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4 awesome ‘how we met’ friendship stories that will inspire you to get online.

Friends can come from anywhere, especially the vast expanses of the internet.

True
Cricket Wireless

"How'd you two meet?"

Photo by Don LaVange/Flickr.

It's the quintessential question couples and longtime friends always get asked. Today, however, there's one answer that's becoming particularly common: "Actually, we met online."


More and more people, especially from younger generations, are getting to know each other via online avenues first rather than in real life. They might spend an inordinate amount of time on their computers and phones, but at least finding a true friend is one great thing that can come out of it.  

Due to its uncanny ability to connect anyone anywhere, the internet has become a healthy petri dish in which friendships often blossom.

According to recent Pew Research poll, 57% of teens have made new friends online. But these friendships don’t just stay online. Many teens decide to set up real-life meetings with their online friends. According to a BBC survey, 1 in 3 teens who have made a friend online will eventually meet that person face-to-face.

Unfortunately this gregariousness isn't universal. Millennials, for example, are often called the loneliest generation because many let technology isolate them rather than connect them to others.

There are some millennials, however, who've overcome the initial awkwardness of meeting online friends in person and created great, long-lasting friendships as a result.

Here are four examples of unique friendships that began online and eventually made it into three dimensions.

Business partners before friends.

So grateful for my sister, work-wife, friend and the most talented coach I've ever known - @coachjennie

A post shared by Annie Passanisi (@nibsieruggles) on

Annie P. Ruggles and Jennie Mustafa-Julock met on Twitter over six years ago. "I don't know if I was interviewing people or she was, but we were both new [entrepreneurial] coaches looking for good colleagues," Ruggles explains in a Facebook message. "One of us responded to a tweet."

"We tweeted back and forth and decided to hop on one Skype call to get to know one another," Mustafa-Julock writes, piggy-backing on Ruggles' comment in the same Facebook message.

That was it. The two women realized pretty much immediately they were meant to be friends — and, soon after, business partners.

"Work love at first Skype," Ruggles exclaims.

The two created a company, Hungry Entrepreneurs — a support system for small-business runners looking for coaching and collaboration. They ran the whole thing via Skype and phone. They even wrote two Amazon best-sellers together.

"We ran a business together for two years before we ever met in person," writes Mustafa-Julock.

After two years, the business fizzled out for a number of reasons — Mustafa-Julock's writing career was taking off and Ruggles was about to get married. But the two stayed close, and, thanks to Mustafa-Julock's book tour, they finally got to meet in person.

When they met, "I think we hugged for like 12 minutes," Ruggles recalls. "So now it's been 6 years. We talk everyday. Sometimes all damn day."

High school Rufus Wainwright fans.

Tim and Maria with their respective cats. Photos by Tim Swanger and Maria MaKenna, used with permission.

Tim Swanger and Maria MaKenna met online 12 years ago when they were in high school, through a slightly older-school technology: an online message board designed to bring fans of Rufus Wainwright together.

"It became, for me, a place to 'meet' like-minded people and negotiate the troubled waters of adolescence when I was surrounded in the physical world by people who didn't seem much like me," Swanger explains in an email.

After meeting on the message board, the two began talking regularly online and on the phone. "We bonded over failed relationships, common politics, and shared nerdiness," Swanger recounts. This went on for years before they met in person at a play in which MaKenna was performing.

"Maria in-the-flesh was not fundamentally different from her online persona. Hanging out together was pretty much just an extension of that."

"I will add that Tim's love of Rufus Wainwright faded, but mine did not," McKenna adds.

Cancer survivor support.

Jason and Jen. Photo by Jason Nellis, used with permission

Jason Nellis and Jen Fox both had cancer in their 20s. Five years ago, after Nellis was already in remission, he saw Fox's post on Tumblr about being in the midst of treatment, so he reached out to say hello. They didn't know each other previously, but Nellis felt connected to Jen because of their shared experience.

"I saw someone going through a really shit time in their life and I wanted to offer a friendly voice," Nellis writes in a Facebook message.

They began talking about their respective experiences with cancer, and, over time, less serious stuff. Eventually they became friends. It wasn't until Fox got into George Washington University, years after they first connected online, that the two decided to meet.

"Once Jen and I met in person and had the first few minutes of 'are you a real person or did I get catfished' we both became fast IRL friends," recounts Jason. "We went to Buttercream Bakeshop in D.C. And made it a weekly ritual."

New mom in town.

Carol B. and her baby Helen. Photo by Carol B., used with permission.

Carol B. recently moved to Pleasantville, New York, with her husband, and now they have a baby girl. Since she didn't really know anyone who lived in the area, she decided to use Facebook to try to find a few local moms who might be willing to let her and her baby into their circle.

"I searched 'Pleasantville' and 'moms,' and found a Facebook moms group right away," Carol writes in a Facebook message. "I introduced myself on the group page and got a lot of nice responses and welcomes, including an invite to join a separate 'playdate' page."

Soon after she initially reached out, she put herself out there even more. "I saw a post about a 'mom's night out' and I went for it, and met a lot of nice women. After that, I started going to different mom meet-ups with the baby, and before I knew it I suddenly knew a bunch of my neighbors."

Lasting connections can be formed all sorts of ways. In an age when technology is a staple of our lives, its hand in our relationships only makes sense.

Whether you're actively seeking a friend or not, there's no telling what sparks may fly when you put yourself out there in the digital world. It's easier now than it ever has been to strike up a friendship — across countries, cultures, and even political divides.

Photos from Tay Nakamoto

Facebook is no longer just your mom’s favorite place to share embarassing photos.

The social media platform has grown in popularity for young users and creators who enjoy forming connections with like-minded individuals through groups and events.

Many of these users even take things offline, meeting up in person for activities like book clubs, brunch squads, and Facebook IRL events, like the recent one held in New York City, and sharing how they use Facebook for more than just social networking.

“Got to connect with so many people IRL at an incredible Facebook pop up event this past weekend!” creator @Sistersnacking said of the event. So many cool activities like airbrushing, poster making + vision boarding, a Marketplace photo studio, and more.”

Tay Nakamoto, a designer known for her whimsical, colorful creations, attended the event and brought her stunning designs to the public. On Facebook, she typically shares renter-friendly hacks, backyard DIY projects, and more with her audience of 556K. For the IRL event, she created many of the designs on display, including a photobooth area, using only finds from Facebook Marketplace.

“Decorating out of 100% Facebook Marketplace finds was a new challenge but I had so much fun and got it doneeee. This was all for the Facebook IRL event in NYC and I got to meet such amazing people!!” Nakamoto shared on her page.


Also at the event was Katie Burke, the creator of Facebook Group “Not Wasting My Twenties.” Like many other recent grads at the start of the pandemic, she found herself unemployed and feeling lost. So she started the group as a way to connect with her peers, provide support for one anopther, and document the small, everyday joys of life.

The group hosts career panels, created a sister group for book club, and has meetups in cities around the US.

Another young creator making the most of Facebook is Josh Rincon, whose mission is to teach financial literacy to help break generational poverty. He grew his audience from 0 to over 1 million followers in six months, proving a growing desire for educational content from a younger generation on the platform.

He’s passionate about making finance accessible and engaging for everyone, and uses social media to teach concepts that are entertaining yet educational.

No matter your interests, age, or location, Facebook can be a great place to find your people, share your ideas, and even make new friends IRL.

Science

Researchers dumped tons of coffee waste into a forest. This is what it looks like now.

30 dump truck loads and two years later, the forest looks totally different.

One of the biggest problems with coffee production is that it generates an incredible amount of waste. Once coffee beans are separated from cherries, about 45% of the entire biomass is discarded.

So for every pound of roasted coffee we enjoy, an equivalent amount of coffee pulp is discarded into massive landfills across the globe. That means that approximately 10 million tons of coffee pulp is discarded into the environment every year.



When disposed of improperly, the waste can cause serious damage soil and water sources.

However, a new study published in the British Ecological Society journal Ecological Solutions and Evidence has found that coffee pulp isn't just a nuisance to be discarded. It can have an incredibly positive impact on regrowing deforested areas of the planet.

via British Ecological Society

In 2018, researchers from ETH-Zurich and the University of Hawaii spread 30 dump trucks worth of coffee pulp over a roughly 100' x 130' area of degraded land in Costa Rica. The experiment took place on a former coffee farm that underwent rapid deforestation in the 1950s.

The coffee pulp was spread three-feet thick over the entire area.

Another plot of land near the coffee pulp dump was left alone to act as a control for the experiment.

"The results were dramatic." Dr. Rebecca Cole, lead author of the study, said. "The area treated with a thick layer of coffee pulp turned into a small forest in only two years while the control plot remained dominated by non-native pasture grasses."

In just two years, the area treated with coffee pulp had an 80% canopy cover, compared to just 20% of the control area. So, the coffee-pulp-treated area grew four times more rapidly. Like a jolt of caffeine, it reinvigorated biological activity in the area.

The canopy was also four times taller than that of the control.

Before and after images of the forest

The forest experienced a radical, positive change

via British Ecological Society

The coffee-treated area also eliminated an invasive species of grass that took over the land and prevented forest succession. Its elimination allowed for other native species to take over and recolonize the area.

"This case study suggests that agricultural by-products can be used to speed up forest recovery on degraded tropical lands. In situations where processing these by-products incurs a cost to agricultural industries, using them for restoration to meet global reforestation objectives can represent a 'win-win' scenario," Dr. Cole said.

If the results are repeatable it's a win-win for coffee drinkers and the environment.

Researchers believe that coffee treatments can be a cost-effective way to reforest degraded land. They may also work to reverse the effects of climate change by supporting the growth of forests across the globe.

The 2016 Paris Agreement made reforestation an important part of the fight against climate change. The agreement incentivizes developing countries to reduce deforestation and forest degradation, promote forest conservation and sustainable management, and enhance forest carbon stocks in developing countries.

"We hope our study is a jumping off point for other researchers and industries to take a look at how they might make their production more efficient by creating links to the global restoration movement," Dr. Cole said.


This article originally appeared on 03.29.21

Health

Please read this before you post another RIP on social media

There is a hierarchy of grief and it's important to know where you fall on it before posting about someone's death.

Image from GOOD.

Working through grief is a community thing.


Grieving in the technology age is uncharted territory.

I'll take you back to Saturday, June 9, 2012. At 8:20 a.m., my 36-year-old husband was pronounced dead at a hospital just outside Washington, D.C.

By 9:20 a.m., my cellphone would not stop ringing or text-alerting me long enough for me to make the necessary calls that I needed to make: people like immediate family, primary-care doctors to discuss death certificates and autopsies, funeral homes to discuss picking him up, and so on. Real things, important things, time-sensitive, urgent things.

At 9:47 a.m., while speaking to a police officer (because yes, when your spouse dies, you must be questioned by the police immediately), one call did make it through. I didn't recognize the number. But in those moments, I knew I should break my normal rule and answer all calls. "He's dead??? Oh my God. Who's with you? Are you OK? Why am I reading this on Facebook? Taya, what the heck is going on?"


Facebook? I was confused. I hadn't been on Facebook since the day before, so I certainly hadn't taken the time in the last 90 minutes to peek at the site.

"I'll call you back", I screamed and hung up. I called my best friend and asked her to search for anything someone might have written and to contact them immediately and demand they delete it. I still hadn't spoken to his best friend, or his godsister, or our godchild's parents, or a million other people! Why would someone post it to Facebook SO FAST?

While I can in no way speak for the entire planet, I certainly feel qualified to propose some suggestions — or, dare I say, rules — for social media grieving.

How many RIPs have you seen floating through your social media stream over the last month? Probably a few. Death is a fate that we will each meet at some point. The Information Age has changed the ways in which we live and communicate daily, yet there are still large voids in universally accepted norms.

This next statement is something that is impossible to understand unless you've been through it:

There is a hierarchy of grief.

Yes, a hierarchy. It's something people either don't understand or understand but don't want to think or talk about — yet we must.

There is a hierarchy of grief.

Hierarchy is defined as:

  1. a system or organization in which people or groups are ranked one above the other according to status or authority, and
  2. an arrangement or classification of things according to relative importance or inclusiveness.

What does this mean as it relates to grief? Let me explain. When someone dies — whether suddenly or after a prolonged illness, via natural causes or an unnatural fate, a young person in their prime or an elderly person with more memories behind them than ahead — there is one universal truth : The ripples of people who are affected is vast and, at times, largely unknown to all other parties.

A death is always a gut punch with varying degrees of force and a reminder of our own mortality. Most people are moved to express their love for the deceased by showing their support to the family and friends left behind.

In the days before social media, these expressions came in the form of phone calls, voicemail messages, and floral deliveries.

If you were lucky enough to be in close proximity to the family of the newly deceased, there were visits that came wrapped with hugs and tears, and deliveries of food and beverages to feed all the weary souls.

Insert social media. All of those courtesies still occur, but there is a new layer of grief expression — the online tribute in the form of Facebook posts, Instagram photo collages, and short tweets.

What's the problem with that? Shouldn't people be allowed to express their love, care, concern, support, and prayers for the soul of the recently deceased and for their family?

Yes.

And no.

Why? Because there are no established "rules," and people have adopted their own. This isn't breaking news, and you're not trying to scoop TMZ. Listen, I know you're hurt. Guess what? Me too. I know you're shocked. Guess what? Me too. Your social media is an extension of who you are. I get it. You "need" to express your pain, acknowledge your relationship with the deceased, and pray for the family.

Yes.

However...

Please give us a minute.

We are shocked.

We are heartbroken.

Give the immediate family or circle a little time to handle the immediate and time-sensitive "business" related to death. In the minutes and early hours after someone passes away, social media is most likely the last thing on their minds. And even if it does cross their mind, my earlier statement comes into play here.

There is a hierarchy of grief.

Please pause and consider your role and relationship to the newly deceased. Remember, hierarchy refers to your status and your relative importance to the deceased. I caution you to wait and then wait a little longer before posting anything. This may seem trivial, silly, and not worth talking about, but I promise you it isn't.

If the person is married, let the spouse post first.

If the person is "young" and single, let the partner, parents, or siblings post first.

If the person is "old" and single, let the children post first.

If you can't identify the family/inner circle of the person, you probably shouldn't be posting at all.

Do you get where I'm going with this?

In theory, we should never compare grief levels, cast the grief-stricken survivors into roles, or use words like status and importance. But maybe we need to at this moment (and for the next few weeks and months).

The "RIP" posts started hitting my timeline about an hour after my husband's death, and I certainly didn't start them. This created a sense of confusion, fear, anxiety, panic, dread, and shock for the people who knew me, too. What's wrong? Who are we praying for? Did something happen? Did someone pass? Why are there RIPs on your wall and I can't reach you? Call me please! What's going on?

That's a small sample of messages on my voicemail and text inbox. I had to take a minute in the midst of it all to ask a friend to post a status to my Facebook page on my behalf.

Your love and expressions of support are appreciated and needed, but they can also be ill-timed and create unintended additional stress.

The person is no less dead and your sympathy no less heartfelt if your post, photo, or tweet is delayed by a few hours. Honestly, the first couple of hours are shocking, and many things are a blur. Most bereaved people will be able to truly appreciate your love, concern, prayers, and gestures after the first 24 hours.

I've learned this from the inside — twice within the last four years. And I assure you that if we each adopted a little patience and restraint in this area, we would help those who are in the darkest hours of their lives by not adding an unnecessary layer of stress.

A few extra hours could make all the difference.


This article originally appeared on 05.07.19

Gardiner Brothers/TikTok (with permission)

The Gardiner Brothers stepping in time to Beyoncé's "Texas Hold 'Em."

In early February 2024, Beyoncé rocked the music world by releasing a surprise new album of country tunes. The album, Renaissance: Act II, includes a song called "Texas Hold 'Em," which shot up the country charts—with a few bumps along the way—and landed Queen Bey at the No.1 spot.

As the first Black female artist to have a song hit No. 1 on Billboard's country music charts, Beyoncé once again proved her popularity, versatility and ability to break barriers without missing a beat. In one fell swoop, she got people who had zero interest in country music to give it a second look, forced country music fans to broaden their own ideas about what country music looks like and prompted conversations about bending and blending musical genres and styles.

And she inspired the Gardiner Brothers to add yet another element to the mix—Irish stepdance.


In a TikTok that's been viewed over 17 million times, the Gardiner Brothers don cowboy hats while they step in time to "Texas Hold 'Em," much to the delight of viewers everywhere.

Watch:

@gardinerbrothers

Beyoncé 🤝 Irish dancing #beyonce #countrymusic

Michael and Matthew Gardiner are professional Irish-American stepdancers and choreographers who have gained international fame with their award-winning performances. They've also built a following of millions on social media with videos like this one, where they dance to popular songs, usually in an outdoor environment.

The melding of Irish dance with country music sung by a Black American female artist may seem unlikely, but it could be viewed merely as country music coming back to its roots. After all, country music has its roots in the ballad tradition of the Irish, English and Scottish settlers in the Appalachian region of the U.S. And despite modern country music's struggle to break free from "music for white people" stereotypes, it has roots in African-American traditions as well. For instance, the banjo, which has long been used in bluegrass and country music, was created by enslaved Africans and their descendents during the colonial era, according to The Smithsonian.

People are loving the blending of genres and culture that the TikTok exemplifies.

"Never thought I’d see Irish step dancing while Beyoncé sings country," wrote on commenter. "My life is complete. ♥️"

"So happy Beyoncé dropped this song and exposed my timeline to diversified talent 👏🏽👏🏽," wrote another.

"Beyoncé brought the world together with this song 😭," offered another person.

"Ayeeee Irish Dancing has entered the BeyHive chatroom… WELCOME!! 🔥🔥🔥" exclaimed another.

"I don’t think I can explain how many of my interests are intersecting here," wrote one commenter, reflecting what several others shared as well.

The Beyoncé/Gardiner Brothers combo and the reactions to it are a good reminder that none of us fit into one box of interest or identity. We're all an eclectic mix of tastes and styles, so we can almost always find a way to connect with others over something we enjoy. What better way to be reminded of that fact than through an unexpected mashup that blends the magic of music with the delight of dance? Truly, the arts are a powerful uniting force we should utilize more often.

And for an extra bit of fun, the Gardiner Brothers also shared their bloopers from filming the video. Turns out stepping in the rain isn't as easy as they make it look.

Beyoncé Bloopers #texasholdem #gardinerbrothers

@gardinerbrothers

Beyoncé Bloopers #texasholdem #gardinerbrothers

This article originally appeared on 2.26.24

An English doctor named Edward Jenner took incredible risks to try to rid his world of smallpox. Because of his efforts and the efforts of scientists like him, the only thing between deadly diseases like the ones below and extinction are people who refuse to vaccinate their kids. Don't be that parent.

Unfortunately, because of the misinformation from the anti-vaccination movement, some of these diseases have trended up in a really bad way over the past several years.



Wellness involves a lot of personal choices and the tradeoff between personal liberty and shared public good.

Measles is the starkest example. There were about 61 cases of measles in all of 2012, but in just the first seven months of 2014, there have been nearly 600.

As this chart shows, vaccinations are not like taxes rates or even freedom of speech. The impact of one's personal health choices can have a significant impact on the population around them, in their communities and even on a national level. It makes that trade-off all the more complicated and one not easily distilled into one convenient political or religious ideology.

Obviously, the topic of vaccinations has become immensely more complicated since the onset of COVID-19 in 2020. But history teaches us valuable lessons and information is power. No matter how you feel about vaccines today, this chart is a reminder that medical science can be used for incredible good. Without breakthrough vaccinations in the past, many of us would likely not be here to have the debate about our personal choices now and into the future.


This article originally appeared on 11.21.14 and this infographic is based on data from 2012.

Health

Women are shocking their boyfriends by showing them how tampons actually work

The viral videos are a great way to educate men on a sensitive topic.

via TikTok

Menstrual taboos are as old as time and found across cultures. They've been used to separate women from men physically — menstrual huts are still a thing — and socially, by creating the perception that a natural bodily function is a sign of weakness.

Even in today's world women are deemed unfit for positions of power because some men actually believe they won't be able to handle stressful situations while mensurating.

"Menstruation is an opening for attack: a mark of shame, a sign of weakness, an argument to keep women out of positions of power,' Colin Schultz writes in Popular Science.


The big problem with menstrual taboos is the way that males are educated on the subject leaves them with a patchwork of ideas that don't necessarily add up to the whole picture. First, there's the information they get from growing up with women in the house.

Then, there are the cryptic descriptions of menstruation seen in advertising and the cold, scientific way the topic is taught in sex education.

"Boys' early learning about menstruation is haphazard," a 2011 study published in the Journal of Family Issues reads. "The mysterious nature of what happens to girls contributes to a gap in boys' knowledge about female bodies and to some negative views about girls."

Unfortunately, the gaps in the average man's understanding of a complex female health issue can put women in a difficult position. Whether it's denying them positions of power or a failure to understand their discomfort.

That's why it's so important for men to become better educated about menstruation.

A group of women on TikTok are helping the men in their lives better understand the subject by showing them how tampons work on the inside of their bodies by dousing them in water. They call it the Boyfriend Challenge. Some of the guys' reactions are clearly over-the-top, but it's also obvious that many of them have no idea how tampons function.

A video by the Demery family has gone viral attracting nearly eight million views. It's fun to watch, but it also shows men how tampons function and what women go through during their monthly cycle.

@thedemeryfamily22 His reaction is priceless😂 #cutecouple #pregnant #prego #viral #InLove #couplegoals #trend #tampon ♬ original sound - Kolby&Jas❤️

Rachel's man just uttered the phrase "vagina parachute."

@mrshillery829 Of course I had to make my husband do this! I will forever call tampons “vagina parachutes”! LMAO!! #tamponchallenge #husbandpranks #funny #fyp ♬ original sound - Rachel Hillery

Paulina's man was completely flummoxed by the inner workings of a tampon. "You've been carrying this like, inside of you?" he asks. "The whole day?"

@paulinat showing him how a tampôn works😭 @fabioguerrrraa ♬ original sound - Pau Torres

This guy thinks it's "like a butterfly."

@amanialzubi showing my boyfriend how a tampon works 🤣😳❤️ ( @originalisrael ) #comedy #couple #couplegoals #foryou #trend #tiktok ♬ original sound - amani

Ryley just blew her BFF's mind.

Let's hope this challenge gave some men out there a better understanding of what women go through every month and a little more sympathy for the women in their lives.

Hopefully it also makes them feel a little more comfortable around period products and inspires them to pick up the correct box of tampons next time they're at the grocery store.


This article originally appeared on 01.27.21