If the last few days have felt tense and overwhelming, to say the least, allow this to bring a little levity to your day: Instagram just announced a major update to Instagram Stories with three brand-new features. This will be the biggest update to Instagram's Snapchat-like platform since it launched in August.
The first of these new tools, @ mentions, introduces a new social element to Stories. Now, you'll be able to tag a friend in a story in the same way that you tag them in an Instagram caption, by adding their username to a photo or video. The person you tag will get a direct message letting them know.
Another new feature, links, feels similar to Snapchat Discover. The main difference here, of course, is that the fun of linking to stories and articles won't be for brands alone. Beyoncé could link to a new song, for example, while Taylor Swift could share a link to an article she finds interesting. Links won't be available to most of us just yet: Instagram says that it'll have a trial period when only verified users, like Beyoncé and T.Swift, can access them.
Boomerangs, while not completely new, will be easier to use within Stories. Instead of having to import silly GIF-like loops from your camera roll, you'll be able to create them within Instagram Stories. To create a boomerang, just slide your finger to the right to toggle from normal camera mode to boomerang mode.
Boomerangs, links, and mentions all help Instagram Stories distinguish itself from Snapchat, which it has been compared to since day one. We had our doubts, but perhaps the two really can coexist.