150 strangers had a chance to win a free vacation — but only if they agreed on one place.

Would you rather go nowhere or fly free with some compromise?

That was the option JetBlue Airlines presented to 150 passengers on a flight bound for Phoenix from Boston. "Everyone who's willing to participate has a chance to win one round-trip ticket to anywhere JetBlue flies," the Captain told them as they hovered some 30,000 feet above the planet.

But there was a catch:



GIF from JetBlue/YouTube.

150 people. 97 different options. That's a 9.354306 x 10-297 chance of everyone instinctively agreeing. Or, as explained to me by our brilliant Director of Intel, "that's worse odds than if you put every planet in the universe in a bag, and picked one out, and it happened to be Earth."

Which I think means the odds are pretty bad.


Presumably there were more people interested in Bogotá than Buffalo right off the bat, which could skew the probability. GIF from "The Empire Strikes Back."

Fortunately, the passengers were given some time to talk among themselves and figure out a plan.

The passengers immediately turned to their neighbors in the seats beside them then reached across the center aisle to state their case for Anchorage or Aguadilla or Albuquerque or wherever else they were hankering to go.


GIF from JetBlue/YouTube.

Although most people were on board for some international travel, there were some passengers who had personal reasons pulling them toward domestic destinations — and some of them didn't have passports, further complicating the international issue.

And still the clock kept ticking down toward their deadline. For all the gains that certain individuals had made in convincing others over to their side — and despite the obvious incentive that everyone only wins if they all agree to compromise — the passengers on this JetBlue Flight 603 were soon trapped in a stalemate: Costa Rica or Turks and Caicos?


"Some days, you just can't get rid of a time bomb." GIF from "Batman '66."

Within only minutes to spare — and with some stubborn minds still holding tightly to the convictions of their preferred tropical destination — a few individuals even rose to their feet to address the assembled masses with grandiose speeches!


GIF from JetBlue/YouTube.

Things were definitely heating up.

As the plane approached its point of descent, the passengers cast their ballots. Would they vote in favor of the greater good? Or would self-interest rule over mutual benefit?

Attention passengers: We interrupt this melodramatic retelling of a delightful social experiment to offer an insightful bit of Real Talk™. Please fasten your seatbelts as we could experience some turbulence:

It's understandably easier to get people to cooperate for a free vacation getaway than about health care or national defense or economic security or general social welfare.

But why is that? Why do temporary leisure activities inspire greater empathy and teamwork than our long-term happiness as individuals and as a society?


Even minions understand. And they're evil sidekicks! GIF from "Minions."

Because if 150 unsuspecting passengers can find a way to come together for the sake of a Costa Rican getaway, then there's no reason that the rest of our country can't do the same.

Of course the passengers ultimately united for the greater good. Why wouldn't they?

Maybe you were on that flight and you really, really wanted to go to Tahoe. That's cool. But what's more important: You going to Tahoe or you and everyone else getting a free vacation, even if it's not exactly where you want to go?


Don't be like Tony Stark. GIF from "Iron Man."

As hard as it is, sometimes you need to stop worrying about legroom and settle for that tropical vacation for the benefit of everyone around you. Because that's better than not going anywhere at all.

OK, so maybe it's not a perfect metaphor. But you get the idea.


GIF from JetBlue/YouTube.

Check out JetBlue's whole exciting social experiment below:

Courtesy of Amita Swadhin
True

In 2016, Amita Swadhin, a child of two immigrant parents from India, founded Mirror Memoirs to help combat rape culture. The national storytelling and organizing project is dedicated to sharing the stories of LGBTQIA+ Black, indigenous people, and people of color who survived child sexual abuse.

"Whether or not you are a survivor, 100% of us are raised in rape culture. It's the water that we're swimming in. But just as fish don't know they are in water, because it's just the world around them that they've always been in, people (and especially those who aren't survivors) may need some help actually seeing it," they add.

"Mirror Memoirs attempts to be the dye that helps everyone understand the reality of rape culture."

Amita built the idea for Mirror Memoirs from a theater project called "Undesirable Elements: Secret Survivors" that featured their story and those of four other survivors in New York City, as well as a documentary film and educational toolkit based on the project.

"Secret Survivors had a cast that was gender, race, and age-diverse in many ways, but we had neglected to include transgender women," Amita explains. "Our goal was to help all people who want to co-create a world without child sexual abuse understand that the systems historically meant to help survivors find 'healing' and 'justice' — namely the child welfare system, policing, and prisons — are actually systems that facilitate the rape of children in oppressed communities," Amita continues. "We all have to explore tools of healing and accountability outside of these systems if we truly want to end all forms of sexual violence and rape culture."

Amita also wants Mirror Memoirs to be a place of healing for survivors that have historically been ignored or underserved by anti-violence organizations due to transphobia, homophobia, racism, xenophobia, and white supremacy.

Amita Swadhin

"Hearing survivors' stories is absolutely healing for other survivors, since child sexual abuse is a global pandemic that few people know how to talk about, let alone treat and prevent."

"Since sexual violence is an isolating event, girded by shame and stigma, understanding that you're not alone and connecting with other survivors is alchemy, transmuting isolation into intimacy and connection."

This is something that Amita knows and understands well as a survivor herself.

"My childhood included a lot of violence from my father, including rape and other forms of domestic violence," says Amita. "Mandated reporting was imposed on me when I was 13 and it was largely unhelpful since the prosecutors threatened to incarcerate my mother for 'being complicit' in the violence I experienced, even though she was also abused by my father for years."

What helped them during this time was having the support of others.

"I'm grateful to have had a loving younger sister and a few really close friends, some of whom were also surviving child sexual abuse, though we didn't know how to talk about it at the time," Amita says.

"I'm also a queer, non-binary femme person living with complex post-traumatic stress disorder, and those identities have shaped a lot of my life experiences," they continue. "I'm really lucky to have an incredible partner and network of friends and family who love me."

"These realizations put me on the path of my life's work to end this violence quite early in life," they said.

Amita wants Mirror Memoirs to help build awareness of just how pervasive rape culture is. "One in four girls and one in six boys will be raped or sexually assaulted by the age of 18," Amita explains, "and the rates are even higher for vulnerable populations, such as gender non-conforming, disabled, deaf, unhoused, and institutionalized children." By sharing their stories, they're hoping to create change.

"Listening to stories is also a powerful way to build empathy, due to the mirror neurons in people's brains. This is, in part, why the project is called Mirror Memoirs."

So far, Mirror Memoirs has created an audio archive of BIPOC LGBTQI+ child sexual abuse survivors sharing their stories of survival and resilience that includes stories from 60 survivors across 50 states. This year, they plan to record another 15 stories, specifically of transgender and nonbinary people who survived child sexual abuse in a sport-related setting, with their partner organization, Athlete Ally.

"This endeavor is in response to the more than 100 bills that have been proposed across at least 36 states in 2021 seeking to limit the rights of transgender and non-binary children to play sports and to receive gender-affirming medical care with the support of their parents and doctors," Amita says.

In 2017, Mirror Memoirs held its first gathering, which was attended by 31 people. Today, the organization is a fiscally sponsored, national nonprofit with two staff members, a board of 10 people, a leadership council of seven people, and 500 members nationally.

When the pandemic hit in 2020, they created a mutual aid fund for the LGBTQIA+ community of color and were able to raise a quarter-million dollars. They received 2,509 applications for assistance, and in the end, they decided to split the money evenly between each applicant.

While they're still using storytelling as the building block of their work, they're also engaging in policy and advocacy work, leadership development, and hosting monthly member meetings online.

For their work, Amita is one of Tory's Burch's Empowered Women. Their donation will go to Mirror Memoirs to help fund production costs for their new theater project, "Transmutation: A Ceremony," featuring four Black transgender, intersex, and non-binary women and femmes who live in California.

"I'm grateful to every single child sexual survivor who has ever disclosed their truth to me," Amita says. "I know another world is possible, and I know survivors will build it, together with all the people who love us."

To learn more about Tory Burch and Upworthy's Empowered Women program visit https://www.toryburch.com/empoweredwomen/. Nominate an inspiring woman in your community today!

This article originally appeared on 11.21.16


Photographer Katie Joy Crawford had been battling anxiety for 10 years when she decided to face it straight on by turning the camera lens on herself.

In 2015, Upworthy shared Crawford's self-portraits and our readers responded with tons of empathy. One person said, "What a wonderful way to express what words cannot." Another reader added, "I think she hit the nail right on the head. It's like a constant battle with yourself. I often feel my emotions battling each other."

So we wanted to go back and talk to the photographer directly about this soul-baring project.

Keep Reading Show less
True

When a pet is admitted to a shelter it can be a traumatizing experience. Many are afraid of their new surroundings and are far from comfortable showing off their unique personalities. The problem is that's when many of them have their photos taken to appear in online searches.

Chewy, the pet retailer who has dedicated themselves to supporting shelters and rescues throughout the country, recognized the important work of a couple in Tampa, FL who have been taking professional photos of shelter pets to help get them adopted.

"If it's a photo of a scared animal, most people, subconsciously or even consciously, are going to skip over it," pet photographer Adam Goldberg says. "They can't visualize that dog in their home."

Adam realized the importance of quality shelter photos while working as a social media specialist for the Humane Society of Broward County in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

"The photos were taken top-down so you couldn't see the size of the pet, and the flash would create these red eyes," he recalls. "Sometimes [volunteers] would shoot the photos through the chain-link fences."

That's why Adam and his wife, Mary, have spent much of their free time over the past five years photographing over 1,200 shelter animals to show off their unique personalities to potential adoptive families. The Goldbergs' wonderful work was recently profiled by Chewy in the video above entitled, "A Day in the Life of a Shelter Pet Photographer."