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  • Writer's pictureLaura Berni

Dolls, Femininity and Auto-status

Hello and welcome back to our weekly update on the most interesting (to me, LOL) digital trends! If this is your first time reading my blog, shame on you! But you are well in time to go back and catch-up on last week's news. One of the many good things about the internet it is that it is F A S T. So whether you are reading this on your phone, laptop or desktop computer, there literally is no excuse for you to not go and check out my very first blog.

Anyways! Here are this week’s news:

Interestingly, I want to open with a trend that is not completely digital and has nothing to do with Social Media (Second blog and I am already changing the format: doesn't seem very intelligent). I am sure many of you have played or avoided playing (like me) with Barbie dolls and Polly Pockets growing up. Those dolls impersonated the mainstream idea of being a girl and were historically known for asserting traditional images of femininity. Personally, I did not like them even though I loved playing with dolls. I remember cutting most of my doll’s hair short and dressing them with knitted clothes that my grandmother would make. I loved playing with colours and textures. I did not like Barbies because they represented something so far from me that I could not understand them. There was little to no creativity involved in playing with them as they all looked the same!

Last week, famous toy brand Mattel, the very toy brand that owns Barbie and Polly Pocket, launched the world’s first gender-neutral doll. Creatable World is a line of dolls with figures and features that don’t appear obviously male or female, allowing children to style and dress them up in any way they choose. Each doll comes with a selection of wigs, clothes and accessories giving kids free rein to play without consideration of gender.

“In our world, dolls are as limitless as the kids who play with them. Introducing Creatable World, a doll line designed to keep labels out and invite everyone in—giving kids the freedom to create their own customizable characters again and again.”

As a Millennial, the discussions about femininity and gender have always been of high interest to me. However, I was born in the last years of the Millennial generation, and many of those older millennials are now creating families for themselves. Millennial parents are concerned about how their parenting techniques will impact their children as they get older, and are placing more and more attention to gender issues. They want to make sure their kids don’t feel oppressed by stereotypical expectations of girls and boys.

Mattel is probably just adapting its business to a new generation of parents, but this is certainly an interesting step towards a more fluid society, where girls and boys can find their role models in anyone.

Going back to Social Media,

Instagram keep adding features to its platform, and some of them are freaky.

As of a couple of weeks, Instagram has launched its new messaging app - Threads - which only includes conversations with your close friends. This app now includes a new 'Auto-Status' feature that would help to keep people updated on your movements throughout the day. Where Threads looks to differentiate from other messaging apps is exactly in its Status and Auto Status tools. Status enables users to manually set an emoji as an away message, giving their friends a visual representation of what they’re up to at any given time. Auto Status, meanwhile, will allocate an emoji status without manual input, making an assumption based on your location, your movement, your phone’s battery level, etc.

As you can imagine, this feature has caused some concern. So Instagram was quick to reassure its users that before auto status is enabled, everyone will be told what information Auto Status is requesting and will be asked to specifically agree.

Instagram is also rolling out a new option called “restrict” which will enable users to limit the exposure of certain users when they comment on their posts. As explained by Instagram:

“You can restrict someone by swiping left on a comment, through the Privacy tab in Settings, or directly on the profile of the account you intend to restrict. Once Restrict is enabled, comments on your posts from a person you have restricted will only be visible to that person.”

This feature seems to be falling a bit unnoticed, but I consider it a massive step forwards from the company in protecting people from cyberbullying and trolling. You can shut down any 'commentor' you choose, without that person knowing, which means they can go on thinking they're reaching you, and your followers, but they won't be. In addition to this, by using 'Restrict', instead of blocking someone, users can still keep tabs on that users' comments, and report them at a later stage if they cross the line.

Last but not least:

Snapchat is looking to provide a new option which would enable users to create simple, free Geofilters tagged to their home address, which visitors to their home would then be able to add to their Snaps.

Once enabled, Snapchat would then provide you with a range of simple Home filter templates which display your Bitmoji likeness. You would then be able to add text to the design, then apply it to your Home location.


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