been facilitating the possibilities of exchange and creation through various projects which aspire to provide a stimulating framework allowing problems of ethnic and cultural representation in the visual arts in Canada to be studied.

A call for submissions was announced in mid-June and closed at the end of August. As people were experiencing their first summer during the pandemic, the group decided to create an Instagram project to diffuse the works of BIPOC artists during these tumultuous and uncertain times.

Artists could submit a maximum of five artworks in any type of medium that could be posted on Instagram. After submitting the works, artists would receive a notification from the EAHR group within two weeks. Selected works would be posted every two weeks, allowing the audience to take a look at the different projects.

The works of multidisciplinary artist Jayce Salloum can be found in the online exhibition. Salloum is a grandson of Syrian immigrants and was raised in Syilx (Okanagan territory) in B.C. Salloum’s work originates from an intimate engagement of places. His works in the exhibition are from his project beyond now (2020), which are writings of texts that he selected to make sentences. On the slides, the audience can read sentences such as “racism inbred in the fabric of the constructed nation” and in smaller text “a pandemic of inequality.”

A second selection of Salloum’s work was shown recently for ISEA2020 (International Symposium on Electronic Art)’s collaborative projects with EAHR, entitled (pre)existing conditions. Salloum’s work exposes other fragments of texts such as “why does a virus have to appear to reveal how connected we all are” with a hashtag #impact_the_social or “white names our streets they’ve no claims here wrecking consciousness still stolen lands” with the hashtag #decolonize. Salloum’s text fragments are straightforward and represent ongoing social tensions.

Viewers can also appreciate the works of Cantonese visual artist Florence Yee, whose work in the exhibition focuses on Cantonese-Canadian history. Yee’s work also examines queerness, racialization, and language. Whitewashed, vinyl on plastic bag (2018) is an installation consisting of a white garment bag hung on a clothing rack with “they said I was whitewashed, but Chinese people only run dry cleaners” written on it.

In their statement, Yee describes their practice as beginning with researching historical references to Cantonese-Canadian history, and now having “moved into a more intimate, more self-doubtful examination of diasporic family respectability from a queer lens.” Using “textile installation to question the stoicism of assimilationist imperatives, by holding space for personal and intergenerational failure and cultural loss.”

As HEAR US NOW! has come to an end, EAHR has selected seven of the 20 artists to take part in a collection of new media projects with ISEA’s theme this year “Why Sentience.” This is in reference to various events that have been happening this year, such as wildfires bursting on the planet, systemic racism, and more contemporary issues.

You can check out HEAR US NOW! exhibition through the hashtag #EAHR_ISEAC2020 on Instagram and the archive on the group’s website



Photographs courtesy of EAHR, Jayce Salloum and Florence Yee.

Feature graphic by Lily Cowper.

“A safe space to learn and grow:” an interview with Alina Murad of PoliticalThot

 Political podcaster Alina Murad talks social justice, Concordia, and getting involved in activism

Alina Murad is a Concordia student and the host of “PoliticalThot,” a political explainer and interview podcast with a specific focus on systemic and institutional racism and xenophobia. The first five episodes are available on Spotify, and the most recent two are in video format on Instagram. I spoke to her via video call on Friday.

What prompted you to start your own podcast? 

I’ve always been a pretty politically involved person, but one day I was in class and learned something that really pissed me off, so I went on Instagram and I took a selfie, captioned it “political thot of the day” and just, like, did a rant, and I got a bunch of responses. Positive, negative, I got some threats, it was a whole mixed bag of things. And I realized, like, I actually have a lot of thoughts here that need a platform, so why not make a podcast?

So now that you have that platform, who are you speaking to?

It’s geared toward millennials, young people, primarily, but focused on people of colour. And the reason for that is the topics my podcast deals with — racism, xenophobia — this isn’t the first time people have heard about them, but a lot of the time the way these topics are dealt with doesn’t keep in mind that they are sensitive and emotional and triggering, especially for people of colour. So I am keeping in mind that these topics are sensitive … It’s primarily a safe space to learn and grow.

I definitely get that impression listening to it — often political podcasts tend to be more news-focused, analyzing specific current events as they occur, but PoliticalThot seems broader in scope. During this time of the 24/7 news cycle, what role do you see your podcast playing in the political media landscape?

I’m actually really glad that you asked this question, and especially that you mentioned the 24/7 news cycle. While it’s so important to keep up to date with news, the way that the news is dealing with reporting, it’s often very sensationalized. And most media outlets will not show you what’s happening behind the scenes, they’re not going to say “hey, here’s the reason for all of these xenophobic behaviours we’ve been seeing.” So PoliticalThot deals with things more broadly in the hopes that it’ll help people to analyze more news, more everyday situations.

Likewise, your most recent episode was a three-parter on anti-Blackness at Concordia. Alongside checking out that episode, what do you think Concordia students should be considering about this institution as we start our classes this year?

There’s so much to consider. I find it really interesting because part of the appeal, to me at least, of Concordia was that it’s this integrated campus in the city, and the facade they give off in their advertising is “oh we want you to get involved in the community, give back, get involved with politics, get involved with social justice,” but they have a very long line of “political incidents,” if you will – good and bad – that they cover up. So the first thing I’d say is to do your research, learn the history. The computer riots, the bomb threat in the EV building three years ago that was targeting Muslim students, the sexual assaults that still haven’t been properly dealt with. And the second thing is to really actively bring pro-Blackness into our institution. Because more times than not, Canadian institutions will inherently be anti-Black. So pay attention to Black scholars, Black activists– and not just on Instagram! Read books written by Black Canadian authors like Robyn Maynard and be aware of the racism disguising itself as credibility in academia. Actively seeking pro-Black information and materials and bringing them into the institution is so important.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to take action on social justice issues but might be afraid to get started?

It’s definitely a scary thing to put yourself out there, but I think the one thing to keep in mind is that everyone is learning, and making a mistake isn’t the bad part, the bad part is not taking accountability, not fixing it, not learning from it. That’s all we can ask, right? For people to learn, to try, to grow. And if you’re gut-wrenchingly terrified of doing something, I’m sure you can find friends that also want to try and get involved — you’ll have friends who might already be involved. Just ask people. That’s honestly one of the best things about social justice work, it’s the humanity. It takes a village to do anything, and when you trust people and you put faith in people, people are good.


Graphic Courtesy of Alina Murad


Doing it for the ‘gram

Ten days ago, I deleted Instagram from my phone. I was tired of how mindlessly dependent I was on the app.

For the last few years, it was always the first thing I checked when I’d wake up and the last thing I did before going to sleep. Not only did I catch myself wasting time that could be better spent on anything else, I also noticed how much I was purchasing impulsively through Instagram’s shopping feature.

When the shopping feature was first made available, I was really into it. What a quick and convenient way to get what you want! With a few simple clicks, I could get my hands on whatever product I happened to scroll by. However, I soon realized I was just a fly caught in the app’s crafty marketing web. Post after post, ad after ad, I was convinced my wants were needs. And my needs, ultimately, were never being met until the next purchase.

I already had trepidations with Instagram prior to their shopping feature. Especially with the pressure to post a fun and exciting life, and the anxiety that came with that. We all have seen our friends go on amazing vacations, order amazing food and drinks from fancy places—and we have all been on the other side, going out of our way to get the perfect shot. But now, some people are going out of their way to look like their perfect shots in real life, aka plastic surgery. I was listening to a podcast, Call her Daddy,  recently about how some women have started to get plastic surgery to resemble their ‘perfect make-up face filter.’ You know, the one that makes you look like a Bratz doll? How unhealthy is that? As if women didn’t have enough beauty standards to attain, now we have to aspire to look like disproportionate dolls? I used to follow this yoga blogger named @Catmeffan who addressed this need to ‘look flawless’ at all times. She recognized how the face filters, ultimately, made her feel like she wasn’t pretty enough without them in her stories. But she caught herself and now refuses to use them, as she believes it’s important to feel like your own face is enough.

I don’t want to come off as a preacher and say you should all delete Instagram immediately, but I do strongly recommend taking a step back from it, even just temporarily. Instagram is always going to be there, and people won’t even realize you’re absent. (Sorry, I don’t mean to hurt your ego.)

I always complained about social media and how unhealthy it can be, but I contributed to it in my own way. When I decided to give being consistent a shot, I realized that the first couple of days after I deleted it, I still instinctively reached for my phone and tapped for the app even though it wasn’t there anymore. This reflex revealed how much I was used to being on it. Now, nearly two weeks without Instagram, I find myself doing more yoga, reading and writing more, as well as spending way less money.

This time I didn’t do it for the ‘gram. I did it for my own peace of mind.

Graphic by Sasha Axenova


Link in bio

When I was 17, I hosted an ugly sweater party/gingerbread-making contest at my parents’ house. Yes, I was very hip.

I invited many classmates, dressed up in my cutest ugly sweater (excuse the oxymoron) and patiently awaited my guests.

The entire time I was waiting for my friends, I was thinking about the photos we were going to take. Would the lighting be good enough? Did I get the right colours of icing? What about the gumdrops? Will my Facebook friends think I am interesting and fun?

Although it was a nice evening and the company was great, I totally missed the point of having a gingerbread-making contest. I didn’t enjoy the community feeling of being together because I was stressed about what it would have looked like on the outside. My guard never came down.

Looking back at that situation, it’s easy to write off my naivety, cringing at insecure Callie and thinking about how lame I was but before we start bullying me, let’s take a second to analyze what was going on.

Trying to impress the imaginary audience, made up of my social media followers, makes me a product of the world we are living in.

As a society, we spend so much time making fun of social media influencers. I am right there with you, rolling my eyes at models and women promoting god knows what on social media. This being said—maybe it’s time to check ourselves.

No, I am not and never was a social media influencer. One time I did get 76 likes on a picture of a mango, but that’s beside the point. As we continue to develop in the online world, influencer culture rises, and as this culture rises, so does hatred and criticism.

Don’t get me wrong. Selling “skinny tea” and other harmful products that help enforce unhealthy beauty norms should always be criticized. We need to hold the Kylie Jenners and Cardi Bs of the world accountable for this damaging messaging. That being said—is that really what the majority of us are fighting when we criticize Instagram influencers?

Or are we just straight up making fun of (mostly female) influencers for making money from social media?

MEL Magazine writes, “Mocking women who earn a living from social media is easy, because ‘comics’ can rely on two useful audience pre-conceptions: First, that feminized labour isn’t ‘real work,’ and second, that women who leverage their sex appeal for social or economic gain are contemptuous.”

That, ladies and gentlemen, is where I have been wrong in the past. In this rare and weird world of social media influencing, women are earning more than men. No, it’s not perfect. There are huge issues with portraying life as flawless, using photoshop and other filters to distort reality because young 16-year-olds think you’re their hero. Let’s stay focused on the harmful aspects of this job, and merely use it as another tool to oppress women.

We like to oversimplify things, but the reality is that a lot of good can come from influencer culture. Not everyone is 17-year-old me, losing track of what’s important.

Some people are out there making money off this platform, so maybe they aren’t the chumps we think they are. Among the toxicity of men and women, lie intelligent, nuanced personalities sharing real stories.

Psychology professor Danielle Wagstaff told BBC, “When we see that other people, just regular people, not necessarily celebrities or traditionally famous people, are living relatable lives – posting about their own body image and mental health struggles – it can help to create a sense of camaraderie, a feeling that ‘I’m not alone, other people understand what I’m going through’.”

So before we criticize the business as a whole, let’s lean in— #notallinfluencers


Graphic by @sundaeghost


Feminism is not for sale

As trendy as it is, the fundamentals of the feminist movement in no way translate to lotion sales, hair products or even a new pair of running shoes. Industries are taking the ideology of feminism and exploiting the heck out of it.

This is not new. We’ve seen this with many brands geared toward women. Whether its Nike or Dove, these companies have endorsed women empowerment, and it’s working for them. This isn’t to say that everything they are doing is wrong, but it is important to analyze the oversimplification of patriarchal structures that are at play.

Sometimes these messages are backhanded, anti-feminist ways to enforce beauty norms and sell products that will both empower you, erase your wrinkles and minimize your pores. Other times, these messages feel aligned with the core values of feminism and hit us right in the feels.

As we move forward, predictably, large companies selling products to women, move with us. When I watch a Nike Ad geared for women with an uplifting and emotional song playing in the background, empowering language and impressive glistening olympians, this is good advertisement.

It is masked by a message that makes me feel like I have agency and strength even though I know that Nike is just trying to make money. I’m hungry for this representation.

I know that companies need to understand the social climate in order to sell things, that’s how marketing works (after all, I took marketing 101 in first year). Perhaps this means that these feminist advertisements, though oftentimes hollow bandwagon tools, are more or less harmless, and I need to calm down.

First of all, don’t tell me to calm down. Secondly, let’s take a closer look at what modern feminism actually looks like. This movement was born out of necessity for human rights. It needs to encompass intersections of marginalized groups in society, such as racialized people and members of the LGBTQ community. These groups have been advocating for the rights of those around them for years. This is something that white women have been benefiting from, as they move through society with much more ease, representation and safety.

Inter-sectional feminism is not mainstream. The rights of non-white, non-cisgendered women are still largely lacking, stigmatized or pushed out of the main conversation. Ironically and unfairly, it’s because of the work of these communities that feminism has gained enough traction to be used commercially. This amplifies a pattern of exploitation and alienation.

Let’s get back to advertising. The reality is, it’s becoming cool to be politically correct. Historically people have hesitated to bring women’s rights to the forefront of mainstream media, but now it’s profitable.

If you’re thinking that this is the most obvious thing in the world, I urge you to observe the next time an ad comes out, with inspirational music and a tear-jerker narrative about a girl overcoming her oppression. We’re all guilty of retweeting it, making it our Instagram story, and being fooled by the companies who play a large part in our oppression in the first place.

Engaging in a feminist conversation takes energy and patience. It takes listening, learning and being humbled by the stories of those that are affected by gender inequality. It takes analyzing the system that causes the oppression. These industries are biting off more than they can chew. At the core, they are just selling products.

Listen, I’m not trying to take on every industry that ever used feminism in their campaign. Surely we can argue that some good probably has come from a Dove Beauty ad or a period commercial. I’m sure that within these trends lies some authenticity and people who actually care about this fight.

I just think it’s important to keep a critical lens and remember that at the end of the day, feminism is not perfect, still evolving and most definitely not for sale.


Photo by Britanny Clarke


From one phone addict to another

It was the 14th time I hovered my thumb over the empty space where my instagram app used to be, when I realized that my social media addiction was more invasive than I thought.

As I sat on the bus that Monday morning, I felt anxious, bored and fidgety – a recipe that I knew could only be cured by scrolling through my ex-best friend’s homecoming pictures.

I’m weak. Sure enough, I re-downloaded the app on the bus. I did this so I could receive the hit of dopamine that comes with looking at pictures of humans I barely know, getting likes, comments, validation and all that fun stuff we do on our mobile devices. Dare I sit with my own thoughts and self regulate my inner dialogue for 20 minutes straight without distraction?

I often feel like I have little-to-no control over my experience with my technological devices. We have allowed it to be normal for our minds to be constantly interrupted with notifications, messages and funny dog memes.

I wish it was as easy as deleting the apps, but social media and phone usage goes deeper than that. So here I am, still grappling with how to exist in an overcrowded, oversharing world of communication – and I’m assuming you are too.

Here’s the thing: I find researching phone addictions quite frustrating. Often times article headlines will be along the lines of, “Six easy ways to get off and stay off your phone!” or “Three Simple tools to curb your phone addiction!” or even, “I got rid of my phone and my life has never been the same!”

I just don’t buy it. I feel like my phone addiction can’t be fixed with “Seven great tips” because this problem goes beyond life hacks. Similar to false weight loss diets that tell you to drink green juice and rub kale on your temples, these quick fixes are ridiculous. We need to learn more about the psychology behind why we depend on our phones, how the companies make money and how to change our philosophy.

Cal Newport, an associate professor at Georgetown University in Washington, and writer of the book Digital Minimalism, has been researching this epidemic extensively over the past few years and providing practice and frameworks to bring balance to people’s lives.

The movement Digital Minimalism is about living deliberately. Newport says when integrating new technology into your life, one must weigh their costs and benefits. One of the major costs of modern technology is solitude deprivation.

“A state in which you spend close to zero time alone with your own thoughts and free from input from other minds.”

Newport explains that having time alone creates opportunities for problem solving, self regulating, focusing, de-stressing and getting creative. Our discomfort with boredom is an epidemic, and our brains were not built for this constant stimulation. This has caused a mental health crisis. The ubiquitous nature of our cell phone use has been increasingly linked to the rise in anxiety and depression, especially in young people born after 1995.

Now is the part where I would give you a list of strategies to help you with this addiction. But alas, that would be hypocritical.

Instead, we need to educate ourselves on this overpowering issue of addiction and make significant lifestyle changes. Reading books like Newports’, researching, sharing your anxieties with peers and demanding more regulations from Facebook, Google and the powers that be are a few first steps.

Newport writes, “it’s easy to be seduced by the small amount of profit offered by the latest app or service, but then forget its cost in terms of the most important resource we possess: the minutes of our life.”

The most valuable commodity in our economy is your attention – so I hope I have it.


Graphic by @sundaeghost


We need a detox from these God-awful tea ads


TW: dieting, weight, body image

How staying connected on social media can lead us to adopt unhealthy lifestyles

Kylie Jenner is not my best friend. She isn’t even an acquaintance. I have a closer relationship with the Pharmaprix cashier down the street than with Ms. Jenner. So why would I consider regularly chugging liters of magic weight loss tea that she poses with on Instagram?

Every new year, the most telling reason why buying weight loss tea (hot water with leaves in it for an added wet wood flavour) is so popular rears its ugly head. When observing trends through Google, we can see that in every January, the searches for “detox tea” or “detoxing” spike like the bout of nausea coming from getting up too fast after a feast. The new year rolls in and we collectively lose our mind imagining how much Christmas food has ruined us––and an easy fix is needed.

Dozens of health clinics, medical institutions and even government health agencies have addressed the detox craze with the kind of skepticism even flat-earthers haven’t mastered yet. The Cleveland Health Clinic, a hospital located in Northeast Ohio, published an article on the myths related to detox teas in which the chief branding statement that they are healthier, better and more effective for weight loss than other types of tea is debunked immediately. They do not offer more health benefits than your generic green or black tea would. And the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health agrees that diets relying heavily on “detoxing” include very low-caloric intakes. This can lead to rapid weight loss, but it isn’t sustainable long-term. It could also cause dangerous levels of dehydration. So why am I still strangely attracted to this Ponzi Scheme?

It isn’t surprising why young women, like myself, who spend a huge chunk of their free time on social media, get hypnotized by the online aroma of the detox tea industry. The current digital space we interact with has broken down personalization and the idea of closeness to tiny specks of crushed dust, turning them into cute packaged satchels of drainable financial exploitation ready to destroy our colons. But it’s also making it impossible not to feel close to those we follow––especially celebrities.

Kylie Jenner is not our best friend, but following her on Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat sure makes us feel like part of her life––part of her daily routine. Any marketing executive worth their gross, exploitative, slimy salt has now recognized the value of using social media stars’s influence to sell their products, free of all the artifice that well-produced and mass-marketed advertisements represent. And I’m not here to offer a solution to these methods of advertising to extremely impressionable audiences. I have exited this wild road through the online detox industry with more questions than answers.

I am increasingly worried about the effect of being so connected to people on social media who have such a large influence on our lives. It isn’t just the detox tea; it’s make-up, appliances, electronics, skin care and much more. Our social media feeds us a steady diet of friendly “non-advertising,” a predatory scheme meant to disguise its true nature behind capitalizing on a celebrity’s connectivity to their followers. Although influencers must indicate when their posts are sponsored or containing content that explicitly advertises something, the fact that Instagram is, by its inception, an image-only platform, with captions serving as footnotes to one’s picture, the little #ad at the bottom of a celebrity’s caption isn’t as transparent and effective as Instagram thinks it is.

Influencer ads should scare us more than ever. This detox tea craze can, for all that its marketing tries, lie about its intentions to help women become healthier through a natural process, but it is absolutely impossible to hide the truth from being said out loud: our generation is starving itself and these prettily-packaged products are just fueling unrealistic standards of beauty. I’ll tell you right now, those testimonials will not be found on the main page of FitTea or any of its influencer posts.

Graphic by Ana Bilokin


A world dominated by selfies and stories

How the new social media stories option is fueling our self-centered lives

Facebook recently added “stories” to its mobile app, similar to the Snapchat and Instagram story features, further pushing us into a narcissistic world. Here we are, in 2017, and almost everybody on the planet now has access to this feature on one social media platform or another.

The stories features on all three of these platforms are guiding us into a world where everyone has an “all about me” attitude. Honestly, I’m all for technology—and I know I may sound like a low-tech old man when I write this—but our world is being defined by selfies and 24-hour time limits.

Every day, people from all around the world feel the need to share their lives with their friends. It started in 2014, when Snapchat released the revolutionary Live Stories feature. Immediately, people started sharing pictures ranging from their Starbucks cups to their bubble baths to personal rants. Then there’s my personal favourite: driving. Yes, users can show the world they’re putting their life at risk in real time.

Although people shared those types of pictures long before stories came out, the stories feature gave an opportunity to share a series of pictures at once, with viewers simply needing to tap to cycle through them.

This social media feature didn’t impact the whole social media world immediately because Snapchat only has 122 million users, according to Statista, a statistics-gathering website. In August 2016, Instagram launched its own “stories” feature, almost exactly like the one on Snapchat. According to Statista, Instagram had over 600 million monthly active users in December 2016.

Most recently, Facebook copied Snapchat and Instagram—two companies it also owns—by releasing a stories feature on its mobile app. Facebook claims they had 1.86 billion monthly active users as of December 2016. From Snapchat to Instagram to Facebook, just like that, the majority of social media users could use a stories feature on some sort of social media app.

The problem with these stories is people think they’re celebrities and their friends want to know about their life. Everyday people watch reality shows about celebrities who have a camera crew following them around for a TV show, and they’re inspired to do the same. Their phone is their camera crew, and these apps are the TV channels.

An article published in the January 31 issue of The Concordian  said social media use could
lead to depression and anxiety in young adults. In my opinion, the stories feature is the root of it all. By choosing glamorous moments of their lives, people only share the happy moments, and the people who see these stories think their own lives are not as perfect in comparison. We used to think celebrities had perfect lives because of what we saw from their reality shows—when in fact they don’t—and now we think our friends have perfect lives because of social media stories.

I also notice a lot of people posting stories of their night outs partying or at a club. I didn’t think much of it until I started going out myself. What I saw shocked me—so many people are on their phones taking selfie videos of them dancing or having a drink. It’s pure narcissism, and it just ruins the night. You’re out with your friends, leave your virtual friends alone and in your pocket.

Like everything else on social media, stories are useful. Sports teams can show fans behind-the-scenes action. Companies have an opportunity to advertise. Snapchat’s Discover, which features stories from news media, companies and live events, has changed the way news is dispersed. But there are just too many negatives to the stories feature—the biggest being its contribution to our ever-growing narcissistic society.

Graphic by Florence Y

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