Her GadgetMatch

Why Instagram is doing the right thing by removing the like count

We need to change this ugly culture we created

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Instagram used to be a space where you can get inspiration to nourish your creativity. It was also a place to connect with people through disappearing photos and videos called Stories. However, the platform took a different turn throughout the years and became an arena — a battlefield where people show off who has the most perfect life.

People started curating their feeds to make them stand out. The age of curation dawned upon Instagrammers, bearing unto the world themes and grids to reflect the user’s personality and aesthetics. Instagram fuelled perfectionism, too.

What used to be a space to share mundane moments of your everyday life became a place where you show your glamorous life which, frankly, only happens every once in a while for most users. Admittedly, I also succumbed to the perfectionism and the pressure. I would post only the photos where I looked like I was having the time of my life. I mean, there’s nothing wrong with putting your best foot forward, right?

Increasing cases of depression and anxiety

Apparently, not everyone thinks the way I do. In a study published in 2017 by the Royal Society for Public Health in the United Kingdom, social media — particularly Instagram — is a major contributor to the increasing cases of depression and anxiety among the youth today. The rise of influencers and other people with seemingly perfect lives made a lot of users feel inadequate.

“What used to be a space to share mundane moments in your everyday life became a place where you show your glamorous life which, frankly, only happens every once in a while for most users.”

RSPH Chief Executive Shirley Cramer said, “it’s interesting to see Instagram and Snapchat ranking as the worst for mental health and wellbeing – both platforms are very image-focused and it appears they may be driving feelings of inadequacy and anxiety in young people.”

Technology companies’ response

With this worrisome situation on the youth’s mental health, companies made an effort to help through technology. There’s Android’s Digital Wellbeing feature which tracks the amount of time you spend on social media, although it still requires a conscious effort to break your social media addiction.

In the crusade against depression and anxiety caused by social media, Instagram recently made a daunting move. The social media giant has started testing the removal of like counts in some countries, removing the user’s ability to see how many likes have been racked up by a certain person in their feeds.

People in dire need of too much validation, fret not. The feature will let you still see who liked your posts. Think of it as your usual form of public affirmation, but you get it in private.

Just like our stories, only we can see who viewed and reacted. In this scenario, only we can see who liked our posts. While this recent move can put a dent on someone’s ego especially when they crave external validation, this can have real benefits for some users’ mental health.

In a country like the Philippines, where social media consumes a chunk of Filipino’s time, Instagram is a big contributor in rising cases of mental illnesses plaguing today’s youth like the common cold.

The social media age has created a culture where people value their smartphones, social media accounts, and the content they create rather than socializing offline and establishing real-life connections. The youth measure their self-worth through likes and other forms of metrics that it’s taking a toll on their mental health.

If this is the ugly culture we developed, Instagram is doing the right thing of removing the like count. At the very least, they can stop other people from comparing their worth and relying on external validation to feel better.

“I personally don’t mind if the feature comes here or not, but I’m sure a few of my friends would care.” — Patricia Medina, a medical practitioner in the Philippines

However, some people won’t be able to accept the upcoming feature should it arrive in the Philippines, similar to how we all panicked when Instagram removed our ability to see the viewers of our stories after 24 hours. Despite the outcry, we adapted and got used to it.

Likes are not the only measure of influence

It may be hard to believe, but Instagram is on the right track. Aside from tackling mental health and fixing the problem their app posed in our society, they’re reshaping the marketing and advertising industry. Some influencers might be affected by the like count removal, particularly those who buy fake likes and followers, as well as those who became walking billboards for brands and agencies.

But for content creators like Ceej Tantengco, removing the like count won’t have much of an impact, rather it will reinforce her influence among her audience. “The brand partnerships I tend to get are with sustainable fashion and brands running women empowerment campaigns. These brands are less about pure numbers and more about connecting with brand ambassadors who truly share their cause and can speak about it with sincerity,” Tantengco said.

“The chase for likes has led to a sort of cookie-cutter templating of content based on what the algorithm rewards or what is easiest to generate likes. We live in a world where a selfie gets 800+ likes and a photo of what book the person is reading gets only 50. But like-bait content isn’t always the most thoughtful, and we need to be careful to not equate the number of likes to whether the brand message was communicated effectively,” Tantengco added.

On the other hand, Castro Communications PR Director Janlee Dungca is unbothered by the like count removal. Dungca, who works primarily with content creators and influencers, will still approach a campaign based on a brand’s goals and objectives. Likes aren’t the only form of visible metrics available since comments still count as a way to measure engagement rate.

Macro-influencers — accounts with more than 100,000 followers — tend to have higher reach but lower engagement, thus she opts for micro-influencers whose accounts range from 10,000 to 50,000 followers to get higher engagement for the brand.

“We live in a world where a selfie gets 800+ likes and a photo of what book the person is reading gets only 50.” — Ceej Tantengco

With this sudden change in the marketing landscape, people — not just influencers — might be more keen on engaging with other people through comments. People might start to make an effort to share their thoughts and interact, rather than just dropping an emoji of fire, heart, or a star-eyed face.

Additionally, people might not be as conscious of what they post anymore. Tantengco affirmed, “this move is great for people with advocacies because we can speak about them without worrying so much about ‘how do I package this to get the maximum number of likes’ and just say what we want to say. This feels very freeing.”

Moving forward, we might start to see posts of what people really care about again should Instagram proceed with removing the like count forever. There will be people though who will try to game the algorithm by leaving comments on each other’s posts and uploading video clips instead of still photos for validation as Instagram has not said anything about removing the view count.

Nonetheless, the future is bright for Instagram. I can’t wait to see moments where people embrace their natural selves and flaunt the things they’re passionate about again.

Illustrations by MJ Jucutan

Her GadgetMatch

Mercury in retrograde: When technology and communications go haywire

Your survival guide to a crazy season

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Buckle up, everyone! Mercury is in retrograde once again. In Astrology, this means the planet that governs technology, communications, and our very own thought processes spins backward. In our reality, it means doomsday is coming. (Kidding!)

When Mercury is in retrograde, flights and travels are usually delayed, people from the past pop back into our lives, communication systems break down, and our gadgets get into accidents or start malfunctioning.

More importantly, this season makes everything fluid. Nothing will be set in stone. Decisions are usually changed when the season ends, so it’s not a good time to sign contracts, schedule surgeries, have makeovers, launch a new project, or shop for electronic devices.

But fret not, this season shall pass. Here’s what you should do before, during, and after the Mercury retrograde.

Protect your gadgets and gizmos with trusty cases and accessories

Honey, this season makes us feel frustrated, agitated, and annoyed. Often, we’ll be rushing and getting into accidents. You might drop your phone on the toilet, break them, or forget them in a cab or restaurant. You gotta get yourself some strap to keep your phone with you at all times and dress them up with hard, shock-proof cases. Should they fall from your hands, you know they’re safe.

Back up your data, make sure it’s safe and secure

Okay, Jenny, listen up. Mercury in retrograde is the season where we lose important stuff moments before we actually need them. It can be your keys, card, or presentation for your next meeting. The point here is you should back up all necessary data. Flash drives might break, Google Drive and other forms of storage may not work properly at the time you need them. The next thing you know, your life is in shambles.

Another thing to worry about is security and privacy. This season is also the time when people’s secrets tend to get exposed, such as your affair with your best friend’s boyfriend or your intimate videos getting leaked in the deepest, darkest corner of the internet. Keep your reputation from being smeared!

Double-check what you type and say

Be careful with miscommunication, my dear. It’s normal to feel there’s chaos in your head since Mercury in retrograde disrupts our thought processes. We become forgetful and more prone to mistakes, so double check your typos before hitting send. In addition, think twice before voicing out your opinions and emotions. Take a deep breath, and think before you click. Your words are powerful. Once you’ve hurt someone with it, you can be forgiven but they’ll never forget.

P.S. Be mindful of what you post or tweet if you don’t want to get dragged on social media.

 

Keep your emotions in check and block your exes

If you haven’t blocked your exes until today, you need to re-evaluate your life, Susan. During this season, we barely use our logic and just follow our emotions. There might come a time where you want to send a seven-paragraph message to your ex, please don’t. You owe it to yourself to move on from the past and stop them from coming back to your life.

Oh, one more thing: Stay open to possible opportunities. Sure, Mercury in retrograde brings our past lovers back from hell, but they also bring in colleagues we’ve worked with. Most of the time, they want to work with us again. Additionally, this is a good time to reconnect with old friends. Seriously, this period isn’t that bad.

Be extremely flexible (not just in yoga but also in life)

If there’s one thing you can learn from this, it’s that life doesn’t always work out in our favor. It’s a reminder to always find a way. Be flexible and adaptable to every surprise that life brings. If we’re going to give in to our emotions, we already lost. Take a step back and reassess what’s happening, compose yourself and think of a solution. This is just another storm that’s passing by. You will overcome this.

Take a moment to slow down

Lastly, like any retrograde season, it’s a cue from the planets and the stars to slow down. We’re all rushing from one point to another, and we’re moving extremely fast. Planets spin backward to remind us that we need to look back and slow down to appreciate how far we’ve come, what we’ve been doing with our lives, and catch up on what we missed. Above all, it’s a reminder to rest. You’re doing well, my friend. I’m proud of you.

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Features

Dear Moms: 19 things you never thought you needed

A gift guide for every kind of moms

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Mother's Day 2022

Whether you’re a mom looking for something to gift yourself or a grown-up scouring the web for a present for Mother’s Day, look no more. We rounded up things you never thought you or your mom actually needed, until you’ve read this article, of course.

All-in-one pet grooming kit and vacuum — Neabot P1 Pro

Mother's Day

Whether you’re a fur parent or just a family who lives with cats and dogs, an all-in-one pet grooming kit and vacuum might solve your daily woes. The Neabot P1 Pro addresses grooming problems — eliminating messy pet hair, excessive noise, and cumbersome grooming tools.

Shop it on Amazon for US$ 160.

MagSafe charger for iPhone — Nomad BaseOne

Busy moms know the daily woes of being all over the place. Preparing a cup of coffee, tending to their child’s needs, chores, and so on. To make sure they stay connected and ready wherever they go, a MagSafe wireless charger that would complement any space might be a good gift for your mom. It looks great on a desk, bedside table — basically anywhere.

Shop it on Nomad’s website for US$ 99.

Modern leather case for AirPods Pro — Nomad English Tan AirPods Case

Mother's Day

Give the gift of style through a modern leather case for your mom’s AirPods Pro. Its rich caramel tone enhances as it develops a patina, and it comes with a lanyard attachment point for an optional wrist strap. Probably so they won’t lose their AirPods against all the clutter inside their home.

Shop it on Nomad’s website for US$ 31.

Tracking accessory — Tile trackers

For when they lose their important stuff, help them locate things through tracking accessories like Tile that work either on iPhone or Android smartphones.

Shop Tile trackers for US$ 20 on Amazon and PhP 1,489 on Shopee.

Indoor home security camera — Xiaomi Mi 360° Camera

When moms are always away or at work, give them the gift of peace of mind through an indoor home security camera like the Xiaomi Mi 360° Camera. Connected to an app, the security camera lets everyone in the household monitor their living spaces.

Shop the Xiaomi Mi 360° Camera for PhP 1,599 on Shopee.

Outdoor home security camera — EZVIZ C3N Outdoor Security WiFi Camera

Mother's Day

Protect your homes and give the gift of security through an outdoor home security camera with night vision like the EZVIZ C3N. It detects human movements intelligently, lights up, and sends alerts. It also has a weatherproof design, bearing an IP68 certification.

Shop the EZVIZ C3N with a starting price of PhP 1,999 on Shopee.

Blue-light blocking glasses — Shigetsu CHIBA RadPro Eyewear

Mother's Day

Protect your mom’s eyes and help them maintain a clear vision through these stylish, blue-light blocking eyeglasses from Shigetsu. They’re cheap, but they’re effective in blocking radiation and UV rays.

Secure a clear vision and shop the CHIBA RadPro Eyewear for PhP 324 on Shopee.

Smartphone grip — Popsocket

Having a tiny accessory that serves as a handle or even a stand for a precious smartphone might be one thing you never thought anyone would actually need. But for moms getting older, there’s a possibility of weakening their grip, which might cause them to drop their phones and accidentally break them.

Help them secure their devices. Shop Popsocket’s Black Phone Grip for US$ 10 on Amazon.

Tablet for multitasking — Samsung Galaxy Tab S8

Mother's Day

Moms are superheroes, able to multitask and get things done. Help them become more efficient in their activities and errands by giving them a powerful tablet to accompany them in their everyday lives. For instance, the Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 series comes in different sizes but is certainly one of the best Android tablets on the market right now.

Shop the Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 for PhP 49,990 on Shopee.

Smart mug — Ember Mug 2

Mother's Day 2022

Give the gift of warmth by keeping their cup of coffee hot. Having a hectic life can cause a cup of coffee to turn cold when left on a desk, but the Ember Smart Mug 2 can maintain your desired drinking temperature for up to an hour and a half.

Get the Ember Smart Mug 2 for US$ 130 on Amazon.

Home assistant — Amazon Echo Dot (4th Gen)

Mother's Day 2022

Encourage navigating a smart home through the Amazon Echo Dot (4th Gen) smart speaker. Let Alexa accompany the moms in running the household, and watch things get more efficient and connected.

Shop it for PhP 2,587 on Shopee.

Active noise-canceling headphones — Bose QuietComfort 45

Mother's Day 2022

Give them the gift of quiet through active-noise canceling headphones like the Bose QuietComfort 45. Let them pick up themselves and re-center through a moment of quietness after a long day of constant movement.

Shop the Bose QuietComfort 45 for US$ 329 on Amazon.

Night light — OPPLE LED Little Moon Night Light

Mother's Day 2022

For new moms, having a night light helps them sleep after a busy day. It also helps them take a glimpse of their little angels when they wake up or when they check them in the middle of the night.

Give the gift of light through OPPLE’s little night light for only PhP 129 on Shopee.

Air purifier — realme TechLife Air Purifier

Mother's Day 2022

Keep the air clean within your household! The realme TechLife Air Purifier helps everyone breathe easy with its ability to effectively filter air particles.

Give the gift of clean air for only PhP 4,590 on Shopee.

Self-cleaning robot vacuum — Dreame Bot W10

Mother's Day 2022

Cleaning should be quick and easy, especially in a smart home. The Dreame Bot W10 is a 3-in-1 sweep, mop, and wash vacuum cleaner that scrubs, washes, and dries its mop with the charging base.

Clean every corner effectively. Shop this self-cleaning robot vacuum cleaner for PhP 40,990 on Shopee.

Breast pump — imani i2 Plus

Mother's Day 2022

For new moms, this wearable breast pump lets you collect milk discreetly and hands-free. It’s so compact, that it can be worn inside a brassiere, and it doesn’t come with tubes or wires that create a wooshing sound in every pump. Moreover, it comes with a charging dock so you can store it neatly inside your home or office.

Give the gift of convenience through the imani i2 Plus wearable breast pump. Shop it for PhP 11,950 on Shopee.

Breastfeeding cover — Enfant Nursing Cover

Mother's Day 2022

Cleaning up stains can be quite exhausting after a long day. Lessen the household chore by using a breastfeeding cover.

Shop the Enfant Nursing Cover in various colors and prints for PhP 469 on Shopee.

Bouncer and rocker in one — Joie Dreamer Baby Bouncer

Mother's Day 2022

Why buy a rocker and a bouncer when you can have a cradler with both functions? The Joie Dreamer Baby Bouncer – Petite City is a compact cradler that rocks and bounces with a push or even when your little angels move.

Give the gift of comfort. Shop this bouncer-rocker for PhP 4,000 on Shopee.

UV sterilizer cabinet — Ecomom Eco 100 Dual Uv Sterilizer

Mother's Day 2022

Sterilize all your baby essentials with the Ecomom Eco 100 Dual Uv Sterilizer. It doesn’t use hot water to steam, so there is no risk of burns or water mess.

Shop this UV sterilizer cabinet for PhP 15,000 on Shopee.

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Convenient Smart Home

Dreame V12 Pro: Powerful cordless vacuum

Cleans even the tightest of spaces

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When I moved out and transferred to my own place, one of the very first appliances I purchased was a vacuum cleaner. 

I got an affordable one that is highly recommended in the Facebook Group Home Buddies, and it was okay. It does the job. 

I use it more often than my normal household broom, so having a quality vacuum is a huge necessity for me. 

When the Dreame V12 Pro came to my doorstep, I was ecstatic. I am sure any clean freak would feel the same — it’s a cordless, battery-powered vacuum with a whopping suction power of 32,000 pa. Definitely a total upgrade from my previous one.

As someone who cleans every day, I excitedly put this product to the test.

So many functions!

Dreame V12 Pro comes with a wide array of accessories upon unboxing. It’s my first time trying out a cordless vacuum, let alone a multi-functional one, so I was carefully reading the manual while using it for the first few days. 

There’s a lot you can do with this powerful handheld vacuum cleaner – powerful enough to clean every corner of a whole unit. 

For instance, it can easily suck the collected dust on my keyboard, thanks to the brush accessory. There’s also the anti-mite brush for sofa and beds (this is heaven-sent, especially for fur parents), and the rigid rectangular nozzle which integrates a LED light to clean stubborn dirt such as cobwebs. 

For overall floor cleaning, the default suction brush is outstanding. It also comes with a 5-layer HEPA filter with 99% effective sterilization, which brings so much peace of mind especially that we’re still in a pandemic.

But don’t be intimidated; using the vacuum and trying all the attachments is actually as easy as pie. The Dreame V12 Pro has an easy lock function which requires less effort when detaching and shifting from one accessory to the next. It’s extremely handy and comfortable to use!

Very powerful suction

I mentioned earlier that it has a suction power of 32,000 pa. It’s one of the most competitive in the market, and is actually designed for deep cleaning. It can absorb micron-level dust, which makes it extremely powerful for both hard floors and carpets.

No worries, it uses smart adaptive technology so the suction level easily adjusts to the floor without worrying about overheating and your safety.

There was an instance that I accidentally dropped some condiments and a few rice pellets on the floor (I know, it was a clumsy day in the kitchen). I immediately got my Dreame V12 Pro to clean up the mess. My feet didn’t feel any evidence afterwards.

Another major problem for me is my tangled hair all over the room. A few weeks after using the product, there were less stands of hair on the floor, especially on areas not usually reached by a normal vacuum. I was enthralled.

I initially thought it will be great for large homes, but I highly recommend it for tight spaces. It has a high capability to remove dirt from every nook and corner.

The vacuum has three modes: Eco, Standard and Turbo. To save up on battery, I usually use the Eco mode with its good suction performance without taking too much battery energy. I sometimes switch to the Standard and Turbo mode during major cleaning days.

Elegant, user-friendly features

My least favorite thing about vacuums in general is having to empty the container. For me, it takes a lot of work especially because I keep on literally getting my hands dirty.

The Dreame V12 Pro features an easy to empty container and a simple grip mechanism that helps eject dirt without coming into contact with it. Additionally, the container has a huge capacity of 0.5L.

The product also features a trigger lock, which allows me to clean continuously and comfortably. 

The high quality LCD screen (which is actually one of my favorite features) provides real-time info on the battery life, suction power, and filter status. It also displays the three user modes.

Is the Dreame V12 Pro your GadgetMatch?

All in all, the Dreame V12 Pro is a great household investment that will last for years. The vacuum has a light, ergonomic design and an elegant grey color that can blend with any shade of room interiors. 

Am I satisfied with this vacuum upgrade? Hell, yes!

For PhP 23,990 (around US$ 460), you get a very compact vacuum cleaner with premium features that you can use in every situation. And again, it’s cordless. Check it out on the Dreame website here.

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