A friend's cry for help is tough to see. Instagram's new feature is here to help.

It's a scary feeling to see a loved one's cry for help. Oftentimes, we're left feeling powerless and questioning if, or how, we should act.

Many of us, unfortunately, know what that gut-wrenching moment feels like. Especially in the age of social media. You're scrolling through your feed — past the baby pics and food photos — and you spot it: a post from a friend that doesn't feel ... right. Your stomach churns, your heart begins to beat faster, and you ask yourself: Is my friend about to hurt themselves?

Should I call him? No, I don't want to offend. Should I tell her mom about this? Probably not. It's none of my business anyway...


Photo via iStock.

We live in a world where posts from friends concerning self-harm, depression, and suicide aren't all that rare. The good news is that Instagram recognizes this, and it's doing something about it.

As part of its #PerfectlyMe initiative celebrating the strength of support networks, the photo-sharing app is rolling out new features to help users anonymously report a friend they're worried about if they see one of those scary posts or messages.

After the post is reported, that friend will get a message from Instagram that notes, "Someone saw one of your posts and thinks you might be going through a difficult time. If you need support, we'd like to help."

The feature will then offer your friend a few options, like the ability to contact a help line directly or read tips on getting support and accessing help.

Photos via Instagram.

Instagram is also aware that what a person seeks out through its hashtag search — such as #ImNotOK — can say a lot about what's on their mind. To address this, the app has a new feature that will send a message to a user if they search for a hashtag that's associated with self-harm.

Photo via Instagram.

Instagram worked with experts from groups like the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and the National Eating Disorders Association to make sure the language being used in the feature was appropriate and helpful.

"We listen to mental health experts when they tell us that outreach from a loved one can make a real difference for those who may be in distress," Marne Levine, Instagram's chief operating officer, told Seventeen magazine. "At the same time, we understand friends and family often want to offer support but don't know how best to reach out."

Photo by Ed Jones/AFP/Getty Images.

Instagram's new feature is social media at its finest: connecting people around the world and giving them tools to help one another.

Social apps like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram can get a bad rap. Sometimes, they provide a platform for bullies. Other times, they're used to spread hate and bigotry by those with the wrong ideas.

But these same platforms also connect long-lost friends, unite marginalized groups in solidarity, and, yes, allow us to make sure we're looking out for our friends and family.

"These tools," Levine explained, "are designed to let you know that you are surrounded by a community that cares about you at a moment when you might most need that reminder."

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Increasingly customers are looking for more conscious shopping options. According to a Nielsen survey in 2018, nearly half (48%) of U.S. consumers say they would definitely or probably change their consumption habits to reduce their impact on the environment.

But while many consumers are interested in spending their money on products that are more sustainable, few actually follow through. An article in the 2019 issue of Harvard Business Review revealed that 65% of consumers said they want to buy purpose-driven brands that advocate sustainability, but only about 26% actually do so. It's unclear where this intention gap comes from, but thankfully it's getting more convenient to shop sustainably from many of the retailers you already support.

Amazon recently introduced Climate Pledge Friendly, "a new program to help make it easy for customers to discover and shop for more sustainable products." When you're browsing Amazon, a Climate Pledge Friendly label will appear on more than 45,000 products to signify they have one or more different sustainability certifications which "help preserve the natural world, reducing the carbon footprint of shipments to customers," according to the online retailer.

Amazon

In order to distinguish more sustainable products, the program partnered with a wide range of external certifications, including governmental agencies, non-profits, and independent laboratories, all of which have a focus on preserving the natural world.

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Wikiimages by Pixabay, Dr. Jacqueline Antonovich/Twitter

The 1776 Report isn't just bad, it's historically bad, in every way possible.

When journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones published her Pulitzer Prize-winning 1619 Project for The New York Times, some backlash was inevitable. Instead of telling the story of America's creation through the eyes of the colonial architects of our system of government, Hannah-Jones retold it through the eyes of the enslaved Africans who were forced to help build the nation without reaping the benefits of democracy. Though a couple of historical inaccuracies have had to be clarified and corrected, the 1619 Project is groundbreaking, in that it helps give voice to a history that has long been overlooked and underrepresented in our education system.

The 1776 Report, in turn, is a blaring call to return to the whitewashed curriculums that silence that voice.

In September of last year, President Trump blasted the 1619 Project, which he called "toxic propaganda" and "ideological poison" that "will destroy our country." He subsequently created a commission to tell the story of America's founding the way he wanted it told—in the form of a "patriotic education" with all of the dog whistles that that phrase entails.

Mission accomplished, sort of.

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If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.