Why beating your phone craving may come at a cost

Some worry the wellness motion and its focus on personal responsibility let the tech industry off the hook

At 9.30 am on a Wednesday morning, I received a notification telling me I’d already picked up my phone 30 hours the working day.” 11 left until you go over your goal of 41 pickups ,” my screen read.” Put your telephone down until 9.52 am! Enjoy your time living in the moment .”

These updates were sent via Moment, an app that tracks my screen time.

Moment was created by Kevin Holesh in 2014 to combat his own device addiction. He was working as an independent app developer, spending hours each day staring at screens. After run, Holesh found that he was scrolling mindlessly through Twitter instead of talking to his wife or taking his puppies for a walk.

” I wanted a way of watching how much period I was sinking into my phone ,” he told me.” So I hacked something together that could monitor my screen time .”

Holesh found that he was spending 75 minutes on his telephone a day. He added a feature to the app that notified him whenever his screen time exceeded 40 minutes.” My phone would buzz, and I’d go and do something else ,” he said.” It was like a little angel on my shoulder nudging me in the right direction .”

Holesh figured that if the system worked for him, it would work for others, and later that year he released Moment as a free app. To date, it has been downloaded 8m times.

As well as tracking device use, Moment now has a ” coach-and-four ” function, which offers guided programs to help users focus and be more productive, for $7.99 a month.

I signed up for a week-long course called Bored and Brilliant that was supposed to help me regain ingenuity, but after five days I had attained little progress. By 10.30 am on Wednesday morning I received another notification informing me I had gone over my 41 allotted pickups.

Yet, Moment is popular, and many online reviews are positive.” I am so much happier, I sleep better, I read more, I take better care of myself, and most of all I am present in my day-to-day life ,” one reviewer wrote, merely heightening my sense of personal failure.

Moment’s popularity reflects a growing consciousness around” digital wellness”, the name given to lifestyle practises that encourage healthy device use. Wellness tendencies reflect the nervousness of the epoch in which they start; this one is about time being stolen from us. If being on the phone 24/7, or having tech-savvy kids, was once a signifier of productivity and affluence , now device craving signifies a loss of control.

Many digital wellness volumes, programs and apps encourage commonsense behavioral alters- say, leaving your phone outside your room when you go to sleep- aimed to help people regain control of their time in a digital economy designed to drip-feed information and dopamine in return for our data and attention.

But as this burgeoning movement becomes an industry, some worry that the “wellness” approach and its emphasis on personal responsibility is whitewashing deeper structural issues within the tech industry.

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Academics have been concerned about the addictive potential of computers for decades. As early as the 1970 s, pioneering computer scientist and technological sciences critic Joseph Weizenbaum warned that people had become ” addicted” to modern technology and that there was a need for” withdrawal therapies “.

While these criticisms were often overshadowed by prevailing techno-optimism- a belief that a more connected world was a better world- the narrative began to shift at the turn of the last decade with the rise of smartphones. As we became increasingly tethered to our screens, a growing number of experts and social commentators, like Sherry Turkle and Nicholas Carr, published grave warns that we were spending too much time on them.

As trust in the tech industry has atrophied over the past few years, this critical perspective has become commonplace. Countless articles, studies and books now tell us how our screen addiction is making us more anxious and depressed, incapable of thinking deeply and too distracted to engage in meaningful relationships or self-reflection. Concerns are particularly acute in relation to young people and how it may affect their development.

Born out of this cultural nervousnes is the digital wellness movement. Unlike earlier tech criticism, which was just trying to diagnosed and raise awareness around tech craving, digital wellness aims to provide solutions , often in the form of step-by-step programs.

Science journalist Catherine Price’s bestselling book of last year, How to Break Up With Your Phone: The 30 -Day Plan to Take Your Life Back , draws on cognitive science and philosophy to show how telephones and social media platforms are designed like slot machines to entice us in. She then offers an action plan involving mindfulness strategies, like putting a rubber band around the device as a reminder to take pause before plugging back in.

Cal Newport’s Digital Minimalism: Opting a Focused Life in a Noisy World examines real-life practices of Amish farmers, high-performing Silicon Valley programmers and others to identify” digital decluttering” strategies. This has earned Newport, a computer science professor at Georgetown University, the title of” Marie Kondo of technology “.

Another popular format is the guided digital detox program. Jocelyn K Glei, who hosts a productivity-related podcast called Hurry Slowly, recently launched Reset, a four-week online course aimed to help” push back against the toxic habits of technology “. Her customers receive video talks, reset rituals( including daily victory dances) and meditations to learn how to become ” empowered ” rather than ” overwhelmed “, ” appreciative” rather than ” critical” and “intentional” rather than “scatter-brained”.

Switching off, in this context, is an aspiration marketed directly at” busy people”, those for whom productivity and focus is key, but who can still ultimately afford to take time off. For the above reasons, many digital detox programs and retreats are associated with luxury.

Time To Log Off offers retreats where participants give up their smartphones, go for hikes, and talk about the pressure of being “on” 24/7. Villa Stephanie in Germany provides guests with an option to disconnect their room from the electrical grid via copper plates and signal blocking paint as part of a $570 a night “detox” package.

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For Holesh, part of the appeal of Moment is that it democratizes digital wellness by” session people where they are “. Many of the app’s newer functions- like” family mode”, which lets you monitor family screen hour- are still free, and new customers get a one-week free trial for the paid coaching programs.

But as with other successful wellness products, the apparent altruism is underpinned by a business model and a bottom line.

Last year Holesh hired Tim Kendall, a former Facebook and Pinterest executive known in Silicon Valley for taking ice baths and wearing a T-shirt that says “Focus”, to help grow the business.

Kendall , now CEO, told me that he sees the digital wellness as a growth area in the broader health and wellbeing industry, comparable to meditation apps, which in the first quarter of 2018 bought in $27 m in worldwide revenue.

At this stage, Moment produces revenue through the subscription-based coaching programs. Kendall believes that as they come to understand user behavior better, they will be able to provide more personalized programs to help people switch off more effectively.

” In the same way that Fitbit has a lot of information in aggregate that puts the company in a better position to make recommendations about how people can change behavior to be more active, we’re able to use our data across millions of users to help the customer gain control of their hour ,” he said.

Kendall assured me that Moment does not use personal information beyond improving the services offered for users. But the privacy policy on the website states that personal information can be sold to third parties and used for” direct marketing intents”, reinforcing the business model of the attention economy while offering a solution to its discontents through self-help.

A similar tactic is now also being deployed at scale by big tech companies. Merely last year Facebook and Instagram released time-management tools and an option to mute push notifications. Google announced new “wellbeing” features that help remind yourself to take a break from YouTube, restriction notificationsand clear clutter from your telephone. And Apple introduced” Screen Time”, which lets you track how much time you spend on particular apps.

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For many stalwarts of the digital wellness motion , big tech’s embracing of their ethos is seen as disingenuous.” Tech companies love the idea of digital wellness because it sets responsibility on us ,” Catherine Price told me.” It devotes them an excuse to be like tobacco companies and just say, well if you don’t like us, you don’t have to use our product .”

Price also pointed out that Apple has been making life harder for independent digital wellness developers( some have even been suspended from the App Store .)” If they were concerned with our wellbeing, why would they do this ?” she asked.” Frankly it all just seems like a PR exercise .”

Manoush Zomorodi, a journalist who has been writing about digital wellness since 2015, also questions whether companies that have become rich by designing mediated dopamine-driven feedback loops-the-loops can be part of the answer without altering their business model.

” People say, only turn off your phone, what’s the big deal? Well, we’re up against multibillion-dollar firms who know how to manipulate you ,” Zomorodi told me.” It’s not a neutral issue of me just needing to have healthier habits. What tech needs is design ethics .”

While Price and Zomorodi acknowledge these structural problems, they also believe that digital wellness practises can be useful tools.” We should be using everything at our disposal ,” Price told me.” If you want to see alter immediately you have to have the personal responsibility approach because it means we can change right now .”

Yet Jenny Odell, an artist whose book How to Do Nothingis a personal meditation on how to disconnect from the attention economy, is concerned that the digital wellness industry, with its emphasis on regaining lost period and productivity, reinforces a deeper culture problem.

” We’ve been trained to think of ourselves as marketable objects with 24 potentially monetizable hours ,” she says. Within this paradigm, the problem with addictive tech is that it is sapping us of our time that could be more productively expend capitalizing on our skills and waking hours.

” I think there has to be a distinction between having meaning in your life and being more productive ,” Odell adds.” They’re not the same thing. But they’re often being conflated by these digital detox products .”

In her volume, Odell traces how her desire for tech-mediated connection began to ease as she became interested in the birds living in her neighborhood, which then became a full-blown birdwatching hobby.” I found that infinitely more grounding than any digital detox program or app is going to be ,” she told me.” I don’t have to actively wrestle with technology. I put my phone down because I’m going for a walking and there’s something I want to look at .”

Odell acknowledges that birdwatching wouldn’t work for everyone, and that many of the step-by-step digital wellness programs can be useful in providing people relief, but questions how sustainable these solutions are.

” Instead of following a program to get back focus and productivity I made myself open to idleness ,” she says.” But the human desire for the quick fix is so deep that if you tell someone you have a number of steps with which they can remedy this really big structural and cultural problem, they will ignore the bigger picture and just take whatever they can get .”

Read more: www.theguardian.com

They taunt vegans and eat 4lb of steak a day: meet ‘carnivore dieters’

An extreme, all animal-based diet is gaining followers in search of heightened productivity, mental lucidity, and a boosted libido. But experts convey doubts

For the past 18 months, Shawn Baker has eaten about 4lb of steak every day.

” I’ve got two rib-eye steaks waiting for me when I get off this call ,” said Baker, a developed orthopaedic surgeon, from Orange County, California.” It can be monotonous eating the same thing over and over again, but as hour goes by you start to crave it .”

The 6ft 5in bodybuilder, in his 50 s, is one of a growing number of people experimenting with the “carnivore diet”, a regimen that involves eating merely animal products like meat, offal and eggs, and no plant-based foods. It’s an extreme version of the low-carb, high-fat ketogenic diet– which trains the body to run on fat rather than carbohydrates- that has become popular in recent years. Proponents of the diet “re saying it” reduces inflammation and blood pressure while increasing libido and mental clarity.

Baker, who is nicknamed the “Carnivore King” and has amassed a cult following on social media, says the diet is easy because he doesn’t have to plan meals or count calories.” I simply have to think: how hungry am I and how many steaks do I want to eat ,” he said.

Before becoming a pure carnivore, Baker was also eating salads, spinach, dairy and nuts. Trenching these plant-based foods has been transformative for his body and athletic performance, he says.

” My joint pain and tendinitis is away, my sleep became excellent, my skin improved. I no longer had any bloating, cramping or other digestive problems, my libido went back to what it was in my 20 s and my blood pressure normalised ,” he said.

Although most medical practitioners balk at the idea of their patients ditching fruit and vegetables, the all-meat diet has been embraced by a cluster of cryptocurrency entrepreneurs, who describe themselves as” bitcoin carnivores”, a phenomenon previously reported by Motherboard.

” Bitcoin is a rebellion against fiat[ government-backed] fund, and an all-meat diet is a revolt against fiat food ,” said Michael Goldstein, a” bitcoin and meat maximalist” based in Austin, Texas.” Once someone has grown capable of seeing beyond the lies and myths that experts peddle in one domain, it becomes easier to see beyond them in other domains as well .”

Goldstein, who runs a website dedicated to carnivory called Justmeat.co, eats 2-2. 5lb of “very rare” rib-eye steak each day, at a cost of about $400 a few months. He says he never has cravings for pizza, chocolate or veggies.” They don’t even register in my brain as food .”

He argues that eating merely meat has freed up his time to get more work done.” Grocery shopping takes all of 10 minutes, most of which is standing in the checkout line. I spend little time thinking about food. I only need to eat once or twice a day( no snacking or cravings ). Basically, it’s the greatest productivity hack, and Silicon Valley should have listened to me about it while I was there .”

Saifedean Ammous, a bitcoin economist, agrees, citing a” huge improvement” in productivity.

” The ability to focus for long periods has been life transforming, and was the reason that I managed to write a 300 -page book, on bitcoin, fittingly enough !” he said.

Lily Chien-Davis, a social media specialist at San Francisco-based startup Heads Up Health, says that the enhanced productivity and mental clarity explains why this diet, like intermittent fasting, is popular in Silicon Valley.

She started feeing a very low carb diet when her husband was diagnosed with cancer- some studies indicate that a ketogenic diet can help the body fight cancers. However, Chien-Davis found that changing her eating habits alleviated her pre-diabetes.

Chonky, fluffy, thicc: inside the internet’s obsession with fat cat on diets

More social media accounts are dedicating themselves to specific chonky the bag of cats and their weight-loss efforts

They’re chonky, they’re fluffy, they’re thicc and body pawsitive. They’re round sons, floofs and absolute units.

The new animal trend on the internet celebrates the rotund and plump, with social media users focusing on the adorableness of a cat’s rounded cheeks, a hamster’s many rolls, a dog’s rounded shape and a raccoon’s voluptuous volume.

The Instagram account Chonky Animals has more than 409,000 adherents while the Round Boys and Round Animals accounts top out at more than 455,000 and 487,000, respectively. The Facebook group, This Cat is Chonky, has more than 395,000 members and hundreds of new posts each day.

The trend creates concerns about overfeeding and maintaining a pet unhealthy for the sake of cuteness. While humans can decide if they are healthy at every sizing, animals cannot , nor do they have the ability to tell their owners if they need help. But it has also inspired a wholesome movement toward building sure these animals remain healthy, as well as cute. More and more accounts are now dedicating themselves to specific chonky cats- and their weight-loss efforts.

” A heavy cat is pretty adorable ,” said Mike Wilson, one of the owners of Bronson, a cat who was 33 pounds when he was adopted and is now 23 pounds, one year later.” A big cat on a diet is a guilt-free way to follow an obese cat .”

In addition to Bronson, who has more than 214,000 followers, there’s Bruno Bartlett, the gray polydactyl cat that likes to stand on his hind legs, and his brother, Carlo. On Facebook, Fat Laila’s efforts at fat camp are lovingly documented, as well as her missteps- when she snuck into the closet to steal treats one night.

” There’s a reason why the internet is so preoccupied with fat cats ,” said Lauren Paris, the owner of Bruno and Carlo. “They’re so cute.”

Paris felt drawn to Bruno when stories about a “thicc” cat up for adoption went viral last year. She and her friend wrote a song, Give Me That Fat Cat, ensuring not just the adoption, but Bruno’s Instagram stardom.

However, upon session him, she knew his claim to fame – his chub- could not stay.

” He was so adorable, but he was able to barely move ,” Paris said.” The shelter was doing the best they could do, but he lived in a room with other cats and he would just eat their food .”

Bronson
Bronson has now slimmed down to 23 pounds. Photograph: Courtesy of Mike Wilson

Because Bruno was already so public, his weight-loss journey became public as well. Paris posts when Bruno loses a pound, along with tongue-in-cheek hashtags such as” real cats have curves “. She posts pictures of him gazing longingly at human food, or meowing in the background to cooking bacon.

” I’m not going to lie, I think fat cats are cute, but not so cute that they shouldn’t be on a diet ,” Paris said.” Bruno, we look back at old videos of him and we guess,’ oh he’s so cute ,’ but he’s really cute now and he’s going to live a lot longer. That’s style better .”

Wilson and Bronson’s other owner, Megan Hanneman, felt the same way when it came to Bronson’s health. When they met him, he had to lie down to eat.” He merely was like a giant swollen ball ,” Wilson said.

” He was three years old and he weighed 33 pounds ,” Hanneman said.” The standard cat weighs like nine pounds, so he was about the dimensions of the three fairly big cats at three years old. He couldn’t move around .”

Bronson used to cry for more food before Wilson and Hanneman switched him to a wet diet that was less caloric but more filling. Even worse was when he would coax them awake for feedings.” At 3 in the morning, he’d come over and lay on us and purr in our faces ,” Hanneman said.

They enjoy posting about his weight-loss journey because cat weight loss is difficult. If cats lose weight too quickly, they can develop fatty liver disease, and typically sleep 18 hours a day and are hard to exercise, said Shari O’Neill, the chief shelter veterinarian at the San Francisco Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Cat are also grazers, so it’s hard to measure out how much food they need to get through a day.

” It’s been a lot of fun sharing tips-off on losing weight and things we’re doing with Bronson, knowing that a lot of people have this issue with their cat, even if it’s not that extreme ,” Wilson said.

But as with anything on the internet, there are trolls. “We’ve seen it all,” Paris said.” We watch,’ You’re mistreat this cat ‘. We also ensure,’ I miss when Bruno was fat ‘.”

Some of the top regulations in the Facebook group, This Cat is Chonky, include no chonk-shaming , no owner-shaming and don’t do politics or medical advice.

” People watch a picture of a fat cat and they think we attained it fat ,” Paris said.” Or when we just started to show his weight-loss photos, people who don’t know anything about cats will say,’ Oh, he only lost two pounds? Well he should have lost more by now .”

She continued:” You don’t know why a cat is fat. You don’t know what diets ought to have tried. You don’t know if it has diabetes or not .”

In between cute pictures of Bronson and videos of his monthly weigh-ins, Wilson and Hanneman also post about adoptable cats around the country that are largely overweight, something Paris thinks is a much-needed effort.

” Something that’s good about this internet trend is that it does draw attention to these pets that would be passed by traditionally ,” she said.” All of these famous chonky cats came from shelters. I think that shines a really good light. Kittens are more likely to be adopted, but if these internet-famous chonky cats are more likely to get adult cats adopted, then we did our undertakings .”

Read more: www.theguardian.com

‘Being mean is lucrative’: faggot users condemn YouTube over homophobic content

Sites waffling over harassment during Pride month was not surprising, YouTuber says

YouTube’s haphazard response to an anti-gay harassment controversy this week underscores thecompany’s continuing failure to protect creators from hate speech, faggot users say.

The platform’s initial refusal to discipline Steven Crowder for years of sustained anti-gay and racist harassment of Carlos Maza, a video journalist for the US news site Vox, depicted widespread criticism.

The company’s response was ” not surprising”, said Ash Hardell, a queer and non-binary YouTuber who said they had received little support from the company despite years of harassment. Watching YouTube send a series of conflicting messages regarding abuse from its official Twitter account, which is sporting a rainbow-emblazoned logo for Pride month, only added to the frustration.

” It feels like a slap in the face when they use queer content in their promotional videos ,” they said.” It feels like exploitation- if you want to use us, you actually have to care about us .”

Hardell posts LGBTQ educational and entertainment content, with videos like” I Dyed My Armpits Rainbow …’ cause Gay” and” Hilarious Prank on my Wife “. They have intimately documented their coming out process and top surgery procedure, sharing confessional videos with hundreds of thousands of followers.

They have also had content censored and remarks incapacitated due to problems with YouTube’s algorithm. In 2018, also during Pride month, YouTube was blamed after anti-LGBTQ ads were run alongside content made by queer creators.

This week’s controversy began when Maza made a video outlining the years of abuse he has suffered from the rightwing video personality Steven Crowder. YouTube said Crowder’s assaults on Maza calling him a” homosexual Mexican”, a” lispy faggot” and a” token Vox gay atheist sprite” did not violate its community guidelines against harassment.

After criticism, YouTube announced it would be re-evaluating harassment policies and update them “in coming months”. Google employees under the group moniker Googlers Against Hate called on the company, which is owned by Google, to remove its rainbow branding until it changed its policies.

Kat Blaque, a YouTuber and trans rights activist, said YouTube’s revenue model inherently incentivized volatile behaviour. Blaque has constructed videos about” why liberals vex me”, defining anarchy, and topics related to dating, weight loss, and beauty.

” When YouTube allowed monetization for all creators, it empowered a group of people to create content , not because they were passionate about it, but because it attained them a lot of money ,” Blaque said.” With that, you have people who unavoidably find out that being mean to other people is lucrative .”

Demonetizing hateful content is a step in the right direction, but the company’s refusal to remove Crowder’s account indicates he is” the kind of creator YouTube wants”, Blaque said.

Kat
Kat Blaque:’ You have people who inevitably find out that being mean to other people is lucrative .’ Photograph: Screenshot/ Kat Blaque/ YouTube

YouTube’s unclear terms of service make addressing harassment confounding and difficult, Hardell said , noting that the company appeared to have built them intentionally vague. As of now, YouTube forbiddings” abusive videos and comments” on the site but doesn’t clarify what constitutes abuse.

” If harassment traverses the line into a malicious attack it can be reported and may be removed ,” the guidelines say.” In other lawsuits, users may be mildly annoying or petty and should be ignored .”

Hardell said because of this wording, it was difficult to tell if Crowder’s videos transgressed YouTube’s harassment policy. Indeed, YouTube itself seems to be unclear on whether the speech is let on the platform.

” One particular challenge we face more and more these days is creator-on-creator harassment ,” a YouTube spokesman, Chris Dale, said in the company’s post on Wednesday.” Even if a creator’s content doesn’t violate our community guidelines, we will take a look at the broader context and impact, and if their behavior is egregious and harms the broader community, we may take action .”

As the target of a number of harassment campaigns, Hardell has not known where to turn in the past for help, relying on messaging YouTube’s account on Twitter or publicly complaining, as Maza did.

” It’s not clear what to do – it’s a crapshoot every time ,” Hardell said.” Right now it feels like the only way to get help is to have a large following and make a big stink about it, which does not set a good relationship for YouTube and its creators .”

Demonetizing users can sometimes backfire: as YouTube has attempted to tamp down on ” inappropriate ” content, whether adult videos, hate speech, or harassment, some LGBTQ inventors have been misclassified. Hardell said their videos were deemed” adult content” by the same algorithms meant to protect them, bringing viewership and ad revenue down.

Other queer inventors have also been affected: comedian Gaby Dunn said her LGBTQ content had been flagged as” not suitable for all advertisers” and the transgender vlogger Erin Armstrong said she watched her revenue plummet after advertising was removed from her videos.

Lindz
Lindz Amer:’ It is not possible to other place like YouTube to get an audience .’ Photograph: Courtesy Lindz Amer

Lindz Amer, a inventor of social justice videos on YouTube who is queer and non-binary, said this kind of harassment had been an issue since YouTube’s inception, and that despite a series of high-profile hate campaigns in recent years,” nothing has been done “.

” The thing that is most striking about it is that this is a story I have heard from so many people – it’s not a unique situation in any way ,” they said.” This is pretty much the norm for social justice inventors .”

Despite these frustrations, switching platforms is not an option for many creators. Amer said they had received more than 2m views on their channel, with an average of 100,000 positions per video on YouTube. When they tried to migrate content to Vimeo, they got an average of five opinions per video.

” YouTube has a complete monopoly on video hosting, and they know it ,” Amer said.” There is no other place like YouTube to get an audience where people can watch for free. They have that advantage and they can steer the conversation and do nothing .”

Read more: www.theguardian.com

Can your phone keep you fit? Our writers try 10 big fitness apps- from weightlifting to pilates

There are a dizzying number of apps promising to get you in shape even if you cant get to a gym. But can any of them keep our writers moving?


Centr

Price PS15. 49 a month.
What is it? A full-service experience from the Hollywood star Chris Hemsworth: not just workouts, but a complete meal planner- with food for breakfast, lunch and dinner- a daily guided meditation and a daily motivational article.
The experience I immediately regret proclaiming myself “intermediate” as the app launches into a punishing pilates workout. I am not very flexible at all, and it is about to change that my baseline fitness leaves much to be desired in terms of core strength.
More frustrating is the fact that the various workouts are introduced as videos. Clearly, this is supposed to emulate a real pilates class, but when my phone tells me to lie face-down on the floor I can no longer ensure the screen. It is frustrating to have to repeatedly break out of the pose to check the next movement.
Worth a download ? Only if you are single, enjoy cooking and are willing to hand control of your life to an app.
AH

Aaptiv

Price $14.99( PS11. 40) a few months or $99.99 a year.
What is it ? A cheery selection of audio workouts with curated tunes.
The experience Before I start, the app asks me my fitness level, how many times I work out a week, how many weeks a month, what days I work out on, what machines I have access to, and what equipment I have to hand. None of this stops it from absolutely destroying me with bodyweight exercises– but it is the thought that counts.
The teachers are great, with the right level of enthusiasm( read: grating in any other context ). I am glad to have clear verbal instructions for how to do the exercises, rather than wishing I could just read a list of workouts from my screen. Video walkthroughs, available before and after the workout, assist clear up any persisting concerns about form.
Worth a download ? If you want to get fit to the tune of PS7 5 a year, this is the app to expend your money on. AH

Alex
Alex get in the spirit. Photograph: Alicia Canter/ The Guardian

Fitocracy

Price Free; coaching from$ 1 a day.
What is it ? A bizarre mixture of a mediocre workout app and personal trainer upselling.
The experience You get what you pay for, and as a result the free version of Fitocracy is odd. The main workout app lets you defined a goal, then pick workouts from a listing, but the presentation of the workouts is much simpler than its competitors: only a list of exercisings and reps, which you check off as you go.
The problem is that much of the app is effectively broken, with visual artefacts- graphical flaws- all over the place. Digging in, the cause is clear: genuinely, the app is a gateway to a coaching business, where you can spend anything from$ 1 to $250 a month on a one-on-one consultation with a personal trainer.
Worth a download ? If you want free, there is better; if you want a coach, head to your local gym. AH

StrongLifts

StrongLifts
Photograph: Alicia Canter/ The Guardian

Price PS17. 49 a year.
What is it? A simple and direct approach to strength.
The experience A popular approach to learning to lift free weights, 5×5 involves doing five sets of five reps of heavy weights, with three different exercisings, three times a week.
It demands precisely what it does and no more. You need a gym, a squatting rack, a barbell and a bench. You don’t need to memorise a list of different exerts , nor wonder which equipment you are going to need today , nor, truly, think.
StrongLifts is the best introduction to this type of workout there is, basic coaching and tracking, as well as just enough motivation to get you to lift the next define. It is my personal favourite: in a year, I have gone from struggling with a 20 kg bar to reliably squatting my own weight.
Worth a download ? Yes, if you have access to a gym and don’t know what to do when you are there. AH

Nike Training Club

Nike
Photograph: Alicia Canter/ The Guardian

Price Free; PS13. 49 a month for the premium version.
What is it ? Slick branded workouts with a generous free offering.
The experience Nike Training Club, the workout sibling to
the more popular Nike Run Club, feels less human than its challengers. While the personal trainers are front and centre, they mostly exist as silent models demonstrating the best form for each exercise.
That may suit a certain type of self-motivated student. Less helpful, for me, is the approach to equipment. I feel as if Nike expects me to have an incredibly well-stocked home- with multiple dumbbells, a skipping rope and a bench- or induce myself tremendously unpopular at the gym by seize six things at once. That said, most of the app is available for free- a price you can’t beat.
Worth a download ? Yes, if free is the magic number. AH

Sweat: Kayla Itsines Fitness

Sweat
Photograph: Alicia Canter/ The Guardian

Price PS14. 99 a month or PS88 a year.
What is it ? The chance to have your workout( for the home and gym) and diet scheme organised by not only one Instagram influencer, but five- inspired by everything from
powerlifting and muay thai to yoga.
The experience Kayla Itsines was one of the first internet exercise influencers. She rose to fame with the Bikini Body Guides, her series of fitness ebooks( the name hasn’t aged well ). Itsines still offers the BBG programme, but it now includes differences for different fitness levels. This feels like an app that could stay fresh for well over a year. I like that there are adjustments for various exercises, that it is easy to sync to Spotify, and that it put so much emphasis on rest and rehabilitation to enhance healing.
The meal-planning features are disappointing, though. There is no option to swap indicated recipes, but as some of the suggestions are as unimaginative as” egg and salad roll”, I imagine quite a few people would want to.
Worth a download ? Yes- for the exercising, at least.
CK

Sworkit

Sworkit
Photograph: Alicia Canter/ The Guardian

Price $9.99 a month or $59.99 a year.
What is it? It is all about workout on Sworkit, and there is a hell of a lot of it. You can choose from a variety of plans or one-off workouts, customisable by time or focused on body parts( Sworkit is quite to be used in firming hoboes ).
The experience This has one of the best interfaces for exercising of the apps I tried. It works in landscape, counts you in before the next exercise starts and has a preview window to mentally prepare you for the next move. You can alter music within the exercise window and set how long you want to exercise for, with sessions beginning at five minutes. It also has a great voiceover feature: think of the sort of thing a gym instructor might say, such as” keep your toes pointing outward “. The app sends out push notifications to encourage you to exercise, but the upkeep of a plan does not depend on exercising every day. So, novices can define their own pace.
I can’t work out if the instructor figures on Sworkit are AI or humans, but either way I liked them. Sworkit has tried to make its teachers diverse- there are men and women in a variety of sizes. It is a small thing, but I appreciate not always having to follow someone with the figure of a goddess.
Worth a download ? Yes, especially for novices. None of Sworkit’s conferences involve equipment, so if you ever work out at home or while travelling, it can’t be beaten. CK

Fit Body with Anna Victoria

Price $16.99 a month.
What is it? The Instagram influencer Anna Victoria rose to fame with her downloadable workout plans known as the FBGs( or Fit Body Guides) and pictures of smoothie bowls. Here, she brings together her fitness and food advice in one app, offering 12 -week exercise and nutrition programmes, including a customisable snack planner.
The experience The app offer a series of 12 -week plans to last you 60 weeks( for home or gym, for weight loss or sculpting etc ), a forum for users, a journal to log notes and a healthy-meal planner, which aims to spoon-feed the user into eating well( the nutrition segment generates your recipes and grocery list for the week as well as reminding you when to drink water ).

Coco
Coco tries out the apps. Photograph: Alicia Canter/ The Guardian

I couldn’t get to grip with all of this, but when I tried it out there were some excellent features- a nutrition guide that is not just about calorie-counting( although the variety of the dishes may bore food fans ), plus educational videos( such as breathing does and don’ts) to help newcomers to regular exert. The downsides? The app doesn’t work in scenery mode, so checking the demo during workouts is difficult. Also, workouts often involve equipment. I am not convinced the app would work for total novices( push-ups in week one for a woman seems ambitious , not to mention the amount of vicious burpees ), while scanning future weeks leaves me know … … if it might get boring.
Worth a download ? Unless you are a fan of Victoria and her style, I can’t see it delivering enough. CK

Freeletics

Price PS1. 78 a week for educate; PS2. 66 including nutrional information.
What is it? Touted as a digital personal trainer, this app has a cultish fanbase thanks to its detailed personalised fitness plans.
The experience You can join in with the short but intense fitness challenges, or a variety of running, bodyweight or gym workouts. Users can opt for workouts anywhere between 10 and 25 minutes long, and can select sessions based on parts of the body. So far, so normal. But it is the Coach programme that stands out. The personal plans are created by algorithms that pool the data of users with similar stats to chart your journey. Key to this is regular logging; you will record your details when you first start( height, weight, general fitness level) and log after each workout, telling the app how tough you received it.

Freeletics
Freeletics Photograph: Alicia Canter/ The Guardian

Freeletics promises its workouts will be hard, but not so hard that you give up. It is the feedback moments that allow it to alter your plan accordingly, based on the behaviour of other users who the hell is similar experiences. As with a real coach, “theres plenty” of demo videos and tutorials to guide you through, plus helpful nudges to drink water and sleep well. The Coach can even see if you are overtraining. Freeletics also has a reasonably busy meetup community, some of the social elements of exercise that can be lost when training at home. Plus, the exercises don’t require any equipment
Worth a download ? Perfectly, if you have some experience of exercising- it could be a little overwhelming for a total newbie. CK

30 Day Fitness Challenge

Price Free; from PS1. 99 a week for the premium version.
What is it ? A 30 -day programme with levels from beginner to pro.
The experience Month-long challenges have become a staple of modern fitness. This app capitalises on the idea that people can do anything if it is in short bursts, hence the idea of daily sessions for 30 days.
Most of the challenges are focused on a specific area- there is the” flat belly challenge” and the” slim limbs challenge”- but nearly all involve a full-body workout. The video tutorials are clear and there are 400 workouts in the library if you feel like doing something completely different outside of the challenge. The objective outcome should be that your overall fitness is improved.
Worth a download ? Absolutely- 30 -day challenges may not be for everyone, but, unlike many other apps, there is plenty to do for free. CK

This article contains affiliate links, which means we may earn a small commission if a reader clicks through and makes a purchase. All our journalism is independent and is in no way influenced by any advertiser or commercial initiative. By clicking on an affiliate link, you accept that third-party cookies will be set. More information.

Read more: www.theguardian.com

‘Being entailed is lucrative’: queer users denounce YouTube over homophobic content

Sites waffling over harassment during Pride month was not surprising, YouTuber says

YouTube’s haphazard response to an anti-gay harassment controversy this week underscores thecompany’s continuing failure to protect inventors from hate speech, fag users say.

The platform’s initial refusal to discipline Steven Crowder for years of sustained anti-gay and racist harassment of Carlos Maza, a video journalist for the US news site Vox, described widespread criticism.

The company’s response was ” not surprising”, said Ash Hardell, a faggot and non-binary YouTuber who said they had received little support from the company despite years of harassment. Watching YouTube send a series of conflicting messages regarding abuse from its official Twitter account, which is sporting a rainbow-emblazoned logo for Pride month, only added to the frustration.

” It feels like a slap in the face when they use queer content in their promotional videos ,” they said.” It feels like exploitation- if you want to use us, you actually have to care about us .”

Hardell posts LGBTQ educational and amusement content, with videos like” I Dyed My Armpits Rainbow …’ cause Gay” and” Hilarious Prank on my Wife “. They have intimately documented their coming out process and top surgery procedure, sharing confessional videos with hundreds of thousands of followers.

They have also had content censored and commentaries disabled due to problems with YouTube’s algorithm. In 2018, also during Pride month, YouTube was criticized after anti-LGBTQ ads were run alongside content made by faggot creators.

This week’s controversy began when Maza made a video outlining the years of abuse he has endured from the rightwing video personality Steven Crowder. YouTube said Crowder’s assaults on Maza calling him a” lesbian Mexican”, a” lispy fag” and a” token Vox gay atheist sprite” did not violate its community guidelines against harassment.

After criticism, YouTube announced it would be re-evaluating harassment policies and update them “in coming months”. Google employees under the group moniker Googlers Against Hate called on the company, which is owned by Google, to remove its rainbow branding until it changed its policies.

Kat Blaque, a YouTuber and trans rights activist, said YouTube’s revenue model inherently incentivized volatile behavior. Blaque has built videos about” why liberals rile me”, defining anarchy, and topics related to dating, weight loss, and beauty.

” When YouTube allowed monetization for all creators, it empowered a group of people to create content , not because they were passionate about it, but because it stimulated them a lot of money ,” Blaque said.” With that, you have people who inevitably find out that being mean to other people is lucrative .”

Demonetizing hateful content is a step in the right direction, but the company’s refusal to remove Crowder’s account indicates he is” the kind of creator YouTube wants”, Blaque said.

Kat
Kat Blaque:’ You have people who unavoidably find out that being mean to other people is lucrative .’ Photograph: Screenshot/ Kat Blaque/ YouTube

YouTube’s unclear terms of service make addressing harassment confusing and difficult, Hardell said , noting that the company appeared to have made them intentionally vague. As of now, YouTube forbiddings” abusive videos and commentaries” on the site but doesn’t clarify what constitutes abuse.

” If harassment crosses the line into a malicious attack it can be reported and may be removed ,” the guidelines say.” In other examples, users may be mildly vexing or petty and should be ignored .”

Hardell said because of this wording, it was difficult to tell if Crowder’s videos contravened YouTube’s harassment policy. Indeed, YouTube itself seems to be unclear on whether the speech is let on the platform.

” One particular challenge we face more and more these days is creator-on-creator harassment ,” a YouTube spokesman, Chris Dale, said in the company’s post on Wednesday.” Even if a creator’s content doesn’t violate our community guidelines, we will take a look at the broader context and impact, and if their behavior is egregious and harms the broader community, we may take action .”

As the target of a number of harassment campaigns, Hardell has not known where to turn in the past for help, relying on messaging YouTube’s account on Twitter or publicly complaining, as Maza did.

” It’s not clear what to do – it’s a crapshoot every time ,” Hardell said.” Right now it feels like the only way to get help is to have a large following and make a big stink about it, which does not set a good relationship for YouTube and its inventors .”

Demonetizing users can sometimes backfire: as YouTube has attempted to tamp down on ” inappropriate ” content, whether adult videos, detest speech, or harassment, some LGBTQ inventors have been misclassified. Hardell said their videos were deemed” adult content” by the same algorithms meant to protect them, bringing viewership and ad revenue down.

Other queer inventors have also been affected: comedian Gaby Dunn said her LGBTQ content had been flagged as” not suitable for all advertisers” and the transgender vlogger Erin Armstrong said she watched her revenue plummet after advertising was removed from her videos.

Lindz
Lindz Amer:’ There is no other place like YouTube to get an audience .’ Photograph: Courtesy Lindz Amer

Lindz Amer, a inventor of social justice videos on YouTube who is queer and non-binary, said this kind of harassment had been an issue since YouTube’s inception, and that despite a series of high-profile hate campaigns in recent years,” nothing has been done “.

” The thing that is most striking about it is that this is a story I have already heard from so many people – it’s not a unique situation in any way ,” they said.” This is pretty much the norm for social justice creators .”

Despite these frustrations, switching platforms is not an option for many creators. Amer said they had received more than 2m positions on their channel, with an average of 100,000 views per video on YouTube. When they tried to migrate content to Vimeo, they got an average of five views per video.

” YouTube has a complete monopoly on video hosting, and they know it ,” Amer said.” There is no other place like YouTube to get an audience where people can watch for free. They have that advantage and they can steer the conversation and do nothing .”

Read more: www.theguardian.com

Can your telephone maintain you accommodate? Our writers try 10 big fitness apps- from weightlifting to pilates

There are a dizzying number of apps promising to get you in shape even if you cant get to a gym. But can any of them maintain our writers moving?


Centr

Price PS15. 49 a month.
What is it? A full-service experience from the Hollywood star Chris Hemsworth: not only workouts, but a complete dinner planner- with food for breakfast, lunch and dinner- a daily guided meditation and a daily motivational article.
The experience I immediately regret declaring myself “intermediate” as the app launches into a punishing pilates workout. I am not very flexible at all, and it turns out that my baseline fitness leaves much to be desired in terms of core strength.
More frustrating is the fact that the various workouts are introduced as videos. Clearly, this is supposed to emulate a real pilates class, but when my phone tells me to lie face-down on the floor I can no longer insure the screen. It is frustrating to have to repeatedly break out of the pose to check the next movement.
Worth a download ? Merely “if you il” single, enjoy cooking and are willing to hand control of your life to an app.
AH

Aaptiv

Price $14.99( PS11. 40) a few months or $99.99 a year.
What is it ? A cheery selection of audio workouts with curated tunes.
The experience Before I start, the app asks me my fitness level, how many times I work out a week, how many weeks a month, what days I work out on, what machines I have access to, and what equipment I have to hand. None of this stops it from absolutely destroying me with bodyweight exerts– but it is the thought that counts.
The instructors are great, with the right level of enthusiasm( read: grating in any other context ). I am glad to have clear verbal instructions for how to do the exercises, rather than wishing I could just read a list of workouts from my screen. Video walkthroughs, available before and after the workout, help clear up any lingering concerns about form.
Worth a download ? If you want to get fit to the tune of PS7 5 a year, this is the app to expend your money on. AH

Alex
Alex gets in the spirit. Photograph: Alicia Canter/ The Guardian

Fitocracy

Price Free; coaching from$ 1 a day.
What is it ? A bizarre mixture of a mediocre workout app and personal trainer upselling.
The experience You get what you pay for, and as a result the free version of Fitocracy is odd. The main workout app lets you set a aim, then pick workouts from a list, but the submission of the workouts is much simpler than its competitors: merely a list of exercises and reps, which you check off as you go.
The problem is that much of the app is effectively broken, with visual artefacts- graphical glitches- all over the place. Digging in, the cause is clear: really, the app is a gateway to a coaching business, where you can spend anything from$ 1 to $250 a month on a one-on-one consultation with a personal trainer.
Worth a download ? If you want free, there is better; if you want a coach-and-four, head to your local gym. AH

StrongLifts

StrongLifts
Photograph: Alicia Canter/ The Guardian

Price PS17. 49 a year.
What is it? A simple and direct approach to strength.
The experience A popular approach to learning to lift free weights, 5×5 involves doing five decides of five reps of heavy weights, with three different workouts, three times a week.
It demands precisely what it does and no more. You need a gym, a squat rack, a barbell and a bench. You don’t need to memorise a list of different exercises , nor wonder which equipment you are going to need today , nor, genuinely, think.
StrongLifts is the best introduction to this type of workout there is, basic coaching and tracking, as well as just enough motivation to get you to lift the next set. It is my personal favourite: in a year, I have gone from struggling with a 20 kg bar to reliably squatting my own weight.
Worth a download ? Yes, if you have access to a gym and don’t know what to do when you are there. AH

Nike Training Club

Nike
Photograph: Alicia Canter/ The Guardian

Price Free; PS13. 49 a few months for the premium version.
What is it ? Slick branded workouts with a generous free offering.
The experience Nike Training Club, the workout sibling to
the more popular Nike Run Club, feels less human than its challengers. While the personal trainers are front and centre, they largely exist as silent models demonstrating the best form for each exercise.
That may suit a certain type of self-motivated student. Less helpful, for me, is the approach to equipment. I feel as if Nike expects me to have an incredibly well-stocked home- with multiple dumbbells, a skip rope and a bench- or attain myself enormously unpopular at the gym by seize six things at once. That said, most of the app is available for free- a price you can’t beat.
Worth a download ? Yes, if free is the magic number. AH

Sweat: Kayla Itsines Fitness

Sweat
Photograph: Alicia Canter/ The Guardian

Price PS14. 99 a month or PS88 a year.
What is it ? The chance to have your workout( for the home and gym) and diet plan organised by not only one Instagram influencer, but five- inspired by everything from
powerlifting and muay thai to yoga.
The experience Kayla Itsines was one of the first internet exercise influencers. She rose to fame with the Bikini Body Guides, her series of fitness ebooks( the name hasn’t aged well ). Itsines still offers the BBG programme, but it now includes fluctuations for different fitness levels. This feels like an app that could stay fresh for well over a year. I like that there are adjustments for various exercises, that it is easy to sync to Spotify, and that it put so much emphasis on rest and rehabilitation to enhance healing.
The meal-planning features are disillusioning, though. There is no option to swap indicated recipes, but as some of the suggestions are as unimaginative as” egg and salad roll”, I imagine quite a few people would want to.
Worth a download ? Yes- for the exercise, at least.
CK

Sworkit

Sworkit
Photograph: Alicia Canter/ The Guardian

Price $9.99 a month or $59.99 a year.
What is it? It is all about workout on Sworkit, and there is a hell of a lot of it. You can choose from a variety of plans or one-off workouts, customisable by period or focused on body parts( Sworkit is quite invested in firming hoboes ).
The experience This has one of the best interfaces for exerting of the apps I tried. It works in landscape, counts you in before the next exercise starts and has a preview window to mentally prepare you for the next move. You can alter music within the exercise window and defined how long you want to exercise for, with sessions beginning at five minutes. It also has a great voiceover feature: think of the sort of thing a gym teacher might say, such as” keep your toes pointing outward “. The app is sending out move notifications to encourage you to exercise, but the upkeep of a plan does not depend on exercising every day. So, novices can set their own pace.
I can’t work out if their teachers figures on Sworkit are AI or humen, but either way I liked them. Sworkit has tried to make its teachers diverse- there are men and women in a variety of sizes. It is a small thing, but I appreciate not always having to follow someone with the figure of a goddess.
Worth a download ? Yes, especially for beginners. None of Sworkit’s conferences require equipment, so if you ever work out at home or while travelling, it can’t be beaten. CK

Fit Body with Anna Victoria

Price $16.99 a month.
What is it? The Instagram influencer Anna Victoria rose to fame with her downloadable workout plans known as the FBGs( or Fit Body Guides) and pictures of smoothie bowls. Here, she brings together her fitness and food advice in one app, offering 12 -week exercise and nutrition programmes, including a customisable dinner planner.
The experience The app offer a series of 12 -week plans to last you 60 weeks( for home or gym, for weight loss or sculpting etc ), a forum for users, a journal to log notes and a healthy-meal planner, which aims to spoon-feed the user into eating well( the nutrition section makes your recipes and grocery list for the week as well as reminding you when to drink water ).

Coco
Coco tries out the apps. Photograph: Alicia Canter/ The Guardian

I couldn’t get to grip with all of this, but when I tried it out there were some excellent features- a nutrition guide that is not just about calorie-counting( although the various forms of the dishes may bore food devotees ), plus educational videos( such as breathing dos and don’ts) to help newcomers to regular workout. The downsides? The app doesn’t work in scenery mode, so checking the demo during workouts is difficult. Also, workouts often involve equipment. I am not convinced the app would work for total novices( push-ups in week one for a woman seems ambitious , not to mention the amount of vicious burpees ), while scan future weeks leaves me know … … if it might get boring.
Worth a download ? Unless you are a fan of Victoria and her style, I can’t see it delivering enough. CK

Freeletics

Price PS1. 78 a week for educate; PS2. 66 including nutrional information.
What is it? Touted as a digital personal trainer, this app has a cultish fanbase thanks to its detailed personalised fitness schemes.
The experience You can join in with the short but intense fitness challenges, or a variety of running, bodyweight or gym workouts. Users can opt for workouts anywhere between 10 and 25 minutes long, and can select sessions based on parts of the body. So far, so normal. But it is the Coach programme that stands out. The personal plans are created by algorithms that pool the data of users with similar stats to chart your journey. Key to this is regular logging; you will record your details when you first start( height, weight, general fitness level) and log after each workout, telling the app how tough you procured it.

Freeletics
Freeletics Photograph: Alicia Canter/ The Guardian

Freeletics promises its workouts is difficult to, but not so hard that you give up. It is the feedback moments that allow it to alter your plan accordingly, based on the behaviour of other users who had similar experiences. As with a real coach, there are plenty of demo videos and tutorials to guide you through, plus helpful nudges to drink water and sleep well. The Coach can even see if you are overtraining. Freeletics also has a fairly busy meetup community, providing some of the social elements of exercise that can be lost when training at home. Plus, the exercises don’t require any equipment
Worth a download ? Perfectly, if you have some experience of exerting- it could be a little overwhelming for a total newbie. CK

30 Day Fitness Challenge

Price Free; from PS1. 99 a week for the premium version.
What is it ? A 30 -day programme with levels from beginner to pro.
The experience Month-long challenges have become a staple of modern fitness. This app capitalises on the idea that people can do anything if it is in short bursts, hence the idea of daily sessions for 30 days.
Most of the challenges are focused on a specific area- there is the” flat belly challenge” and the” slim arms challenge”- but nearly all involve a full-body workout. The video tutorials are clear and there are 400 workouts in the library if you feel like doing something completely different outside of the challenge. The objective outcome should be that your overall fitness is improved.
Worth a download ? Utterly- 30 -day challenges may not be for everyone, but, unlike many other apps, there is plenty to do for free. CK

This article contains affiliate connections, which means we may earn a small commission if a reader clicks through and makes a purchase. All our journalism is independent and is in no way influenced by any advertiser or commercial initiative. By clicking on an affiliate connection, you accept that third-party cookies will be set. More information.

Read more: www.theguardian.com

Instagram tightens rules on diet and cosmetic surgery posts

Platform responds to concerns about impact of content on mental health of young people

Instagram has announced that tighter limiteds are to be imposed on some posts related to diet products and cosmetic surgery.

The social media platform said that from Wednesday on both Instagram and Facebook, age restrictions would be applied to some such posts while others would be removed.

Concerns have been raised about potential impacts that diet, detox and cosmetic surgery content can have on young people, their mental health and body image.

Instagram said that under its new regulations, posts that promote the use of certain weight-loss products or cosmetic procedures, which have an incentive to buy or include a price, will be hidden from users known to be under 18.

In addition, the platform said any content that made a ” miraculous ” assert about a diet or weight-loss product and was linked to a commercial offer such as a discount code, would now be removed from Instagram.

Emma Collins, Instagram’s public policy manager said:” We want Instagram to be a positive place for everyone that uses it and this policy is part of our ongoing work to reduce the pressure that people can sometimes feel as a result of social media.

” We’ve sought guidance from external experts, including Dr Ysabel Gerrard in the UK, to make sure any steps to restrict and remove this content will have a positive impact on our community of over 1 billion people around the world- whilst ensuring Instagram remains a platform for expres and discussion .”

Jameela
Jameela Jamil:’ This is a huge win for our ongoing fight against the diet/ detox industry .’ Photograph: Astrid Stawiarz/ Getty Images for NYFW: The Shows

Actor and body positivity campaigner Jameela Jamil, who has repeatedly criticised high-profile online figures including Khloe Kardashian for posting on social media about diet products, said the update was a victory for mental health advocates.

” This is a huge win for our ongoing fight against the diet/ detox industry ,” she said.” Facebook and Instagram taking a stand to protect the physical and mental health of people online sends an important message out to the world.

” I’m thrilled to have been able to work towards this with them, alongside a host of other experts who shed light on the danger of these products.

” Instagram were supportive and helpful when I brought them my protests and petitions; they listened, they cared, they moved so efficiently, and communicated with us throughout the process .”

The Good Place actor started the I Weigh movement and a related account on Instagram in response to the amount of content she felt was promoting unhealthy lifestyles and diet products, indicating society was measuring success based on weight.

The account encouraged people to share their achievements regardless of their body shape and has since gained more than 830,000 followers.

” As someone who struggled with an eating disorder for most of my youth, I’ve personally known and suffered the perils of the devious side of the diet and detox industry ,” she said.

” A focus of our advocacy since inception, it is a proud day for I Weigh and a day of hope for our generation, who deserve respect and protection from the celebrities and influencers that they follow .”

Read more: www.theguardian.com

Selfies, influencers and a Twitter president: the decade of the social media celebrity

From Gyneth Paltrow to Trump, todays starrings speak directly to their fans. But are they genuinely controlling their message?

I have a friend, Adam, who is an autograph seller- a niche profession, and one that is getting more niche by the day. When we gratify for breakfast last month he was looking despondent.

” Everyone takes selfies these days ,” he said sadly, picking at his scrambled eggs.” It’s never autographs any more. They just want photos of themselves with celebrities .”

Anyone who has attended a red carpet event or watched one on Tv, knows that selfies have securely supplanted autographs, with fans careening desperately towards celebrities with outstretched phones instead of pens and paper. Celebrities have adapted accordingly. In 2017, a video of Liam Payne ran viral that depicted him miserably working his way down a line of selfie-takers, his smile lasting as long as it took for each fan to press click.

A photo of oneself with, say, Tom Cruise, feels more personal than a mere scribbled signature, which he could have given anyone( and could have been signed by anyone ). But the real reason selfies have abruptly rendered autographs as obsolete as landline telephones is because of social media. Instagram is constructed for photos , not autographs, and what’s the point of having your photo taken with Payne if you don’t then immediately post it and watch the ” OMG !” s and” NO Way !!!!” s come flooding in? If you stand next to a celebrity and your friends don’t like the photo, did it ever happen? Do you even exist?

Instagram launched in 2010, four years after Twitter, six years after Facebook. Although social media was originally pitched as a way for people to keep in touch with their friends, it quickly also became a way for people to feel greater proximity to celebrities, and to flaunt this closeness to others. Facebook, with characteristic hamfistedness, attempted to monetise this in 2013, when it announced it was trialling a feature that would allow users to pay to contact celebrities for a sliding scale of fees: 71 p for Jeremy Hunt, PS10. 68 for Tom Daley. But there was no need for people to spend money for the privilege, because celebrities had already proven extremely keen to bend down low and share their lives with the peasants. When Demi Moore appeared on David Letterman in 2010, she was already so addicted to Twitter she continued to tweet while live on air to millions. (” This stinks ,” Letterman griped .)

The appeal of social media for a celebrity is obvious, in that it allows them to talk to the public without those awful middlemen: journalists. The past decade is littered with examples of why celebrities( and their publicists) now prefer social media( which they can control) to giving interviews( which they cannot .) It’s unlikely that Michael Douglas would have tweeted that his throat cancer was caused by cunnilingus, as he told the Guardian’s Xan Brooks in 2013( and for which he later publicly apologised to his wife, Catherine Zeta Jones ). It’s even less likely that Liam Neeson would have made an Instagram story about the time he went out hoping to kill a” black bastard” after a friend was raped, as he said in an interview this year. Why risk such disasters when, instead, you can just take a flattering photo, slap a filter on it and post it to your already adoring followers? Mega celebrities with a hyper-online fanbase- Justin Bieber, Beyonce, Frank Ocean- can now go for years without giving an interview and their careers are helped rather than harmed for it.

Instagram is an airbrushing app, one that lets people touch up their photos, specifically, and their own lives, generally, by determining what they choose to post.( When Jennifer Aniston ultimately joined social media last month, and momentarily broke the internet, she naturally chose Instagram over the bearpit of Twitter .) Some are more honest about this than others: after he married Kim Kardashian- the celebrity who more than any other has made a virtue out of artifice- Kanye West proudly told reporters in 2014 that the two of them expended four days of their honeymoon in Florence playing with the filters on the wedding photo, that they eventually posted on Instagram,” because the flowers were off-colour and stuff like that “.

Frank
Frank Ocean: a mega celebrity with a hyper-online fanbase. Photograph: Rex/ Shutterstock

You wonder what they’d do with all that time if the internet didn’t exist- remedy cancer, perhaps? Musician John Legend and his wife Chrissy Teigen have established a new kind of fame for themselves with their regular social media posts: with Teigen complaining about Donald Trump on Twitter; both of them posting photos of their perfect household on Instagram. Teigen is considered more “real” than her friend Kardashian because she is funny and doesn’t take money to advertise dodgy weight-loss supplements. But their photos are as idealised and managed as any Hello! shoot. The reason Teigen- a heretofore relatively little known model- has over 26 million adherents on Instagram is because she hits that social media sweet place, which is to be( to use two of the more grating buzzwords of the decade) aspirational and authentic.

At the beginning of this decade, it was the aspirational side of the equation that was deemed more important- leading to the rise of a new kind of celebrity: the influencers. This bewilder group of people indicate their lives are so perfect that, by showing us photos of how they eat, dress, mother, travel, decorate, exert, put on makeup and even remedy themselves of illness, they will influence us to do the same. For the successful, the money was suddenly limitless, as brands realised that the public trusted influencers more than adverts, and so threw money at them to endorse their products; Kylie Jenner, a makeup influencer, currently makes$ 1m per sponsored post. This was always a delicate bubble and it finally began to burst last year, when the Advertising Standards Authority decreed that influencers need to spell it out when they’re being paid to promote something. Writing ” ADVERT ” beneath that perfect photo of you chugging some Smart Water next to a waterfall doesn’t really boost one’s authenticity.

Even more problematic were the Fyre Festival debacle and the fall of YouTube superstars such as Logan Paul and PewDiePie, scandals that eroded the relationship between online celebrities and their followers. It turns out influencers weren’t more trustworthy than adverts; in fact, in the unregulated world of the web, they were markedly less so.

An older demographic has sneered at influencers, as they did with the previous decade’s reality Tv stars, indicating they are not ” real” celebrities. This is an absurd complaint, in recognition of the fact that some influencers have more adherents than traditional movie stars do. Yet influencers atomise audiences in a way traditional celebrities don’t: even if you have never bought Vogue, you’ll know who Cindy Crawford is; unless you follow Chiara Ferragni on social media you will likely have no idea who she is- and yet the style influencer has four times as many adherents as Crawford.

Ironically, the rise of the influencer began with a very old-school celebrity, one who is frequently accused of being the personification of the worst kind of elitist privilege: Gwyneth Paltrow. When Paltrow launched her wellness website, Goop, in 2008, few would have predicted it would reshape both Paltrow’s career and cultural notions of what constitutes an aspirational lifestyle. Paltrow helped usher out the 2000 s trend for bling and Cristal, swapping them for yoga clothes and gluten-free kale crisps, stimulating discreet asceticism the ultimate -Alister look. Which is more authentic is debatable, but the biggest swap Paltrow stimulated was personal: “shes gone” from being an Academy Award-winning actor to online influencer. And, in recognition of the fact that her company is now estimated to be worth $ 250 m, she probably stimulated the more lucrative choice.

Happily , not everyone uses social media to hawk fantasy images of themselves. Occasional glimpses of reality peek through, to everyone’s delight, and by “reality” I entail “feuds”. We’ve had Katy Perry and Taylor Swift’s long-running snarky subtweets aimed at one another. There were Kim Cattrall’s explicit swipes at Sarah Jessica Parker on Instagram. After her brother died, she wrote:” I don’t need your love or support at this tragic time @ sarahjessicaparker. Let me make this VERY clear.( If I haven’t already .) You are not my family. You are not my friend. So I’m writing to tell you one last time to stop exploiting our tragedy in order to restore your’ nice girl’ persona .” Most recently, Coleen Rooney accused” Rebekah Vardy’s account” of selling tales about her to the tabloids. One can only feel deep stabs of regret that Bette Davis and Joan Crawford died before either had access to an iPhone.

As much as young celebrities tout the importance of authenticity, those who come across as most genuine tend to be the older ones- perhaps because they are less internet savvy, or, more likely, have fewer media directors. Bette Midler and, in particular, Cher have really come into their own on Twitter, gleefully sharing their often emoji-heavy supposes on Trump and politics in general. (” What do you think of Boris Johnson ?” one tweeter asked Cher.” F-ing idiot who lied to the British ppl ,” the goddess replied, rightly .) And while Instagram may be best known for hyper-stylised photos of, say, Beyonce holding her newborn twins, the most purely enjoyable celebrity accounts belong to Glenn Close- she posts candid videos of herself and her puppies, always liked by Michael Douglas- and Diane Keaton, who posts decidedly unstylised photos of herself.” YES, I AM WEARING[ TROUSERS] UNDER A SKIRT” is a typical all-caps caption. Ever wanted to know what Annie Hall would be like online? Now you know.

Actor
Sarah Jessica Parker, target of Instagram swipes from fellow Sex And The City star Kim Cattrall. Photograph: Reuters

Of course, the downside to being able to reach one’s public immediately is that the public can reach back. Stars from Stephen Fry to Nicki Minaj have publicly left social media sites after the audience proved a little less admiring than they hoped. “Stan”- or obsessive fan- culture has blossomed. Sometimes this has been to the celebrity’s benefit: Lady Gaga’s fan squad, the Little Monsters, amped up her Oscar campaign for A Star Is Born. But if stans feel they have been let down by the object of their preoccupation, they will viciously bully the( usually female) star, as Katy Perry and Demi Lovato have experienced. As a outcome, many celebrities have turned off the comments on their accounts, so we can hear them but they can’t hear us. So much for getting closer.

And yet, for all the fascination social media currently exerts, the celebrity narratives that will have the most enduring impact did not start there. There had been rumors about Harvey Weinstein for years, but he was ultimately undone by good old-fashioned investigative reporting, by Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey at the New York Times, and Ronan Farrow at the New Yorker. Michael Jackson, R Kelly, Woody Allen, Max Clifford, Kevin Spacey and Bryan Singer became pariahs( in Jackson’s case, posthumously) when their accusers spoke to journalists. Caitlyn Jenner introduced herself to the world , not on social media, but on the covering of Vanity Fair. When Prince Harry and the Duchess of Sussex, the artist formerly known as Meghan Markle, spoke out against the “campaigns” against her, they directed their rage towards the print media( and the Mail on Sunday in particular ). Ironically, this could be seen as instead reassuring to the newspaper industry: sure, our sales are falling, but for a certain kind of celebrity, publish is still what matters.

Nonetheless, this decade has, in a very profound way, been shaped by the social media celebrity. Donald Trump did not emerge from the online world; he came to prominence through the traditional format of TV. But he has taken advantage of the route Twitter prioritises personality over expertise: it doesn’t really matter what you say, as long as you say it in a way that captures the most attention; and the public has grown accustomed to this kind of communication. In the early part of the decade, Trump devoted himself a Twitter makeover; it was a platform where he could move from being the embodiment of obnoxious Manhattan privilege( bragging in interviews that he wouldn’t rent an apartment to anyone on welfare ), to the say-it-like-it-is kinda guy, the one who tweets about the dangers of vaccination. When he ran for the presidency, Trump maintained this persona, and many people assumed that’s all it was- a persona- and one he would fell once in office. Well, we all know how that turned out.

Now he, and in this country, Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn, treat their offices as if they were a form of social media: they rely on the web to build a dedicated following, and complain about journalists who venture anything but adoring coverage. They disdain traditional interviews, preferring instead to put out their messages via Facebook or Twitter, metaphorically turning off the comments, staying comfortably inside their respective bubbles. Social media was never supposed to reflect the real world, but the real world is increasingly being bent to reflect social media. And it’s not only autograph vendors who will suffer for that.

* If you would like a comment on this piece to be considered for inclusion on Weekend magazine’s letters page in publish, please email weekend @theguardian. com, including your name and address( not for publishing ).

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They taunt vegans and feed 4lb of steak a day: gratify ‘carnivore dieters’

An extreme, all animal-based diet is gaining followers in search of heightened productivity, mental clarity, and a boosted libido. But experts carry doubts

For the past 18 months, Shawn Baker has eaten about 4lb of steak every day.

” I’ve got two rib-eye steaks waiting for me when I get off this call ,” said Baker, a developed orthopaedic surgeon, from Orange County, California.” It can be monotonous eating the same thing over and over again, but as hour goes by you start to crave it .”

The 6ft 5in bodybuilder, in his 50 s, is one of a growing number of people experimenting with the “carnivore diet”, a regimen that involves eating merely animal products like meat, offal and eggs, and no plant-based foods. It’s an extreme version of the low-carb, high-fat ketogenic diet– which develops the body to run on fat rather than carbohydrates- that has become popular in recent years. Proponents of the diet say it reduces rednes and blood pressure while increasing libido and mental clarity.

Baker, who is nicknamed the “Carnivore King” and has amassed a cult following on social media, says the diet is easy because he doesn’t have to plan meals or count calories.” I just have to think: how hungry am I and how many steaks do I want to eat ,” he said.

Before becoming a pure carnivore, Baker was also eating salads, spinach, dairy and nuts. Trenching these plant-based foods has been transformative for his body and athletic performance, he says.

” My joint pain and tendinitis went away, my sleep became excellent, my scalp improved. I no longer had any bloating, cramping or other digestive problems, my libido went back to what it was in my 20 s and my blood pressure normalised ,” he said.

Although most medical practitioners balk at the idea of their patients ditching fruit and vegetables, the all-meat diet has been embraced by a cluster of cryptocurrency entrepreneurs, who describe themselves as” bitcoin carnivores”, a phenomenon previously reported by Motherboard.

” Bitcoin is a revolt against fiat[ government-backed] fund, and an all-meat diet is a insurrection against fiat food ,” said Michael Goldstein, a” bitcoin and meat maximalist” based in Austin, Texas.” Once someone has grown capable of see beyond the lies and myths that experts peddle in one domain, it becomes easier to see beyond them in other domains as well .”

Goldstein, who runs a website dedicated to carnivory called Justmeat.co, feeds 2-2. 5lb of “very rare” rib-eye steak each day, at a cost of about $400 a month. He says he never has cravings for pizza, chocolate or veggies.” They don’t even register in my brain as food .”

He argues that eating merely meat has freed up his time to get more work done.” Grocery shopping takes all of 10 minutes, most of which is standing in the checkout line. I spend little time thinking about food. I merely need to eat once or twice a day( no snacking or cravings ). Basically, it’s the greatest productivity hack, and Silicon Valley should have listened to me about it while I was there .”

Saifedean Ammous, a bitcoin economist, concurs, quoting a” huge improvement” in productivity.

” The ability to focus for long periods has been life transforming, and was the reason that I managed to write a 300 -page book, on bitcoin, fittingly enough !” he said.

Lily Chien-Davis, a social media specialist at San Francisco-based startup Heads Up Health, says that the enhanced productivity and mental clarity explains why this diet, like intermittent fasting, is popular in Silicon Valley.

She started eating a very low carb diet when her husband was diagnosed with cancer- some studies indicate that a ketogenic diet can help the body fight cancers. However, Chien-Davis found that changing her eating habits alleviated her pre-diabetes.