A food writer shared a neat cooking tip, but got a flood of hate and mockery in return.

On Twitter, New Yorker food writer Helen Rosner shared a secret for making roast chicken — a hair dryer.

Stuck inside on a snow day, Rosner shared a photo of the process she uses to remove moisture from a chicken before roasting it: a bit of time under her hair dryer. It might seem unconventional, but it's actually a well-established method for getting the skin perfectly crispy.

Sadly, the internet didn't seem to know this — or care.


Some of the responses got a bit rude, which led Rosner to write an article titled, "Yes, I use a hair dryer to make roast chicken — here's the recipe" to clarify a few things.

She explained to me what bothered her a bit about the responses, something many writers can relate to, saying, "I took a picture of the process and posted it to Twitter, where people were, in roughly even groups, thrilled or repulsed by the sight of a beauty appliance in the kitchen. There was, in particular, no shortage of men (why is it always men?) sneering at my incompetence."

She continues, "'This is what your oven is for,' a few said, apparently thinking that I was using the dryer not to dry the chicken but to cook it. They lingered on my choice of hair dryer—the Dyson Supersonic, a futuristic-looking device that is, at four hundred dollars, absurdly expensive. (It’s also inarguably better than any other blow-dryer I’ve tried, though whether its uptick in quality is worth the several-hundred-dollar premium is a private matter between a person and her credit card.) And they commented on my sparkly pink manicure—maybe, if I’d wanted the tweet to read as an Alton Brown-calibre kitchen hack, instead of ditzy prop comedy, I should’ve gone for unvarnished nails and a hairier knuckle."

Rosner's story (which came with a recipe that looks absolutely delicious) was meant to quiet the trolls and clear up some misconceptions, but seemed to only result in more hate being thrown her way. Michael Harriot at The Root called the dish "the whitest thing on the internet" in an unrelentingly cruel blog post. Alexandra Deabler's Fox News article emphasized the cost of Rosner's dryer, as did Danielle Fowler's write-up at Yahoo.

Rosner spoke with me about the bizarre backlash to the totally innocuous food tip, sharing a bit of her thoughts on what it's like to be a woman writing on the internet.

The internet, for all the good it does, can enable what's known as "context collapse." Details get left out, facts get blurred, and words get twisted in ways they otherwise shouldn't.

In Rosner's case, some of the backlash seemed to be from people who thought she was recommending everyone go out and drop $400 on a blow-dryer, or else they mistakenly thought she was suggesting that you should actually use the blow-dryer to cook the chicken (please do not try to cook an entire chicken with a blow-dryer; it will not work and you could get sick).

None of that was true, but it's the new normal in an age where everything posted to the internet has the potential to become content.

Helen Rosner. Photo courtesy of Helen Rosner.

"Ideas get divorced from the people expressing them, and often knowing who's saying something can help you know how to judge the idea," she says. "When headlines in the NY Post or on Yahoo Lifestyle say things like 'Woman Uses a Hair Dryer to Cook Chicken,' even looking past the fact that I don't use the dryer to cook the damn chicken, by stripping out the context of who the hell this woman is, you open a door for the reader to immediately jump to skepticism and judgment. They could've gone with 'food writer uses a hair dryer to cook chicken' (or hell, 'award-winning food writer' also works) and then the reader response is tempered by position expertise."

To that last point, Rosner clarifies that she shouldn't have to be a highly credentialed food writer in order to share a cool tip without a flood of mockery being sent her way. The desire to pick other people apart over the tiniest things, such as how they make their roast chicken, has become a core part of internet culture, and it's not good for us.

At first Rosner was reluctant to respond to some of the harsher criticism, but then she noticed something.

She was irritated, understandably, by some of the inaccuracies pushed by her critics. At first she chalked it up to ignorance, but then she realized that some of her harshest critics knew exactly what they were doing.

"I saw a lot of people responding to that post by calling it sexist, and something clicked for me," she told me. "I'd been scrambling around trying to get strangers on the internet to understand that they were misreading or misrepresenting what the technique actually involved, and that actually I'm not full of shit, but the truth is — they just didn't care. They didn't want to be accurate; they just wanted to feign outrage. And so, so, so much of that outrage was really starkly gendered — the way that we, as a culture, assume that men know what they're talking about, but if the person speaking isn't a man, there's no such thing as the benefit of the doubt."

She wonders how different the response might have been had the person posting the original tweet were a guy. The fact that celebrity chefs like Alton Brown have been promoting this technique for years without outrage probably gives us an answer to that question.

"There's some kind of perfect synthesis in there of my own femininity, the femininity of a hair dryer as an appliance, and the perceived frivolousness of a feminine-coded appliance costing a few hundred dollars," she says. "So much of the response to this basically boiled down to 'Look at this ditzy lady doing a stupid thing,' which is just plain incorrect. What I did was really smart and has a lot of science behind it — it works, and it works well. You're gonna respond to a tested, vetted, effective technique — one that uses tools you probably already have in your home — with knee-jerk sexist mockery? At the end of the day, I don't think I'm the one who looks stupid here."

There are some important lessons in all of this about the internet, unconscious bias, assumptions, and empathy.

It's easy to jump to assumptions, whether it's assuming a woman on the internet with a blow-dryer doesn't know what she's doing when it comes to chicken or making snap judgments about other people's personal experiences. Those assumptions lead us to build up fictionalized versions of the people we see and we can come off cruel in the process. Ordinary context clues that you might be able to pick up from in-person conversations are lost behind keyboards.

We could all benefit from taking a few deep breaths and asking ourselves whether there's a possibility that we don't have all the information needed to offer an opinion on a topic and whether we really need to give someone doing something — like, say, offering a tip for cooking chicken — such a hard time about it?

Courtesy of Amita Swadhin
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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!

Cipolla's graph with the benefits and losses that an individual causes to him or herself and causes to others.

Have you ever known someone who was educated, well-spoken and curious, but had a real knack for making terrible decisions and bringing others down with them? These people are perplexing because we're trained to see them as intelligent, but their lives are a total mess.

On the other hand, have you ever met someone who may not have a formal education or be the best with words, but they live wisely and their actions uplift themselves and others?

In 1976, Italian economist Carlo Cipolla wrote a tongue-in-cheek essay called "The Basic Laws of Human Stupidity" that provides a great framework for judging someone's real intelligence. Now, the term "stupid" isn't the most artful way of describing someone who lives unwisely, but in his essay Cipolla uses it in a lighthearted way.

Cipolla explains his theory of intelligence through five basic laws and a matrix that he believes applies to everyone.

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Images courtesy of Mark Storhaug & Kaiya Bates

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The experiences we have at school tend to stay with us throughout our lives. It's an impactful time where small acts of kindness, encouragement, and inspiration go a long way.

Schools, classrooms, and teachers that are welcoming and inclusive support students' development and help set them up for a positive and engaging path in life.

Here are three of our favorite everyday actions that are spreading kindness on campus in a big way:

Image courtesy of Mark Storhaug

1. Pickleball to Get Fifth Graders Moving

Mark Storhaug is a 5th grade teacher at Kingsley Elementary in Los Angeles, who wants to use pickleball to get his students "moving on the playground again after 15 months of being Zombies learning at home."

Pickleball is a paddle ball sport that mixes elements of badminton, table tennis, and tennis, where two or four players use solid paddles to hit a perforated plastic ball over a net. It's as simple as that.

Kingsley Elementary is in a low-income neighborhood where outdoor spaces where kids can move around are minimal. Mark's goal is to get two or three pickleball courts set up in the schoolyard and have kids join in on what's quickly becoming a national craze. Mark hopes that pickleball will promote movement and teamwork for all his students. He aims to take advantage of the 20-minute physical education time allotted each day to introduce the game to his students.

Help Mark get his students outside, exercising, learning to cooperate, and having fun by donating to his GoFundMe.

Image courtesy of Kaiya Bates

2. Staying C.A.L.M: Regulation Kits for Kids

According to the WHO around 280 million people worldwide suffer from depression. In the US, 1 in 5 adults experience mental illness and 1 in 20 experience severe mental illness, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

Kaiya Bates, who was recently crowned Miss Tri-Cities Outstanding Teen for 2022, is one of those people, and has endured severe anxiety, depression, and selective mutism for most of her life.

Through her GoFundMe, Kaiya aims to use her "knowledge to inspire and help others through their mental health journey and to spread positive and factual awareness."

She's put together regulation kits (that she's used herself) for teachers to use with students who are experiencing stress and anxiety. Each "CALM-ing" kit includes a two-minute timer, fidget toolboxes, storage crates, breathing spheres, art supplies and more.

Kaiya's GoFundMe goal is to send a kit to every teacher in every school in the Pasco School District in Washington where she lives.

To help Kaiya achieve her goal, visit Staying C.A.L.M: Regulation Kits for Kids.

Image courtesy of Julie Tarman

3. Library for a high school heritage Spanish class

Julie Tarman is a high school Spanish teacher in Sacramento, California, who hopes to raise enough money to create a Spanish language class library.

The school is in a low-income area, and although her students come from Spanish-speaking homes, they need help building their fluency, confidence, and vocabulary through reading Spanish language books that will actually interest them.

Julie believes that creating a library that affirms her students' cultural heritage will allow them to discover the joy of reading, learn new things about the world, and be supported in their academic futures.

To support Julie's GoFundMe, visit Library for a high school heritage Spanish class.

Do YOU have an idea for a fundraiser that could make a difference? Upworthy and GoFundMe are celebrating ideas that make the world a better, kinder place. Visit upworthy.com/kindness to join the largest collaboration for human kindness in history and start your own GoFundMe.

'Tis the season to do weird things with pumpkins.

A few years ago, the midwives of the Royal Oldham hospital in England decided to illustrate the horrors of childbirth using the whimsy of Halloween pumpkin art. The maternity ward became a zone of terror, as the "dilation pumpkins" were lined up in ascendant order, matching how the cervix dilates during labor, from a harmless 1cm to a terrifying 10cm.

The first pumpkin looks adorably surprised. Nothing too scary about that, right? Kind of like it just had an unexpected visit from a cute puppy.

Then take a look at that last pumpkin, apparently at the optimum dilation for giving birth, mouth fully agape, with an expression that can't help but convey "OUCH!" No amount of fun googly eyes are gonna make that image less frightening. Yikes.

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Gage Skidmore/Wikimedia Commons

Wil Wheaton speaking to an audience at 2019 Wondercon.

In an era of debates over cancel culture and increased accountability for people with horrendous views and behaviors, the question of art vs. artist is a tricky one. When you find out an actor whose work you enjoy is blatantly racist and anti-semitic in real life, does that realization ruin every movie they've been a part of? What about an author who has expressed harmful opinions about a marginalized group? What about a smart, witty comedian who turns out to be a serial sexual assaulter? Where do you draw the line between a creator and their creation?

As someone with his feet in both worlds, actor Wil Wheaton weighed in on that question and offered a refreshingly reasonable perspective.

A reader who goes by @avinlander asked Wheaton on Tumblr:

"Question: I have more of an opinion question for you. When fans of things hear about misconduct happening on sets/behind-the-scenes are they allowed to still enjoy the thing? Or should it be boycotted completely? Example: I've been a major fan of Buffy the Vampire Slayer since I was a teenager and it was currently airing. I really nerded out on it and when I lost my Dad at age 16 'The Body' episode had me in such cathartic tears. Now we know about Joss Whedon. I haven't rewatched a single episode since his behavior came to light. As a fan, do I respectfully have to just box that away? Is it disrespectful of the actors that went through it to knowingly keep watching?"

And Wheaton offered this response, which he shared on Facebook:

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