ONE WEEK WITHOUT TECHNOLOGY

I truly believe that it is safe to say that social media has the power to bridge the communication gap and help us reach people more efficiently than we ever did before. With power, however, comes certain disadvantages. Social media has the power to make one feel mediocre and inferior because it allows us to constantly compare ourselves to our peers online. When we sit and scroll on our cellphone and computer screens, we can’t help but feel like we are mildly inferior to those whose lives seem “picture-perfect.”

As someone who practices essentialism or minimalism, I do tend to fall into the trap of losing time on social media. I know that the time I spent scrolling could have been on more important things and people in my life. Therefore, I decided to participate in a week without technology. So I am writing to share my experiences throughout that week.

DAY ONE

I deleted all social media from my computer and cellphone, but before I did this, I made notifications to my followers online letting them know that I will not be using social media for a long time. In my mind, I thought that not being online could affect my writing work, since I normally promote my blog posts using social media. I pretty much had a tough time navigating through this day. I was constantly checking my phone, even though I knew I had deleted my social media.

I just needed a dopamine fix — you know, the feeling one gets from seeing a notification and having to log online to see what someone has to say. I felt somewhat lonely and a little bit blue because some component of my life was missing. I didn’t notice how much of an impact social media has had on my life until this day. I wish I noticed that I was addicted.

DAY TWO

I was a bit more relaxed and checked my phone less frequently. Although I did found myself binging video series and YouTube, I think this was mainly because of the instant dopamine rise that one gets from procrastinating, which I accomplished by watching things that made me feel good instantly. I admit this sounds like me taking a few steps back, but I felt guilty afterwards because I was not really productive. I spent about two hours just watching series and celebrity gossip channels.

However, the positive side of this was that I stopped comparing myself to others for some odd reason. I think that because I constantly found myself fully immersed in social media, I didn’t notice the effect it had on my self-esteem and self-confidence.

DAY THREE

I was getting into a routine with work and school, and I actually did not feel a need to use social media. I was productive, and I was elated to have made progress despite the bumpy few days I had when starting this challenge. I even found other useful YouTube channels and “Study with Me” videos that played a huge role in helping me focus on my work and take productive breaks in-between.

DAY FOUR

I joined a new gym in my area; I had not been exercising in a few months because I relocated. I met new people that day, and I was fully engaging in the conversations. I went out on a date with my boyfriend in the evening. Oh boy, I haven’t done that in a while, despite us having known each other for two years. It felt amazing, and I had butterflies in my stomach all over again! I was so relaxed and had an amazing evening. I noticed that I barely made enough time for him because of our crazy schedules and different, but very similar, career paths. I will admit that I was pretty exhausted at the end of the day!

DAY FIVE

I spent a day out in a national botanical garden with my vinas, and I was happy that I went out with them. We went hiking and jogging in the morning to get some exercise. Walking in nature was breath-taking, and I couldn’t remember when last I felt that free. Not being tied to any obligations but starting my weekend on a good note. As someone who is introverted and shy, I often relied so heavily on social media to make friends, that I had actually lost touch with friends that I normally engaged with on a physical level. I was constantly seeking validation from strangers online that I actually forgot to solidify the old friendships. This day gave me an opportunity to rekindle my friendships.

CONCLUSION

Social media can be useful when used in moderation, or else it has the ability to consume us and our morals. I started tracking my social media use and productivity on a daily basis using a chrome extension called Rescue Time. Set rules, so that you can have downtime for your hobbies and the people in your life. Self-care is also very vital. It takes discipline to set boundaries. These are the lessons I take with me from participating in this challenge.

Sending you lots of love, light and angel blessings your way. Let us rebuild a healthy state of mind.

Love, Francesca

Think it’s time for a social media detox? Ask your favorite vinas on Hey! VINA for some advice.

TABOO TOPIC TUESDAY: POLITICS AND SOCIAL MEDIA

Most people have opinions on politics these days, and they’re usually strong ones. Social media has given us the opportunity to share the things that are important to us. But what should and shouldn’t make its way to our public and often permanent personal history on the world wide web?

COMMENTING

No matter how cautious you are about sharing your strong political opinions on your profile, everyone has those friends who aren’t. And sometimes those friends don’t have similar opinions… So, what do you do when you follow someone who is spouting off about things that, in your view, are just wrong? Do you leave a comment and hope they reconsider their baseless rant? Or, do you scroll on with an eye roll and decide not to take the bate that often leads to pointless and cruel internet fights?

It can be tempting to want to add a voice of reason to blatantly biased posts, but at some point, we have to consider that the people so confident and so committed to their cause that they post about it on social media might not be open to a new perspective. Although you may think they’re asking for it as they’ve chosen to post to a public forum and invited commenters to share, we all know what they’re really looking for is support from their similarly-minded friends. In general, it’s safer (and healthier) to avoid the kind of name-calling fight that gives people on either side of the aisle a bad rep.

THE ARGUMENT FOR AND AGAINST SOCIAL MEDIA POLITICS

On one side, social media gives us a platform to help inform our community about impactful events happening around us, and it lets us become activists for causes we care about. These are important things, and having informed and active citizens contributing to the public dialogue (a dialogue that helps shape public policy) is an important and even necessary component of a republic. Our societal structure doesn’t work without conversation. It’s so important that the freedom of speech, particularly political speech, is the first amendment made to the constitution in the Bill of Rights. Staying informed and informing others is no joke.

On the other hand, however, we all know what a catastrophe political rants on social media can end up being. There are two general scenarios that tend to happen. First, there’s your weird uncle who only reposts “news” articles about the crazies on the other side of the aisle. It’s embarrassing, but besides you and a few other obligatory family follows, he’s pretty much sounding off to an echo chamber of other old men who will never change their mind about the political views that make up their identity.

Second, there’s the political rant made by that girl you sort of knew in high school but didn’t really know. Like, you had a few classes together, had some common friends and saw each other at a few parties, but you didn’t know about her (strong) future stance on The Wall and abortion laws which now seem to be one of her favorite things to post about (outside pictures of her cat). Now you see her posts and cringe.

HOW FAR IS TOO FAR?

So where’s the line? We all want to be the girl that posts informed, insightful, and important awareness posts about what’s happening in the world. The one who reminds her friends and family to vote, that the rights of every person matter, and that there’s something not right with the system. But even that can be tricky. Because here’s the thing, posting anything about your political views on a semi-public forum like the internet could backfire bigtime, especially when you’re in the midst of a job hunt.

You may believe that no competent hiring manager or future boss could ever believe what you know is just and good and right is, in fact, wrong. You, like your crazy uncle, probably live in an echo chamber yourself. We all do. Most people tend to surround themselves with people whose values and opinions align, especially on the hot topics. Your potential future boss isn’t apart of that chamber. They’re in their own chambers, listening to the confirmation of their own opinions and “facts.” So when you’re desperately applying to jobs and the hiring manager who has a fifty-fifty shot of disagreeing with you sees your highly charged political posts, guess whose application just got tossed?

This is one of the first things your professors or mentors will tell you about career prep and managing your social media image: Just don’t do it. Don’t post it.

So it’s up to you, of course (the first amendment says so). You need to weigh your options. It’s important to be politically active and to give a voice to those who don’t have one. Social media gives you a nice and easy platform to do that. However, be wary of adding a voice to an echo chamber that isn’t really adding value to the conversation. Make sure you’re providing verified facts and well-rounded points of view. And be wary of your own personal biases so that you’re not painting yourself as a Millenial version of your crazy uncle: set in your ways, uninformed, and only listening to the messages that confirm your own views.

It’s also important to be professional and to be able to get a job. From a soon-to-be-college-grad perspective, every professional adult will tell you to just keep it off the internet. There are so many ways (oftentimes more impactful ways) to be an active citizen. Attend a march, vote, have meaningful and open-minded discussions with your friends and classmates, talk to people with different opinions from yours, start a movement if you want to.

A great way to practice open-mindedness and learn about the world outside your echo chamber is by have a conversation with someone new. Check out the Hey! VINA app to swipe right on a whole new world of ideas and fun.

BROOKLYN & BAILEY Q&A: “BEING ON YOUTUBE CAN BE A BIT LONELY”

With 5.6M followers on YouTube, twin sisters Brooklyn and Bailey are not your typical, regular college students. Monday through Friday, they sit in their Intro to Entrepreneurship course like everyone else. But over the weekends, they escape the campus with scripts and cameras in their hand to shoot videos for their widely-popular channel.

In VINAZINE’s exclusive interview with the twins, we covered it all—friendship lessons learned the hard way, making friends in the public eye, and the struggles of balancing school and work. Check it out:

VINA: Thank you for talking to VINAZINE! So what’s it like to do a YouTube channel together, be twin sisters and go to college together? How has your friendship changed over the years?
Bailey: I’ll definitely say our relationship and our friendship have changed a lot in the past few years. Especially because our channel’s grown into more of a business. And so we definitely have not only learned how to run a business together, but also keep the friendship aspect of it, of course. I’d say it actually got a lot stronger, because we’ve been able to work through those things in every situation, right? We have to trust each other, and consider each other’s opinion and all of those aspects of a friendship. So I feel like it got a lot stronger.
Brooklyn: And now we live together in college and we’re kind of on our own. The only person in our family that we have with us is each other, so it made us a lot closer in that aspect as well!

VINA: What do you think was one of the friendship lessons that you had to learn the hard way?
Brooklyn: Woo… I guess it would be the fact that not everyone is going to be exactly like you. I grew up always having one significant best friend. But the older I got, the more I realized, it’s better to have multiple friends around you. You get to experience different things. I guess it’s just that some friendships grow and change, and as it changes, you drift apart. And some friendships grow and change and you get closer. I guess the hardest lesson I learned was just to be OK with the things that happen.

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VINA: Is it difficult to meet new friends, being in the public eye? Do you have to be careful that they’re not using you for your fame or just to be on your YouTube channel?
Brooklyn: I will say it’s difficult in a sense that there will always be people who are gonna be in it for the wrong reasons. But that’s why it’s also important that you have a really strong group of friends that surround you and who are super close to you. Because usually what happens is if you can’t nip off the people that are in it for the wrong reason, usually your friends and family can. And so, being able to define that close-knit group, that’s what supports you the most.
Bailey: To be honest, yes. But only recently. That definitely brought some struggles. Because in high school, we grew up with our people. So, friends from high school were genuine from the start. But because we’ve been trying to make new friends in college, I ran into a few problems when Brooklyn and I saw people like that, and we were not able to detect it. And some of our other friends who knew us beforehand or who were really close to us, were like, ‘I heard them say this and this.’ and they’re definitely not wanting to be friends for the right reasons. And we had to reevaluate that relationship. So there’s been a couple of those. Surprisingly, most of them have been guys. Mostly with Brooklyn. That’s been interesting. That’s something that has come up, just a little bit.

VINA: Would you say that it is lonely being a YouTube star or an influencer? For those reasons?
Bailey: Brooklyn and I feel like there’s kind of a hole in the market for YouTubers our age. Like there aren’t very many YouTubers who are going to a full-time college and doing YouTube at the same time. I’m not aware of anyone else doing this. And so I would say that in that aspect, I feel a little bit lonely. We would go to VidCon or BeautyCon and not very many people would be able to relate with the aspect of going to a full-time college and doing YouTube at the same time. And so in that aspect maybe a little lonely. But also, a positive thing because we are able to show girls that that’s possible to do both. We are breaking through that hole. So it’s kind of a balance of both lonely and also really cool that we’re able to do that.

VINA: Do you think it would be even harder if you guys didn’t have each other?

스크린샷 2018-11-06 오전 8.47.54.pngBrooklyn: I definitely think it would be harder if we didn’t have each other. I mean we’ve always grown up having each other around. So even when Bailey’s out of town, I have to have a friend come sleep in my room because I just don’t know how to sleep in a room by myself because I always have Bailey around. And I feel like it would be the same if I try to run a business by myself. I don’t know if I could. Because I’ve always had Bailey around. I definitely think it would be hard

VINA: What made you guys want to put college at the top of your list?  What made you want to take that balance?Brooklyn: Education has always been extremely important to us. But our channel is also based on authenticity and we want to be the kind of girls that we want our audience to be. And we want to be able to embody the types of expectations that we would have for anyone else. So going to school, we want to show the little girls watching our videos that they can go to school and get an education and that’s important. So we wanted to be able to do that as well. And we also just wanted to get a degree and get to that milestone in our lives.

VINA: Do you ever got FOMO when you’re in class or studying and you see what other influencers are doing?
Brooklyn: I’ve never actually experienced those feelings. I feel we’re privileged to be able to experience a normal life and also get to have this YouTube world. It’s almost like a Hannah Montana life. A little bit. So I’ve never felt FOMO or jealousy towards any of the other influencers because I feel like we have a very special thing happening in our life.

VINA: Got it! Now for some fun. Anyone who creates a profile on Hey! VINA is asked to describe themselves in five emojis. So what 5 emojis would both of you say you would describe yourself in?
Bailey: Oh man, I have to look at my emojis to see what options I have. This is hard. I think Brooklyn and I would probably take the same one. I say definitely that laughy face, the heart eyes, maybe the clapping hand, the shrug, and…what else… Oh yeah, the dancing twin. Let’s do those. The dancing twins. Editor’s note: here you go girls! 😂😍👏🤷‍♀️👯

VINA: If there was a celebrity that was on VINA that you would swipe right on, who would it be?
Bailey: We both really, really love Zendaya a lot. We love what she stands for, we love that she’s so young and teen and doing a lot of careers. And we also love Emma Watson and everything she stands for. She went in education while still pursuing her passion. So we like her as well.

VINA: My last question is, what top qualities do you look for in a friend?
Brooklyn: I definitely have to say loyalty and honesty are my top two characteristics that I look for. Just someone who’s gonna be loyal to me. And even if I’m not there, just consistently being my friend. And then honesty. If we have a problem, or something happened, they’re just upfront to me about it, or they’re not lying. That’s super important to me as well.

Thank you for talking to VINAZINE, Brooklyn and Bailey! Keep up your love and passion for each other and for all that you do! Are you in search of a friendship like Brooklyn and Bailey’s? Get the Hey! VINA app now and start swiping today!

Photo credit to Brooklyn and Bailey’s Instagram @brooklynandbailey 

9 WAYS TO CURE LONELINESS

If you already read VINA’s CEO Olivia June’s important PSA today on VINAZINE, you know that we’re taking loneliness seriously here. And we all should—a recent study reported that only half of Americans found that they had meaningful in-person interactions. The takeaway? If you’re feeling lonely, you’re not alone.

Luckily, there are things you can do today to start curing your loneliness. Read on for our top 9 tips!

1. MAKE NEW VINAS

Hey! VINA was launched in 2016 with the mission to help users find their tribe. Once you create your profile, join different communities (as many as you like!) to find vinas who are going through similar life events as you, or vinas you share the same hobbies with. (Happy Hour, anyone?!). From there, start swiping and start meeting! Once you make a match, try to plan a vina date immediately—at the coffee shop, at the gym, wherever. The point is, you’ve got plans…and tons of other vinas waiting to hang with you!

2. JOIN A SPORTS LEAGUE (OR PAINTING CLASS, YOGA, ETC.)

Whether your athletic (or not), there are tons of different leagues that fit your lifestyle. From casual kickball to even board game leagues, you may find one you like. Just going to one event can mean you meet one more friend, so that’s a win-win. If you want to jumpstart, join the athletes or runners community on Hey! VINA and ask around for a local sports league or local runners club. If sports aren’t your thing, try a local pottery class or even a women’s wine night. Find communities that match your needs on VINA and go from there!

3. FIND OUT WHAT YOU NEED

What if you already have friends, but still feel alone? Loneliness also occurs when your current relationships are not meeting your needs, so finding out what these needs are may help you on your journey. Set some time with yourself for self-reflection and make a list of what types of friends or company you are looking for. Then, start building that!

4. BE PRODUCTIVE 

Read a book, go on a walk or start a new hobby. There are so many ways to feel connected with the world and with others in it. Doing errands or shopping at the mall can help you to direct your attention away from your loneliness and connect with the world around you. Say hi to someone, or engage in a conversation to the person standing next to you at Barre. It starts with just one word. You got this, vina!

5. SPEND TIME WITH YOUR FAMILY (OR FRIENDS WHO ARE LIKE FAMILY)

Hanging out with family when you’re down is sometimes the perfect cure for loneliness. Suggest a family game night or going to see a movie. Or pick up the phone and call someone—your grandma, your cousin, your mom. Better yet, make it a weekly thing!

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6. WRITE IT OUT

You need to connect with yourself to fully realize why your loneliness is setting in. Writing about how you feel in a journal can be very helpful for figuring out why you feel a certain way. Start by writing a letter to yourself or even just writing a line a day. Putting your emotions on your paper is one of the best things you can do for yourself, vina.

7. LOOK INTO IT

Look at your relationships, your career, your social calendar, and your overall emotions and find out what could be making you feel alone. It may be difficult, but it’s the only way to move onto the next step. 

8. LOVE YOURSELF

Remember you’re your own best vina. By practicing self-love, you can learn to enjoy your own company. Start every morning with a mantra (Something like, “I’m strong, I’m capable of big things, I’m lovable” or just list out loud three things you like about yourself every day. Trust us, it helps.

9. BE CONFIDENT

You’re a strong, beautiful vina and having confidence in yourself is critical! If you are scared to reach out to new people, try it! If something is wrong in a relationship, work it out! If you are nervous to talk to people, open up! Having confidence in who you are and what you want will only help you break out of your loneliness.

In the end, becoming a better “you” can help in all aspects of life, including attracting great new vinas. No matter what, us vinas are here for you!

The best way to combat loneliness is to find others to connect to. Try out Hey! VINA today!

 

 

 

LIVING IN THE MOMENT

Have you ever stood in silence, lied in bed and stared upward at the ceiling or went anywhere without your phone? Think about it. Those are 3 specific moments in time that will always be in your personal “you time.”

I’m an advocate for timeless moments captured by the naked eye because daily life is almost equivalent to a month-to-month lease; no real guarantee. Instagramming a new restaurant, Facebook posting about your first day on the job or tweeting about your favorite inspirational celebrity ignites a small dependence upon social appreciation and overall acceptance. Because of this dependence, you need to learn how to live in the moment.

START YOUR DAY OFF RIGHT

When you first wake up, reaching for your phone to turn off the alarm is most likely the first thing you do. And, immediately afterwards, you begin to check your messages and scroll through social media. Instead, how about taking deep breaths, making some breakfast or brunch (depending on how early of a bird you are), or go for a walk around the neighborhood to take in the fresh air and scenery around you. We, as humans, truly miss what may have been in our view for a long time.

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TAKE A BREAK FROM YOUR PHONE

Yes, I know, it might be the perfect moment to record your favorite music artist’s concert so you can reminisce on it later, but honestly, the feeling of being there, enjoying every second, is so much better. You pay more attention and that person who keeps bumping into you and apologizing for it becomes your new friend! Plus, it’s not your job to show what every else is missing.

FIGURE IT OUT

There’s a more interactive thought process going on when you have to put puzzles together or figure out solutions. Try going throughout the day without your phone coming to the rescue. How can you do this? Explore the town on your own! The plan is there’s no plan. Figure out the lay of land and see what there is to see. If you get lost, even better! Use this time to experience your surroundings and embrace whatever the world has to offer. Taking a break from technology and living in the moment is the best way to truly live your life. So get out there (without your phone), vina!

Need someone to live in the moments with? Download the Hey! VINA app now and start swiping!

I TOOK A SOCIAL MEDIA DETOX… SHOULD YOU?

Over the last decade, it’s no secret that social media has wildly grown and become an essential piece of our daily lives. There are SO many pros to using a social media network, like connecting with friends, co-workers, family, or meeting awesome new friends (hello, Hey! VINA). We can make connections around the globe and aren’t limited to the people who live in our vicinity. It’s truly a beautiful thing, when used correctly.

For me, Facebook became a site I logged into out of habit and rarely enjoyed my visit. I would endlessly scroll through the timeline and became increasingly annoyed at most of the posts I read. I got to a point where I would log in and think, “Why am I even here?”

Sure, I enjoyed seeing updates from friends and family about their happy lives, but i could no longer tolerate or scroll past the users who would blindly share incorrect information or misleading/fake news stories. I wanted to shake the person posting and scream, “Seriously, it takes 30 seconds to open Google and verify something these days!” I even texted a friend and said those exact words. Their response? They didn’t care or think it was a big deal. That did it for me—I reached a breaking point.

I decided to actually do something about it. I couldn’t continue correcting people in the comments (yeah, it’s fine, I was that person…). It was time for me to bid my adieus and bow out gracefully. But that isn’t the answer for everyone!

How do you know a social media detox, whether it’s in the form of deactivation or deletion, is right for you? Start by asking yourself these questions:

-Is this adding joy to my life, or is it simply a way to pass time?
-Would I miss it if I didn’t have it?
-Am I wasting too much time endlessly scrolling through a news feed, only to find myself annoyed or angry at the content I view?

That third question was a big YES for me and that’s how I knew it was time to detox. I ended up deleting my Facebook account in May after having it for 12 years. TWELVE YEARS! I mean, the archive this website had on me was insane (which, to be honest, was a great reason to delete it IMO). I was worried I would have a serious case of FOMO, but I don’t. Sure, I miss connecting with friends and family but deleting has (happily) forced me to make phone calls and send texts/emails to the people I love.

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I still have Twitter and Instagram, but I’ve changed my habits on both of those platforms after this detox. I took a small break from posting anything on those networks and even deleted the apps off my iPhone for a couple of weeks. I missed those much more than Facebook, though. It didn’t take long to reinstall those and I didn’t have a sense of dread when I did. I kind of had the “first day of school” feeling—you know, when you’re excited to get back to see all your friends and hear about what they did during the break!

When I decided to end my detox with Twitter and Instagram, the first two questions I mentioned before were now easily answered: yes, these do bring joy to my life (but also to pass time when I am waiting for someone or something), and yes, I did miss it when I didn’t have it. That’s how I knew I took enough time away. Would I do it again? Absolutely. I think it’s healthy to take a break from everything in life every now and again—it’s just like taking a vacation from work. Sometimes you just need to unplug!

Have you ever gone on a social media sabbatical? Tell us why and how it worked out for you in the comments below! And if you’re looking for some vinas to have IRL experiences with, start swiping

HOW TO INCREASE YOUR INSTAGRAM FOLLOWERS

Have you ever wondered how certain Instagram profiles have SO many followers, but you still have yet to see an increase in your own? You’ve might’ve spent time and energy engaging in conversations, creating the perfect posts, researching and using the best tags and still… nothing seems to stick!

Well, there are secrets to this Insta trade, BUT the most important of these secrets all come down to these six tips:

👯‍♀️ FINDING YOUR NICHE

First and foremost, finding your niche is what separates your from the rest. Believe it or not, posting on social media is a form of blogging. Find what makes you, you! Personally, I focus on images with nature, stylish clothing, yoga and mindfulness. I also have a “pink” touch to most of my photos, with a dash of greenery from my indoor plants. Find what you love and build on it.

👩‍💻 SET UP A BUSINESS ACCOUNT

This is super simple to do, and even though Instagram asks you for a Facebook business page, just dummy it up and then set it on private! The statistics you receive are super handy to see which of your content is working well (story or post!), so have a play with it and learn about the powerful tool.

📱 HASHTAG AWAY

Yes, we all know this one very well! Maybe hashtagging hasn’t worked well for you in the past, but honing in on your audience and building connects are what will create your Instagram to thrive! Release that fear of judgement, of feeling stupid, of feeling like a try-hard. I had to deal with it myself and I came to realize, how am I supposed to connect with like-minded accounts and potential brands if I’m not putting myself out there? You’re the one building your future with this account and you have the tools to have thousands of followers, reach and connect with like-minded people, receive payments and products for your posts and more! You can use up to 30 hashtags on a single post, so start thinking about some relevant words for each post. Tip: Also think about your captions—I’ve received so much more engagement when I write a few sentences (spaced out nicely) showing my passion for what my post is about. Open up to your audience and people will feel like they can relate to you!

📸 GET CREATIVE WITH YIUR CAMERA

You wouldn’t believe the amount of accounts with over 500K followers who get 90% of their pics just by setting up the camera themselves! Utilize that self-timer on your phone or camera. When you start, be sure to clean the lens. Try to shoot on cloudy days since the light spreads out, which makes it so much easier to edit your photos when you’re done. Tip: Keep an eye out for cool walls as backdrops!

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🎨 EDIT LIKE A PRO

OK, here is where you can have fun and be creative. There’s a little secret about so many of those “insta-famous” accounts you are following or that pop-up in your newsfeed—they are all using special filters and effects to make their feed super attractive and stand out from your average account. Use VSCO, ColorStory and other apps with filters and stick with two or three certain filters. If you want to get a little more serious and really set your page alight, look into using Adobe Lightroom paired with presets. It’s the secret to all those amazing feeds out there. Take a look at these presets to start with—the before & afters are mesmerizing! You can use apps like UNUM to ensure a new post fits within your ‘theme’.

🙋 BE AN ACTIVE AND INTERACTIVE USER

Allow half an hour each day (c’mon, we both know you spend way more time than 30 minutes stalking the gram) to focus on increasing engagement. This includes responding to every comment on your posts (increasing the chances of getting on the Explore page because the post is more popular!), following back the people who follow you (as if you don’t want to make more friends—after all, that’s what us vinas are best at!), aim to like 50-100 posts on the Explore page and comment REAL COMMENTS on peoples’ photos. (Not just 🔥🔥).

There you have it! We wish you all of the insta-success possible on your insta-increase journey. And don’t forget about us when you become insta-famous. Give us a shout-out @vinazine.

VINA is the perfect place to build insta-connections and insta-friendships that will last you a lifetime! Download it now.

 

10 UNDERRATED INSTAGRAM ACCOUNTS TO FOLLOW RIGHT NOW

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@akitching

Because energy, hard work, and spirituality can be just aesthetically gorgeous (if not more so) than your favorite travel insta.

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@girlboss

Get inspiring quotes and relatable memes all in one place. From Sophia Amoruso, who also brought us Nasty Gal and Nasty Galaxy.

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@coopdecoeur

Famous cats are a long-time trend but chickens are giving them a run for their…eggs? Fill your timeline with some cute chick-a-dees! 🐣

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@tokyofashion

My best friend says she never gets bored of this insta and she has better taste than me, so you bet your next glass of champagne I followed them too! Fashion inspo for days!

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@surviveyourstory

Shawna Ayoub Ainslie is a writing coach and on her ‘gram you’ll find prompts, inspiration, and more. She believes writing is the way to recovery and I can say, within my own experience, this is true.

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@drinkingwithchickens

For more adorable chickens plus fancy adult beverages please look no further. I swear I’m not just obsessed with chickens (okay, I might be), but this Instagram is full of yummy cocktail recipes as well. Win-win!

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@theconnoisseurofcute

This girl’s taste and style is ON POINT. Her account is color overload in the best way possible, and I love it. Trust me, you will, too.

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@ginafrey

Look no further for this year’s Halloween inspiration. As she says, Gina’s a Med student that does creepy clown makeup on the side…and by creepy she means drop dead gorgeous. Sure, you may find your make-up look for halloween, but some of her looks are great for every day, too!

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@craftcheesefactory

Vintage and retro crafts and collections. Need I say more? This kitsch makes my heart skip beats and it’s what I live for online!

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@ilikevina

Shameless plug, but are you following Hey! VINA on Instagram yet? #Friendspo all over the place, plus fun giveaways and first looks at new app features! You really can’t go wrong.

What’s your favorite underrated Instagram account? Tell us in the comments below!

WHAT YOUR FRIENDSHIPS SAY ABOUT YOUR PERSONALITY

Look at your phone and check out your messaging apps… who are you texting, calling, and sending funny pictures today? (Go on, I’ll wait, but don’t get stuck on those mesmerizing makeup tutorials again!) Are these the same names that you normally see pop up on your screen? Probably. There’s probably five or so folks you hear from more or less every day, either digitally or in person.

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Why? Well, according to Robin Dunbar, a professor of evolutionary psychology, there are tiers of friendship (yes, Mindy was right!) expanding in concentric circles outwards from your very closest confidants to acquaintances who you would probably wish a happy birthday on social media or pause to greet if you ran into them on the street. (Here’s a really cool podcast about networks where they interview Dunbar).

The theory goes that as primates developed larger brains, their capacity for connections grew with their brain size, which is why humans can develop complex and relatively large social groups. Dunbar posits that the maximum number of stable relationships a person can have is 150, with five being in the most intimate tier of friends and family, 15 being those you could trust with most things, 50 who you see relatively often and who would score an invite to a big event and the largest would be acquaintances who your connection is relatively more fleeting, who you know, but do not see often or know intimately.

Of course, this theory came about before social media, and apps like hey! Vina. But it’s likely that the pattern remains, and the bulk of your online “friends” belong in this outer tier. Social media makes us feel like we are sharing our experiences like we would in real life, extending the lifecycle of connections that would have otherwise disappeared in previous generations.

Psychology has other insights for us. The study of personality – something that I am fascinated with – seeks to understand the ways in which we create, maintain and sometimes end these relationships. The current dominant theory of personality suggests that there are five traits that co-mingle within us, making us unique. “The Big Five” include extraversion, neuroticism, agreeableness, conscientiousness, and openness to experience.

Researchers Laakasuo, Rotkirch, Berg, and Jokela recently published a paper on the degree to which these factors influence our friendships. Before taking a Big Five quiz, have a think about how much each of the below sounds true for you.  Their approach goes beyond just thinking about the similarities between friends, considering factors like age, heritage, gender, employment, distance and regularity of contact.

You see your friendships and see your history of adventures

When you answered my question “who did I talk to most recently,” you probably had to close down the window with your world clock on it. Your friends are spread all over the world, following your random adventures and migrations. Your friends have less in common with each other, and even might be very different in age, employment and location than you. The internet really helps you maintain these relationships because you don’t always see your friends very often.

Being a pro at long distance contact, diversity in your friendship group, and less face-to-face time (rather than FaceTime of which you have plenty) contact, suggests high degrees of openness to experience. You may be liberal and might catch up with your diverse group of friends campaigning for what you believe in.

 Your friends live close to you and you hang out all the time

You and your friends live really close to each other – which is really handy, considering you want to see them most days! You are really similar, especially in age and gender, with similar interests and experience. This suggests that you are probably high on the extraversion scale because you love interacting with them. You are also probably relatively low on the neuroticism scale too. People who are more emotionally stable see their friends really often. (This is totally me!)

You have a small posse whom you love very much but don’t need to see all the time

You keep it tight! You don’t necessarily want or need a big “squad”. You might have a couple of very intimate friendships, who are more often than not people you have known for a long time (you might even be kin!), who live close by and who you see a couple of times a month.

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Four’s a crowd via Pinterest

The Big Five suggests that you are likely to be lower on extraversion, which simply means you need less interaction or attention than those who are higher on the extraversion scale. It is also likely that you are less open to new experience or be less agreeable. That just means you know what you like, and aren’t afraid to let people know about it!

Your friends have always been there, blood is thicker than water for you

When you think about your friends, it’s really cool because you’ve known them forever. You hang out lots with your family or with friends you have known for a really long time. They get you and your history and the shared experiences make your friendships so solid. People like you are likely to rate highly on the agreeableness scale.

You love to catch up with your friends but its hard with your workloads

You work really hard, and sometimes catching up is a challenge. Not many of your friends aren’t busy. You hang out mainly with people who identify as the same gender as you and probably some of your relatives. You are likely to be high on the conscientiousness scale.

Of course, personality traits and the factors the researchers considered are only part of what makes your friendships special. Knowing more about ourselves, helps bring out the best in us by developing areas for improvement and embracing your strengths! Let us know which of “The Big Five” you think you are in the comments below. 

(Featured Image via haierynnn)

 

WORKING ON NOT COMPARING YOURSELF TO OTHERS

It arrives seemingly out of the blue. Usually when I’m least expecting it, my college magazine/newsletter shows up in my mailbox, glossy and rich and filled to the brim with these little pieces of evil called alumni notes.

Oh sure, they’re harmless enough on the surface. They’re words printed on pages that will eventually get recycled anyway. No big deal, right? Except that these little words have the incredible power to make me feel totally and utterly awful about myself.

By all accounts, I should be proud of myself. I have a wonderful family and circle of friends. I have a graduate degree and a career. I’ve run marathons and I even won a powerlifting meet once. These are all wonderful accomplishments.

And yet, ten minutes reading through the alumni notes sent by the private liberal arts college I attended is enough to convince me that I’m failing at everything, I haven’t done enough with my life, and I’m too old to do anything more anyway. (I’m not old, but I’m definitely not a recent college grad.) Even though logically I know that these are absurd reactions, I just can’t help feeling them.

How do you fight the urge to compare yourself to others? It’s been a lifelong struggle for me. Sure, on some level, the feelings of competitiveness are a nice source of motivation and even inspiration, but when you come up short compared to someone else, it feels heart-wrenching.

I don’t know how to stop this urge to compare, but there are a few things I like to do to at least curb the feelings of inadequacy:

I keep a “reverse bucket list.” Not to be confused with an anti-bucket list which is a list of stuff you never want to do, the reverse bucket list (the source for which escapes me at the moment) is a list of things you have accomplished. A life resume, if you will. When you sit down and catalog everything you’re proud of from your degrees to the fact that you make amazing chocolate cake, it really helps you remember that you are, indeed, awesome.

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A reverse bucket list creatively drawn via Kara Benz

I take a break from social media. To paraphrase the saying, stop comparing your behind-the-scenes to everyone else’s highlight reel. It’s easy to feel awful when you’re bombarded with other people’s carefully curated social media lives. It helps me to close the browser and remind myself that all the people I follow probably also have their own mess of insecurities to deal with that they simply don’t want to share.

I check my privilege. After years of feeling bad about my body and comparing myself to other women, I read something that has stuck with me to this day: “Your ‘before’ weight might be someone else’s goal weight.” That got me to 1) stop complaining about my weight, and 2) realize that I should be grateful for what I have accomplished because of course, luck and privilege play a role just much as hard work does. It doesn’t mean that I shouldn’t set goals for myself or keep striving for new heights; it means that comparison is often pointless because of factors that are usually beyond our control anyway.

Do you have any strategies that work for you? Let us know in the comments!

(Featured Image via Brandy Melville)