With the prevalence of social media, and the varied accounts and posts from those we follow, it’s sometimes hard to tell how much effort the posters actually put into their image. This could range from photoshop, to using specific angles and lighting to appear leaner or hide their flaws. Just think of those fitness enthusiasts on Intagram, and consider how much is them sucking in, flexing or posing or even resorting to photoshop, for the more professional pages. Chances are, if you met this person on the street, in their hoodie and sweatpants (or yoga pants?), you might not recognize them as the “fitness expert” you’re familiar with online.
This seems to have led to a sort of “counter movement” by users online, spawning the advent of the “body positive” or “fat positive” movement on social media. These movements aim to dispel the stigma against being an average or above average size.
While it is definitely important to empower those who feel they aren’t as “beautiful” as those that society hoists up, it should also raise the question of “are these people we’re looking at as standards of beauty actually beautiful, or is it just a mask they put on for the views/likes?” This has been an issue brought up even by celebrities who have come out and asked why they photo-shopped an image where they looked perfectly fine. It sets an unrealistic beauty standard, as people are now attempting to look like someone who doesn’t even really exist…
The message is clear with movements such as the body positive one, that everyBODY is beautiful. Something we all need to remind ourselves in a world that’s commercialism thrives off telling us “you are not enough”. The response to that should be a resounding “I am enough”. However, when others are trying to tell you that you should look a certain way, or dress differently, I think you should go deeper. Respond instead with “I am who I am. Change who I am, and I wouldn’t be me”.
AR, or Augmented Reality has existed for years now. But what is it? Augmented Reality is a technology that uses your device location and camera to map digital objects onto your device. If you were living in Ottawa in the summer of 2016, you may remember the droves of people swarming Confederation Park, or Dick Bell Park, to the point of killing the grass from their prolonged sitting in one spot in large groups playing the recently released Pokemon Go mobile game.
But did you know that this technology has existed before then? In fact, you may have been using it and not even realizing it already. If you have a Snapchat account, you may be familiar with “filters”. These popular dog ears launched as far back as 2015, and before that, there were Geofilters, that could be used to show your location if you were at the mall, or on vacation. Now, these options have expanded, allowing you to play games, or place digital objects in the real word (remember that dancing hot dog?)
But what does this all mean for the future of social media? Well, as more of these filters were released, they served as a form of self-advertising, as people would see images of their friends shared with these humorous filters applied and then want to try these filters out themselves, thus ensuring their popularity.
However, for some it may go too far…revealing their location or activity on the “Snap Map”, a feature that will show users “Bitmoji” characters on the map, as well as whatever activity they’re doing based on what’s in their phone calander, what apps are on, or how long it’s been since the phone was last on. For some, this could be seen as a breach of privacy, and there has been at least one viral post circulating the web about how it poses a security risk for young teens that don’t even know who can see them. You can, however, disable yourself from being seen on the map, but it is defaulted to “On”.
This technology is still in its early years, but it will be interesting to see what effect it will have in the future for social media, and how we will look back on it now.
In order to stand out in a growing online community and attract followers to your profile on social media such as Instagram, you must do something different from the others while also doing what others are doing. This may seem confusing at first, but it means being unique while using the same methods that the popular social media influencers are doing to interact and grow their following. Look for others for inspiration in the same community that you’re trying to reach.
I’ve personally taken this approach and made 2 separate Instagram accounts, one personal and one for my cosplay page. This allows those that wish to see me as myself to follow me and not get bombarded with content they don’t really care about or find uninteresting or even repulsive. I noticed that quite a few cosplayers I’ve met in the community have done so, as it makes it feel more like a “cosplay community”, where one can retreat to whenever they want to see what others are up to, or sharing.
Another thing to keep in mind is what types of posts are shared in whatever community you’re trying to reach. For myself, this involves lots of “WIP” posts shared in Stories or on your page in a “multiple image” post. Of course, it also means sharing photos of your costume and other group photos with fellow cosplayers. It’s a way to connect with your followers, so they can see what you’re wearing and meet you in person to snap a pic and share it.
Speaking of sharing photos, one thing that’s important to note is: Always give photo credits! Even if you don’t know the name of the photographer, simply tagging them, or offering a description that states that the photo was not yours shows transparency and also gives recognition to the one that took the time to take the photo for you.
Another thing that helps is to get professional photos or graphic designers to help you sell yourself or your brand. They can make your page look a lot more appealing with their skills and tools at their disposal. It also helps to work on your own skills for whatever it is that you’re trying to share with your community of followers, whether that be cosplay skills or your business skills, or even just improving the quality of your personal posts. I’ve noticed people I follow on my personal page that have grown their pages by following other fitness or inspirational speakers and using some inspiration from what they’re doing in their own posts.
For me, this has meant improving my costume and makeup skills. I now probably know more about makeup than most heterosexual males my age. I’ve had to watch tutorials on Youtube, ask female friends of mine for tips, and practice, practice, practice. I’ve also worked on crafting a bit, with making a bang gun and painting my cane to make it look and feel more professional, and constantly upgrading/adding to the costume.
There also seems to be a few different types of cosplayers within the community. Something that probably translates to different communities as well, depending on levels of commitment by those influencers. There’s the casual cosplays, the artisan cosplayers, one-hit wonders, store-bought cosplays, and closet cosplays.
Casual cosplays are those that cosplay for fun, but don’t buy their costumes or compete in “Masquerades”. Artisan cosplayers are the opposite side of the spectrum. They constantly are working on different cosplays from scratch, crafting them from base materials and competing in “Masquerades”, which are essentially craftsmanship competitions with a level of showmanship involved. I would classify myself right now as a one-hit wonder. Those that only do one cosplay, but do it very well. Store-bought cosplays would then be those that buy their costumes from stores, whether this be Halloween stores or online stores, specializing in specific costumes. Closet cosplays are essentially what they sound like: costumes made from things around the house or clothing already owned.
It’s important to know where you stand in your community of followers, and to learn from those in your community in order to grow. To quote a popular influencer:
“Started from the bottom, now we’re here”
It’s impossible to grow your social media presence without learning skills used by others in the market you’re trying to target. It’s also easy to become lost in the sea of others trying to stand out if you don’t remember to be yourself. But first, you must consider “What is the ‘me’ I want to be?” and “Is it genuine, or fake?” because people won’t be attracted to your message if they feel you’re insincere.
Have you ever danced with the devil in the pale moonlight? #letsputonahappyface #joker