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Meet the Swifties trying to take down Ticketmaster

2023-03-19 06:15:56

Meet the Swifties trying to take down Ticketmaster

Swifties aren't dressing for the Eras Tour, they're dressing for revenge.

Meet the Swifties trying to take down Ticketmaster(图1)

On the morning of Monday, Nov. 14, Blake Barnett logged onto Ticketmaster, the largest ticketing platform in the world, to battle it out with millions of other Taylor Swift fans to purchase verified fan presale tickets to the Eras Tour. The demand was sure to be high. This is Swift's first tour in over five years. But no one, not even Liberty Media CEO and Live Nation chairman Greg Maffei, expected an estimated 14 million people to hit the site that day.

Speaking to CNBC(Opens in a new tab) on Nov. 17, Maffei said, "The site was supposed to be opened up for 1.5 million verified Taylor Swift fans. We had 14 million people hit the site including bots... Despite all the challenges, we did sell over 2 million tickets."

For the millions of people in the queue for tickets, it was a nightmare. "When it came time for me to start buying tickets to my show, everything went to shit," Barnett, a 30-year-old lawyer, told Mashable. "We were sitting in pre-waiting lines for two or three hours before it even unpaused. When it finally did, I got pushed up super quickly to the Denver show on the 15th. And right when I got 'You're the next in line,' it gave me an error code and said rejoin the queue. I was shoved back behind 38,000 people. That happened three times." 

Barnett's experience wasn't unique. Ticketmaster's website crashed half an hour before verified fan presale tickets were set to go on sale; fans waited in the queue for hours just to receive error messages; and Ticketmaster rescheduled the Capital One cardholder presale for the following day due to "historic demand" and full-on canceled the public ticket sale days later. 

Swift took to Instagram to address the issue directly with her fans. On Nov. 18, the "Anti-Hero" singer said, "We asked [Ticketmaster] multiple times, if they could handle this kind of demand and we were assured they would."

It was also announced that the Justice Department had opened an antitrust(Opens in a new tab) investigation into Ticketmaster's parent company, Live Nation Entertainment.

On Nov. 19, Ticketmaster released its own statement(Opens in a new tab). "We want to apologize to Taylor and all her fans, especially those who had a terrible experience trying to purchase tickets," it read, before addressing some of the more logistical errors head-on. "We estimate about 15% of interactions across the site experienced issues, and that’s 15% too many, including passcode validation errors that caused fans to lose tickets they had carted."

But for fans of Swift and other artists, the company's detailed reasoning behind the debacle only merited more ire. Fans know just how painful long Ticketmaster queues and its "dynamic pricing" can be. The problem is that so much of the live music industry relies on Ticketmaster; it's the biggest company in the ticket-selling game. That's largely because of the 2010 merger(Opens in a new tab) between Ticketmaster, which operated roughly 70 percent of the concert ticket market in the U.S. at the time, and Live Nation, the world's largest concert promoter.

SEE ALSO: For fans, Ticketmaster is misery business

Concert goers are often at the mercy of Ticketmaster's crashing website, exorbitant fees (Barnett paid over $500 in fees for her and her friends' tickets to one of Swift's Chicago tour dates), and dynamic pricing(Opens in a new tab), Ticketmaster's very own version of surge pricing that's intended to help artists maximize their profits from ticket sales. Bruce Springsteen tickets(Opens in a new tab) jumped up to as high as $4,000 thanks to Ticketmaster's dynamic pricing, and the presale for Harry Styles' Love on Tour UK(Opens in a new tab) dates crashed the site. But no incident has caused the kind of seismic response Swift's Eras Tour has — and a huge part of that is the sheer number of people who tried, and failed, to get tickets.

Antitrust advocates and Swifties alike are taking advantage of this moment to try to break up the ticketing giant. 

Barnett is one of 1.5 million Swifties who received presale codes that gave them access to the Verified Fan presale window. After hours of frustration, she, along with thousands of others, took to Twitter to complain about the miserable process. "By the time we got into the [ticketing for the] Denver show, all that was left was upper bowl and lower bowl — super expensive tickets. We wound up getting tickets for Denver in the lower bowl... and they were $355 each. Meanwhile, I have floor seats that were cheaper than that for Massachusetts," she told Mashable.

Barnett then took her frustrations one step further. Two days after the presale descended into chaos, she tweeted(Opens in a new tab), "calling all swiftie lawyers: lmk if you wanna be added to a GC to brainstorm if there's anything we can do to take actions against @ticketmaster." She called the group chat "Vigilante Legal," a play on Swift's song "Vigilante Shit." In less than 24 hours, 35 Swifties, mostly lawyers, had joined it to strategize. Now it's a full-fledged LLC. "Something needs to be done. They're violating antitrust laws. The monopoly merger should have never been allowed to happen between Live Nation and Ticketmaster," Barnett said.

Kat, who asked to be referred to by their first name for their privacy, is one of the Swifties who immediately joined Barnett's chat. "I'm not a lawyer myself, but I wanted to lend my expertise in any way that I could," Kat told Mashable. She works in regulatory compliance.

She is one of many fans who were promised "preferred access" to the Verified Fan presale, via an email from Ticketmaster, for being a ticket holder of Swift's canceled 2019 tour, Lover Fest. But some Lover Fest ticket holders say they didn't get access to the Verified Fan Presale. In screenshots provided to Mashable, Ticketmaster Fan Support on Twitter told Lover Fest ticket holders that they were misinformed and that they "did not have priority" for the new presale. "What I take issue with is contradictory statements, misleading claims, and confusion of the consumer base, a consumer base that has nowhere else to go for their ticket-buying needs," Kat tells Mashable.

In her social media response, Swift said she and her team are "trying to figure out how this situation can be improved moving forward." It's been nearly 27 years since Pearl Jam took on Ticketmaster(Opens in a new tab) in court, but if any artist can swear off the corportation and bypass it altogether it might just be one of biggest pop stars in the world. "Over the years, I've brought so many elements of my career in house," she said in her statement. "I've done this SPECIFICALLY to improve the quality of my fans' experience by doing it myself with my team who care as much about my fans as I do. It's really difficult for me to trust an outside entity with these relationships and loyalties, and excruciating for me to just watch mistakes happen with no recourse."

Of course, this whole thing is bigger than Swift. It's a pain point for fans of all artists. Barnett has received DMs from people who "clearly aren't Swifties" giving her information on the Sherman Antitrust Act and the Federal Trade Commission. Vigilante Legal is currently researching and reaching out to other Swifties to provide proof that will aid them in filing reports to the Federal Trade Commission. They're also drafting an amicus brief to shop around to politicians. 

Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was one of several who seized the opportunity to educate fans on the importance of antitrust law and the dangers of monopolies. During the presale, she tweeted(Opens in a new tab), "Daily reminder that Ticketmaster is a monopoly, its merger with LiveNation should never have been approved, and they need to be reigned [sic] in." Representative Ihan Omar(Opens in a new tab), Senator Blumenthal(Opens in a new tab), Senator Klobuchar(Opens in a new tab) also tweeted in support of antitrust enforcement. 

Antitrust law wasn't on 28-year-old Elizabeth Burg's radar before Nov. 14, but now she's all for its enforcement. "The way I got radicalized was through buying tickets," Burg told Mashable. She urged(Opens in a new tab) her fellow Swifties to sign the in a new tab) petition(Opens in a new tab) to "Tell the Department of Justice to Investigate Ticketmaster." 

Burg is a UX UI designer, and like Barnett, is bringing her expertise to the conversation. She believes the chaos of the Ticketmaster user experience is a "feature, not a bug" and that the company is "making more money when fans are stressed out." (Ticketmaster did not reply to Mashable's request for comment.)

"I know the power of Taylor Swift fans when we rally behind something. If we were going to make a change this was the time. I was trying to kind of gather that energy from the group to direct it towards something actionable," Burg said. 

Stephanie Aly, a 33-year-old who does digital communications for progressive candidates, also sees the potential of organizing fandom to effect real-life change.

On Wednesday (Nov. 16), Aly launched Vigilante Legal's campaign on her Swift fan site The Swiftiest(Opens in a new tab) calling for direct civic action and digital organizing to take down Ticketmaster. "Vigilante Legal is uniting Swifties and fans of music everywhere to end the era of outrageous fees, hours-long queues to nowhere, glitchy processing and terrible customer service has to end," the site reads. In the first 24 hours, Aly received just over 1,000 sign-ups in response to their call to action. The goal, they say, is to unite and mobilize a network of fans that not even Ticketmaster can ignore.

"From experience, deep in the trenches [of fandom], the most passionate fans also tend to turn out a lot of natural organizers. They just happen to stick to organizing to win voters' choice awards," Aly told Mashable. "What if we pointed them in a different direction?"

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    A multimillion-dollar treasure intentionally tucked away in an undisclosed, incredibly remote part of the Rocky Mountains has reportedly(Opens in a new tab) been found — and the story behind the loot is perhaps wilder than you can imagine.


    Forrest Fenn, an eccentric 89-year-old author and artifacts dealer, claims he buried a treasure — estimated to be worth at least $1 million and up to $5 million — in a remote spot a decade ago. He said a cryptic 24-line poem in his memoir would lead searchers to the treasure.

    In the last decade, a huge online and IRL community built up around finding the treasure. Some 350,000 people have tried to find it. As Money(Opens in a new tab) covered in detail last year(Opens in a new tab), certain "searchers" have dedicated their lives to the treasure hunt. Some people quit their jobs. At least four people died trying to find it. Others think the whole thing was a hoax, as in, the treasure doesn't exist.

    Now, according to Fenn himself, the chase for the treasure is over. He confirmed to Money(Opens in a new tab) that it had been found in the past couple of days.

    "It was under a canopy of stars in the lush, forested vegetation of the Rocky Mountains and had not moved from the spot where I hid it more than 10 years ago," Fenn wrote on his website(Opens in a new tab). "I do not know the person who found it, but the poem in my book led him to the precise spot. I congratulate the thousands of people who participated in the search and hope they will continue to be drawn by the promise of other discoveries. So the search is over."

    But, and this is a pretty big but, we've still yet to see the treasure. And we don't know the identity of the person who apparently found it.

    “The guy who found it does not want his name mentioned. He’s from back East,” Fenn told the(Opens in a new tab) Santa Fe New Mexican(Opens in a new tab).

    Fenn told the paper the person sent him a picture of the treasure to confirm the find, but Fenn declined to send a copy of that photo to the paper. So... a lot of questions remain.

    And yet things are even more complicated. Barbara Andersen, a Chicago real estate attorney, told the New Mexican(Opens in a new tab) she is filing an injunction in federal District Court against the person who allegedly found the chest, saying they hacked her and stole her solution. She wants to stop the person from selling the loot and have the court hand the chest over to her.

    “He stole my solve,” she told the paper. “He followed and cheated me to get the chest.”

    So, again, a lot of questions remain.

  • During a pandemic, protest livestreams are more important than ever

    During a pandemic, protest livestreams are more important than ever

    Protests against police brutality continue around the country, but not everyone who wants can participate. Whether immunocompromised, living with someone in a high risk group for COVID-19, or simply too far away to attend a protest, people around the world have found their own way to engage: livestreams.


    Leigh Wallace, an 18-year-old in Mississippi, goes through chemotherapy every other week to treat Hodgkin’s lymphoma. The treatment hasn’t affected her immune system as much as it has other patients, Wallace said, but her parents are wary of allowing her around other people, even friends. While treatable, Hodgkin’s lymphoma limits the body’s ability to fight infection. The number of new coronavirus cases(Opens in a new tab) is increasing in many states, and the world is bracing itself for a "second wave," expected(Opens in a new tab) to hit this autumn.

    But Wallace couldn’t just sit at home while her peers marched against police brutality. Her parents have a tight grip on her bank account, so she couldn’t donate to a bail fund or community organization. While she signed petitions pushing for prosecution for officers and advocating for defunding law enforcement, Wallace wanted to be more involved.

    “News stations and YouTubers can take the footage and later edit them to fit their personal agenda.”

    She began watching Instagram livestreams of the protests to stay informed. In a Twitter DM, she said that because she was viewing raw, unedited footage, she could get a clearer picture of what’s actually happening. Watching the protests live allows viewers to see police using disturbing force against peaceful protestors for themselves.

    “I think the news and even some YouTube creators are incredibly biased,” Wallace said. “News stations and YouTubers can take the footage and later edit them to fit their personal agenda.”

    Similarly, Celina Juarez, a 21-year-old restaurant employee in Los Angeles, felt that news outlets weren't focusing on what mattered. Juarez lives with her grandparents and didn't want to risk spreading the coronavirus to them, since the elderly are at high risk.

    "I feel that the news is showing more of the looting and less of the police brutality against peaceful protest when, based on every livestream I've tuned into, it's really the opposite," Juarez said in a Twitter DM.

    While the protests have been associated with looting and rioting, multiple videos(Opens in a new tab) show black protestors shutting down white agitators attempting to graffiti storefronts and steal merchandise. When the protests began in Minneapolis in response to the death of George Floyd, a black man who was killed by a white police officer, Juarez and Wallace felt that news coverage focused on the looting rather than law enforcement escalating violence against peaceful protestors.

    In addition to presenting a clearer picture of the the protests in support of Black Lives Matter, livestreams also provide crucial information for those who attend.

    Elijah Daniel, a YouTuber with 568,000 subscribers and 446,000 Instagram followers(Opens in a new tab), attended numerous protests in Los Angeles last week. He's also been broadcasting the protests on Instagram Live, where tens of thousands of viewers watched police tear gas gatherings, shoot rubber bullets into crowds, and arrest peaceful protestors who were out after Los Angeles' controversial curfews.

    I watched Daniel's protest livestream last week because I had several friends who were also marching in Hollywood. It seemed peaceful from wherever Daniel was marching, but the chants of "No justice, no peace" were broken up by panicked comments warning viewers that police were tear gassing protestors a few blocks ahead. Madison Beer, another influencer who's been actively attending protests and was marching ahead of Daniel, tweeted that cops were beginning to block in protestors well before curfew.

    As soon as I read the livestream comments, I called everyone I knew at the protests to warn them. One narrowly avoided the gas and rubber bullets, which law enforcement began deploying just minutes after he decided to take side streets out of Hollywood.

    This weekend, I attended the massive candlelight vigil for George Floyd and other black victims of police brutality, which took place only blocks from where police had arrested(Opens in a new tab) thousands of peaceful protestors the week before. During the drive over, I watched the livestream broadcasted by Black Lives Matter Los Angeles to keep tabs on police presence. Watching the protests live is a matter of safety.

    Watching protest livestreams is a matter of public safety. Credit: David McNew / Getty Images
    "I know it's easy to watch a video on the internet, but to watch it in real time is on a whole other level."

    Daniel's viewers are also using the livestream to open up conversations about police brutality and privilege with their families. Claire-Louise, a 21-year-old customer service agent in Belfast, Ireland, can't attend protests in Ireland because there aren't any close enough to be accessible. She's been showing Daniel's livestreams, as well as other screen recorded livestreams, to her family members who she claims are "a bit backwards in their mindset."

    "I know it's easy to watch a video on the internet, but to watch it in real time is on a whole other level," Claire-Louise said in a Twitter DM. "I get happy when I see the peacefulness but I get angry and anxious when I see the brutality and just blatant racism."

    Influencers and celebrities continue to fall out of public favor through this period of civil unrest. From posting well intentioned but ill informed black squares to their Instagram accounts to getting arrested for looting(Opens in a new tab), as Jake Paul did, celebrity culture is cracking. But those who use their platforms for activism, as Elijah Daniel and Halsey have, are inspiring a generation of viewers to join the Black Lives Matter movement.

    "Even though I can't actually be there, it at least makes me feel like I am," Wallace said. "Seeing how many people are at the protests, plus thinking about how many people are watching livestreams, makes me think that in time something may actually happen."

  • OKCupid adds Black Lives Matter badge and profile questions about racial inequality

    OKCupid adds Black Lives Matter badge and profile questions about racial inequality

    On Thursday, OKCupid announced that it's rolling out a #BlackLivesMatter(Opens in a new tab) badge in a dozen countries. Users can obtain the badge by answering yes to the question, "Do you want to support the #BlackLivesMatter movement by adding a badge to your profile?"


    Since badges won't actually do anything to solve racism, OKCupid has also donated $50,000 to the ACLU, Black Girls Code, Fair Fight Action and the NAACP. The app will also donate a million dollars in advertising space to black civil rights organizations.

    SEE ALSO: How single people have been dealing with the 'sex ban' in England

    In addition to the badge, OKCupid has added matching questions related to racial injustice and inequality. Users can answer whether they protest; whether it's okay to silently support racial equality; how they plan on addressing racial inequality (say by donating or protesting); and whether they find it important that their date supports racial equality.

    OKCupid racial inequality question Credit: okcupid
    OKCupid how will you address racial inequality question Credit: okcupid

    In the past week, over 100,000 users have responded to the new questions. The majority said it's not okay to silently support equality, according to OKCupid's blog post. Seventy percent are protesting for racial equality.

    This isn't the first time OKCupid has created badges and questions around social justice. They did so with supporting Planned Parenthood(Opens in a new tab) and marriage equality as well(Opens in a new tab). While the badge could be seen by some as virtual signaling, the questions do allow users to dig deeper into a potential match's commitment to racial equality — which is a step in the right direction.

    Related Video: Want to donate to help the Black Lives Matter movement? Here's how.

Random articles


  • We made up punny names for New Jersey marijuana dispensaries to cope with election anxiety

    We made up punny names for New Jersey marijuana dispensaries to cope with election anxiety

    Listen, it's been a long 24 hours.


    As of early Monday morning, there was no clear winner in the 2020 presidential election. We might get an answer today? Who knows. Will democracy survive? LOL, I mean maybe?(Opens in a new tab)

    But we do know that New Jersey voted to legalize recreational marijuana, along with a number of other states with weed on the ballots. Then we saw this tweet.

    Our broken, exhausted, internet-poisoned brains latched onto this idea. We needed something else to think about. And if you're feeling overwhelmed, tired, and stressed as hell, I recommend making some dumb Jersey dispensary puns. As a Sopranos loving workplace, we almost immediately started firing off Sopranos/generic Italian-American nonsense puns in our Slack.

    Some of the early 'Sopranos' puns. Credit: Screenshot :mashable

    The brilliance(Opens in a new tab) of Bada Bong. Amazing. I then added my personal favorite:

    Ganjagool Credit: Screenshot :mashable

    From then, we were off to the races. Things soon moved to another Jersey icon: Bruce Springsteen.

    Our Boss dispensary ideas included:

    • Buds Springsteen

    • Dankness on the Edge of Town

    • Dancing in the Dank

    • Tenth Avenue Smoke Out

    • The Stoned Pony

    • A Spliff in July, Asbury Park

    • Glory Daze

    Then onto Jersey boy Jon Bon Jovi:

    • Jon Bong Jovi

    • Bon Joint-vi

    • Bad Medicine

    • Zooted, Dead or Alive

    And if people in Jersey love anything, they love The Godfather:

    • An Offer You Can't Refuse

    • Horse Head in Bud

    • The Budfather

    • Leaves and Bud, Take the Doobie(Opens in a new tab) (yes, this is a major stretch)

    We also did even more basic Italian/Sopranos nonsense:

    • BAKED ziti

    • Paulie gualtieREEFER

    • KUSHamanos

    • Are You Tokin' to Me

    And then some general Jersey Things (TM):

    • Hashbury Park

    • New Jersey Lit Rail

    • Budgers University

    • The Joint

    • It's Actually a Really Lovely State With a Great Coast OK?!? Weed

    Anyway, that was how we passed the time this morning and redirected energy as everything hung in the balance. It was nice. Maybe do the same? Or at least have a few laughs while you can — it's going to be a long couple of(Opens in a new tab) days.

    Related Video: Curious about the difference between CBD and THC?

  • All the horses of pop culture, ranked

    All the horses of pop culture, ranked

    For many millennials who labored under the daily grind of rural American culture, the fundamental hobbies revolved around the ability to do them in cowboy boots. We went to the washes at night for frog gigging — hunting frogs with a spiked tennis ball and frying their legs up for dinner. We played music in the barn, because the reverberations of the guitar on the metal stalls acted as a DIY amplifier. We had bonfires. We shot empty beer cans with guns. And we definitely rode horses.


    The digital world's erosion of our selfhood means that last hobby — riding horses — also became a sort of one-dimensional expression of identity. If you were femme and you rode horses often, you didn't just ride horses: You were a Horse Girl. There's plenty to be said about society's inability to let women have a hobby without it being one of their defining features, but for better or worse, I was a loud member of that club. I wasn't the kind of Horse Girl who played h-o-r-s-e on the playground — although I have nothing but respect for my comrades. I was, instead, a Horse Girl of proximity who grew into an obsession with steeds. I rode a horse to the corner store. I worked as a stablehand for the better part of two decades. I had a humiliating number of horse stuffed animals decorating my bed until well into my teenage years. 

    Now, I live in Brooklyn and only see horses when I visit my family in rural Arizona. But I firmly believe that my nearly 20 years of experience as a Horse Girl makes me uniquely qualified to rank the most important 25 horses of pop culture. 

    While ranking these steeds, I asked myself five questions: 

    1. How important was the horse's role to the plot of the film/TV show/general lore? 

    2. Do I personally think the horse is pretty? 

    3. Does the horse have an attitude I can respect? 

    4. How long did the horse maintain relevance? 

    5. Could I ride that horse?

    Before we get started, it should also be noted that I'm only including horses. This includes big (#24) and small (#19) horses, but not unicorns or thestrals or pegasuses. Not all important video game horses are being ranked, as that's already been done by one of my gamer colleagues. I am also not including any of the ponies from My Little Pony because I have, miraculously, avoided all information about those animals and wish to continue my streak of spectacular good luck. 

    Not horses, but notable steeds:

    • Donkey as a donkey from Shrek

    • The Trojan horse

    • Hippocampus, a sea horse that pulled Poseidon's chariot

    • The unicorn Voldemort drank right up in Harry Potter

    I have to be clear that this list is just my opinion. It is also indubitably correct. If you disagree, keep it to yourself.

    25. Artax 

    Artax is Atreyu's best friend in the movie The NeverEnding Story. They're searching for a cure for the Childlike Empress, and he dies in the Swamp of Sadness. All this horse had to do was turn around and follow Atreyu out of the swamp and he did! not! do! it! He's brought back to life when Bastian recreates Fantasia, but I'll never forgive that horse.

    24. The Budweiser Clydesdales

    Credit: Photo by Ronald Martinez / Getty Images

    While I think I could absolutely ride these horses, and I personally think the Budweiser Clydesdales are very pretty, they stopped maintaining relevance around the time the Got Milk? commercials stopped airing. Plus, I have a hard time looking at any carriage-drawing horses without considering the mistreatment of the horses in Central Park(Opens in a new tab). Not the fault of these Clydesdales, but still puts a real bummer in the enjoyment of this particular gang of horses.

    23. The horse version of Donkey in Shrek 2

    Freaks me out Credit: Screenshot/ Amazon Prime/ DreamWorks Pictures/ Shrek 2

    This list doesn't include donkeys, so I couldn't give credit to Eddie Murphy's character in the original Shrek. But in the second Shrek movie, Donkey takes a potion and becomes a magnificent white stallion, much to his joy. However, this version of Donkey gives me a general air of malaise. He was better as the original!

    22. Cochise

    An obviously beautiful Appaloosa stallion ridden by John Wayne in the movie El Dorado, this horse is so low on the list purely because of the racism of it all. I'm putting all of the horses John Wayne has ridden in this category.

    21. All horses from Disney movies

    I hate to say it, but all the horses in Disney movies have virtually the same personality. Bullseye from Toy Story; Captain from 101 Dalmatians; Frou-Frou from Aristocats; Khan from Mulan; Major from Cinderella; Maximus from Tangled; Phillipe from Beauty and the Beast; Altivo from The Road to El Dorado. It's a good personality! But I'd like to see more diverse equestrian attitudes from Disney going forward.

    20. The Kardashians' 14 gorgeous Friesians 

    I don't feel like I need to say much more(Opens in a new tab) to defend this ranking.

    19. Li'l Sebastian

    He's a good mini horse... but he's still a mini horse Credit: Screenshot/ Parks and Rec/ Peacock TV/ NBC

    I am biased when we talk about mini horses, because I spent much of my youth employed as a stable hand at a mini horse farm. They are the Chihuahuas of the horse world — little bodies, huge attitudes. But Li'l Sebastian of Parks and Rec fame is one of the best of his kind: a noble little steed of his own volition.

    18. Tornado 

    This unbelievably helpful equine from Legend of Zorro has a rich history with plenty of different personality tropes. For instance, in the 1957 TV series, he can bring keys to a jail cell and can be called with a whistle. In the 1990 TV series, he's smart and loyal. And, of course, Antonio Banderas gets him drunk in The Legend of Zorro, which rules.

    17. Roach

    Mmmmmmm Credit: Screenshot/ Netflix/ The Witcher

    This Nilfgaardian Thoroughbred stallion from The Witcher somehow, miraculously, makes Henry Cavill even hotter. For that alone, he receives the coveted #17 spot on this list.

    16. Hidalgo

    This 2004 Western was based on the legend of the American distance rider Frank Hopkins and his mustang Hidalgo, a horse that I personally think is very pretty; whose identity was very important to the plot of the film; who has an attitude I can respect. But I am not convinced that I could ride that horse, so he sits at #16.

    15. Secretariat

    Also known as Big Red, this American Thoroughbred racehorse was the ninth winner of the American Triple Crown who set the record for the fastest time in all three races. He's one of the greatest racehorses of all time, and the movie about him absolutely rules. But I do not think he's particularly pretty, and also I would be too afraid to ride him. 

    14. Joey

    Joey was the name of the first horse I rode and showed in Hereford, Arizona, and is also the name of the horse in the novel-turned-movie War Horse. Both horses absolutely ruled, but I have to say I think War Horse Joey maintained a stronger societal cultural relevance and more important role in the film and novel than Hereford Joey did in either.

    13. Diablo

    I'm talking specifically about Diablo from the iconic book and TV series The Saddle Club, whose air of spooky mystery held me and my friends by the neck for years. Also in this category is Diablo, the black and white pinto from the Cisco Kid movies.

    12. Pie-O-My

    Tony's love for this horse... We love love. Credit: Screenshot/ HBO/ The Sopranos

    Ralph Cifaretto's horse from Episodes 44 and 48 of Season 4 of The Sopranos. The horse is a massive symbol and point of tension in Tony Soprano's relationship with Ralph, which becomes a source of his infamous depression when he demands a painting of the horse be destroyed. Pie-O-My also becomes one of the more significant mysteries in The Sopranos, as we don't ever find out who is truly responsible for the horse's death.

    11. Seabiscuit

    Credit: Photo by Robert Beck / Sports Illustrated via Getty Images

    The film Seabiscuit was based on a true story(Opens in a new tab), which is a wild one. But the real reason Seabiscuit makes it so close to the top of the list is because of the absolutely killer acting by King Tobey Maguire, who plays a jockey with a storied history of injuries that teams up with Seabiscuit, a temperamental, undersized racehorse.

    10. Swift Wind 

    Swift Wind is a horse that She-Ra unknowingly turned into a unicorn (so still technically a horse but also a unicorn?) in She-Ra and the Princesses of Power. Swift Wind is She-Ra's noble steed who can talk, is very funny, and has a mental connection with She-Ra. The horse helps save the world.

    9. Black Beauty

    I'm not personally a huge Black Beauty fan, but this animal might just be the original horse influencer. For that reason alone, we reach #9.

    8. Argo 

    Shadow of the Colossus is an action-adventure game that follows the main character, Wander, as he tries to save a princess from dying. He has to traverse lands and battle colossuses with no one but his horse Argo. Argo became as much of a character as the rest of the more human characters, and also controls super well for a video game horse.

    7. Daredevil 

    Spooky Credit: iStock / Getty Images Plus

    This big boy is the horse ridden by the headless horseman, potentially the steed with the longest maintained relevance of any horse. Shout out to Gunpowder, Constable Ichabod Crane's horse in the film The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, who has the same spooky energy but far less longevity.

    6. Penny 

    Felicity is an American Girl doll who rescues a beautiful horse, Penny, from its cruel owner. Penny was originally released as the American Girl Horse in 1998, but the real claim to fame for this horse was when my dad cried while watching Felicity: An American Girl Adventure in theaters in 2005.

    5. Mister Ed

    "A horse is a horse, of course, of course, and no one can talk to a horse, of course." That is, of course, unless the horse is the famous Mister Ed. Mister Ed, the main character in the 1961 TV show of the same name, speaks only with his owner Wilbur. This show absolutely slaps, and Mister Ed has an unmatched attitude.

    4. Shadowfax

    Galdalf's steed, Shadowfax, in the novels-turned-films Lord of The Rings, is commonly referred to as the most beautiful horse of all time. 

    3. Khartoum 

    This horse faced an unkind fate in The Godfather, but his presence was of unbelievable importance in one very important film. Plus, it gave me an entirely new fear to fall asleep to.

    2. BoJack Horseman

    Time to cry :) Credit: Screenshot/ Netflix

    This is one of the best TV shows of modern time and features an animated horse BoJack as the main character. More human than most of the other steeds on this list, BoJack is one of the few horses to give me a full existential crisis.

    1. Spirit 

    🥵🥵🥵 Credit: Screenshot/ Peacock TV/ DreamWorks Pictures

    This buckskin stallion from Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron is the perfect horse. Wild, pretty, kind, a little queer: He has it all. I had a really hard time writing this blurb without making it sound like I have a big crush on Spirit, but then I realized that's okay to admit. This horse is hot.

    And, finally, lest we forget: The horse you rode in on.

  • For 2022, New Years Eve glasses are worse than ever

    For 2022, New Years Eve glasses are worse than ever

    Human beings are perplexing creatures. We're capable of developing vaccines to help fight deadly viruses(Opens in a new tab) in record time, sending billionaires into space, and creating all kinds of ever-improving smart technology, such as smart glasses. Yet when New Year's Eve rolls around we can't manage to get those plastic numerical party glasses right — and haven't done for more than 12 years.


    In 2019 I looked back on a decade of New Year's Eve glasses and ranked them based on how dumb they looked. The glasses for 2010 — which featured two aesthetically pleasing zeros and easily turned the number one into a lens — looked the best. But in a surprise twist, the glasses for 2020 looked even worse.

    You'd think creators would have taken advantage of 2020's two zeros, or simply copied the 2010 glasses and transformed the second 2 into a lens, but they had to make things complicated. Yes, some 2020 glasses were visually acceptable(Opens in a new tab), but others were nonsensical eyesores like these:

    The two zeros were RIGHT THERE. Credit: SCREENSHOT: P&F / AMAZON

    Now novelty glasses creators spectacularly dropped the ball again with 2022's frames. Here are some of the frames in question, with an extra zero added as a lens (to ring in the year 20220!), 2s placed on foreheads, and/or eyeholes so tiny you can barely see out of them. It's pure chaos out here.

    Just mandating the manufacture of a single design each year — the one that makes the most sense — could end the insanity. In 2021, we could and should have just stopped with these:

    In humanity's defense, the glasses didn't always look pathetic. When celebratory eyewear was first conceived to ring in the year 1991(Opens in a new tab), frankly, it slapped. Inventor pals Richard Sclafani and Peter Cicero made lenses in the holes of each 9 every year until 2000. When 2000 arrived, they sensibly used first and second zeros as lenses.

    As Mel Magazine reported(Opens in a new tab), 2000 was also the year that Sclafani and Cicero started getting serious competition. Rip-off designs started popping up around the world, and by 2009 the two friends decided to abandon their glasses-making endeavor. The competition was too heavy, but Sclafani also felt the designs would prove too challenging beyond 2010.

    While the numerals themselves may not have made the art of designing glasses simple, some extremely straightforward years — such as 2020 — we just plain messed up. Had Sclafani and Cicero still been running the show, would our New Year's Eve eyewear have been so hideous these past few years? I'd like to think not.

    That pair had the original vision, and it's clear that the novelty glasses posers of the world just can't seem to see it.

    Yes, 2022 is supposed to be a year of no expectations. We're not expecting an end to the pandemic, or billionaires, any time soon. But this small thing we can at least control: Let's build back a better set of glasses to ring in 2023.

  • The NSFW meme Chris Evans accidentally shared is way better than dick pics

    The NSFW meme Chris Evans accidentally shared is way better than dick pics

    In an accidental Instagram post, actor Chris Evans shared an important public service announcement with his 6.1 million followers: "Guard That Pussy."


    For those of you who've been offline the past few days, let's back up a second. On Saturday, Evans had a bit of a social media mishap when he briefly posted a screenshot of a camera roll to his Instagram Story.

    Among the collection of 11 photos and videos that were visible in the screenshot was a dick pic, which obviously made headlines. But Evans also shared a meme that featured the words "Guard That Pussy" (GTP) atop of a photo of his face.

    Since Evans told the world he's down with GTP, I, for one, haven't stopped thinking about it.

    Nude photos are private and should not be sought out or shared. But hilarious, gasp-inducing memes? After several conversations with friends and co-workers, we ultimately came to the same conclusion. The GTP meme should be the only image in the spotlight.

    When you think about it, the meme is really something. If this was a screenshot from Evans' own personal photo library, that means he actively saved (or made!!!!) this image himself. Iconic.

    According to tweets, the meme also means different things to different people. Is Chris doing the guarding himself? (Big Captain America energy.) Is he the one that people should be guarding from? And also, does Chris Evans sext with self-centered memes like this? I have so many questions.

    No matter what the meme is used for, the fact that Evans himself shared it to his own social media account is absolutely hilarious. Will I ever get over it? Unclear! But I'm certainly not alone in my appreciation.

    CARD ID: 512420

    CARD ID: 512419

    CARD ID: 512418

    While we should all respectfully let the Chris Evans nude photo discourse fade as quickly as possible, we can keep the GTP meme alive for the rest of time, right? As a treat.

  • Sorry Adele, youve officially become a TikTok trend

    Sorry Adele, youve officially become a TikTok trend

    It's been a wild week on the internet with the release of Spotify's annual Wrapped experience, and even TikTok was not immune to the Spotify Wrapped discourse.


    Of course, that wasn't the only thing trending on TikTok, not with Adele's 2015 song "Water Under the Bridge" going viral upon the singer's latest album drop. Surprisingly, it was also a big week for reality TV stars with both Wendy Ostefo and Kylie Jenner having a moment on the app.

    Adele not making music for TikTok is water under the bridge

    Three weeks ago Adele's anticipated album 30 came out. In an interview with Zane Lowe(Opens in a new tab), the British songstress pointedly said she didn't make this album for TikTok. "If everyone is making music for the TikTok, who is making music for my generation, who is making the the music for my peers? I will gladly take that job," she said.

    But it turns out Adele had a TikTok song in her arsenal. "Water Under the Bridge," a track off her 2015 album 25, went viral on the app this week.

    Last week, @ramsthulani(Opens in a new tab) tweeted, "How come Adele never has any back up dancers?"(Opens in a new tab) In response, @motivatefenty replied with an edit of Megan Thee Stallion(Opens in a new tab) and her dancers grooving to "Water Under the Bridge." Of course, Megan Thee Stallion's dance has since become a TikTok trend. So far, over 57,000 videos have been made to Adele's "Water Under the Bridge."

    What appears to be the first "Water Under the Bridge" video on TikTok was posted by @treclements on Nov. 29(Opens in a new tab) and featured the text "my audition to be Adele's back-up dancer." The caption reads, "saw this on Twitter and have been hollering ever since." Clements's video has over 4.2 million views and almost 950,000 likes.

    Another example of the trend is Julian Burzynski's TikTok posted on Dec. 1(Opens in a new tab) that has garnered over 3.5 million views and 121,000 likes.

    Look how fun this Megan Thee Stallion choreography is! Credit: TikTok / julianburzynski

    The trend is a perfect combination of a beloved Adele classic and Megan Thee Stallion's high-energy moves, so needless to say, it took the app by storm.

    The dance is so fun that for the first time ever, I am considering learning a TikTok dance.

    Are you a Nicki fan?

    Another popular trend this week pulls the audio of an interview between Michael Rapport and Wendy Ostefo of Real Housewives of Potomac fame on The Wendy Williams Show. During the interview, Rapport asked Ostefo a simple question: "Are you a Nicki [Minaj] fan?" To which Ostefo replied, "What? Am I a Nicki fan? Pull up in the Sri Lanka."

    In an attempt to prove that she's a Nicki fan, Ostefo gets the lyrics to the rapper's iconic "Monster" verse wrong. The actual bars are, "Pull up in the monster / automobile gangsta with a bad bitch from Sri Lanka."

    The audio has produced over 320,000 TikToks and counting. You might expect that TikTokkers are using this audio to make jokes about being a poser, and some are, but most creators are using the snippet to show that they are, in fact, something — so there is a confusing discrepancy between the audio and the trend.

    In one popular video posted by @ozzythedoxie(Opens in a new tab), a wiener dog is told to sit. The text reads, "Are you a good boy?" Then, "Am I a good bOy??" Followed by the dog sitting. The TikTok has over 1.2 million likes. In another clip that's more true to the audio, @probably.drew(Opens in a new tab) writes "do you skate?," "what? do i skate?," "i wear thrasher." Then, @probably.drew tries to do a skate trick and falls. The video has over 1.7 million views.

    Stormi, you look like Mommy, baby

    Ostefo isn't the only reality TV star to have a viral TikTok sound this week. An audio of Kylie Jenner saying "Stormi, you look just like Mommy, baby," has taken over my FYP.

    The sound has over 88,000 videos made to it and was first posted on TikTok back in September by @stormiibabii(Opens in a new tab) in a video with photos of Stormi dressed like her mom Kylie at the 2019 Met Gala. The original video has 17.2 million views and 2.3 million likes.

    The trend has since evolved into users sharing what things their future children will do that's just like them. It's a classic TikTok trend where users roast themselves and, as always, the more relatable the roasts are, the funnier the content. One example is @notkaelynwilkins' video(Opens in a new tab) that reads, "When my future daughter starts googling her symptoms on WebMD and sends herself into a panic attack." Another TikTok from @user272637386(Opens in a new tab) says, "when my future daughter is so socially awkward she can't form a sentence around people she doesn't know."

    A little too relatable for my taste. Credit: TikTok / user272637386

    Spotify Wrapped

    The first week of December is coming to a close, and 'tis the season to analyze our annual Spotify Wrapped results. On Dec. 1, Wrapped conquered social media, and people were quick to take to Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok to react to their top songs and artists.

    Before this year's Spotify Wrapped dropped, users on TikTok were expressing their anticipation with audio edits of Ariana Grande's "Can You Stay Up All Night." When the song cuts out, users then show the song or artist that ruined their Wrapped. For example, @jae.tpwk(Opens in a new tab) made a TikTok that shows "Man or Muppet" from The Muppets Movie soundtrack on their list.

    Credit: TikTok / jae.tpwk
    Credit: TikTok / jae.tpwk
    I wouldn't want the Muppets soundtrack coming up in my Spotify Wrapped either. Credit: TikTok / jae.tpwk

    Two additional audios used in response to Wrapped were English TV personality Gemma Collins saying "I am not ashamed to admit it, it's hell in there. It's horror. You have to be a certain type of person to survive" and an audio posted by @thereal_becca(Opens in a new tab) that goes, "fun fact about me is that no guy has ever met me and said you're not like other girls because I am exactly like other girls."

    TikTokkers used Collins's quote(Opens in a new tab) to react to having artists like Phoebe Bridgers, Fiona Apple, and Elliott Smith in their top artists. People who had popular artists with primarily female fanbases like Taylor Swift, Harry Styles, and BTS used the second audio.

    And if you see Taylor Swift's "All Too Well (10 Minute Version) (Taylor's Version)" at the top of my Wrapped next year, no you didn't ♥️.

  • The weirdest Valentines Day tweets filling up our timelines

    The weirdest Valentines Day tweets filling up our timelines

    Happy Valentine's Day!


    Everyone's favorite Hallmark holiday is back, and performative love is in the air once again. It's in our timelines, too.

    The annual love holiday always brings out social media's various peanut galleries, but 2021 is a special case because it's our first Valentine's during the U.S. era of COVID-19. We've all been cooped up in our homes for the better part of a year, which means we've also had plenty of time to write new material instead of going out and finding love (or lust or, really, whatever you're searching for — it's all valid!).

    The result is a timeline full of corny, hilarious, ridiculous, and generally just weird tributes to love. Or to whatever thing the author happens to be thinking about in that given moment. Don't think too hard about it yourself. Valentine's Day may have its roots(Opens in a new tab) in a Christian feast day, but for most of us it's just a day of roses and chocolates and saccharine sentiments.

    Even the CIA is feeling the love. The U.S. intelligence agency made a game of the whole thing, releasing a coded phrase a couple days before Feb. 14 and then sharing the obvious-in-hindsight answer.

    (The replies(Opens in a new tab) to this one are especially entertaining. Needless to say, the expression of love from the premiere U.S. spy agency did not go over well.)

    The Sonic the Hedgehog brand Twitter got in on the fun with the most off-putting Valentine's bouquet you'll ever see.

    A Twitter account that's meant to personify the U.S. Constitution's 1st Amendment put out a little reminder about how the often-misunderstood "Freedom of Speech" does and doesn't work for U.S. citizens.

    Professional basketball's Golden State Warriors handed out a set of four player-themed cards for you to share with the Valentine(s) in your life.

    A superb deep cut for all the Star Trek fans out there.

    Pee-Wee Herman, forever a delight, kept it nice and wholesome.

    This one requires a little Star Wars inside joke knowledge. (Obi-Wan's line here is "I have the high ground." Enjoy!)

    Look, they don't always have to rhyme.

    One for my fellow ancient computer nerds.

    Kelly's not wrong. This is the sweetest Star Wars ship.

    And because it's never the wrong choice to end with an adorable red panda, here's an adorable red panda.

    Happy Valentine's Day!


  • Power up your summer style game with these sporty picks

    Power up your summer style game with these sporty picks

    You Got This is a series that spotlights the gear you need to improve one area of your life. If you buy something from this post, we may earn an affiliate commission.


    Summer has finally landed, and we can’t break free of our four walls fast enough. Suddenly, our home office setup is in the park, our dogs are loving the extra walks, and the beach beckons. All of this outside time calls for cool looks that can hold up in the heat, and lululemon(Opens in a new tab) nails it with these fits.

    Joggers cool enough for your cold-brew runs

    Not only do these stretchy joggers have a supercool ‘80s vibe, the hidden zippered pocket keeps your credit card — and coffee stamp card— brilliantly tucked away.

    (Opens in a new tab)
    Credit: lululemon
    Stretch High-Rise Jogger ($118) (opens in a new tab) (Opens in a new tab) (opens in a new tab) (Opens in a new tab)

    A crop top for scooting around town

    If a scooter is your summertime ride, this soft crop has lower-than-low armholes to keep things cool and easy breezy — no sweat rings or underarm chafing here.

    (Opens in a new tab)
    Credit: lululemon
    All Yours Crop Tank Top ($44) (opens in a new tab) (Opens in a new tab) (opens in a new tab) (Opens in a new tab)

    Strut your stuff with your pup

    Not only will this sweat-wicking getup keep you dry on a sweltering day — the skirt has a zippered back pocket for stashing treats, so your quarantine pup can roll everywhere with you.

    (Opens in a new tab)
    Credit: lululemon
    Pace Rival Mid Rise Skirt ($68) (opens in a new tab) (Opens in a new tab) (opens in a new tab) (Opens in a new tab)

    Slip on this jacket and head out after sunset

    Whether you’re stargazing or grabbing soft serve, this light jacket has mesh panels for warm nights and a zippered pocket with a phone sleeve and clip to keep your bike key handy.

    (Opens in a new tab)
    Credit: lululemon
    Serve It Jacket ($128) (opens in a new tab) (Opens in a new tab) (opens in a new tab) (Opens in a new tab)

    Dodge the crowds at the farmers’ market

    To nab those strawberry scones that sell out in seconds flat, speed is of the essence. These sweat-wicking ribbed tights can handle all your best moves and hit up yoga in the park after.

    (Opens in a new tab)
    Credit: lululemon
    Wunder Under High-Rise Tight 28" Luxtreme ($98) (opens in a new tab) (Opens in a new tab) (opens in a new tab) (Opens in a new tab)

    Your go-to hoodie for hanging outside

    Upgrade your slouchy quarantine hoodie with this slim-fitting stretchy number. The anti-stink technology keeps it fresh from your morning caffeine run through your late-night pizza pickup.

    (Opens in a new tab)
    Credit: lululemon
    Textured Tech Hoodie ($148) (opens in a new tab) (Opens in a new tab) (opens in a new tab) (Opens in a new tab)

    Stay cool as you fire emails from the park

    This everyday button-up looks like A/C office casual, but the breathable, quick-drying fabric seriously holds up on those hot days when you want to set up office outside and not sweat it.

    (Opens in a new tab)
    Credit: lululemon
    Airing Easy Short Sleeve Shirt Ventlight™ Mesh ($88) (opens in a new tab) (Opens in a new tab) (opens in a new tab) (Opens in a new tab)

    Grab these shorts and hit the sand

    Whether lounging beachside or by the kiddie pool in your backyard, these lined shorts work in the water and out. The mesh ventilation panels keep you cool on your cruiser bike, too.

    (Opens in a new tab)
    Credit: lululemon
    Active Swim Short 8” ($98) (opens in a new tab) (Opens in a new tab) (opens in a new tab) (Opens in a new tab)

  • What do our sex dreams mean?

    What do our sex dreams mean?

    Have you ever found yourself squirming in the middle of the night (in a good way) after dreaming of being railed by your next-door neighbour, or perhaps a platonic best friend? Same. We're not alone. With three-quarters of the population(Opens in a new tab) experiencing sex dreams left, right, and centre — you're in excellent company. 

    Some of the most common dream events include same-sex shags, dirty talk, and oral sex, to name but a few. However, is it possible for our spiciest dream to lead to a sexual awakening whilst snoozing? Have people been able to unlock kinks as they catch Zs?

    "I’ve been with my girlfriend for five years, and I constantly have sexual dreams about different females," says John*. He explains that, while he doesn't dream of kinks, he has consistent dreams (up to three to four times a week) of cheating on his girlfriend with her friends and colleagues, or experiencing threesomes. "It's not made me want to do it in real life," he says, "but only because of the guilt. Plus, I don't think she'd go for it." 

    SEE ALSO: How to have an emotionally supportive threesome

    For some people, sex dreams lead to new levels of intimacy and ways to have sex. Laurie* has also been somewhat influenced by her dreams. "Sex dreams have mostly given my partner and I ideas for new positions to try, and also a couple of locations too (car, shower, etc.)," she tells Mashable. "There have been some dreams we've had over our relationship that have been way too extreme, but others that have given us some ideas for intimacy."

    Want more sex and dating stories in your inbox? Sign up for Mashable's new weekly After Dark newsletter.

    For others, like Robin*, dreams have little impact on the way they have sex in real life. "As far as stuff in my dreams being explored in reality, I'd say it's pretty much not happened," they explain. 

    Diana Moffat, a psychotherapist specialising in Jungian Analysis tells Mashable that dreams do not always represent our needs like-for-like, instead, they are more abstract and usually more indicative of how we feel about the relationships we have, rather than the sex acts themselves. 

    Moffat encourages us to explore our kinks and sexual fantasies through waking dreams, or daydreams, but not to take things too literally. "I would say it's almost dangerous to take dream life as a kind of indicator, because dream life is all about symbolism," Moffat says. "Our dreams could maybe enlighten us as to why we have the kinks we have," she continues,  "a dream is about the dreamer." 

    "It can be something your unconscious is inviting you to consider. In these instances, it's good to explore what could be missing in your life." 

    This view is shared by Maxim Ilyashenko(Opens in a new tab), a UKCP-registered Jungian psychotherapist and analyst. "I think it's important to look at dreams as symbolic material first — not say, 'Okay, I dreamt about that. I have to do that,'" he explains. "But, it can be something your unconscious is inviting you to consider. In these instances, it's good to explore what could be missing in your life." 

    He explains that if dreams do manifest that challenge your sex status quo, then communication will be a vital tool you and your sexual and/or romantic partners need to employ. "I think one rule for healthy sexuality is it should be consensual with yourself and with your partner. Next is to know how you feel about the dream, because sometimes they can be formulated in quite a symbolic language."

    SEE ALSO: Tempur-Pedic’s smart bed frame taught me I’m bad at sleeping

    This is something that Robin has experienced. "So, picture a clone of me. (clone 1) gets down, and sucks off the original's cock, yet I'm feeling both the act of giving and receiving a blowjob," they explain. "It's very weird as I have never even seen another man's penis in real life, besides online. I've never touched one besides my own, and I've never sucked off a guy. So I don't even know what it's like — yet in the dream, I do." 

    Robin explains that on a romantic level, they aren't attracted to men but are fascinated by penises on a sexual level, which has opened them up to exploring their bi-curiousness "I'll admit I've fantasized about exchanging handjobs and giving a blowjob if the situation was completely ideal," they continue, "I don't know if that's inspired by the dream, or the dream is inspired by that. Or maybe it's a combo of both, they both feed into and off of each other." 

    While it's important to note that sexual identity isn't a kink, it's interesting to see how new frontiers could be opening up for people like Robin through their dreaming. 

    "I once had a [sex] dream with one of my favourite female actresses, but I wouldn't want to have sex with her in real life."

    For others, like Rory* who is asexual but not sex-repulsed(Opens in a new tab), their sex dreams have helped them to feel more confident in their sexual identity. "I thought I was somewhere between bisexual or lesbian, [and] I just never happened to have a relationship or sex; these things always seem far away from me," they explain. "I think it is through the reflection on my dreams that made me more sure about my asexuality. I once had a [sex] dream with one of my favourite female actresses, but I wouldn't want to have sex with her in real life, even if she offered it to me," they laugh.

    But, what if we did want to explore our sex dreams in the real world? How and when should we do it? Silva Neves(Opens in a new tab), author of Sexology: The Basics(Opens in a new tab) and psychotherapist specialising in sexology and intimate relationships, tells Mashable that taking sex dreams into the real world takes a large amount of self-reflection. 

    SEE ALSO: Best hookup apps and dating sites to find casual sex with no strings attached

    "Baby steps are important. We need to ask at each graduation of event, how does that make us feel? And then, think about how you might like to move forward with it," he explains. "Imagine first and bring the dream into waking fantasy, try slowly second, and then interrogate your emotions. Did you feel horny? Neutral? Disgusted?"

    Silva explains that by checking in with ourselves in this way, we can avoid pressuring ourselves into situations that are uncomfortable or non-consensual. After all, not all dreams are good dreams; some sex dreams can scare us or be about things we'd never want to try in real life.

    "Often, there can be moments when our dreams of sex can include rape fantasies or scenes where we sleep with siblings, even parents," he says. "These can be distressing and arousing. But they are not always indicative of what we want to recreate in our sex lives with our partners." 

    "You do not need to act upon fantasies."

    Neves explains that dreams that take this form can be something that plays out solely in the fantastical world of our erotic mind. It can also be part of processing what love means to us in the form of a platonic relationship. The way the brain processes is by finding snapshots of images and creating a story from them. This can be explained as an abstract image formed of simple ideas. 


    "You do not need to act upon fantasies," he says, "and dreams are not a prerequisite to being a degenerate. They don't always mean something. They can be random and unsettling. It's all how you feel when you go back and reprocess and interrogate why you might feel that way that counts for more."

    So, should we pay attention to our sex dreams, if they are so abstract and can mean so many different things? Neves believes so. "They can be indicative of something larger happening in your life. If you are conforming to a relationship where your safety hangs in the balance, or you are in denial about your sexuality and identity, then it can be that you explore these needs through your dreams," he explains.

    He points out that some people can have the same recurring, persistent sex dream. In those circumstances, it might be a good idea to question what they might mean. He suggests that it could be that there is something they're not allowing themselves to experience because of shame (in the case of a kink or fetish, or same-sex sexual activities), or it could be if someone hasn't had any forms of sexual contact for several months. 

    SEE ALSO: The best sexting apps for those NSFW exchanges

    Moffat also agrees that recurring dreams play a role in our conscious mind that is worthy of further interrogation and exploration, especially if they are distressing and indicative of trauma. "It's like food that hasn't been digested," she says. "It just keeps repeating and playing again and again and again. And that's where the therapeutic process works in thinking with you; it kind of helps make those things more digestible." 

    Ilyshenko tells Mashable that dreams can be a way for couples to explore sexual fantasies without shame. "It can be a good tool to talk to your partner about desire, because it is removed from the real world. It can feel impossible sometimes to talk about sex openly. I think it's a quite playful and safe way to explore something else," he says.

    "All humans are weird."

    "All humans are weird," says Neves. "We all have our little bits of strange. So fantasising or dreaming about jelly, feet, rape, or any other kind of fetish and kink is entirely normal." 

    He explains we all need to get more comfortable with our oddities, that we can reduce shame by reminding ourselves that most of us have some quirks in our erotic mind, and to think of our eroticism in a lighter way, rather than being afraid of something dark is lurking in our subconscious. 

    "We need more discourse and information on the different ways we can experience pleasure from sex and sexual activity," he says. "If you're into balloons and you're not harming anyone, then what's the big deal? Enjoy your balloons."

    * Some names have been changed to protect sources' privacy.

  • Why Which is your favorite Harry Potter book and why? is the perfect dating app opener

    Why Which is your favorite Harry Potter book and why? is the perfect dating app opener

    We all know the current state of online dating is a hellscape. But no matter how bad it gets, it's likely that you're still going to fill out your silly little profile(Opens in a new tab) and swipe on your silly little apps and go out on your silly little dates. Let's at least try to save you some time.


    For the past seven-ish years, I've relied on a single question to weed out weirdos and cut through dizzying levels of pretense while dating online. It nearly always works, either to start a substantial conversation or make it clear you'd rather end things ASAP. I hit on it by accident, using it as filler for my wan Tinder bio just after college. My rationale went like this: If pop culture is one of our greatest equalizers, then it makes sense to draw on the pop-iest of all pop culture, a franchise so powerful it still holds us in its reverie more than 15 years after its last book was published. 

    That's right, I'm talking about Harry Potter. And the question I want you to ask is: Which is your favorite Harry Potter book and why?

    SEE ALSO: 14 Harry Potter things to love that have nothing to do with J.K. Rowling

    This single line is at worst a harmless ask and at best a compatibility barometer. Nearly everyone on earth can answer it, and no one will ever not know what you're talking about. The key is in the follow up "and why?", which requires your match to evaluate their own taste and preferences while also incorporating each book's contribution to the overall story arc. Not convinced? Here are a few more reasons why "Which is your favorite Harry Potter book and why?" is a solid opener:

    It weeds out suitors who think pop culture is below them.

    Pop culture is how we connect with other people. If a date can't talk about lowbrow culture respectfully or is only interested in media they deem smart or cool enough for discussion, they're not going to be any fun. Even if you personally think Harry Potter is dumb (or dislike its author… more on that later), the wizarding world holds undeniable merit for millions; can you still engage with it even if you don't understand or like it?

    It helps you discover what cultural references you have in common.

    The first Harry Potter book was published 25 years ago, in 1997, and we're still finding new ways to interpret, remix, and meme it. The Fantastic Beasts franchise just put out its third movie. A recent TikTok trend(Opens in a new tab) spoofs the way actor Ralph Fiennes holds his wand and says the killing curse, "Avada Kedavra.” And extensive merchandising collaborations with established brands like Pottery Barn and Casetify are selling like hot cakes(Opens in a new tab). You will absolutely find some common ground somewhere.

    You'll quickly learn if your match is more of a bookworm or a movie buff.

    Whether you love reading books or prefer to use them as coasters, it's nice to know if a potential date feels the same way. They may note that they've only seen the movies, or generally prefer to spend time listening to music, making their own clothes, or rollerblading instead. Or, maybe their franchise of choice is the Hunger Games or Lord of the Rings. 

    Thanks to J.K. Rowling's unimaginative takes on gender identity, you may also learn about your match's perspective on personhood and politics.

    Author and proud transphobe J.K. Rowling has really made it hard to love the Harry Potter franchises without feeling some twinge of guilt or disgust. This unfortunate fact may help you weed out matches who share her views. If you note that Rowling's rants have made your time at Hogwarts a little less magical and your match balks, it's time to run. 

    P.S. Potterheads, here are 14 Harry Potter things to love that have nothing to do with Rowling.

    What they like most about the story usually says a lot about them (and their taste).

    Because "Which is your favorite Harry Potter book and why?" asks someone to move beyond basic reading comprehension and into a defense of personal preference, you can learn a lot about what they value, desire, or dislike. For example, you would not believe the number of men who are nursing a latent crush on Sirius Black (at least 60% of the ones I've chatted with. I believe this has to do with Black's baddie portrayal of an aspirational rugged masculinity). 

    Are they enthralled by the time-bending adventures of Prisoner of Azkaban? Did they pick up on the larger allegories around race, class, and politics that culminate in the Deathly Hallows? Maybe they just think magic is cool and don't care much about the story at all. For the record, my favorite is Deathly Hallows (I get emotional just thinking about the Battle of Hogwarts), then Goblet of Fire (that's when everyone's hormones start running hilariously rampant), and then Prisoner of Azkaban (for the reason stated above, plus the introduction of the franchise's best accessory, the Time-Turner).

    Not a Potterhead? No problem.

    If someone admits to never having read or seen Harry Potter, you simply ask, "What is your Harry Potter?" It's probably a question they've never been asked before, and people like talking about something they love. Win-win.

    For all other needs, follow up questions abound.

    There are so many ways to continue this conversation once you've cracked it open. From nerdy (What's your Hogwarts house? What spell do you wish you could cast in real life? Should Ron and Hermione have ended up together in the end?) to normie (What movie actor from the franchise did you have a crush on? Is there a book you read recently that you liked?), the options you have for keeping the convo flowing are nearly endless.

    So, what do you think? Have I convinced you to use "Which is your favorite Harry Potter book and why?" on dating apps? I'm crossing my fingers (and toes) that it works its magic for you.

    If it fails, you can always go back to "Hey."

  • Pandemic dating often feels like a period drama courtship

    Pandemic dating often feels like a period drama courtship

    Pandemic dating is still hell, but my lifelong affection for period piece romances has at least prepared me to yearn.


    At this point the United States is coming up on a year of bumbling through the COVID-19 pandemic, and our need for basic human connection has only gotten stronger as time has worn on. When it comes to having sex, preaching abstinence, whether to a classroom of horny teenagers or an entire country going through a devastating pandemic, simply does not work.

    There are, of course, ways to safely pursue love (and then get railed) while still mitigating the risk of spreading the coronavirus. Some health officials have put out their own guidelines to COVID-safe sex — New York City infamously suggested wearing masks and using glory holes — but I have turned to the lessons of historical romance to guide me through.

    In the midst of this pandemic, talking to potential love interests for weeks on end without meeting, let alone hooking up, has felt very much like a drawn-out Victorian courtship.

    My formative years were shaped by the confines of a deeply religious upbringing that frowned upon any expression of sexuality, so yearning feels like second nature to me. Not allowed to actually experience, much less pursue, romance, I immersed myself in consuming media about romance. I spent my adolescence obsessed with it, pining less for a specific person than for the seemingly magical connection I'd seen on screen.

    SEE ALSO: 'Bridgerton' star Phoebe Dynevor on the difference between Regency era courtship and dating now

    I had a special affinity for period romances — anything with elaborate costumes was enough to make me swoon. As both a reader and writer of fanfiction, I had familiarized myself with romance tropes years before I ever experienced any shred of romance myself, from enemies to lovers to friends stuck together to the classic fake relationship that ends up sparking something real.

    Much like the yearning of my adolescence, it's less for a specific human being than literally any human being.

    The yearning took a backseat when I went to college and had the independence to actually experience relationships, whether serious romances or casual one night stands. Real world dating, as I learned, rarely involves a Pride and Prejudice-like pursuit. But the last year or so marks the longest I've been single in my adult life, and consequently, the most I've yearned for another human being in my adult life. Much like the yearning of my adolescence, it's less for a specific human being than literally any human being.

    Although some parts of the United States are in better shape than others, most health officials advise against(Opens in a new tab) gathering with people outside your household. With limited opportunity to safely meet up for dates, I've spent the last year reacquainting myself with my first love: period piece romances.

    During the first few weeks of the pandemic when wearing loungewear every day was still a novelty and not a given, I started Outlander, a steamy series about accidentally time traveling to 18th-century Scotland. I have watched the 2005 version of Pride and Prejudice too many times to count, and its 2016 sword-wielding parody Pride and Prejudice and Zombies with alarming frequency. When Netflix dropped Bridgerton this winter, I devoured it in a few days.

    Bridgerton follows Simon, an aloof duke determined to maintain his bachelor status, and Daphne, a naive debutante determined to marry by the end of high society's season, as they fake a courtship and (spoiler alert!) inevitably fall in love. The show gained popularity for its stunning costumes and steamy sex scenes that paired softcore porn with string quartet covers of modern pop songs.

    It would be irresponsible to highlight Bridgerton without also mentioning its odd dismissal of racial politics(Opens in a new tab) and its inclusion of a highly controversial rape scene(Opens in a new tab). Despite the show's problematic aspects, I burned through the show so quickly because its premise felt like an anachronistic reflection of my experience dating during the pandemic.

    Like the romanticized courtship rituals of the Regency Era in which Bridgerton takes place, pandemic dating comes with its own set of rules. All of my early dates have taken place outdoors in public, and because of masks, are inherently chaste. You can have however many matches and suitors as your want, but any level of physical intimacy comes with the expectation of exclusivity. Nobody has asked for my hand in marriage, but being in my twenties and used to casual flings born from apps and dance floors, asking my immediate household for permission to bring someone over feels pretty close.

    The slow burn does put a damper on the more exciting parts of dating, but it's a worthy trade for safety. Michele Shocked, a drag performer based in Ojai, met their partner on Grindr, which is notorious for users seeking casual sex over long term relationships. They texted in paragraphs for weeks before discussing anything vaguely sexual, which Michele Shocked noted was rare for Grindr matches, and despite the intimacy of their conversations and meeting up for socially distanced dates, have yet to actually touch.

    "It feels Pride and Prejudice-y because it's been very regimented, each interaction and escalation in feeling has had special attention paid to it"

    "It feels Pride and Prejudice-y because it's been very regimented, each interaction and escalation in feeling has had special attention paid to it," they told Mashable through Twitter DM. "It has been missing that white hot insatiable feeling some people associate with romance but there is so much non-verbal communication that feels quintessential to romance nowadays that we don't have access to in most capabilities."

    That's not to say that COVID-safe dating shouldn't be sex-positive. My love life over the past year has ironically mirrored my strict Christian upbringing, though the absence of casual sex is less rooted in shame and more in trying not to end up in an ICU bed. The sex I have had during the pandemic, even if it wasn't with some Mr. Darcy-type soulmate, has still required some emotional investment because of how high the stakes are.

    Before embarking on anything under the mask, both parties place an immense amount of trust in each other to not be infected. No matter how casual a relationship may be, there's an implicit commitment and care for the other that I haven't experienced in pre-COVID flings that weren't serious enough to label. The callous nature of casual hookups doesn't work when you're sleeping with someone vulnerable enough to not only be emotionally invested, but also put their physical health at risk.

    For some couples whose love story began during the pandemic, it involves going all in before even being able to explore the relationship in person. Neil, an English professor, met Molly through a "playful exchange" on Twitter in last October and they've been talking constantly since. (They preferred to only be quoted using their first names out of privacy concerns.) Neil lives in Canada, and Molly lives in the United States. With travel restrictions(Opens in a new tab) in place for the foreseeable future, the couple has yet to spend time together in person, and likely won't be able to for months. That hasn't stopped them from pursuing a serious relationship, which Neil does admit sounds "crazy."

    "I'm not nervous that we won't have chemistry. It's possible, I guess? But there are so many things that I'm looking forward to and they far outweigh the things that might make me nervous."

    "I'm not nervous that we won't have chemistry. It's possible, I guess? But there are so many things that I'm looking forward to and they far outweigh the things that might make me nervous," Neil explained via Twitter DM.

    "We agreed pretty early on that we wouldn't waste one another's time, that if we're going to explore this, it would be serious and one of us would have to [be] willing to move," he continued.

    A pandemic courtship skips the steps that modern dating tends to wallow in, and dives headfirst into the ones that involve difficult conversations. When sex comes with the risk of spreading COVID, potential lovers can trap each other in an eternal talking stage(Opens in a new tab) without meeting, the purgatory between expressing interest and putting a label on it.

    The second option is to be direct about exclusivity before even taking off the mask, but that also requires charging forth with some level of trust in each other. You can bypass this entirely by hooking up within your lockdown circle, like 41 percent of adults surveyed(Opens in a new tab) by, but I personally can attest to the fact that this situation also requires having excruciatingly honest discussion about intent and expectations.

    My colleague Rachel Thompson referred to pandemic dating as "turbo relationships" because of the intensity that COVID restrictions add to otherwise new couples. It's a natural progression considering that both parties have to agree to be all in before actually having sex. To agree to exclusivity before even kissing is a daunting but necessary part of safe COVID-era dating. It sometimes does feel regressive to adhere to these rules, but remembering that it's for public safety and not because of archaic societal expectations that strip women of their autonomy, helps.

    In spite of the patriarchal views that shaped old-timey courtships, the great romance novels make the wait somewhat sweeter. Erika Lee, a reporter in Boise, met her boyfriend at a wedding in Australia only a few weeks before the United States began mandating stay-at-home orders. In the last year, they've managed long distance with FaceTime dates, online games, and even taking weekend "trips" together by exploring destinations on Google Maps. The yearning is slightly more bearable, Lee said, when she frames it as her own personal fairy tale.

    "Those types of stories romanticized it for me. It made me feel like waiting is actually a noble act, and that makes it more worth it in the end," Lee DM'd Mashable on Twitter. "I think without these types of narratives, like you know the ones with people writing letters to their husbands at war, or [to] their long distance lovers, it definitely would be less fairy tale-like. But the idealism is fun."

    My reputation as a virtuous woman worthy of a land-owning husband isn't at risk, but my lung function probably is.

    It's unlikely that I will end up in anything as extreme as an accidental marriage because of a salacious kiss, like Daphne and Simon do in Bridgerton. Still, physical contact during a pandemic, whether premeditated or in the heat of the moment, does have consequences. My reputation as a virtuous woman worthy of a land-owning husband isn't at risk, but my lung function probably is. Until COVID is less of a threat, I'm happy to keep yearning through these courtships.

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