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The term "epidemic" means "something that spreads really fast."

The flu, dengue fever, the recent Zika outbreak, or sudden plant-based outbreaks that threaten large number of crops are all classic examples of epidemics.

When an epidemic hits, it hits hard. The flu can make everyone in your office sick within days, and viral outbreaks can quickly threaten the population of an entire country.


A health professional fumigating against the Zika virus in Honduras. Photo by Orlando Sierra/AFP/Getty Images.

But did you know that not all epidemics are bad?

Yes, there is such a thing as a "positive epidemic." And according to researchers at the Santa Fe Institute in New Mexico, positive epidemics actually spread faster than negative ones.

Amazing, right?

Examples of positive epidemics include the spread of good viruses that protect their hosts instead of harming them or even beneficial social phenomenons like the use of agriculture technology spreading among humans.

We don't normally associate positive things with the word "epidemic," but when these positive epidemics (nicknamed "benes" for the purposes of this study) take hold, they are capable of affecting a lot more hosts than a negative epidemic can and in a much shorter amount of time too.

Or, to put it simply: The study found that good epidemics spread faster and wider than negative ones.

When you think about it, this pattern actually makes a lot of sense.

Imagine you just heard about a new Gmail trick that increases your productivity and saves you a ton of time. The first thing you're going to do is tell as many people as possible, right?

"F*** yeah! Gmail!!!" Photo via iStock.

When the people you tell find out about it, they get the same excited feeling as you and start telling as many people as they can. Pretty soon, your entire office building is buzzing about it. The fact that this "epidemic" is motivated by a positive feeling and a beneficial change in work flow means that it can spread without anyone trying to stop it.

A negative epidemic, on the other hand, like a stomach virus, still spreads within communities but has more obstacles trying to prevent it from doing so. If you have a stomach virus, you'll (hopefully) stay home from work, cancel your social plans, and lie down on your bathroom floor in the fetal position until you feel better, cutting out key opportunities for the virus to spread to other people.

"F*** no! Stomach virus!" Photo via iStock.

When it comes to those beneficial viruses I mentioned earlier, the kind that prevent a host from getting sick, those might increase your energy and happiness, which in turn make you more likely to interact with other people and spread the awesome, protective, healthy virus more quickly. The people you interact with then get the same protection.

Weirdly, this same epidemic pattern also applies to positive and negative words.

The researchers used Google's Ngram Corpus to track the popularity of certain beneficial words over time.

They found that when a word is highly useful and beneficial to society, its usage spreads very quickly. "Personal computer" and "aspirin" both became highly used words after they were invented and their popularity increased exponentially.


"Such a headache from staring at my personal computer. Someone get me an aspirin!" Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images.

Because of the positive benefits associated with both aspirin and personal computers, people learned about both of them extremely quickly and wanted to share that knowledge — spreading the words far and wide at a rapid pace.

People say that positivity is contagious, and this study shows that in many ways that is ... literally true.

We're drawn to things that help us out, and we're eager to "infect" other people with them. Human society can make giant leaps based on positive and beneficial epidemics.

From the implementation of agriculture to the space age to your new fancy Gmail trick to paying it forward at the Starbucks drive-through, we all move forward as a society when we help spread the positive wealth around.

Hold on, Frankie! Mama's coming!

How do you explain motherhood in a nutshell? Thanks to Cait Oakley, who stopped a preying bald eagle from capturing her pet goose as she breastfed her daughter, we have it summed up in one gloriously hilarious TikTok.

The now viral video shows the family’s pet goose, Frankie, frantically squawking as it gets dragged off the porch by a bald eagle—likely another mom taking care of her own kiddos.

Wearing nothing but her husband’s boxers while holding on to her newborn, Willow, Oakley dashes out of the house and successfully comes to Frankie's rescue while yelling “hey, hey hey!”

The video’s caption revealed that the Oakleys had already lost three chickens due to hungry birds of prey, so nothing was going to stop “Mama bear” from protecting “sweet Frankie.” Not even a breastfeeding session.

Oakley told TODAY Parents, “It was just a split second reaction ...There was nowhere to put Willow down at that point.” Sometimes being a mom means feeding your child and saving your pet all at the same time.

As for how she feels about running around topless in her underwear on camera, Oakley declared, “I could have been naked and I’m like, ‘whatever, I’m feeding my baby.’”

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Joy

Tea time: how this boutique blends cultures from around the world

Ethically sourced, modern clothes for kids that embrace adventure, inspire connections and global thinking.

The Tea Collection combines philanthropic efforts with a deep rooted sense of multiculturalism into each of their designs so that kids can grow up with global sensibilities. They make clothes built to last with practicality and adventure in mind. But why "Tea"?

Let's spill it. Tea is a drink shared around the world with people from all different cultures. It is a common thread that weaves the world together. The Tea Collection was born from a love of travel and a love of sharing tea with different people in different places. Inspired by patterns from around the world, these clothes help children develop a familiarity with global communities.

Tea sources their materials ethically and ensures that each of their partners abide to strict codes of conduct. They have a zero-tolerance policy for anything "even slightly questionable" and make sure that they regularly visit their manufacturing partners to ensure that they're supporting positive working conditions.

Since 2003, The Tea Collection has partnered with the Global Fund for Children and has invested in different grassroots organizations that create community empowered programs to uplift kids in need. They donate 10% of their proceeds and have already contributed over $500,000 to different organizations such as: The Homeless Prenatal Program (San Francisco, CA, USA), Door of Faith Orphanage (Baja California, Mexico), Little Sisters Fund (Nepal) and others in Peru, Sri Lanka, India, Italy and Haiti.

But the best part about the Tea Collection? They're also an official member of the Kidizen Rewear Collective, which believes that clothes should stretch far beyond one child's use. They have their own external site for their preloved clothes that makes rewearing affordable. Families can trade in gently used Tea clothes and receive discounts for future products. Shopping the site helps keep clothes out of land fills and reduces the environmental impact of the fashion industry.

By creating heirloom style clothing made to last families can buy, sell, and trade clothes that can be reworn again and again. Because "new to you" doesn't always have to mean never been worn. And let's be honest, we all know how fast kids grow! Shopping preloved clothes is a great way to keep styles fresh without harming the environment or feeling guilty about not getting the most out of certain styles.

But don't just take our word for it! Head over to the Tea Collection and see for yourself!

Upworthy has earned revenue through a partnership and/or may earn a portion of sales revenue from purchases made through links on our site.

Education

Teacher of the year explains why he's leaving district in unforgettable 3-minute speech

"I'm leaving in hopes that I can regain the ability to do the job that I love."

Lee Allen

For all of our disagreements in modern American life, there are at least a few things most of us can agree on. One of those is the need for reform in public education. We don't all agree on the solutions but many of the challenges are undeniable: retaining great teachers, reducing classroom size and updating the focus of student curriculums to reflect the ever-changing needs of a globalized workforce.

And while parents, politicians and activists debate those remedies, one voice is all-too-often ignored: that of teachers themselves.

This is why a short video testimony from a teacher in the Atlanta suburb of Gwinnett County went viral recently. After all, it's hard to deny the points made by someone who was just named teacher of the year and used the occasion to announce why he will be leaving the very school district that just honored him with that distinction.

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