You Are Not The Top Of the Food Chain
Humans are part of a large ecosystem which depends on balance and integration to thrive. It's time to start acting like it.
Good for her for standing up for her child's culture.
A recently posted story on Reddit shows a mother confidently standing up for her family after being bullied by a teacher for her culture. Reddit user Flowergardens0 posted the story to the AITA forum, where people ask whether they are wrong in a specific situation.
Over 5,600 people commented on the story, and an overwhelming majority thought the mother was right. Here’s what went down:
“I (34F) have a (5M) son who attends preschool. A few hours after I picked him up from school today, I got a phone call from his teacher,” Flowergardens0 wrote. “She made absolutely no effort to sound kind when she, in an extremely rude and annoyed tone, told me to stop packing my son such ‘disgusting and inappropriate’ lunches."
"I felt absolutely appalled when she said this, as me and the teacher have, up until now, always maintained a very friendly relationship. She added that the lunches I’m packing my son are ‘very distracting for the other students and have an unpleasant odor.’ I told her that I understand her concerns, as the lunches I pack are definitely not the healthiest, but the lunches are according to my son’s preferences.”
The mother added that she usually sends her son to school with small celery sticks, blue cheese and goat cheese, kimchi, spam and spicy Sriracha-flavored Doritos.
“I ended the call by saying that I very much appreciated her worries, but that at the end of the day, I am not going to drastically change my son’s lunches all of a sudden, and that it’s not my fault if other students are ‘distracted’ by his meal,” the mother continued. “It is very important to me what my son enjoys, and I want him to like my lunches.”
The teacher replied with an email saying the mom's response was "unacceptable" and that his lunches were “just too inappropriate to be sent to school any longer.”
“I haven’t responded yet and don’t want to. I want to maintain a healthy relationship with my son’s teachers. I am confused as to what to do,” the mom ended her story.
It’s clear that the teacher is way out of line in this situation because the child is eating food that is entirely normal in Korean culture. It may have a strong odor to those who aren’t used to it, but that’s just an opportunity for the teacher to explain to the children how people from different parts of the world eat different types of food. It’s not that hard.
The only reason the teacher should have any choice over what the child eats is if it is egregiously unhealthy and may cause them harm.
The most popular commenter on the forum suggested that the mother bring the issue to the principal’s attention.
"Report her to the principal," Thatshygal717 wrote. "Her comments regarding your son’s food are 'disgusting' and 'have an unpleasant tone' aka cough cough racist tone. She’s too inappropriate to be teaching at the school any longer."
Another commenter, muffiewriters, assured the mother that she was doing nothing wrong. "Your son's food is perfectly normal," they wrote. "For a 5-year-old. Your family's food is normal. The teacher is TA for not recognizing that.”
The mother hasn’t shared what she did next, but she’s handled the situation perfectly so far. She told the teacher that it’s not her fault if other kids are distracted by her food and that she will not change her son’s diet to please other people.
The beauty of America is that we are a country of many different cultures mixed like a beautiful bowl of salad. It’s great that so many people supported the mother and reminded her that her family has every right in the world to eat the food they love, and if it bothers anyone, they can keep it to themselves.
P.S. That teacher has no idea what she’s talking about. Korean food is delicious.
Let us give you a peek behind the editorial curtain here.
The adage, "If it bleeds, it leads," refers to the media's tendency to headline stories involving death or violence, but it can also be used to point to people's negativity bias. Simply put, people tend to pay more attention to negative news stories than positive ones.
A new study seems to reinforce this idea. And much to our surprise, it's centered on headlines used in Upworthy stories.
Using a public archive of Upworthy headlines and traffic data from 2012 to 2015, two separate teams of researchers analyzed whether people's click tendencies changed with negative or positive words in headlines. In those olden days of Upworthy, a handful of headlines for a single story were tested on the website to see which one would receive the most clicks. The research teams analyzed those results and found that negative words in headlines led to more people clicking on a story (2.3% more), and positive words in headlines led to fewer clicks (1.0% fewer). They also found a preference for headlines that express sadness over those that express joy, fear or anger.
The two research teams submitted their findings to the journal Nature at the same time in a bit of kismet shared here: "Two Research Teams Submitted the Same Paper to Nature – You Won’t BELIEVE What Happens Next!!" (For those outside media industry circles, "You won't believe what happens next," is a mocking pseudo-headline that came into use during the past decade and has generally been used to degrade the editorial choices of Upworthy and similarly-minded publishers in the early days of social media news.) The teams ended up combining their results in a joint study whose title sums up its conclusion: "Negativity drives online news consumption."
While we appreciate the researchers' work, we're not convinced that 10-year-old Upworthy headlines and traffic are the most appropriate data to draw such a conclusion from. From our perspective, "negativity drives clicks" isn't a clear takeaway here due to the fact that 1) the fast-changing media landscape quickly makes data obsolete, 2) the increases and decreases in clicks were quite modest, which matters a lot since 3) a negative word being used in a headline does not automatically equate to "negativity."
To illustrate these points, let us offer a peek behind the editorial curtain here.
Upworthy gained unprecedented fame in the early 2010s for mastering the "curiosity gap" headline, and for a hot minute, it was incredibly successful. The "Upworthy-style" headline became all the rage and was emulated to some degree by media outlets of all stripes before losing its novelty and falling out of favor somewhere around 2014.
That was a decade ago.
A lot has changed since then, both in media at large and here at Upworthy. "You won't believe what happens next," is several proverbial lifetimes of change in the way all media outlets, including Upworthy, approach storytelling and how our audiences engage with that content. Headlines that got people clicking in 2013 wouldn't be written or clicked on the same way today at all in our experience. So, it feels like conclusions about people's click habits are being drawn from outdated data (a bit like comparing the respective value of a thrift store TV antenna with optimizing your 4K Netflix stream).
People have pointed out some irony in a seeming preference for negative words and sadness here at Upworthy, a website branded as a "positive news outlet." However, that's a simplistic characterization of our content. Upworthy has always shared positive, uplifting stories, to be sure, but it's an ongoing misconception that Upworthy only covers "positive news."
The original idea behind Upworthy was to "change what the world pays attention to" by sharing meaningful stories that highlight our common humanity, and that core ideal hasn't changed. Often, yes, that means telling feel-good stories. But it also means shedding light on and exploring solutions to challenges facing humanity, which aren't always positive or uplifting. Sometimes it means sharing a viral celebrity story that touches on an important issue or an experience many people can relate to. Sometimes it looks like tapping into people's curiosity to help us all better understand the world we live in. We tell stories that uplift and stories that deserve to be uplifted, and our headlines reflect that range of storytelling.
So what should we take from an Upworthy headline study that found people were a little more likely to click on headlines with negative words and sadness in them?
Honestly? Not a whole lot.
We already know negativity bias exists. None of this is revelatory to us (except perhaps the finding that anger does not appear to drive more clicks—that one was a bit of a surprise, to be honest). We've always known that if we wanted to, we could sell our souls and exploit the crap out of people's baser tendencies with our headlines to drive cheap clicks and make bank from it. But we don't, because that's not who we are.
Upworthy's current editorial team takes a different approach to headlines than the folks who were here a decade ago. We don't test multiple headlines anymore to see what clicks. Our process is more organic and intuitive, partly due to our own experience, partly due to lessons learned from our predecessors' data-driven approach and partly due to appreciating the art of a conscientious-yet-effective headline.
Speaking of which, the term "clickbait" gets thrown around with the Upworthy name a lot, including in the study. We have some thoughts on that, too.
Upworthy pioneered a specific headline style that drove a ton of website traffic and lots of people copied that style because it was effective. But a headline that makes people want to click on a story and read it does not automatically make it "clickbait." As long as the story itself is solid, a "clicky" headline is simply a good headline. There is no point in writers creating articles for a website if no one clicks and reads them, and a good headline will make people want to click and read. That statement shouldn't be the least bit controversial.
Genuine clickbait is when a headline promises something that isn't delivered in the story. It's a bait and switch, purely to rack up pageviews. That is not and has never been Upworthy's MO. Of course, we want people to read our stories—we wouldn't be here if we didn't think what we share was worth reading. But headlines are not articles, and every detail of a story can't be included in a 90-character headline. Being misled by a headline and clicking into a story that doesn't deliver is a clickbait problem. Having to actually click on and read an article to get the full story behind a headline is not.
Okay, back to negative words in headlines. Do we ever use them today? Of course, but not for clicks. The top negative words analyzed in the headline study were wrong, bad, awful, hate, war, worst, sick, fight, scary, and hell, and some stories honestly lend themselves to including such words in the headline. And more importantly, a headline with negative words is not necessarily negative.
The researchers point out that they removed headlines that included both positive and negative words to avoid muddying the waters. But searching our website archives from the time period in question for the negative word "wrong," for example, reveals headlines that are not actually negative (unless you think proving an incorrect assumption wrong is a bad thing).
"The classic image of a farmer is a man. These stunning pics prove that wrong." (Certainly not a negative story.)
"5 times Jimmy Carter proved the haters wrong" (This one has two negative words, "hate" and "wrong," but still isn't actually a negative headline or story.)
"The world tells us there's something wrong with us if we don't want to have sex. One chart proves the world wrong." (The word "wrong" in here twice—still not really a negative headline and definitely not a negative story.)
We could go through countless examples like this, not to prove that negativity bias isn't a thing (because we know it is) but to show that not all negative-word-including headlines are created equal. There are headlines in the archives that we'd never write today, some of which truly were negative, but many included a "negative" word but weren't actually negative at all. In light of that and considering the small increase in clicks for headlines containing negative words, we're not convinced that our archive of decade-old headlines is the best measuring stick to use when determining whether people are more drawn to negativity than positivity in news headlines.
We're also not convinced it's a particularly useful question. What we're most interested in is whether people are drawn to content that highlights our shared humanity, connects people around important causes, brings people together in celebration of joy and helps them learn something fascinating about the world we live in. And sure enough, our audience keeps proving time and again that that's what keeps them clicking, reading and sharing our stories, regardless of how many "positive" or "negative" words we include in our headlines.
"I'm so grateful that my dad was able to get me one. He worked so hard for that money.”
Insults of any kind are painful, but jabs towards someone’s financial status are their own breed.
In January 2023, Singapore-based Zoe Gabriel was on the receiving end of this particular flavor of mockery when she posted a TikTok about a purse from local retail brand Charles & Keith—a gift bought for her by her father.
In her excitement, the 17-year-old called the bag, which costs around $80, a “luxury” item as she unwrapped it. Her excitement was sadly cut short by some of the negative comments she received.
One comment seemed to stand out above the rest and prompted Gabriel to post an emotional response video.
The now-deleted comment, which read, "Who's gonna tell her?" followed by a laughing emoji, showed in the background as Gabriel tearfully explained why the purse meant so much to her as someone who grew up without a lot of money.
@zohtaco Replying to @cressy ♬ original sound - zoe 🦋
“We couldn’t buy new things as simple as bread from BreadTalk,” she said, referencing a popular Singaporean bakery. “That kind of thing was a luxury to us…Every time we passed by a store, my parents would just say next time, but next time would never come.”
With this context, Gabriel shared why the shameful comment was so inconsiderate.
"To you, an $80 bag may not be a luxury. For me and my family, it is a lot, and I'm so grateful that my dad was able to get me one. He worked so hard for that money.”
Gabriel’s video quickly went viral, even making its way to the actual founders of the Charles & Keith brand, Charles and Keith Wong. According to The Straits Times, the brothers were so “impressed” with Gabriel that they invited her and her father to have lunch and an exclusive behind-the-scenes tour at the company’s headquarters.
But they didn’t stop there.
The brand later posted a photo on its Instagram page showing Gabriel modeling a lilac-colored Charles & Keith bag for International Women’s Day, even announcing her as a new brand ambassador.
You’d think it would go without saying to just let people enjoy things, but we know that on the internet simple courtesy sometimes goes out the window. However, this is a heartwarming reminder that for every ignorant remark, there are also those who want to lift others up.Gabriel might have been ridiculed, but she has since seemed to come out on top, posting videos of herself wining and dining and dancing and traveling and basically having the time of her life. Sounds like the ultimate luxury to me.
Her post has been shared more than 174,000 times.
It's cold and flu seasons, folks. During this time of year, we're all on a mission to avoid the demon viruses that threaten to invade our bodies and wage Armageddon on our immune systems.
But no matter how much vitamin C we consume or how diligently we wash our hands, we still have to rely on others to be smart about exposing people to their sick germs.
And that goes doubly for kids, who inexplicably do things like lick their own palms and rub communal crayons under their noses.
That's why a mom's recent Facebook post about keeping kids home when they have a fever has been shared more than 170,000 times. Samantha Moriá Reynolds shared a photo of a thermometer with a temperature of 101.4 with the following message:
This morning, Sam woke up and noticed her son wasn't feeling well.
Sam took her son's temperature, and wow! A fever.
Sam gave her son Tylenol and then...
Sam did NOT send her son to school.
Even after the fever went down a couple hours later, Sam did NOT send her son to school.
Sam missed work knowing that the well-being of her son and the kids who attend his school is more important than work missed.
Sam's son was invited to THREE birthday parties over the weekend. Sam's son has been so excited to go, but he will unfortunately also have to miss them because Sam's son is SICK. Sam knows passing along a sickness would not be a great birthday gift regardless of how bummed her son may be.
Sam knows her son is still contagious until he is fever-free, WITHOUT medication, for 24 hours. If Sam's son is running a fever at 7am on Sunday, Sam's son will also not be attending school on Monday.
Be. Like. Sam.
Some parents will give their kids fever-reducing medication, the fever will go down, the kid will feel a bit better, and off they go to school. But fever meds like Tylenol don't do anything to kill the virus that's infecting the kid's body. They just mask the symptoms of the illness and provide some relief to a miserable kiddo. If a fever goes down with medication, the child is still sick and still contagious.
The same goes for adults who try to tough it out by popping a Dayquil before heading off to work. If you want to infect your coworkers and make them hate you, keep doing that.
Granted, some parents may have a hard time finding childcare or taking time off work, and there's a lot to be said for employers being understanding and granting leave to care for sick children. Our whole society needs to work together on this front to make sure people don't feel like they have no choice but to send a sick kid to school. But that starts with parents insisting that their feverish kids stay home from school until they are no longer a threat to other people's health and well-being.
The coronavirus outbreak keeps making headlines and the mounting death numbers from it are making people nervous, but the truth is that the plain old flu already kills thousands of Americans every single year. This season, more than 8,000 people have already died from flu and flu complications, and we're still in the thick of the season.
The best way to keep illness from spreading is to stay away from other people when you are sick and to keep sick kids home until they are fever-free for 24 hours.
Be like Sam. Keep sick kids home. It takes a village to keep us all healthy.
This article originally appeared on 01.30.20
"How To Discipline Your Child So They Actually Learn" is one of her more popular videos.
Parenting is the most important job that most people will ever have in life. Your decisions as a parent will be some of the most important determining factors in whether your child becomes a happy and productive adult or not. It's a huge responsibility.
Parenting is a difficult and important undertaking, but many parents simply repeat the same strategies used by their parents. How often do we hear people rationalize their decisions by saying, "That's what my parents did and I came out ok."
This approach to raising children negates the fact that with every generation there are countless studies done on child development, many of which run counter to popular parenting wisdom from the past.
Dr. Kristyn Sommer, who has a PhD in child development, has received a lot of attention on social media because of her dedication to teaching "evidence-based parenting." This expertise has made her an advocate for strategies that run counter to conventional parenting wisdom and have stirred up a bit of controversy.
Here are five TikTok videos where Sommer shares some of her evidence-based parenting strategies.
@drkristynsommer Play > rote learning for toddlers 🙌 #playbasedlearning#learningthroughplay#playmatters#earlylearning#earlychildhoodeducation#preschool#toddler♬ original sound - DrKristynSommer
In Dr. Sommer's first video where she references her degree she admits she refuses to sleep train, co-sleeps with her daughter, and never calls her "naughty" or "bad." She delves deeper into her thoughts on discipline in the next video.
Dr. Sommer uses positive reinforcement to discipline her child and as she said in the previous video, avoids the use of terms such as "naughty" or "bad." If her daughter is doing something wrong she asks her to contemplate whether she's making a good or a bad decision.
Most people tend to think of a tantrum as naughty behavior. However, they are actually a combination of a bunch of little stresses that the child has experienced throughout the day that eventually overwhelm them. Once they hit the tipping point, all of their big feelings bubble up to the surface, resulting in a healthy expression of emotion.
Dr. Sommer is passionately against "spanking, corporal punishment, physical punishment, what ever you want to call it." She says it needs to stop because it has little effect on behavior and can lead to antisocial tendencies in the future.
Dr. Sommer isn't worried about teaching her child her toddler alphabet or how to count. She says that it "doesn't really help them with anything" but they should spend that time playing because that's where they learn best.
Play > rote learning for toddlers 🙌 #playbasedlearning #learningthroughplay #playmatters #earlylearning #earlychildhoodeducation #preschool #toddler
This article originally appeared on 08.03.21
When the OG Ren McCormack approves, you know you're in for something good.
Fans of “RuPaul’s Drag Race” are well acquainted with the “Rusical” segment, but in case this word seems like something out of Dr. Seuss, here’s a brief explainer: A Rusical is a challenge on the show where contestants put on a live parody drag musical. Since debuting in Season 6, the Rusical has become a beloved staple of the series, with some of the most popular titles being “Madonna: The Unauthorized Rusical,” “HERstory of the World” and “Moulin Ru: The Rusical.”For Episode 12, the queens drew inspiration from the 1984 movie “Footloose” to tell a story about a small town that prohibits drag rather than dancing. The performance got a sweet seal of approval from the OG Ren McCormack himself.
According to Entertainment Weekly, actor Kevin Bacon gave a special shout-out to drag queen Loosey LaDuca (who played “Heaven Bacon”) in his Instagram story.
"Big shoutout to @rupaulsdragrace's Wigloose: the RuSical (and props to Heaven Bacon)," he wrote, adding that with the recent controversial legislation against drag shows, the performance “came at just the right time.”
"Drag is an art and drag is a right,” his story concluded.
LaDuca’s response? The same as anybody who just got a shoutout from Kevin Bacon would be.
“Well, I’m dead.”
Bacon wasn’t the only one to love “Wigloose.” Fans of the show were gushing about how they felt this was the best Rusical of the entire series.
Check out some of these lovely comments gleaned from Youtube.
“This was the BEST Rusical in Drag Race history across franchises.”
“Literally no one did bad, they all slayed.”
“This is one of the best rusicals they've ever done. Professional vocalists, catchy songs, tight choreography, and a timely and touching storyline. Everyone who had a hand in it should be super proud.”
Watch the full performance of “Wigloose: The Rusical” below: