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The cost of living crisis is wreaking havoc in friendships

2023-03-19 06:15:39

The cost of living crisis is wreaking havoc in friendships

"One of my friends is turning 25 in December and has booked a very fancy venue for a birthday party costing each guest £70 ($83.26)," Serena* tells Mashable, adding that this cost is completely unaffordable for her. 

The cost of living crisis is wreaking havoc in friendships(图1)

"I messaged her privately and explained that I'm embarrassed to say in the group that I’m unable to attend as I cannot afford it, so she offered to cover my expenses to have me there. I simply could not allow her to do this again, I politely declined and told her I would see her another time."

SEE ALSO: Why affairs are on the rise in the cost of living crisis

Serena’s honesty was met with a passive aggressive message from her friend, who got upset and told her she wanted to cancel the entire thing. "I saw the same group of friends recently for coffee, and listening to them talk about their lives made me feel completely alienated as I could not relate to a single thing because of my own financial struggles." 

Saying no to plans

26-year-old India Chambers, an assistant editor in book publishing agrees with Serena, that birthday celebrations can put our bank accounts under real pressure. "I’ve started saying no to going to the birthdays of people I’m not super close with," she says.

India recently went to a dinner for a new friend’s birthday. She was down to her last £120 ($142.76) and it was the week before payday. "We all knew what we were going to pay as it was a set menu, but someone suggested that we all chip in to pay for the birthday girl’s portion."

"I wanted to say no but I didn’t, which pushed me over what I budgeted for the meal." India explains she’d normally be happy to pay, but being short for money that week means it wasn’t ideal. "I’m definitely being more selective with my friends and which work events I go to," she adds. When we speak, India is working from home and tells me she has an author’s work event she has decided to miss out on to save money on travel. "I feel like it’s those little costs like transport and buying a snack on the journey that all add up," she says. 

India also tells me that her job often revolves around "wining and dining" authors and agents, to create connections and build relationships. It has raised important conversations at work about the need for a company card. "I can’t afford to use my personal card for work related costs anymore, because it takes too long to get those expenses back." 

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She adds: "The cost of living crisis is changing the way we do things, and making people with privilege question the structures in place and how they affect employees on a budget."

Prices are going up and wages are standing still, with food, rent, gas and electricity bills at a record high. 93 percent of adults in the UK(Opens in a new tab) say they saw an increase in their outgoings between August and September 2022, and it means young people are having to change the way they socialise. Businesses are charging more for their goods and services because of the higher costs they face, that includes spaces we would typically socialise in. Think: cinemas, restaurants, bars, hotels. 

It’s understandable that we feel obligated to celebrate our friend’s birthdays, and the result is either attending and experiencing anxiety if you’ve spent money on the celebration that you’d put aside for something else, or guilt if you turn the invite down because you can’t afford it and feeling like you're a bad friend. 

The odd one out in a group of rich friends

A study by the Money and Pensions Service (MaPS) revealed that 55 percent of people don’t feel comfortable opening up(Opens in a new tab) when they have worries about their financial situation. Like Serena, who is reluctant to tell some of her friends about her money struggles. "I have a group of friends that have grown up wealthy and privileged," she says. "I've always felt like the odd one out because that has never been the case for me with having to support my family." Serena comes from a single parent background and is also the eldest child. 

"Relationships are critical to good mental health and having financial differences in friendships can most definitely affect mental health and well-being," Michael Throckmorton, a financial expert at Merchant Cash Advance(Opens in a new tab) which provides business loans that don't need to be repaid within a fixed term or at a fixed rate explains.

SEE ALSO: People can't afford their findom kink in the cost of living crisis

"You might feel lonely or isolated, or like you can’t afford to do the things you want to do which can have a negative impact as it’ll result in missing out on social events or even losing friends," he continues. "But it’s important to try and put this aside and be honest and upfront with your friends if you cannot afford to pay for the activity that they are interested in. A true friend will listen and find activities that you can both enjoy without breaking the bank, and will help you stop worrying about anything money related with friends."

The high cost of living can also mean that we’re seeing our friends less frequently, leading to loneliness. Sure, you can socialise in a cost effective way, but seeing friends normally requires us to spend at least a "small amount" of money, and when people are living paycheque to paycheque, finding a "small amount" of money to spare (relative to you) can be really difficult. Plus, there are only so many free walks you can go on with friends before things start to get boring. 

Owning your loneliness

The Campaign To End Loneliness reported that 45 percent of adults feel occasionally, sometimes or often lonely(Opens in a new tab) in England. That equates to twenty five million people. 

Charlotte Fox Weber is a psychotherapist and author of What We Want, which explores the power of articulating our desires as a path toward greater mental health and self-actualization(Opens in a new tab). She says that loneliness can be debilitating. "It’s within all of us, and is a deceptive state of mind. It has a way of being utterly convincing that this is how life will always feel," she tells Mashable. 

Fox Weber believes in owning our loneliness: "Saying ‘I’m lonely’ aloud is powerful. There are so many people in the world who do care and who will connect." She suggests telling someone when you’re experiencing the feeling of loneliness. "Try to say it when it’s happening, to someone, and if not to another person, even to yourself. Being there for yourself and being compassionate internally does help. Fox Weber also suggests reading books, writing letters, journalling, and even texting to get your feelings out, as well as picking up the phone and connecting with someone. 

Cole*, 28, doesn’t see his friends as often as he’d like. "I used to see my friends everyday [when the costs were more affordable], so that might be dinner or a night out. But now it’s a bit more like once a week."

"I’ve always been selective with the people I spend time with. Now, I’m not going partying unless you’re my family or part of my core circle," he adds.

He tells Mashable it’s something he has been open with his friends about. "If your bills double, you can’t ignore that. I definitely have had to say no to certain things."

It's only natural that we are changing the way we socialise as everything gets more expensive. To save money, India has found herself doing more home cooked dinners with friends and hasn’t booked any social events too far in advance, which allows her to be sure she’ll have the money to spend when the time comes around. "A friend suggested going to see a pantomime before Christmas and I thought, 'that’s gonna be expensive.'"

"Whilst I want to do that, it’s not a priority. It’s more of a nice-to-have or nice-to-do." Our social lives are being affected in a big way. But with the cost of living set to slow down in the second half of 2023, it might be helpful to know that there could soon be a light at the end of the tunnel. 

*Some names have been changed at the request of sources.

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    And these creators have picked up that they can branch out to other mediums to find their audience. After six months of advice, storytimes, and makeup tutorials, YouTuber (Opens in a new tab)Savannah Brymer(Opens in a new tab) published her first true crime video. Similar to other YouTubers within this community, her first true crime video titled ‘WHERE IS HALEIGH CUMMINGS?’ beat nearly all her previous videos by hundreds of thousands of views. After noticing the higher view counts on her true crime content, Brymer started her podcast, Killer Instinct(Opens in a new tab), where she covers the same cases she shares on her YouTube channel. Brymer told us that she knows true crime fans flock to different platforms for the same kind of content. "People who enjoy YouTube really like to kind of sit down and be able to hone in and really focus and see who I'm talking about and what really is going on," Brymer said. "In the podcast, you have the leisure to do your own thing while you're doing it."

    "I think it’s really hit on something that a lot of people enjoy and find useful even if they don’t realize it."

    YouTube is known for being a platform that allows ordinary people to become creators, often finding massive success and sometimes fame. So, it’s no surprise that these "amateur" YouTubers are finding success in true crime. Sarian, Brymer, and Jade research, film, and edit their content all on their own. And, based on statistics obtained from YouTube, Sarian is currently one of the top true crime YouTube channels sitting at over 1 million subscribers.

    But with its increase in demand and influx in creators, will we ever see the genre plateau and run out of new ideas? "I don’t know when it’s going to stop," Vicary said. "I think it’s really hit on something that a lot of people enjoy and find useful even if they don’t realize it."

    For these YouTubers and their peers, mastering one genre wasn’t enough to get noticed. Their path towards internet notoriety has been full of twists and turns that has led them to dip into discussing grisly details of murder cases. These creators had to stand out in the space by finding a way to mesh one niche community in with true crime. And, since making that switch, their videos have reached significantly bigger audiences and carved a path for them to become some of the leading names in the genre on YouTube.

  • Turn your backyard into a summer oasis

    Turn your backyard into a summer oasis

    Sun's out, fun's in. Take advantage of long summer days by creating unforgettable memories in your own backyard. Lowe’s(Opens in a new tab) has everything you need to build your own backyard oasis. Level up your lawn chairs, sit back, relax, and prepare for a summer of DIY entertainment.


    Styling options for smaller spaces(Opens in a new tab)

    If planned right, you can get a lot out of use out of a little footprint. Lowe’s(Opens in a new tab) selection of bistro sets and compact patio furniture can turn even the smallest ledge into dinner for two.

    Credit: Lowe's

    Watch movies on the drop-cloth screen(Opens in a new tab)

    Fire up the twinkle lights and the citronella candle for a cinematic night under the stars. With all the familiar fixings of a movie theater, Lowe’s(Opens in a new tab) compiled a comprehensive list to create an evening of DIY movie magic. The best part? No bathroom lines! Just be sure to check the weather report before deciding on showtimes.

    Credit: Lowe's

    Create a 5 star backyard restaurant(Opens in a new tab)

    The quickest way to set a summer vibe is through familiar flavors. Set your neighbors’ noses flaring with Lowe’s large selection of grilling tools and outdoor cooking accessories. Gas, charcoal, pellet, and ceramic—Lowe’s(Opens in a new tab) carries all of the best brands and parts to appease even the pickiest of backyard chefs. Not a pro? No worries. Lowe’s can provide expert guidance to help you get started.

    Customize your happy place(Opens in a new tab)

    Lowe's has a huge array of outdoor decor(Opens in a new tab), including planters, dining carts, colorful table cloths, pillows, outdoor rugs, and hanging lights. Mix, match, and craft your backyard space into your perfect chill zone.

    Credit: Lowe's

  • 8 Karens and Kens who threw huge tantrums instead of putting on masks

    8 Karens and Kens who threw huge tantrums instead of putting on masks

    Can you think of anything more inconvenient or uncomfortable than temporarily wearing a mask for the few minutes it takes you to shop for food in a grocery store?


    I, for one, cannot. Just kidding! Of course you can. Wearing a mask is SO. DAMN. SIMPLE. Sure, it might not be the most pleasant thing in the world, but the potential repercussions of not wearing one — such as falling severely ill, being put on a ventilator, or infecting other people with a potentially deadly virus — trump your minor discomfort.

    Masks help prevent the spread of COVID-19,(Opens in a new tab) yet some people out there still refuse to wear them in public. Not only do some of these grown adults refuse to put masks on their faces, but they also make a big stink about it and throw embarrassing tantrums in stores.

    When those tantrums are recorded and posted on social media, they'll sometimes go viral, which is why our running list of "Karens" and "Kens" (white women and men who get meme'd for their absurdly problematic behavior(Opens in a new tab)) is growing so long.

    Kens and Karens are often called out for being overtly racist, like the woman who called the cops on a Black bird watcher in Central Park(Opens in a new tab) earlier this month. But as states start to reopen and put added coronavirus safety measures into place, a new type of problematic human has emerged: People who just really don't want to wear masks.

    Here are 8 men and women who've recently gone viral for aggressively refusing to wear masks in public.

    1. Karen from Trader Joe's

    A woman shopping at a Trader Joe's in North Hollywood, California, was recently caught on camera(Opens in a new tab) screaming at store employees that asked her to wear a mask. She claimed she had "a medical breathing condition" and her doctor would not let her wear a mask, but as employees continued to confront her she could be heard shouting expletives and calling them "Democratic pigs." She threw her cart to the ground and eventually stormed out of the store.

    2. Coughing Karen

    Earlier this month, a woman named Allison Goodbaum shared a troubling experience(Opens in a new tab) she had with a fellow customer at a bagel shop in New York.

    Goodbaum explained that after noticing the woman next to her wasn't wearing a mask she brought it to the attention of a bagel shop employee. The mask-less woman overheard Goodbaum's words of concern, started screaming, and even came over to cough on Goodbaum to spread her germs. An onlooker captured the outburst on camera, and Goodbaum shared it on Facebook.

    SEE ALSO: Don't forget your face mask. Here's where to grab one on sale.

    3. Karen throwing food

    Another supermarket meltdown happened at a Fiesta Market in Dallas, Texas. After this Karen was reportedly asked to put on a mask,(Opens in a new tab) she began screaming and throwing food from her cart onto the floor. Extremely mature!

    4. This Ken who charged a Walmart employee

    After this man was asked to put on a mask before entering a Walmart store in Florida(Opens in a new tab), he can be seen charging and shoving the store employee. The mask-less man ignores requests to leave or adhere to store policy, and instead sprints down the aisles while attempting to dodge employees.

    5. Pier 1 Karen

    Another Karen was spotted without a mask at a Pier 1 store in Jacksonville, Florida(Opens in a new tab). Footage captured and shared online by Heather Sprague — a cancer patient and mother of 10 — shows the woman becoming defensive after being asked about her lack of mask. In the video, the woman can be seen sticking up her middle fingers before approaching Sprague to cough directly on her.

    6. Gas station Karen

    Twitter user @Jillcattt(Opens in a new tab) recently shared video of an angry white woman majorly disrespecting a gas station employee. "She spit on an essential worker bc he enforced the rule of wear a mask. In response, she spit on him... I wanted to cry," the tweet read.

    7. "Let me speak to the manager" Karen

    A Karen named Shelley Lewis recorded herself going off about being asked to wear a mask before shopping in a Gelson's Market in Dana Point, California. After having a confrontation with an employee outside the store, Lewis asked to speak with the store's manager. (Classic Karen move.) When the manager confirmed Lewis would not be allowed to shop without a mask she continued to argue and proceeded to ask for corporate's number.

    Though Lewis has reportedly taken her video down(Opens in a new tab), it's been shared online by others, including the Karen Strikes Again Twitter account(Opens in a new tab).

    8. Starbucks Karen

    A woman named Amber Lynn Gilles angrily posted to Facebook about a barista at a Starbucks in San Diego, California, who insisted she wear a face mask before entering the establishment. She threatened to call the cops on the barista the next time she went to the coffeeshop, but her Karen move wound up majorly backfiring for her.

    As Mashable reported, a man named Matt Cowan started a GoFundMe page(Opens in a new tab) to raise money for Lenin Gutierrez, the barista that Cowan threatened. The GoFundMe has raised more than $93,000 so far(Opens in a new tab), and Gutierrez has posted a video(Opens in a new tab) thanking people for their love and support, and shared his side of the story. 

    The GoFundMe page that Matt Cowan started to raise money for Starbucks barista, Lenin Gutierrez. Credit: screenshot / gofundme

    Just think: All that any of these people were being asked to do was to loop two straps over their ears and breath with a small piece of fabric in front of their nose and mouth for a short while. Rather than complying with that extremely small ask, they chose to cause these giant, spectacularly mortifying scenes instead.

    Please don't be a Karen or a Ken. Stop being selfish and just wear your damn mask in public, people.

  • Best yoga apps and YouTube channels for practicing at home

    Best yoga apps and YouTube channels for practicing at home

    As yogis like to say, yoga is as much about the body as it is about the mind. Both deserve attention in these times of social isolation and uncertainty. That's why now is a great time take up a yoga practice — virtually.


    Maybe you want to start the day with yoga, boosting your energy and encouraging clear intention. Or perhaps you want to use yoga to ease that back pain from sitting in the house all day.

    Different yoga instructors, apps, and YouTube channels offer different styles and approaches. And what's best is what works best for you. There's no universal answer for the single best app or YouTube channel for yoga, but you'll find one that suits your groove with a little trial and error.

    YouTube or apps: Which is better for practicing yoga?

    That depends on your needs. Are you an experienced yogi with a preference for a specific style, or a beginner who's looking to test out different options? Are you a looking for a personalized routine, or are you looking for a little variety?

    Apps: Pros and cons

    ✅ They're organized (usually by styles and goals) and offer tools that let you keep track of your practice.

    ✅ You can explore different yoga practices without ever looking elsewhere because most apps have a collection of instructors and classes.

    ✅ Many apps will draw up a personalized routine or recommendations based on your needs. Some will let you put together your own practice and sequences.

    ❌ Most yoga apps require a paid subscription.

    Bottom line: It's best for frequent, experienced yogis who know what they want, and for those who appreciate structure and can (or want to) stick with a routine.

    YouTube: Pros and cons

    ✅ It's free. You'll never have to feel bad about paying for an expensive subscription if you don't use it enough or if you find out yoga just isn't your jam.

    ✅ You get to do what you want, when you want to do it. You don't have to feel guilty because you didn't follow through on a schedule or recommended routine. (You shouldn't!) You also don't have to worry about wasting your money on a personalized plan if it ends up being a bad fit.

    ✅ Yoga instructors on YouTube aren't just exercise instructors; they are relatable, educational personalities with a community around them. You'll feel more connected to the instructor and to your practice than you would if you were using an app.

    ❌ Many YouTube channels feature only one yogi, and it'll take time and patience to find the right one.

    ❌ YouTube is slightly less organized than most apps. (It's better when the host has an organized library of playlists.) You'll have to come up with a system to keep track of your progress and your favorite videos.

    Bottom line: It's a budget-friendly option that helps foster a personal connection with yoga. It's best for those who are still figuring what they want to get out of their yoga practice, and for those who prefer flexibility over fixed routines.

    Best Yoga apps to try

    Best overall: Glo(Opens in a new tab) Free on iOS(Opens in a new tab) and Android(Opens in a new tab) with a 7-day free trial. It's $18/month, $22.99/month if registered through Apple, Google Play, Roku, or Amazon, and $199.99/year thereafter.

    The app is beautifully designed, too. Credit: Screenshots via Glo

    Some yoga apps create customized plans and routines based on just one specific area of focus. Glo, on the other hand, recommends classes based on multiple needs and your preference in instruction styles.

    Glo doesn't just offer one-off classes. It also offers timely curated collections, audio meditations, and 96 programs by 52 teachers. Each of these teachers have a profile on the app, so you can to choose whatever style and specialty works best for you.

    The programs are composed of a few classes each and run the gamut of yoga styles and disciplines— Kundalini, Ashtanga, Yin, Pranayama, etc. (Don't worry, Glo is very educational; it'll teach you what those words mean.) Some of them are also tailored to help with pain, posture, sleep, stress management, women's health, etc.

    But since most of these programs last for only a week, it's ideal for those who appreciate routine and consistency, but also variety and flexibility in their schedule. You have the option to either set a yoga schedule with Glo, or practice the program on your own time.

    Best app for physical fitness: Lotus Yoga(Opens in a new tab) Free on iOS(Opens in a new tab) and Android(Opens in a new tab). Some classes are free, but most classes you can only access after you upgrade to the pro version monthly for $18.99, yearly for $39.99, or permanently for $89.99.

    There's no shortage of yoga classes for fitness. Credit: Screenshots via Lotus Yoga

    Lotus classes are worthwhile for those who practice yoga as a form of fitness. Yes, there are collections of classes and programs focused on relaxation and meditation, yoga essentials, as well as health and energy. But the app is really good at categorizing classes based on the physical impact of yoga: muscle tones, balance, flexibility, cardio, fat burn, sports performance, women's health, and asanas (yogi speak for "proper exercise."(Opens in a new tab))

    Users can also create custom yoga classes from the hundreds of poses and sequences listed in the app. If you know what you're doing, it's a good way to personalize your practice without sacrificing guidance or structure.

    Best app for personalization: Yoga Studio(Opens in a new tab) Free on iOS(Opens in a new tab) and Android(Opens in a new tab) with a 7-day free trial. There are 9 subscription plans after that, ranging from $2.99 to $95.99.

    Create your own practice from Yoga Studio's library of poses. Credit: Screenshots via Yoga Studio

    Yoga Studio is similar to Lotus Yoga in that it also offers the option to create your own classes based on poses and sequences. What differentiates it from Lotus Yoga, however, is in its emphasis on health rather than fitness.

    To be sure, it still offers yoga classes for mobility, pain, and sports performance. But in general, Yoga Studio tends to frame its practices based on the healthful properties of yoga. There are collections of classes geared toward immunity, sleep, healthy weight management, fertility, and mental health. Other collections are inspired by the philosophical and spiritual foundations of yoga: Pranayama, Chakra yoga, as well as various salutation and guided meditation practices.

    Best app for goal-oriented practices and community: Daily Yoga(Opens in a new tab) Free on iOS(Opens in a new tab) and Android(Opens in a new tab). Some classes you get for free, but most classes you can only access after upgrading to the pro version for $20.99/month, $49.99/year, or $99/two years.

    Poses and programs come with a list of benefits and purposes that make it easy to accomplish your goals. Credit: Screenshots via Daily Yoga

    Like Glo, Daily Yoga recommends practices based on your needs, and structures classes based on week-long programs that you can either practice on a recommended schedule or at your own pace. What stands out, though, is the fact that each program and each item in its pose library come with a list of benefits you can expect — helpful information if you're looking to target a certain area or function of your body. If you're exploring one of Daily Yoga's "Masters' workshops," you can also expect details about the yoga coach's instruction style, as well as information about who the practice is most suitable for.

    You can start by browsing recommended program sequences based on your goal: toning up, learning the essentials, enhancing health, amping up skills, improving flexibility, or relieving stress. Or, you can turn to one of its audio meditation practices. If you're looking for a community of yogis to share your journey and for blogs and tips about yoga, you'll love the app's social functions.

    Best app for habit-forming and routines: Sunsa Yoga(Opens in a new tab) Free on iOS(Opens in a new tab) and Android(Opens in a new tab). Premium upgrades usually range from $9.99-$49.99.

    The app customizes a 40-session plan — perfect for those who love routines. Credit: Screenshots via Sunsa Yoga

    The Sunsa Yoga app will prompt you to answer a series of questions about your goals, as well as health and fitness interests when you open it for the very first time. Once that's done, you'll receive a 40-session progression plan that builds toward your goal.

    It's a great app for people who love to stick to plans and routines — but not so much for those who don't. Sure, if you want to deviate from the set plan, there's a library of yoga classes for different goals and needs. But the options are relatively limited and the practices themselves are quite short.

    Best yoga YouTube channels to try

    Best yoga YouTube channel overall: Yoga with Adriene(Opens in a new tab)

    Anyone who has ever tried to YouTube a yoga video has heard of Adriene and her canine sidekick, Benji. She's one of YouTube's original yogi, and is known for her personable disposition and goofy jokes. But don't worry — her philosophy is plenty serious and spiritual.

    Adriene approaches yoga instruction with an open mind and a soothing voice. She not only encourages her followers to "find what feels good," but also makes sure that her language and videos are accessible. She skips the jargon and tailors her classes to people from all walks of life: "yoga for writers," "yoga for teens," "yoga for risk takers," etc. Got an ache? Check out her many pain management and body part–specific yoga videos.

    There's no shortage of videos focusing on meditation and mental health either. There are practices for self-respect, anxiety, PTSD, creativity, humility, grief — you name it, she's got it. Occasionally, she'll also film series of 30-day yoga journeys focusing on a specific theme. There's one called "true," and another one called "dedicate." Her most recent series, "home," is just perfect for times like these.

    Best yoga YouTube channel for stretches and balanced practices: Yoga with Kassandra(Opens in a new tab)

    Kassandra's yoga repertoire ranges from dynamic vinyasa(Opens in a new tab) flows, to slow-paced yin stretches. Look no further if you're searching for a yogi who can carry you through the day: Kassandra's got energizing practices to wake you up in the morning, and restorative ones to ease your mind and body at the end of the day. The best part? She's great at combining the two for a seamless, balanced practice. (The vin-to-yin air element yoga here is one example.)

    But what Kassandra does best is yin yoga(Opens in a new tab) — a gentle, meditative style that emphasizes stillness and targets deep connective tissues. It's a practice that allows you to focus on breathing, energy flows, and mindful stretching. It will work differently for different people, of course; but if you're looking to manage pain, relieve stress, or increase flexibility, Kassandra's videos will be worth your while.

    Most feel-good: Fightmaster Yoga(Opens in a new tab)

    Lesley is the host of Fightmaster Yoga. Like Adriene, she takes an open-minded approach to yoga instruction. If you're a beginner looking to build some confidence, you'll find comfort in her motto, "it's not about the pose." To Lesley, what matters is that you showed up and made the decision to practice self care; it's all about feeling better in the body and the mind at the end of each practice.

    Lesley's flow-based vinyasa practice focuses(Opens in a new tab) on breathing and alignment. Her channel features plenty of videos on energetic Ashtanga(Opens in a new tab) practices, grounding Hatha(Opens in a new tab) routines, as well as full-body yoga workout and stretches. Her practice will hyper-charge your day with positive energy and purpose. And the ocean view in her videos? It's just the cherry on top of the cake.

    Best yoga YouTube channel for goal-oriented practices: SarahBeth Yoga(Opens in a new tab)

    If you're coming to the yoga mat with clear goals and intention, then you'll find Sarah's meticulously organized channel very easy to navigate.

    All her videos have a color-coded thumbnail photo: pink for the fitness-based power yoga(Opens in a new tab), sky blue for the flow-based vinyasa(Opens in a new tab) practices, dark blue for the alignment-based Hatha practices(Opens in a new tab), and purple for the relaxation-oriented restorative yoga. She also has a handy playlist(Opens in a new tab) that sorts her videos based on these categories — super easy to follow.

    If you usually gravitate toward yoga apps because they're more intuitive and straight-forward than YouTube channels, consider SarahBeth Yoga as a free alternative. You'll appreciate this conveniently organized channel and Sarah's teaching style.

    Most educational yoga YouTube channel: Ekhart Yoga(Opens in a new tab)

    Ekhart Yoga is Europe's largest online yoga studio. While it has a website(Opens in a new tab) and an(Opens in a new tab) app(Opens in a new tab) that runs on paid membership, its YouTube channel has tons of free yoga practices, live sessions, and videos that feature some of their 52 teachers and 23 yoga styles.

    What makes this channel special, though, is the fact that it carries educational videos about yoga and anatomy. Don't be surprised to see a skeleton model on the channel, and get ready to learn more about your body. Yoga instructors will teach you how different parts of your body connect to each other, and will offer advice about how you can adjust your practice based on what your body craves. Overall, it's a great channel for those who hope to become more conscious about how their body moves during practices, and how it connects to the mind.

    Best yoga YouTube channel for meditation and spiritual practices: BrettLarkinYoga(Opens in a new tab)

    From time to time, you'll hear yogis saying that their "chakras are blocked." But what the hell does that actually mean? Brett explains(Opens in a new tab) that the phrase describes when energy ("kundalini") is unable to move effectively from the bottom of the spine, through the seven energy centers along it ("chakras"), to the top of your head and beyond the earthly realms — thereby causing physical, mental and emotional imbalances.

    Brett's practice derives heavily from that very philosophy, so expect to see a handful of videos that are designed to awaken your internal energy: Meditations, Chakra yoga, and Kundalini yoga(Opens in a new tab), a style that focuses on posture, breathing, meditating, and mantra-chantings. But since chakras are also fundamental(Opens in a new tab) to the yoga tradition, Brett also leads classes of other yoga styles to get your energy flowing and your chakras aligned.

    Best yoga YouTube channel for mind-body connection: Allie - The Journey Junkie(Opens in a new tab)

    Like Brett, Allie’s practice is informed heavily by the chakra philosophies of the yoga tradition. But Allie tends to use a range of yoga styles — not just Kundalini — to target each of the seven chakras.

    Each chakra supposedly corresponds with a different part of the spine, and connotes different mental and emotional states. Since many of Allie’s practices tend to focus on just one chakra at a time, if you ascribe to this philosophy, you’ll be able to nurture and restore a healthy balance of energy to areas of your body and mind that needs extra attention.

    Don't worry if all this chakra talk isn't your thing. Allie also hosts plenty of videos for morning and bedtime practices, dynamic vinyasa flows, fitness-based yoga, as well as gentle and restorative classes.

    Best yoga YouTube channel for variety: YogaTX(Opens in a new tab)

    This Texas-based YouTube channel brings together a collection of yogi from around the area — which makes this a great channel for those who are not ready to commit to just one instructor or style.

    More instructors means more variety. There are yoga videos for practitioners of all levels, and for different body parts and different goals. Pain management, workout, meditation? Check, check, and check. If you're hoping to stick to a routine or a program, YogaTX can help you with that as well — just check out one of their series. (The video here is from its "yoga connection" series.) The yogis who manage the channel also upload videos weekly, so there are plenty of options.

Random articles


  • Twitters year in review is less bleak than youd think

    Twitters year in review is less bleak than youd think

    Maybe 2020 wasn’t such a bad year after all.


    While YouTube skipped its infamous Rewind this year, claiming it was out of sensitivity for the tumultuous events of 2020, Twitter hasn't seen the same backlash — and summed up 2020 with the tag #ThisHappened.

    In a blog post(Opens in a new tab) Monday, the company highlighted the year's most liked tweets, top trending hashtags, most retweeted users, and most used emoji.

    The top hashtag of 2020, unsurprisingly, was #COVID19. The second most popular hashtag this year was #BlackLivesMatter, which correlates with the historic protests against racial inequality and police brutality following the death of George Floyd. The tag #StayHome came in third as users across the world encouraged each other to continue social distancing in an effort to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

    George Floyd was also the third most tweeted-about person in 2020. He died when Derek Chauvin, a white police officer, pressed his knee against Floyd's neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds and ignored Floyd's insistence that he couldn't breathe. His death inspired protests and forced institutions across the world to grapple with systemic racism.

    The first and second most tweeted-about people were President Donald Trump and President-elect Joe Biden. Kobe Bryant, who died in a helicopter crash earlier this year, was the fourth most tweeted-about person, followed by former president Barack Obama and K-pop sensation BTS.

    Here are the most tweeted about people this year. Credit: TWitter

    The most popular emoji this year included the tears of joy emoji and the crying emoji, which seems appropriate given the state of the world. The pleading eyes emoji, now known as the simp emoji(Opens in a new tab), came in third.

    The most-tweeted emoji this year included the classic laughing-crying emoji. Credit: Twitter

    Despite the largely tragic events of this year, Twitter noted that users had a "renewed sense of gratitude and support for our communities." In 2020, tweets expressing gratitude increased by 20 percent globally, with thanks to doctors and teachers up by 135 percent and 30 percent, respectively. The phrases "essential workers" and "frontline workers" were tweeted more than 17 million times.

    Without further ado, here are the five most liked tweets of 2020.

    The most liked tweets of the year:

    1. The announcement of Chadwick Boseman's death

    2. Barack Obama paying tribute to Kobe Bryant

    3. A snarky hat tip to astronauts

    4. Macaulay Culkin celebrating his birthday

    5. Kamala Harris' now-viral(Opens in a new tab) victory call

    You can read Twitter's full rundown of this year here(Opens in a new tab).

  • From wired headphones to yoga pants, here are 10 trends Gen Z brought back in 2021

    From wired headphones to yoga pants, here are 10 trends Gen Z brought back in 2021

    For young people, 2021 was a year of Y2K fashion and vintage tech nostalgia.


    Gen Z did what young people do best: pick the most iconic accessories and trends of the past and bring them back into style. Forgotten fashion moments like yoga pants and claw clips came to the forefront of pop culture this year thanks to TikTok, a platform that allows cyclical style trends to proliferate and become mainstream again.

    With a little help from Emma Chamberlain, Olivia Rodrigo, and an unwavering nostalgia for simpler times, Gen Z brought back a slew of iconic tech and fashion accessories... much to the collective dismay of Millennials.

    Here are my favorite things Gen Z brought back:

    1. Wired headphones

    A cheaper and cooler alternative to AirPods, wired headphones are the latest go-to tech accessory for style influencers. Although they largely became obsolete after AirPods came onto the scene in 2016, they had their comeback in 2021. Pioneered by "It" girls like Lily Rose Depp, Zoe Kravitz, Bella Hadid, and the Olsen twins, wired headphones exude a studied carelessness and have a nostalgic charm. They've become so synonymous with fashion "It" girls that there's an entire Instagram account (@wireditgirls(Opens in a new tab)) dedicated to documenting "hot girls with wired headphones."

    SEE ALSO: Why Gen Z is plugging in wired headphones and tuning out AirPods

    2. Yoga pants

    Or should I say "flared leggings." Yoga pants were the athleisure pant of choice in the '90s and early 2000s(Opens in a new tab), but fell out of fashion in the 2010s. Leggings and sweats emerged in place of yoga pants, but thanks to YouTuber and Gen Z fashion guru Emma Chamberlain, yoga pants are back. Now they've been rebranded as "flared leggings," but it's the same thing. Chamberlain styles her yoga pants with big crewneck sweatshirts and statement sunglasses, or dresses them up with Doc Martens and a turtleneck — and her loyal fans are following her lead.

    3. Flip phones

    Don't flip, but flip phone aesthetics are back. Credit: Casetify

    Between TikTokkers encouraging young people to ditch their iPhones, trendy iPhone cases made to look like flip phones, and anti-social media Gen Z icons like Lorde, flip phones are making a comeback. Young people are attracted to both the Y2K aesthetics of flip phones, as well as what they represent: an alternate way of living that doesn't involve seven-plus hours behind a screen.

    SEE ALSO: Is Gen Z bringing flip phones back?

    4. Uggs

    If yoga pants are back, you already know Uggs are too. They're a package deal. Emma Chamberlain also championed the return of Uggs. Chamberlain wore Ugg slippers in her "every outfit she wears in a week" video for Vogue(Opens in a new tab) and even titled (Opens in a new tab)one of her October vlogs(Opens in a new tab), "ugg season." Chamberlain wasn't the only fashion icon spotted in Uggs this year. In January, models Kendall Jenner and Emily Ratajkowski stepped out in mini Uggs(Opens in a new tab), and in April, Gigi Hadid was photographed in the iconic tall Uggs.

    5. Emoji

    Gen Z has embraced using emoji... ironically. Rather than using emojis in the cringey Millennial way, like overusing 😂, Gen Z has carved out their own digital language. They've repurposed 😭 and 💀 to mean laughing and embraced Apple's newer less-established emoji. Additionally, young people are using Millennial coded emoji satirically and I'm finding it pretty funny.

    SEE ALSO: Emoji helped me find my voice in our new remote reality

    6. Butterflies

    Mariah Carey in the now viral butterfly top in 2000. Credit: Getty Images / STAN HONDA

    Butterflies are classic symbols of the Y2K era, and boy did they come back this year. Emanuel Ungaro's iconic wrap-around butterfly top(Opens in a new tab) that Mariah Carey famously wore in 2000 had the internet in a chokehold more than two decades later. Dupes of the legendary top popped up all over digital marketplaces, and it was a staple of fashion TikTok. But the obsession with butterflies didn't end there, Olivia Rodrigo embraced the trend by releasing a phone case with Casetify covered in butterflies, and she even wore the sequin-covered top(Opens in a new tab) for a magazine shoot. Not to mention, baby butterfly hair clips had their moment.

    7. Camcorders

    Like wired headphones and flip phones, camcorders are vintage tech from the not-so-distant past that Gen Z embraced this year. YouTubers like Chamberlain used camcorders from the '90s to document their lives on the platform, giving their videos a nostalgic feel. Olivia Rodrigo even used a camcorder to film her "get ready for the Met Gala with me" video for Vogue(Opens in a new tab)(Opens in a new tab)'s YouTube channel(Opens in a new tab). Like flip phones, camcorders are not just relics of the past — they evoke a mood that modern tech just can't replicate.

    SEE ALSO: Why YouTubers are using vintage camcorders to feel something

    8. Baguettes

    Kenall Jenner with a baguette in tow. Credit: Getty Images / Gotham

    Gen Z is nothing if not consistent. Sticking with the early 2000s nostalgia sweeping the internet, the aughts bag of choice, the baguette, is back in vogue. Baguettes are bags so small that they nestle just under your armpit if you wear them slung over your shoulder. Baguettes have been worming their way back into style since 2019(Opens in a new tab), and this year anyone who is anyone was spotted with a tiny bag in tow.

    9. Claw clips

    Arguably the most practical accessory Gen Z resurrected this year, claw clips were all the rage for young people looking to keep their hair out of their faces while still looking fashionable. Like wired headphones, claw clips have an effortless cool-girl factor that made them the "It" accessory on TikTok. Claw clips were inescapable on the app, working their way into outfit of the days, hot girl tote bag videos, and hot girl bedside table videos. Plus, there are just so many options when it comes to claw clips. Do you want a boxy, neon claw? A classic acrylic? A chic matte-colored claw? The options are endless.

    10. Pop-punk

    This list wouldn't be complete without a nod to the music Gen Z bumped this year. Olivia Rodrigo, WILLOW, and Machine Gun Kelly all released music this year inspired by pop-punk, which speaks to the angst we all felt in 2021. Who can blame them? It is brutal out there.

    SEE ALSO: 2021 revived pop-punk. It makes perfect sense.

  • Serena Williams one-legged catsuit at the Australian Open is actually a historical shoutout

    Serena Williams one-legged catsuit at the Australian Open is actually a historical shoutout

    Serena Williams paid tribute to one of her heroes during her first match of the Australian Open on Monday.


    Facing off against Laura Siegemund, the former world number one took to the court wearing an asymmetrical black, pink and red Nike catsuit that was inspired by sprinter Florence Griffith Joyner, whose 1988 Olympic trial records for the 100-metre and 200-metre sprint still stand today.

    As well as being known for her history-making athletic ability, Flo-Jo was also well-known for the brightly-colored and memorable outfits she'd wear (and design herself) while tearing around the track — Beyoncé recreated the iconic look below(Opens in a new tab) for Halloween in 2018.

    Florence Griffith Joyner wore a similar asymmetrical catsuit in 1988. Credit: Focus On Sport / Getty Images

    Alongside setting those two world records in 1988, Griffith Joyner also won three gold medals for the 100-metre, 200-metre, and 4x100-metre events. When asked about her style in a 1992 interview(Opens in a new tab), Griffith Joyner said that fashion had been a part of her life since she was a young child.

    "Track and field is a beautiful sport, and I just wanted to bring in my personality and the clothes that I wear off the track, onto the track, just to be myself" Griffith Joyner said.

    SEE ALSO: Watch these Italians play rooftop tennis during quarantine

    "I was inspired by Flo-Jo, who was a wonderful track athlete," said Williams in her post-match interview(Opens in a new tab) on Monday, before adding that she grew up watching Griffith Joyner run. "Watching her fashion, just always changing, her outfits were always amazing."

    The Flo-Jo-inspired outfit clearly worked for Williams, too — she ended up breezing through to the second round after beating her opponent in straight sets.

  • Quordle today: Here are the answers and hints for August 15

    Quordle today: Here are the answers and hints for August 15

    It's Monday yet again. And with any luck, things are going better at the start of your workweek than they are with this Quordle solution.


    Don't get too down in the dumps though, because the solution to this Quordle is available at the bottom of this article. Feel free to scroll down at any time, or, hey, read the whole strategy guide and become a Quordle expert. Either way is fine with me.

    What is Quordle?

    Quordle is a five-letter word guessing game similar to Wordle, except each guess applies letters to four words at the same time. You get nine guesses instead of six to correctly guess all four words. It looks like playing four Wordle games at the same time, and that is essentially what it is. But it's not nearly as intimidating as it sounds.

    Is Quordle harder than Wordle?

    Yes, though not diabolically so.

    Where did Quordle come from?

    Amid the Wordle boom of late 2021 and early 2022, when everyone was learning to love free, in-browser, once-a-day word guessing games, creator Freddie Meyer says he took inspiration from one of the first big Wordle variations, Dordle — the one where you essentially play two Wordles at once. He took things up a notch, and released Quordle on January 30(Opens in a new tab). Meyer's creation was covered in The Guardian(Opens in a new tab) six days later, and now, according to Meyer, it attracts millions of daily users. Today, Meyer earns modest revenue(Opens in a new tab) from Patreon, where dedicated Quordle fans can donate to keep their favorite puzzle game running. 

    How is Quordle pronounced?

    “Kwordle.” It should rhyme with “Wordle,” and definitely should not be pronounced exactly like "curdle.”

    Is Quordle strategy different from Wordle?

    Yes and no.

    Your starting strategy should be the same as with Wordle. In fact, if you have a favorite Wordle opening word, there’s no reason to change that here. We suggest something rich in vowels, featuring common letters like C, R, and N. But you do you.

    After your first guess, however, you’ll notice things getting out of control if you play Quordle exactly like Wordle.

    What should I do in Quordle that I don’t do in Wordle?

    Solving a Wordle puzzle can famously come down to a series of single letter-change variations. If you’ve narrowed it down to “-IGHT,” you could guess “MIGHT” “NIGHT” “LIGHT” and “SIGHT” and one of those will probably be the solution — though this is also a famous way to end up losing in Wordle, particularly if you play on “hard mode.” In Quordle, however, this sort of single-letter winnowing is a deadly trap, and it hints at the important strategic difference between Wordle and Quordle: In Quordle, you can't afford to waste guesses unless you're eliminating as many letters as possible at all times. 

    Guessing a completely random word that you already know isn't the solution, just to eliminate three or four possible letters you haven’t tried yet, is thought of as a desperate, latch-ditch move in Wordle. In Quordle, however, it's a normal part of the player's strategic toolset.

    Is there a way to get the answer faster?

    In my experience Quordle can be a slow game, sometimes dragging out longer than it would take to play Wordle four times. But a sort of blunt-force guessing approach can speed things up. The following strategy also works with Wordle if you only want the solution, and don’t care about having the fewest possible guesses:

    Try starting with a series of words that puts all the vowels (including Y) on the board, along with some other common letters. I’ve had good luck with the three words: “NOTES,” “ACRID,” and “LUMPY.” YouTuber DougMansLand(Opens in a new tab) suggests four words: “CANOE,” “SKIRT,” “PLUMB,” and “FUDGY.”

    Most of the alphabet is now eliminated, and you’ll only have the ability to make one or two wrong guesses if you use this strategy. But in most cases you’ll have all the information you need to guess the remaining words without any wrong guesses.

    If you've already run out of strategy, though, and you're still stumped, here are some hints:

    A semi-useful hint about August 15’s puzzle

    Synonyms for all four words are in the following sentence (in no particular order).

    The warden received a shock when the jangle of his keys against the lock was drowned out by the humiliated howl of the inmate lying in a squalid puddle.

    Are there any double or triple letters in today’s Quordle words?


    Are any rare letters being used in today’s Quordle like Q or Z?


    What do today’s Quordle words start with?

    G, S, F, and C.

    What are the answers for today’s Quordle?

    Are you sure you want to know?

    There’s still time to turn back.

    OK you asked for it. The answers are:

    1. GROAN

    2. SCARE

    3. FECAL

    4. CLANK

  • How to zoom out on an Apple Watch

    How to zoom out on an Apple Watch

    There are two types of Apple Watch users: Those who have the zoom feature turned on and those who have it turned off.


    If you're the type who needs to see content up close, then you might find the Apple Watch's display stuck on magnified mode at some point while using it. Don't worry, getting back to full view is as simple as tapping on the display.

    Here's how to zoom out on your Apple Watch display.

    Double-tap with two fingers

    Double-tap to zoom in and double-tap to zoom out. Credit: apple / screenshot
    You can zoom all the way out using the Digital Crown in Grid View. Credit: Apple / screenshot

    Zooming out on the Apple Watch is as simple as zooming in — all you have to do is tap the display twice with two fingers.

    If you're on the main display in Grid View (where all your apps are scattered across the screen), you can also rotate the Digital Crown counter-clockwise to zoom out even further.

    How to adjust or disable zoom on Apple Watch

    You can adjust the zoom level via Settings. Credit: apple / screenshot
    You can also turn the feature off completely. Credit: apple / screenshot

    Zoom is also adjustable on the Apple Watch. Go to Settings > Accessibility > Zoom. At the bottom of the display is a slider that allows you to adjust the maximum zoom level.

    If you find yourself getting super annoyed at the functionality, you can turn the feature off. Simply go to Settings > Accessibility > Zoom and toggle it off.

    You can also adjust or disable Zoom using the Watch app on your iPhone. Credit: screenshot / apple

    You can also access both of these settings using your iPhone via the Watch app. Simply go to Settings > Accessibility > Zoom.

  • Obama says he has a finsta and now everyone is trying to find it

    Obama says he has a finsta and now everyone is trying to find it

    On the list of celebrity finsta accounts we'd most like to find, President Barack Obama's name is right up top — just below Beyoncé, but way above Ben Affleck(Opens in a new tab).


    While it's unclear if the former president actually has a fake Instagram account, in a recent voter PSA he recorded for ATTN, Obama sent the internet into a frenzy by hinting that he's the proud owner of a finsta.

    In the three-minute video, Obama speaks to young people about the importance of voting in the 2020 election and thanks them for teaching him about how to successfully quarantine, how to "make a mean sourdough starter," and how to do the popular TikTok dance, the "Renegade challenge." ("Renegade" was also Obama's secret service code name, so he's a real big fan of the challenge.)

    "You showed me the 'Renegade Challenge' —great name by the way — which I've been enjoying on my finsta," Obama says in the video. A definition for finsta ("Secret Instagram account") then flashes on the screen before Obama moves on.

    The American people however, cannot move on. Not without knowing if Obama actually has a finsta or not.

    It's very likely that Obama was just trying to stay hip and appeal to young voters by joking about having a finsta, but the sheer prospect of its existence is one of the most exciting things to happen all year.

    Sure, Obama may have had no idea what a finsta was until he read the script for this video. But we're desperate for something good in this world, so we're choosing to imagine that somewhere out there is a Barack finsta full of photos of Bo and Sunny, books he's reading, and bowls of his legendary homemade chili(Opens in a new tab). Maybe Malia and Sasha helped him set it up.

    While the actual message of Obama's voting PSA and the resources he shared in his tweet(Opens in a new tab) are extremely important, Twitter users couldn't help but get a little distracted by the idea of a finsta.

    If the finsta is out there, we have faith some social media mastermind will uncover it. Until then, let's all keep dreaming about its possible content. Oh, and GO REGISTER TO VOTE!

  • How can men help dismantle misogyny and violence? This book will tell you how.

    How can men help dismantle misogyny and violence? This book will tell you how.

    How can men help dismantle misogyny? What are tangible things men can do to end male violence? What does true allyship look like?


    How Men Can Help: A Guide to Undoing Harm and Being a Better Ally(Opens in a new tab) by award-winning journalist and campaigner Sophie Gallagher provides the much-needed answers to these urgent questions.

    Gallagher, who campaigned to criminalise cyberflashing, tackles the #NotAllMen movement, outlines practical steps like how men should behave when they see a lone woman at night, and offers tangible advice on how men can be part of the solution to ending male violence — rather than part of the problem.

    SEE ALSO: Fighting violence against women, we need men to be part of the conversation

    The burden of ending male violence should not fall on those who are disproportionately affected by it: women and marginalised genders. We need men to step up and take an active role in challenging misogyny when they witness it, in thinking about the ways gender roles impact their behaviour, in making society safer for women, girls, and marginalised genders.

    You can read an extract of Gallagher's book, How Men Can Help, below.

    Ryan Hart, 30, and Luke Hart, 32, grew up in a house dominated by their father. Along with their younger sister, Charlotte, and their mother, Claire, the family lived on eggshells. "We always had to be thinking about what we were doing and how he would respond," Ryan tells me over Zoom from his home in Surrey, where he now lives with his brother and their two dogs, Indi and Bella. 

    SEE ALSO: It's time to stop saying 'unsolicited dick pics.' Here's why.

    "Even things like his breathing. We monitored that because a deep breath was a sign he wasn’t pleased with what we were doing." His father’s behaviour would now be classed as 'coercive control' – it included psychological torment and controlling Claire’s spending, even on something as small as a coffee and bus fare while he spent £500 on a bicycle that sat unused. Although Ryan says he knew a better life was possible, he didn’t understand the situation as abuse.

    "I think [it was] because he was never physically violent, but he was ticking every single box [for] coercive control. At school we had a presentation from the NSPCC but they only covered being physically or sexually assaulted and so I thought this doesn’t apply to us," Ryan says. "You never think you’re living with a murderer-in-waiting."

    On 19 July 2016, a few days after the boys had helped Claire and Charlotte move out of the family home in Spalding, Lincolnshire – statistically, leaving is the most dangerous time for an abused woman – Lance Hart shot his wife and daughter in a swimming pool car park before turning the gun on himself.

    The killings made national news and columnists tripped over themselves to use phrases like ‘understandable’ in describing a so-called crime of passion activated by the women leaving. In moments of tragedy we frame such men as both an aberration, unlike any other man, and at the same time an everyday man only one bad rejection or trigger away from homicide.

    SEE ALSO: How to talk to the men in your life about toxic masculinity

    But this was not red mist descending or a fuse blown as we often like to claim in the aftermath of such tragedies, says Ryan. Shortly before he killed his wife and daughter, Lance bothered to buy a pay and display ticket to park his car. "He was very comfortable in following rules, he knew he was going to kill but still wanted to purchase a ticket to be a good citizen, it showed the level of control he did have over himself." Instead Lance justified what he did through his core beliefs and perception of himself as a man — he felt attacked by the women leaving.

    Although we should not attempt to explain away violence with one-dimensional factors, when looking at how to improve the problem of violence against women, we have to start right at the beginning, at the very notion of what men are taught it means to be a man in the modern world. How are masculinities defined and rewarded? What are men instructed as part of the social contract they sign in order to be a 'proper man'? Although the Hart example is extreme, it shows how men’s ideas about themselves can transform into real world action.

    "When looking at how to improve the problem of violence against women, we have to start right at the beginning, at the very notion of what men are taught it means to be a man in the modern world."

    Sociologist Michael Flood says: "If you take 1,000 men, and you want to know which of those 1,000 men are most likely to ever sexually assault or to domestically abuse a partner, one thing you would want to know is their attitudes about being a man, attitudes towards masculinity ... some versions of masculinity are part of the problem."

    The U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women regards violence against women as "rooted in gender-related factors, such as the ideology of men’s entitlement and privilege over women, social norms regarding masculinity, and the need to assert male control or power." A 2019 government report concurred: "There are norms and expectations we have of men and boys which enable, entitle and require them to use violence within specific settings, often as a way to (re)assert masculine power. These norms promote the idea that violence is sometimes an acceptable, necessary, even desirable response to the problems experienced by men and boys, and as a way to get respect."

    And in a report by the World Health Organization (WHO), it said: "Traditional beliefs that men have a right to control women make women and girls vulnerable to physical, emotional and sexual violence by men. They also hinder the ability of those affected to remove themselves from abusive situations."

    Journalist and author Sophie Gallagher. Credit: Welbeck

    Seyi Falodun-Liburd, co-director at feminist organisation Level Up(Opens in a new tab), says the current view we collectively hold of masculinity "not only makes excuses for violence against women but gives it legitimacy as a part of the human condition, as opposed to a constructed social crisis that can be ended." In short, men are made violent through socialisations into types of masculinity, they are not born this way. We are building men that feel entitled to use violence against women. 

    Lance Hart had fixed ideas of masculinity and his role as a father. "He had this sense of entitlement, as a man, as a husband, as a father, his wife should never talk back, always do the cooking, the cleaning. His children owe him everything because we wouldn’t exist without him and we should serve and devote ourselves to him," says Ryan.

    Not only are some forms of masculinity dangerous for women, but they also limit men.

    In his 2010 Ted Talk, ‘A Call to Men’, Tony Porter talks about this collective socialisation using a metaphor that he calls the ‘Man Box’. In this fictional box are some of the ways that men are taught to present: don’t cry or openly express emotions with the exception of anger, do not show weakness or fear, demonstrate control at all times, be heterosexual, be tough, athletic, brave, do not be like a woman or a gay man, make decisions and never need help. If men step outside the box they risk alienation from peers and being viewed as weak or ‘not manly enough’.

    It is important for men to think about where masculinity is serving them and where it is restrictive. This does not have to be extreme examples, but also whether it impacts the way they perceive themselves, the way they act in public or in a relationship with a woman, the feelings they feel allowed to express or have to suppress, the jobs or hobbies they feel permitted to pursue and the vulnerabilities or fears they can have.

    Feminist author and activist bell hooks summed this up as: "Men are not exploited or oppressed by sexism, but there are ways in which they suffer as a result of it." Although she says this "in no way diminishes" the seriousness of male abuse, "people are hurt by rigid sex roles." 

    If we hold on tight to current masculinities as the way men always have to be, rather than one of many ways they can choose to be, we cede the belief that things can change. Because those alternative options could simultaneously improve the lives of men who struggle under masculinity, as well as the women who experience its brutal consequences.

    How Men Can Help: A Guide to Undoing Harm and Being a Better Ally(Opens in a new tab) by Sophie Gallagher is published by Welbeck on July 7, hardback £12.99.(Opens in a new tab)

  • 11 luxury sex toys youll want to splurge on

    11 luxury sex toys youll want to splurge on

    If you managed to make a new year's resolution this year, I applaud you. If you haven't, it's not too late. May I suggest more self-care? Maybe a little more self-love? Are these veiled ways of saying you should resolve to masturbate more? Perhaps, but regardless of what you want to achieve this year, orgasming certainly won't hurt.


    Whether you're browser-window shopping or looking to treat yourself right this second, here are 11 popular luxury sex toys (priced from low to high):

    1. Deux mini vibrator(Opens in a new tab)

    le wand deux mini vibrator Credit: le wand

    This vibe has a twin motor, which gives the Deux its rabbit-ears look. While it's a mini vibrator, it boasts 15 vibration modes and six intensity levels. It's USB chargeable and actually self-charging: The base detaches and can fit into a standard USB Type A port. A full charge lasts for one hour. According to Le Wand, the Deux is "whisper quiet" and it comes in two colors, rose gold and black.

    Price: $125 from Le Wand(Opens in a new tab)

    2. Gold Vesper(Opens in a new tab)

    crave gold vesper vibrator Credit: crave

    The Vesper is a combination vibrator/necklace. For those in the know, spotting a Vesper in public could be an instant inside joke — but it also stands alone as an elegant piece of jewelry. Its beauty doesn't mean it doesn't function well as a vibrator, either. The Vesper has a 4.6 out of 5 rating on Crave's site out of over 900 reviews. For those who want a more budget option, the silver and rose gold options are cheaper than the gold.

    Price: $150 from Crave(Opens in a new tab)

    3. The Ballerina(Opens in a new tab)

    ballerina smile maker vibrator Credit: smile makers

    Sex tech brand Smile Makers calls The Ballerina "a luxurious vulva vibrator," and its price reflects that. With a similar blob-like shape to toys such as Dame's Pom(Opens in a new tab) and Lelo's Sona 2 Cruise(Opens in a new tab), The Ballerina is designed to fit in the palm of its user's hand and on the vulva. The toy has four speeds and three pulsation modes and what Smile Makers call an "innovative texture" — silicone gel — for a more real-life sensation.

    Price: $200 from Smile Makers(Opens in a new tab)

    4. Womanizer Duo(Opens in a new tab)

    womanizer duo suction vibrator Credit: womanizer

    The Womanizer is a suction vibrator; different variations have been praised by Wirecutter testers(Opens in a new tab) and sex educators alike. Gigi Engle(Opens in a new tab), ACS, certified sexologist and author of (Opens in a new tab)All The F*cking Mistakes: a guide to sex, love, and life(Opens in a new tab), told Mashable of the Womanizer Liberty, "The Womanizer looks like a decorative piece of modern art." The Duo is the suction vibrator coupled with an internal G-spot stimulator. The dual-stimulation toy comes in four colors: blueberry, raspberry, black-gold, and bordeaux-gold.

    Price: $219 from Womanizer(Opens in a new tab)

    5. Doxy Die Cast(Opens in a new tab)

    doxy die cast massager Credit: doxy

    The Doxy Die Cast looks like the Hitachi's younger, sleeker cousin. This wand vibrator has around 20 percent more intensity than the original Doxy, which was a Wirecutter runner-up(Opens in a new tab) for best vibrator and recommended by sex blogger Girl On The Net(Opens in a new tab). Every element of Die Cast is customizable: the body, which comes in a choice of eight colors; the buttons; collar; and head. It also comes with a ten-foot long cable, so you don't have to worry about needing to stay close to an outlet.

    Price: $219 from Doxy(Opens in a new tab)

    6. Contour(Opens in a new tab)

    le wand contour dildo Credit: le wand

    There are some dildos that look like art, and the Contour is one of them. Made of stainless steel, this toy is roughly 11 inches long. It has a wider end for direct stimulation and smaller ridges for more intense sensations. The plus side of stainless steel is that it works with all types of lube and can be heated up or cooled down for temperature play. Le Wand insists that the Countour "will become every size queen's favorite toy."

    Price: $225 from Le Wand(Opens in a new tab)

    7. JJ Apex 24K(Opens in a new tab)

    jj apex 24k Credit: jimmyjane

    At the tip, the JJ Apex 24K looks like many an internal stimulator. Go farther down, however, and you'll realize that's absolutely not the case. A flicking "tongue" with a textured sleeve (and a vibrator inside, of course) is at the other end of this toy. The user attaches one of two different cups, designed for the vulva or the nipples, to this part for suction. If you're especially missing oral sex under quarantine, this may be the toy for you.

    Price: $230 from JimmyJane(Opens in a new tab)

    8. Soraya Wave(Opens in a new tab)

    I reviewed LELO's Soraya Wave myself, so I can attest to how good it is. It's my favorite dual stimulator I've tried; granted, I haven't tried the others on this list. Not only does it look silky (and available in several jewel-toned colors), but the internal base makes a "come hither" motion that mimics fingers. LELO's Ina Wave(Opens in a new tab) has similar tech, but the Ina is longer and has a different look. The Ina is also cheaper, so, choose what factor matters most to you and go forth.

    Price: $249 from LELO(Opens in a new tab)

    9. The (Opens in a new tab)Eleven(Opens in a new tab)

    njoy eleven dildo Credit: njoy

    The Eleven has a similar design to the Contour (larger, smooth end and a smaller end with ridges), and it's also made with stainless steel. The main difference, however, lies in size: The Eleven is a bigger toy. The larger end of the Eleven is 2 inches, while that of the Contour is 1.92 inches. The smaller end of the Eleven is 1.75 inches; the Countour's is 1.53 inches. That may not seem like a huge difference to your brain, but it is to your body.

    Price: $400 from njoy(Opens in a new tab)

    10. Eroscillator Gold(Opens in a new tab)

    eroscillator gold vibrator Credit: Eroscillator

    The Eroscillator looks more like a gilded electric toothbrush than a vibrator. It comes with several tips for external or internal stimulation (or both). They have eclectic names like "French Legionnaire's Moustache" and "Grapes and Cockscomb." The Gold also comes with its own handcrafted carrying case. Despite its clinical look, this toy is absolutely beloved. In 2009, sex toy blogger Piph of Hey Euphoria (called the "Ars Technica or Wirecutter of adult products"(Opens in a new tab) by VICE) said in her Eroscillator review(Opens in a new tab), "Everyone with a clitoris should own this sex toy. Hell, everyone with a soul should own it." If that's not enough to pique your interest, I don't know what is.

    Price: $469 from Eroscillator(Opens in a new tab)

    11. The (Opens in a new tab)Cowgirl Sex Machine(Opens in a new tab)

    cowgirl sex machine vibrator Credit: the cowgirl

    This toy isn't for your first rodeo (...sorry). Its saddle shape allows the user to comfortable sit on the machine, which can be controlled by a smart phone or corded remote. The "rawhide" attachment is textured silicone made for grinding, while the "wild west" attachment includes a dildo for added internal stimulation. More attachments are available for a multitude of experiences — the "lone ranger" G-spot/prostate stimulator, to name one — but are sold out as of publication. If you want a completely new experience, this sex machine aught to provide one for a cool $1,500.

    Price: $1,500 from The Cowgirl(Opens in a new tab)

  • How to pick the right wearable for running

    How to pick the right wearable for running

    Not that long ago, if you were a runner in the market for a wearable, your options were limited to a handful of brands, each with a few models, max. With any of them, you could expect questionable accuracy, bare bones features, limited battery life, and very little comfort. (My first GPS-equipped watch was about the size of a hockey puck, but rectangular.)


    Fortunately, the wearable industry has made leaps and bounds in the last decade or so. While that’s mostly good news — think improved accuracy, more features, better fit, and enhanced durability — it also means you have a lot more to think about when shopping. As with a pair of trainers, a good choice for one athlete may not work well for another.

    Here are seven questions to ask yourself in advance of your next running wearable purchase:

    1. What’s the purpose?

    The first things to consider in your wearable hunt? What you plan to use it for, and what exactly you want out of it. Do you exclusively run, or are you a multi-sport athlete who runs but also cycles, swims, hikes, and more? Some want more of a smartwatch feel, while others would prefer an exclusive fitness wearable. Are you a beginner who’s trying to build consistency or an elite seeking marginal performance gains? Do you train mostly on sidewalks and roads, or are you an off-road junkie who prefers mountains and trails? The more you can narrow down the purpose of your wearable, the smoother your buying experience will be, and the happier you’ll be with the one you choose.

    SEE ALSO: Garmin Instinct: A hefty smartwatch that can handle any adventure

    2. Will it be an all-day or activity-specific accessory?

    It’s a good idea to determine whether you’re looking for a watch to wear around the clock (hello, Fitbit), or exclusively an accessory for the active hours of your day (hi, Garmin). If your wearable is going to serve double duty, you may want one that’s sleek, not overly sporty, and complementary to your everyday clothes, like this Apple Watch that has interchangeable bands.(Opens in a new tab) On the other hand, if you’re only going to wear the watch while running, you may not care as much about how it looks or whether you can pull it off with a button-down shirt or a pair of heels.

    3. What’s a price range you’re comfortable with?

    Few things are more deflating than finding the purchase of your dreams only to realize it’s out of your budget. Spare yourself that late-in-the-game letdown by determining how much you can spend before you start shopping. Cheaper models start at around $150, like this one from Polar(Opens in a new tab), while the most tricked-out ones (we're talking night vision, advanced GPS tracking, ski maps, and more) go above four digits(Opens in a new tab).

    Know that there are high-quality watches throughout that range (and some of my favorites, like the Garmin Vivoactive 4, are toward the lower end), but as you go up in price, you’ll go up in features, too. If you’re not in a rush to buy, keep an eye on the model you want since there’s a good chance it will go on sale at some point — whether a newer edition releases or they have a sale.

    4. What size are your wrists?

    My single biggest turn-off in a running wearable is a poor fit. I have tiny wrists, even for a 5-foot-tall woman, and am easily bothered by anything bulky, heavy, restrictive, or unstable. Watches designed for men almost never fit me well, and even some of the fancier models for women are bigger than I’d like. Thankfully, there are several options that cater to female wrists out there — though not nearly as many as those meant for men. The Garmin Forerunner 45 and Fitbit Versa line snugly fit smaller wrists. (This discontinued Garmin Forerunner 10(Opens in a new tab) is still my favorite watch I’ve ever worn, precisely because it offers such a snug, unobtrusive fit.) Just know that opting for a smaller watch probably means a smaller screen.

    5. How much do you care about metrics?

    There’s not much that a top-end wearable can’t do these days. Whether you want to measure blood oxygen saturation, track 80+ sport modes(Opens in a new tab), or navigate uncharted territory using just your watch, you can. It will likely cost you a pretty penny though.

    Some people go nuts for metrics, meticulously tracking, recording, and comparing them in their pursuit of athletic excellence. Others, though, care about a few key ones, but can do without the rest. I’m in the second camp. All I really want in a watch is current pace, average pace, distance run, and elevation gained and lost — about as basic as it gets these days. But because I track so few things, it’s important that the ones I do track are accurate. To feel good in that department, I rely on a mix of thorough reviews, discussions with friends, and plenty of trial runs with different models.

    6. Does battery life matter to you?

    Depending on the model, a watch’s battery life may last just a few runs, or it may stay charged through dozens of them(Opens in a new tab). If you only go into GPS mode a few times a week, you’ll probably be fine with any choice. But if you use GPS mode a lot (as high mileage runners tend to do), constantly stream music, or are just bad about remembering to recharge, you’re a good candidate for a wearable with strong battery life, a battery-saving mode, or even built-in solar charging(Opens in a new tab). On the downside, you can expect to pay more for a better battery, and you can also expect a heftier watch to accommodate it.

    7. Is getting accurate heart-rate readings important?

    Heart-rate training is a popular method among runners, who essentially let their heart rates dictate how hard they push in a given session. It’s a great concept, the point being to let effort be your guide — but worthless if the heart rate you’re looking at is inaccurate. Unfortunately, the wrist-based heart-rate monitors in most watches are not very reliable (especially if your watch is loose at all, you’re a heavy sweater, or the shade of your skin(Opens in a new tab).

    But there’s a simple solution that most brands offer: A chest strap that you buy separately(Opens in a new tab), usually in the $50-$100 range that pairs with your watch and is much more trustworthy. If getting accurate heart-rate data is important to you and will impact your training, be sure that the watch you go for is chest strap compatible, and bundle it up with your wearable at the time of purchase.

    A final word on wearables

    To ensure a smooth shopping experience and a satisfying result, spend a little time on the front end considering why you want a wearable in the first place and what features matter to you most rather than jumping on trends. Are you a metric fiend or more of a minimalist? A rookie runner or a seasoned vet? A one-sport athlete or an enthusiastic dabbler? Looking for a dedicated sports watch or an all-day accessory? Answering questions like those will eliminate options from the large and growing pool while bringing your ideal running wearable into focus.

  • Tinder launches Election Center ahead of midterms

    Tinder launches Election Center ahead of midterms

    With the U.S. midterm elections less than a month away, dating app Tinder partnered with voting information organization BallotReady to help their users get out the vote. There's now a new Election Center feature in the app where Tinder users can access information about voter registration, measures on their local ballots, and polling stations.


    In a Tinder survey of over 2,000 adults done last month, 63 percent of participants aged 18-25 said that information on ballots is overwhelming, while 70 percent said the voting process should be easier to figure out. Considering the voting process in the U.S. is indeed esoteric, Tinder is providing easy-to-understand info in an easy-to-find spot — within the app.

    Election Center can now be found in the Explore section of Tinder. It'll have several sections:

    • Register to Vote: Singles can select their state or territory and will be redirected to its registration page.

    • My Actions: A checklist detailing steps to register, request a mail-in ballot, and/or find a polling place.

    • My Stickers: Tinder users can add an "I Voted" sticker to their profile — a smart move as 47 percent of people surveyed by Tinder said finding out their date is a non-voter would be a dealbreaker

    • My Ballot: Information on local ballot measures from BallotReady

    "This new generation of daters wants to be heard," said Tinder CMO Melissa Hobley in a press release. Despite this, however, "many young singles don’t feel properly informed on key issues in these midterm elections, and we want to do something about that."

    Hobley continued, "Tinder’s partnership with BallotReady is a meaningful way for our members to easily get involved, informed and show off their civic pride to potential matches."

    Finally, you can swipe and exercise your civic duty at the same time.