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  • Hinge rolls out in-app video calls and reveals how users really feel about quarantine dating

    Hinge rolls out in-app video calls and reveals how users really feel about quarantine dating

    Today the dating app Hinge launches Hinge Labs, the first dating app research program backed by behavioral data and not solely on surveys.

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    Their first project is bringing video capabilities to the app — something already familiar to daters during the coronavirus pandemic. The app itself is now testing in-app video calls and select markets (Dallas, Denver, Miami, Minneapolis, and Washington, D.C.), and will roll out the feature globally this summer.

    But that's just the beginning for Hinge Labs. "Our goal is to help people become more successful daters," said Logan Ury, Hinge’s Director of Relationship Science in an interview with Mashable. "We want to get people off the app and onto a date, and hopefully eventually deleting the app."

    Ury and Dr. Emily Hittner, Hinge’s Director of Research, are at the helm of Hinge Labs. It's the first time any dating app has put two relationship scientists together, according to Ury.

    She explained how it'll work: "We're using surveys, interviews, experiments, and behavioral data to understand what makes certain people successful in the app," she said. "And then we'll use that to teach other people so that they can be successful too."

    hinge labsCredit: hinge

    As of now, they're using data from Hinge's We Met survey(Opens in a new tab), which pops up several days after users exchange phone numbers.

    For those currently dating amid the pandemic, Hinge Labs's first project of analyzing video dating comes as no surprise. The team sent out a number of surveys to users on an almost weekly basis during quarantine to track how people are using video dating, and interviewed some as well.

    SEE ALSO:Your guide to dirty talk while social distancing

    The data shows that perception of video chatting is different than the reality. While 58 percent of users cite fear of awkwardness as the top reason for not video dating, 81 percent of those who did felt no or "only slight" awkwardness. Hinge added their Date From Home feature last month to help smooth out the awkwardness of asking for a video date.

    Video call notificationCredit: hinge

    While they may not be awkward, video dates aren't exactly a replacement for meeting up in person: 85 percent expressed that video chat is more of a way to get to get to know someone, rather than a date. You also can't call someone out of the blue: 67 percent of users say it's necessary to schedule a video date in advance, and 72 percent of users actually are doing so.

    Despite the workarounds, video chatting won't subside once the coronavirus does. A bit over half of users who went on video dates— 52 percent — said that they'll incorporate them into their dating process after COVID-19.

    "There's a lot of advice out there and I want to bust some myths."

    Furthermore, people are finding genuine connection. Sixty-three percent said they felt connection grow with someone they met over video. Some believe that connection can be so strong they'd take it to the next level: Over a third of users would consider being exclusive with someone they just met over video chat. While 30 percent of women are open to this, that number jumps to 43 percent for men.

    Hinge Labs will surely have more insights down the line, especially as the in-app video feature rolls out. Ury is excited about the possibilities of what the team can uncover. She said, "There's a lot of advice out there and I want to bust some myths." She cited double texting as a small example, but she's also looking at big picture ideas.

    SEE ALSO:Going on a virtual date? Here's how to make it not suck.

    "I'm most looking forward to is taking some of the most common ideas about how to date, and how to date well, and see how many of those are true," Ury continued. She's also interested in how the pandemic will change dating habits. Similarly to futurist Ross Dawson, Ury observes how people are open to changing their behavior, like video calling when they never have before.

    "It's fascinating from a behavioral perspective to think, 'Are people going to actually change the way they date because they were forced to during this moment?'" she said. With Hinge Labs, Ury will probably find out.

  • Heres why everyone is calling hot men breedable this summer

    Heres why everyone is calling hot men breedable this summer

    Summer is an undeniably horny season and, in these months of newly vaccinated debauchery after a year and a half of isolation, compliments are fittingly depraved. Thanks to a series of copypastas circulating on TikTok, Twitter, and Tumblr, this summer's motto is "breedable."

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    There is no hidden meaning in this phrasing. This isn't youthful slang that older generations will have to Google to understand(Opens in a new tab), though the word's explicit nature may incite another round of fear-mongering articles failing to decode what teens are texting each other(Opens in a new tab). When people refer to themselves or others as breedable, they literally mean so hot; they'd like to procreate.

    The word breedable is ingrained in misogyny both online and offline, but a complex one in fanfiction circles, which are largely populated by queer writers and readers.

    The phrase "submissive and breedable" stems from a June tweet that reads, "normalize platonically telling your bros they look submissive and breedable," per Know Your Meme(Opens in a new tab).

    Tweet may have been deleted(opens in a new tab)(Opens in a new tab)

    Though the term breedable has been used in fandom circles for years — particularly in the Omegaverse genre of fics — the tweet's viral reach directly contributed to bringing breedable to more mainstream vernacular. Google searches for "breedable" skyrocketed after Twitter user @T4RIG encouraged complimenting other men as "submissive and breedable." The tag #breedable has 1.8 million views on TikTok as of Tuesday.

    Upon the tweet's viral success, Twitter users — particularly in reference to male Twitter users — began referring to themselves and each other as "breedable," "fertile," or "submissive" as a tongue-in-cheek acknowledgement of desirability.

    Online, people will pair a steamy thirst trap with a caption calling themselves breedable, or point out a (real or fictional) man's attractiveness by commenting on their "fertile" qualities. The lighthearted degradation is inherently sexual.

    Tweet may have been deleted(opens in a new tab)(Opens in a new tab)
    Tweet may have been deleted(opens in a new tab)(Opens in a new tab)

    The phrase "submissive and breedable" comes from another copypasta, which circulated online after a TikTok user captioned their video, "feelin petite right now maybe a lil vulnerable in this cardigan, perhaps breedable." The now-deleted TikTok, which appears to be from a deactivated account that went by the name yeahthataintme, was posted as early as March 2021.

    Tweet may have been deleted(opens in a new tab)(Opens in a new tab)

    The copypasta was especially popular in stan communities(Opens in a new tab), in which fans would describe photos of their favorite K-pop idols, anime characters, and other hot men as "petite and fertile, perhaps breedable." The phrase was also used for beautiful inanimate objects, like the new line of colorful iMacs. in a new tab) in a new tab)

    Sophi, a 21-year-old TikTok user who posts under the name i_am_a_toad, referenced both copypastas in a recent video. Recording herself in the mirror, Sophi said, "Feeling submissive and perhaps, even breedable, on this fine summer eve." Her video's sound has been used in videos by other TikTok users fawning over attractive anime characters.

    @i_am_a_toad_(Opens in a new tab)

    who want me

    ♬ original sound - a toad(Opens in a new tab)

    For an inordinate majority of human history, "breedable" has been used to describe female herd animals. When applied to women, it's either misogynistic, kinky, or both. The NSFW subreddits r/BreedingMaterial and r/KnockMeUp are dedicated to lewd photos of buxom women posting for those with breeding or pregnancy fetishes. Anonymous forum site 4chan is abundant with breeding kink art and debates on a woman's worth based on her assumed ability to procreate. Unlike the kink subreddits, where users consensually post their own photos to engage with those who share their fetish, many of these 4chan discussions are explicitly misogynistic and border on pedophilic; in one 2016 thread discussing the age of consent, some users claimed that once teenage girls begin menstruating, they're "old enough to breed."

    With access to reproductive healthcare and abortions threatened in the U.S. by restrictive conservative measures, morality and medical care are inextricably linked in pop culture. The Handmaid's Tale's red cloaks and starched white bonnets — distinguishing the show's protagonists as enslaved women who were forced to bear children for the aristocracy — are now symbols of resistance against policies restricting birth control and abortion access. The show, based on Margaret Atwood's novel of the same name, take the concept of "breedability" to a horrifying, dystopian extreme.

    Referring to non-consenting women as breedable is offensive to its core. But in this iteration of the descriptor, it's predominantly men who are lauded as breedable, not women. Though some women online have self-identified with the phrases "breedable," "fertile," and "submissive" in line with the copypasta's kink references, the bulk of its uses are applied to both real and fictional cis men.

    Tweet may have been deleted(opens in a new tab)(Opens in a new tab)

    The colloquial rise of breedable may have happened in conjunction with TikTok's brief but spectacular obsession with the Omegaverse. The alternate universe known as the Omegaverse is a speculative erotic fiction genre that revolves around a lupine mating hierarchy that classifies characters as "Alphas," "Betas," and "Omegas." Under the rules of this fictional universe, Alphas are dominant, sexually aggressive beings who can impregnate others and not be impregnated themselves, and Omegas are submissive characters who are subject to either consensual or nonconsensual impregnation during their fertile cycle known as "heat." Betas occupy the middle of the hierarchy, but are typically left out of stories altogether. Breeding, fertility, and relationship power dynamics are at the center of these fictional stories — many revolve around characters' insatiable need to mate and produce offspring.

    SEE ALSO:What the hell is the Omegaverse, and why is it all over TikTok?

    Tweet may have been deleted(opens in a new tab)(Opens in a new tab)

    Regardless of cisgender biological functions, a character of any gender character can be categorized as Alpha, Beta, or Omega. The trope often crosses over with "mpreg," another online subculture that imagines a universe in which male characters experience menstrual-like cycles, pregnancy, and childbirth(Opens in a new tab). A majority of Omegaverse works are slash fics, which are fanfiction that focuses on same-sex romantic or sexual relationships.

    Fanfiction overall revolves around male-male relationships, as University of California, Berkeley, student Yvonne Gonzales, who researches fandom and fanfiction as literature, has found. The undergrad senior analyzed data from the popular fic site Archive of Our Own(Opens in a new tab) (AO3) and concluded that an overwhelming majority of fanfictions posted to the site focus on male-male relationships, which she refers to as M/M.

    Works on Archive of Our Own are overwhelmingly tagged for male-male relationships.Credit: Courtesy of Yvonne Gonzales

    Using an algorithm designed by Sarah Sterman and Jingyi Li(Opens in a new tab), students at University of California, Berkeley and Stanford University, Gonzales scraped the top 3,500 works across all fandoms sorted by "kudos," or AO3's version of likes, and the top 500 most recent works in four major fandoms as of June 23, 2021. She found that more than 70 percent of fics categorized as "popular" were tagged as M/M. In comparison, just over 10 percent of "popular" fics were about female-male relationships, and roughly 5 percent were tagged for female-female relationships.

    And while many Omegaverse fanfictions revolve around cis men falling in love with other cis men, most fanfiction overall is not written by cis men. Modern fandom culture was born from female (Opens in a new tab)Star Trek(Opens in a new tab) fans(Opens in a new tab), and is now carried by queer fan bases. In a 2018 Masters in Sociology thesis presented to Humboldt State University(Opens in a new tab), Lindsay Mixer analyzed how fanfiction influenced sexual development in young adults. Of Mixer's 1,368 survey respondents who identified as "fanfiction participants," 73.9 percent identified as female, 6.5 percent identified as male, and 16.9 percent identified as nonbinary. Only 17.2 percent of fanfiction participants identified as heterosexual.

    "The freedom given to participants of reading or writing any gender identity, sexual orientation, or sexual act that they wish, without worrying about the real-world consequences of such actions, is a powerful draw," Mixer concluded. "While it is beyond the scope of this study to state whether this form of sexually explicit material is or is not harmful, the data suggest that many young adults, queer or not, find themselves in it."

    "When queer women write M/M fanfic, they're allowing an expression of queer desire for romance, but without all the messy politics that come with writing women having sex."

    While data alone can't explain why M/M relationships are so popular, Gonzales theorizes it's because the majority of fanfiction participants are queer women. The fetishization of M/M relationships in fandom circles is a complex issue, but it can't be fairly equated to the way heterosexual men fetishize lesbian porn.

    "Women aren't allowed to accept their own desires for sex, and that's even more stark when you're looking at women who are also not heterosexual," Gonzales added in an email to Mashable. "Women aren't allowed to be horny. When queer women write M/M fanfic, they're allowing an expression of queer desire for romance, but without all the messy politics that come with writing women having sex. It's self expression without the weight of self reflection."

    The breedable meme is often applied to cis men in the way that queer fanfiction participants express their attraction to men. When the trend began in early spring, it was typically used by fan accounts lusting for fictional men or real life celebrities. The men first described as breedable rarely embody aspects of traditional masculinity; they appeared gentle and unthreatening. Like idealized versions of M/M relationships, these men are so popular among queer fans because they aren't what heterosexual women are expected to be attracted to. And while the word has taken on a broader, more feral meaning to encompass any hot person, its original context is still deeply queer.

    Tweet may have been deleted(opens in a new tab)(Opens in a new tab)

    The Omegaverse fanfiction that catalyzed the spread of "breedable" as a meme provides platforms to discuss consent and power dynamics within relationships. In a 2017 paper written for the Digital Cultures Research Center at the University of West England(Opens in a new tab), Milena Popova analyzed three Omegaverse fics to exemplify the ways partners with innately less power may communicate (or not communicate) their non-consent to sexual activity, and the discussions that followed the fics' publications. Popova wrote that the fics "clearly problematize issues of power and consent" and more importantly, "offer ways of negotiating meaningful, consensual intimate relationships within wider abusive social structures."

    Despite Omegaverse and mpreg fics opening the door for larger discussions of consent, the meme itself, out of context, also makes way for non-consensual interactions online.

    Fanfiction is celebrated as an outlet for exploring one's sexuality and gender expression, but the "breedable" trope also exposes people to harassment from those who don't understand the context, particularly those who aren’t cis men. In very online fandom circles, referring to men as breedable is a subversive acknowledgment of their physical appeal. When applied to women, and taken out of context, it's fodder for unwelcome interactions because of the word’s misogynistic associations.

    Sonj, a TikTok user known as shishkabubba, described herself as "3'11 and breedable" in a now-deleted TikTok. Her original video parodied a TikTok trend in which adult women infantilized themselves by filming from a high angle so they appeared smaller, and dancing to a song from the Disney short (Opens in a new tab)Small Potatoes(Opens in a new tab). The song is meant for children, and sung by children.

    In a Twitter DM, Sonj explained that her parody was meant to criticize the straight men who fetishize childlike qualities and the women catering to that by sexualizing themselves when they participated in this trend.

    The first wave of TikTok users who watched Sonj's video understood the trend she was trying to critique, as well as the trope she referenced. The second wave, however, did not, and used it to justify harassing her under the pretext of kink.

    @shishkabubba(Opens in a new tab)

    pls ##AsSceneOnTubi(Opens in a new tab) ##PrimeDayDealsDance(Opens in a new tab) ##TubiTaughtMe(Opens in a new tab) ##fyp(Opens in a new tab)

    ♬ original sound - sonj(Opens in a new tab)

    "I'm honestly not sure it was the best way to do it but because the sound was used by girls infantilizing themselves, I thought saying 'I'm 3'11 and breedable' was kind of an exaggeration of what they were doing," Sonj told Mashable in a Twitter DM. "Specifically because the men in their comments were finding it really cute — sexualizing childlike qualities, almost."

    Sonj ultimately took it down because of the "huge inflow of men being extremely inappropriate." Without the context of the word's popularity in fandom circles, some viewers though Sonj was using breedable either in its traditionally derogatory sense, or as an invitation to those with breeding kinks.

    Even as the word is taking off as internet vernacular, breedable is still associated with uncomfortable values. If you're going to openly thirst online, brace yourself for the potential wave of unsavory comments. Regardless of the word's history, though, you're likely to see "submissive and breedable" hornyposting(Opens in a new tab) throughout the rest of the summer, thanks to fandom circles and their unrelenting affection for slash ships(Opens in a new tab).

  • Heres the best way to store your sex toy collection

    Heres the best way to store your sex toy collection

    Congratulations to you, the proud owner of a buzzy new sex toy!

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    Acquiring a new adult toy is such fun, but with it comes a much less fun act of adulting: Figuring out where and how to store it. We're here to give you the basics of sex toy safety and how you can take the best possible care of your precious sex toy collection.

    Sex toy storage 101

    The most important thing to know about how to store sex toys is this: A sex toy must be clean and dry before it is put away. Storing a toy that is dirty, or even still wet from cleaning, will cause bacteria to develop that can lead to skin irritation, product malfunction, or even an infection when the toy is next used.

    Good sex toy storage solutions should, first and foremost, be able to keep a clean toy clean while it's not in use. It doesn't matter if it's a bullet vibrator, a dildo, or your anal beads — tossing a sex toy into your bedside table drawer, for example, or stashing it under your pillow will leave it exposed to bacteria and airborne pollutants. You really don't want that!

    Storage, whether it's a cloth bag or a storage box, should also be discreet, easy to access and, ideally, offer room for the toy and any other items that might need to be stored with it.

    How much storage do you need?

    Before you invest in storage for your sex toy or toys, you'll need to take measure of your collection — literally. To be sure the solution will fit your needs, you'll want to make sure you know the length of the toy in question, as many storage boxes and bags can only accommodate toys that are up to 7 or 8 inches long.

    You should also consider what accessories you need to store in addition to the toys themselves; things like lube, condoms, toy cleaners, chargers, etc. should all have a place in whatever storage system you decide on. And finally, it's always a good idea to invest in a storage option that allows room for your collection to grow.

    Sex Toy Storage Bags

    There are as many ways to store sex toys as there are types of sex toys, but for most people's needs a storage bag will be the way to go. Bags offer flexibility for accommodating oddly shaped toys, like rabbit-style vibrators with their protruding ticklers, and are perfect for travel too.

    We're not talking about a plain plastic bag here, which won't breathe and could cause unpleasant things to fester. Simple cotton or polyester drawstring bags(Opens in a new tab) are a good and economical choice. There are also storage bags, like the Sugar Sak(Opens in a new tab), designed specifically for sex toys that feature a special interior coating that inhibits the growth of bacteria, fungi, yeast, mold, mildew, and viruses.

    Sex Toy Storage Boxes

    Move over, sock drawer. A dedicated storage box is a better choice for people with a larger collection of toys, and for those who want to store things like lube, condoms, and chargers in one place. While regular plastic storage bins work fine for this purpose, plan to stash each toy in its own baggie to prevent material degradation that can occur when toys commingle.

    It's also worth knowing that specialty toy storage boxes exist! Some features to look for are antimicrobial interior coatings, removable or adjustable trays to accommodate toys of different sizes and shapes, and USB ports for charging toys when not in use. If keeping prying eyes out of it is a concern for you, choose one with a lock.

    Outside-the-Box Sex Toy Storage Options

    While pouch-style bags and storage boxes are the most common sex toy storage options out there, there some more unusual styles to choose from as well — things that go well beyond a nice little pouch to stash in a bedside drawer. If you know that your collection of toys will be ever-growing, first of all good for you and second of all, do consider storage that can easily grow with your collection, like (Opens in a new tab)this set of stackable, lidded storage bins(Opens in a new tab) with a front-facing opening for easy access.

    If you really want to make an investment in storing your sex toy collection, there is furniture available that doubles as toy storage, such as lidded benches or ottomans, which is a smart choice for people with a toy collection that includes bulky or oversized items like wedge pillows, absorbent blankets, or bondage kits.

    Whether you've got a single silicone toy, a special glass toy, or even a whole mess of metal toys, the single best thing you can do to protect your investment, large or small, is to ensure you keep them in a clean and dedicated place.

  • 15 spooky stories that will keep you up at night

    15 spooky stories that will keep you up at night

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    With Halloween just around the corner, it's time to delve into the dark, the eerie, and the unsettling. What better time to celebrate the scariest holiday of the year other than 12 am on a chilly night?


    Below are a handful of unsettling stories, some true, some fabricated. If you haven't been scared yet, it's time to get rolling. Grab a blanket and a hot drink and dive into these deliciously spooky stories, and hope a monster doesn't grab your feet!

    1. Two sentence horror story

    This brief gem comes from Reddit user AtomFarmer(Opens in a new tab):

    I finally found my wife the kidney she needed

    It took forever to track down everyone she’d donated organs to after the crash.

    2. Mom averts danger

    Forget monsters, people are terrifying. This camping story from Reddit user Morenapkinspls(Opens in a new tab) will solidify that:

    I've posted this on my other account. Copying and pasting it here.

    The scariest thing i've had happen while camping.

    So I live in eastern Oregon, and my mom lives in western Oregon. I went to visit her for the summer and she's very outdoorsy so we decided to take the 1 hour drive from her city to the coast. We end up at this free camp site at the top of this hill (huge foot hills of the coastal mountains, about a 25 minute drive from the top where the campsite is to the bottom where the main road was) and we were the only campers there.

    We relaxed for the rest of the day, made food, etc. A truck full of men drive up the hill and talk with my mom (idk what about, wasn't suspicious at the time) and they leave us.

    Fast forward to the middle of the night. I wake up to my mom sitting straight up in the tent. I wake easily so i heard her gasp and it woke me. As soon as she saw i was awake she put her hand over my mouth because I was starting to ask her what's wrong. It was dead silent and all of a sudden you hear footsteps RIGHT beside the tent. The little flap that covers the zipper was even moving.

    Thankfully my mom has quick wits and said very loudly, "Kenny grab the gun"

    Kenny is my dad, although that doesn't matter, and mind you he was not there, just us girls like i previously said.

    They left. No harm was done. Thank the lord for my momma.

    TL;DR: Two girls at a campsite alone, people outside tent in the middle of the night & my mom pulled some badassery.

    Via Giphy(opens in a new tab)(Opens in a new tab)

    3. Ouija board knocks back

    Reddit user ExcrementCranium(Opens in a new tab) wrote:

    In high school my friends and I were messing around with a Ouija board one night. We had done it before and nothing remarkable had ever happened. We usually did it to try and scare each other or are girlfriends. We all thought it was a joke. That night there was no one else home except the 7 of us and we were all together around the board. One of the girls there wanted to try it. She had never done it before.

    This time was different. The board misspelled some of the words the same way every time. It gave answers that seemed really historically accurate for our town (things we neither knew or cared about). Long story short, the “spirit” claimed it was a 10 year old boy who had died on the property in the 1800s and was buried there too in an unmarked grave (my friends house was on a farm in the edge of town). We were all a little freaked out because the board had never been so detailed and consistent. However, we were still skeptical and we were all assuming one of us was trying to scare the rest.

    Finally, my friend asked if the spirit could do something to prove he was there with us. It went to Yes and then spelled out k-n-o-c-k. Then the planchette stopped moving. We just all stared at it silently and then there was a rap-rap-rap on the window right next to us. The lights were on outside and there was absolutely no one out there.

    We never touched that f-ing board again.

    4. Forgotten memory

    Redditor Call_Me_Egg(Opens in a new tab) shared this horrific tale:

    Growing up, my bedroom was the only one that faced the front of the house/street. When I was about 8 or 9, I woke up to my dad calmly but firmly telling me to get up, go in the bathroom, and shut the door. I was annoyed because I was half asleep, but I listened. Apparently I was more tired than I realized, because I feel asleep on the bathroom floor. The next morning I asked my mom what happened. She seemed oblivious and confused. I looked at my dad like she was crazy, and I asked him why he had woken me up. He denied doing it. I was becoming frustrated to the point of tears, but I ultimately let it go.

    Fast forward to college. I was home one break, and I decided to ask again. I had thought of that night off and on for years, and it still bothered me. This time, my dad goes, "Ha! I was wondering if you even remembered that." Turns out that a lot of houses on our block were being vandalized and robbed all those years ago. Someone had broken into the garage and was inside the house. My room was partially over the garage. My dad heard it happen and quietly got me to safety. Police were called, the guy ran. He was never caught, however, and my parents didn't want a terrified kid on their hands, so for years they pretended like nothing had ever happened. It wasn't supernatural, but it was unsettling for sure.

    SEE ALSO:Halloween movies for scaredy-cats

    5. A Clockwork Orange-style break in

    This story comes from Reddit user Joshsecond(Opens in a new tab):

    Not to me, but to my sister.

    Her husband and her had just had their first child a few months prior. My brother in law was working the graveyard shift at his job as my sister stayed home taking care of my nephew. Around 2am, she heard loud knocking on her back door. She went to go check it out and saw a lady banging on the door asking for my sister to let her in. The lady told my sister that her husband had just beat her down the street and was looking for her. My sister was hesitant to let her in since she had a newborn in the house and didn't want to interfere. She told the lady that the best she could do was call the police for her. The lady told my sister to not call the police and to let her in. This is where my sister got suspicious. She went to get her phone and called 911. When she went back to the door, the lady was gone. The police arrived a few minutes later and they told my sister that the same situation happened a few streets down. Apparently the couple would do this act to get into peoples homes.

    I'm sure this is very common but having it almost happen to my sister and my nephew just creeps me out. Some real Clockwork Orange shit.

    Via Giphy(opens in a new tab)(Opens in a new tab)

    6. Phantom alarms

    Reddit user 666_numberofthebeast(Opens in a new tab) shared this story about strange occurrences in their dad's home:

    When I was in high school, I had a lot of these experiences.

    At the house my dad lived in at the time (it was really old, built in the early 1800s) there were plenty of times I'd be sitting in the living room and DISTINCTLY hear the cabinets opening and closing in the kitchen. It was just me and my dad that lived in the house, and you could clearly see when his bedroom door was shut and he was asleep, but still hear it.

    Normally my dad worked 7-3 but occasionally worked a pm or overnight shift. One night he was working until 11, I was 17 at the time. Around 8 or so, I'm sitting in my room playing Borderlands, and think I hear footsteps coming from the living room (which was adjacent to my bedroom) and assume my dads home early. Go back to playing Borderlands.

    I keep hearing the steps so I pause the game and listen, and the footsteps are just slowly pacing back and forth between the living room and the kitchen, in a steady rhythm. I laid in bed scared shitless, and actually counted the steps. Every time it took 15 paces to the living room, 15 back to the kitchen.

    Needless to say I did not fucking sleep that night.

    Had another situation at my mom's house, about 2 years prior to this, out of nowhere my alarm clock would go off at midnight every night. I assumed it was busted and got rid of it.

    Fast forward 2 years, my mom gets another, brand new alarm clock for my room (also when I was 17). Suddenly, alarm goes off at midnight. I thought nothing of it, turned it off. Happened again the next night, and then my sister Pointed out the old one I had that did it. So I checked and made SURE no alarms were set, double checked at 11:56.

    Sure enough, 4 minutes later my alarm goes off. Freaked out I threw it out. That next night was my dad's night to have me, I had a buddy of mine over and my dad was working that night.

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    He left for work around 2am, and my friend had brought over an iPod dock to listen to music on. Didn't have the clock set or anything, my friend knew nothing of the last couple nights so I knew he wasn't just fucking with me. So about 2 minutes after my dad leaves, we hear an alarm clock coming from my room...I went in, and you know how if you just plug in a clock without setting it, the numbers just blink on and off? Well it was doing that, as soon as I picked it up, the clock set itself to 12:00 and then just turned off by itself.

    So...yeah, fuck paranormal shit. I'm not religious at all but I am 100% convinced that it happens.

    7. Mom's scary boyfriend

    Reddit user aett(Opens in a new tab) noticed that their mom's boyfriend was pretty weird, but one cold night they had an especially bad feeling:

    About five years ago, my mom started dating a guy she met on a dating site. That part is fine - I had recently started dating the woman who would later become my wife and we had met online (I'll just refer to her as my wife for this story). Anyway, my wife and I never really liked this guy. We didn't think he was mean or anything like that, just a little creepy - he was quiet, he kept his eyes closed a lot, and occasionally said odd things like offering my wife a chocolate and then popping one in his mouth, closing his eyes, and moaning as he let it melt in his mouth. One time my wife and I were visiting my mom but she got called into work, so we waited at her house. Her boyfriend was over but he spent the entire several hours just hanging out in her bedroom with the door closed.

    Just before Christmas, my mom and this guy started having some difficulties. My wife and I were visiting her for the holidays and she dropped all of her problems on us and we listened carefully and told her our opinions and suggested that she would be better off without him. She already had her mind made up, though, and decided to break up with him... on Christmas Eve.

    We spent the night at my mom's and got up early on Christmas morning to visit my dad at his house. We didn't plan to spend the night at my dad's, but we got snowed in, which was actually a nice Christmas surprise.

    The next day we left as soon as we could get through the snow and my wife suggested that we stop by my mom's house on the way so that we could see if she was okay. My wife just had a really bad feeling about my mom's now-ex-boyfriend.

    My mom's car was in the driveway, but that doesn't mean much because she lives close enough to work that she often walks and it hadn't snowed in her town. She also never locks her door, which drives me crazy, so we let ourselves in. That's when we see blood OOZING out of the refrigerator's water dispenser. It had filled up the spill container and was leaking onto the floor and had made a puddle. My wife screamed and I freaked out. I fully expected to see my mom's head in the freezer.

    I nervously opened the freezer to find... a bag of frozen cherries that had been opened, crammed into the freezer so that it fell onto the ice dispenser, and melted.

    tl;dr Thought my mom was decapitated by her creepy ex-boyfriend.

    8. She heard it through the wall

    This haunted story comes from Reddit user GoatbustersBM(Opens in a new tab):

    Four years ago , I lived in a very large farm house , that was converted into two apartments. The house was known as the ''old boys home''. It was used to house boys with behavioral issues but was closed due to allegations of molestation. Anyway , I was living with my boyfriend and three year old daughter at the time. My bedroom had a large fireplace that had been boarded up and painted over. I decided to push my bed up against it one day while I was rearranging things , It was like a headboard. That night , around 1 am I had heard a small voice saying 'mom , mom , mommy'. I had sat up in bed but didn't see anything so I reached over my boyfriend trying to grab down to grab my daughter and put her in our bed. I kept feeling around and I was still hearing the voice but I couldn't feel her. My boyfriend woke up and turned the bedside lamp on asking me '' What the hell are you doing ''. I explained that Amelia was trying to get in our bed and I was reaching for her. There was nobody there. My daughter was sound asleep in her room. Then the next night came. Around 1 am again my dog had started to wimper at out door so my boyfriend got up to take him outside. You know that feeling in a bed when someone lies down next to you? Where the bed pushes in and there is a warmth in your back? I felt that , So I assumed my boyfriend had come back to bed. I rolled over , my boyfriend wasn't in the bed and I felt the fucking bed release pressure , whatever was laying next to me has gotten up in that second. I moved my bed the next day to the other side of the room and I never had another incident in the two years I remained in that house.

    Via Giphy(opens in a new tab)(Opens in a new tab)

    9. "You're lucky I'm scared, too"

    Reddit user Megaman1410(Opens in a new tab) shared this story about a letter from a burglar who visited their home:

    TL;DR: Some random thief was in my house, who I spoke to, who left me a weird message.

    Was sitting in my room at like 11:30 pm, heard lots of shit downstairs, assumed it was my mum. Heard her walk up the stairs to my room, stop, I called out to her, she didn't say anything and walked downstairs. I went down about a half hour later to find a piece of paper with the words "You're lucky I'm scared too" on it, and a whole bunch of shit was missing. Called mum, she still hadn't arrived home from a dinner she was at with her friends. I called the cops and locked myself in the bathroom, but I think they left when they realised I was still home, probably the most scared I've ever been when I was hiding in the bathroom.

    10. A ghost testing the waters

    Redditor mrtenor(Opens in a new tab) talks about their first night after moving into a haunted house:

    I currently live in a haunted house. I've heard voices, footsteps, lights have been turned on/off, one of the ghosts has a thing for silverware (I hear it clattering in the drawer all the time, and sometimes a knife or two will end up in the wrong slot in the drawer).

    But the strangest/scariest experience I had was the first night I spent in the house. I wasn't finished moving in, there were boxes everywhere, I didn't even have my mattress up there yet. I was bedding on an old futon mattress, watching a video on my phone, when a get the pins & needles feeling of my feet falling sleep. Except it wasn't on my feet, it was on the top of my head in the shape of a hand. I said, "Good night", turned off my light and tried to sleep. When I woke up my closet door was ajar, but other than that everything was otherwise untouched.

    I guess whoever my unseen roommate is, just wanted to check out who I was on my first night.

    Via Giphy(opens in a new tab)(Opens in a new tab)

    11. A reminder from the past

    Redditor WybieLovat(Opens in a new tab) shared this story to warn people about their childhood toys:

    When I was around 16 my rapidly growing family finally moved from the house I had spent my entire life in. As you would expect, we spent a lot of time fondly remembering things we used to do in the house as we were packing everything up. At some point I decided to go into the downstairs closet with a flashlight and read, something I used to do when I was younger to get some peace and quiet.

    Now, this is one of those deep closets that goes under the stairs; it went back around 8 feet and then had a left turn into a very low maybe 3 foot high space. This space was largely occupied by a mountain of old blankets and stuffed animals. Of course, this is the most fluffy spot to sit and read.

    About an hour in I shift a little to get comfortable and I hear a low, slow, warped, hoarse voice say "you always make me happy". I flipped my shit, hit my head on the low ceiling, and practically broke the door down getting out. After hyperventilating and explaining to my family why there was no color left on my face I went back to see what it was. It was my stuffed Little Bear from when I was 3 or 4 years old that I happened to lean on juuuuust right to press his belly. When I pressed his stomach again though, nothing. This poor bear I hadn't played with since I was a toddler used the last of it's power, used it's dying breath to tell me I made it happy.

    You make me happy too little bear.

    When you're not making me piss myself.

    12. A warning

    This story comes from Reddit user MynamesnotChase(Opens in a new tab):

    I saw a dead solders ghost in my barracks room before I deployed. It was the guys room who died on my company's last deployment and I was the first to be issued it. He told me to be safe. He had half a head. I'm agnostic but that makes me question it.

    I've had two other experiences that I'm not quite convinced about, but my great grandma used to visit me in my dreams after she died. For like 15 years.

    13. The plane ride that never ends

    Reddit user Worchester_St(Opens in a new tab) shared this story about losing track of time on a continental flight:

    I’ve Been Flying for almost Thirty Hours and The Flight Attendants Won’t Stop Crying

    Thirty hours ago I hopped on a late-night flight from New York heading to Los Angeles. After boarding I saw that I had an entire row to myself. Take off passed without incident, and soon I was stretched out for a nap across the row.

    I slept for a few hours, I don’t know how long, but I woke up to some severe turbulence. It’s possible that the lights in the cabin went out for a moment, but I was so disoriented that it’s hard to say.

    I checked my phone to see that it was 4:03 AM, which I figured gave me about an hour until we landed. When I looked out my window, I was shocked to see nothing but wide open ocean. My jaw dropped; there’s obviously no ocean between New York and Los Angeles.

    I hit the button to call the flight attendant and spent the next few minutes wracking my brain for a lake that could’ve been possibly been big enough to explain what I was seeing. I jumped when the attendant flipped off the light. She was grinning from ear to ear, and tears were pouring down her cheeks.

    “How can I help you sir?” she asked.

    “I froze for a moment at her reaction before deciding to just ask my question. “Where are we? Why does it look like we’re flying over an ocean?”

    She wiped her cheeks to clear the tears, still grinning wildly. “Sir, we’ll be landing in about an hour.”

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    “I, uh, OK, thank you,” I said.

    After she left I checked the clock on my phone again. 4:03 AM blinked back at me.

    It hadn’t changed.

    I had to have been waiting with my call light on for at least five minutes. How was it possible that it hadn’t changed at all?

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    I opened up my laptop and saw it too displayed 4:03 AM. I pulled out my phone, started a stopwatch in the app, and spent the next two hours looking back and forth between the clocks, waiting for them to change.

    They never did.

    I tapped the shoulder of an older woman sitting in the row ahead of me. She looked back, an annoyed expression across her face. “Yes?” she asked.

    “Do you know how long until we land?” I asked.

    She narrowed her eyes. “That flight attendant said it would be about another hour.”

    I shook my head in confusion. “That flight attendant? We talked almost two hours ago! We should’ve landed already.”

    She stared at me as if I was crazy. I was going to continue trying to convince her, but I felt a hand on my shoulder. I spun to see a male flight attendant grinning down at me, tears pinging off his cheeks onto my shoulder.

    “Sir, I’m going to ask you to calm down, or I’ll be calling the Captain.”

    I told him that wouldn’t be necessary and sat back. He removed his hand and stepped away.

    The flight attendants continued to stop by every few hours offering meals. My stopwatch continued to tick up and is now telling me that I’ve been on this plane for more than thirty hours.

    I’ve explored all of coach and tried talking to some of the other passengers, but they’ve all told me that they’re expecting to land in an hour or so.

    Around three hours ago I tried getting into first class. I made it past the curtain but was escorted back by two grinning flight attendants. Their grip on my arms were like iron.

    “Sir, the seatbelt sign is on,” one said. “Please remain in your seat with your buckle fastened. We’ll be landing in about an hour.”

    I’d just about given up hope when a woman came down the aisle dressed in a business suit. She didn’t look at me or slow down, but she dropped a piece of paper onto my tray as she made her way to the bathrooms at the back of the plane.

    I shot a look around before unrolling it.

    It said, “Are you stuck too?”

    I pulled out a pen and wrote “Yes. It’s been thirty hours.”

    I folded the scrap of paper up and set it on the tray closest to the aisle. She left the bathroom and picked it up as she passed.

    It’s been twenty minutes since then. I don’t know why, but I don’t think the flight attendants would like it if they knew we were talking. It doesn’t matter. I have to do something. I’ll update you all with whatever happens next.

    14. A home invader tries every house in the cul-de-sac

    This terrifying story comes from Reddit user Suitology(Opens in a new tab):

    Told this story of my parents old house when I was living with them before college.

    I live in a small culdesac in the middle of no where. The next nearest neighborhood is over 4 miles away. One night a few years ago we got over a foot and a half of snow overnight. So far from main roads and on the weekend I knew our roads will be remain unplowed for quite some time. I went to my out back deck door to look at the snow Draped trees and the still heavily falling flurries and take some pictures when I noticed foot prints leading to my door then turning around and leaving.

    I looked and saw that they came from my neighbor's side and thought that one of their more delinquent kids played a joke as my sledding tube on the railing was popped. I decided I'd wait till later as it was early to call their parents. I went on facebook and after scrolling for a bit I noticed one of my neighbors closer to the entrance posted "did someone knock for me or something at my back door?"

    I immediately called her, talked, and told her I have an idea. I called the first house on the entrance and told him what was going on. He went and checked and sure enough, they were there too. Everyone started calling everyone else. I called the family at the far end and they told me there was none there. Then I got a call from my next door neighbor. She called the women that lives next to the end house. She said that there were footprints that led to her door. But none led away.

    We already called the police by this point but now we called them back and said that it's an emergency now. They told us the roads are still all unplowed and they can't send a plow truck to clear the way as they are a privately owned company. The woman was losing it so one of the husbands (huge bear of a man) across the road from her texted her to say he was coming over to "invite her over". He came and she left. We put up one guy's live feed motion recording hunting cameras facing all exits. Nothing came out. Around 7 pm a plow truck came as well as 3 cop cars. The couple she was staying with and her went to her house and stood in the doorway as the police searched. They found nothing. She begged them to keep looking so they did.

    Two of the cops went into the basement again. This time only one came up. He took her to the side room and we could hear hysterical crying (by now we are all out there). Me and a few of the other guys started towards the door when several police confronted us. They told us they found someone hiding under a cover opening in the stairwell that she didn't even know existed. A few minutes later a scruffy man screaming and kicking came out in cuffs and was led away.

    In his little camp out they found blankets she just cleaned and put away. In the room next to hers... She stayed in other people's houses for a long time before going back. Even then she wouldn't stay alone. She sold the house the next summer.

    He turned out to be a thrill-seeking junkie who was on probation for assault against a family member. The cops told us that they feel like he didn't want to stay at his apartment after a fight with his roommate and drove off in his roommate's car from the county over and got stuck in our unplowed roads.

    And that is why you always make sure you locked your doors.

    Via Giphy(opens in a new tab)(Opens in a new tab)

    15. "I see everything!"

    I don't think I would have made it if I grew up in Reddit user _Panda_Panda_(Opens in a new tab)'s house.

    I was with my little brother home alone when we suddenly heard a creepy voice from the other room saying "Panda_Panda come here. I want to talk to you." We didn't know who or what it was and immediately ran upstairs. While we were running to our room, we heard someone nearby say "Do you boys think you can run from me? I see everything!" At this point we were terrified, locking the door to our room, grabbing our mini baseball bats and crying. We were certain we were going to be killed or eaten by some monster. Then, it happened, a loud bang came from the closet and the monster sprang out. We both screamed, my brother fell, and I threw the bat at... my dad wearing an IT clown mask and laughing hysterically. Turns out he was behind the whole thing. First, he had put all the cordless phones in the house on speaker and said he was leaving to run some errands. Then, he proceeded sneak back into the house, hide in our closet, and scare us.

    Via Giphy(opens in a new tab)(Opens in a new tab)

  • Angels fans get emotional following combined no-hitter celebrating Tyler Skaggs

    Angels fans get emotional following combined no-hitter celebrating Tyler Skaggs

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    They all knew it was going to be a night to remember, just perhaps not how memorable it would turn out.

    The Los Angeles Angels played the Seattle Mariners on Friday, July 12, in a home game meant to pay tribute to deceased former Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs. The Angels also happened to get a combined no-hitter -- meaning the Mariners faced off against more than one Angels pitcher but didn't log a single hit for the entire game.

    "This was definitely for him and he was definitely watching over us tonight," the Angels' Mike Trout told the MLB Network following the game.

    Tweet may have been deleted(opens in a new tab)(Opens in a new tab)

    Skaggs, age 27, was found dead in his hotel room in Texas on July 1. Local police quickly ruled out foul play or suicide, but the actual cause of death isn't yet known. Needless to say, it came as a shock.

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    Following Friday night's game, Angels payers and fans were pretty much in disbelief, and shared their thoughts online.

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    To make things even more emotional, Skaggs' mother threw the game's opening pitch.

    Tweet may have been deleted(opens in a new tab)(Opens in a new tab)

    SEE ALSO:Pitcher pulls off a move straight out of the 'Matrix' to avoid line drive

    "Tyler’s birthday is 7/13," Trout told reporters(Opens in a new tab) following the game. "Thirteen runs, thirteen hits," he added of 13-0 win.

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  • This alignment test will tell you if youre a stupid horny baby

    This alignment test will tell you if youre a stupid horny baby

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    People online love a good alignment test. They also love to say "I'm baby." Here's something that combines those two things.

    A personality test from ShindanMaker(Opens in a new tab) -- a jokey Japanese quiz website -- is currently making the rounds on Twitter. It's called "Personality Alignment" and was made by the user @dabiofficial(Opens in a new tab). To take the test, users input their names (you can use your full name or just your first name, whatever), then receive a chart detailing how horny, stupid, clown, cursed, and baby they are.

    For example, here is my chart. As you can see, I am quite baby, horny, and stupid, as well as extremely cursed. However, I am not very feral or clown. Phew!

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    My real personality.Credit: ShindanMaker

    SEE ALSO:Find out which classic Bath & Body Works scent you are, based on your zodiac sign

    It's important to note that the results of this quiz do not reflect reality in any way. (They're literally just based on your name.) If you don't consider yourself a feral clown, don't listen to ShindanMaker! Chart your own cursed, horny path instead.

    That being said, here are some tests I ran for a few celebrities.

    Great results.Credit: ShindanMaker

    A strong showing.Credit: ShindanMaker

    Bummer, man.Credit: ShindanMaker

    Very clown.Credit: ShindanMaker

    Makes sense.Credit: ShindanMaker

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  • The 10 best tweets of the week, including a burnt tongue, Richard Nixon, and a piano BBQ

    The 10 best tweets of the week, including a burnt tongue, Richard Nixon, and a piano BBQ

    Another week down? How in the heck.

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    Folks you better get ready for Thanksgiving. I mean what in the world? The whole calendar year is just about behind us now. The NFL season is far past the halfway point. Christmas is going to be here in like two blinks of an eye.

    1. Yeah pal, sorry, yes, the whole thing just burnt up. Still recovering emotionally more than physically.

    Tweet may have been deleted(opens in a new tab)(Opens in a new tab)

    2. The thing is I guarantee I will never stop thinking about this

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    3. Modern Tony behavior here and it's perfect

    Tweet may have been deleted(opens in a new tab)(Opens in a new tab)

    4. If you don't get this, then I really envy you. You are very fortunate to not understand what this is.

    Tweet may have been deleted(opens in a new tab)(Opens in a new tab)

    5. Obligatory dril tweet

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    6. And another dril tweet for you

    Tweet may have been deleted (opens in a new tab)(Opens in a new tab)

    7. This is honestly the most beautiful thing I think I have ever seen. I want one so I can finally learn how to play piano.

    Tweet may have been deleted(opens in a new tab)(Opens in a new tab)

    8. Only bad things can come from this and also, oddly, I support it

    Tweet may have been deleted(opens in a new tab)(Opens in a new tab)

    9. I'm not a Big Account but unfortunately there is only one option for me here to ever become a Big Account

    Tweet may have been deleted(opens in a new tab)(Opens in a new tab)

    10. And finally, this task that nobody has ever been able to complete. It is simply impossible, I believe.

    Tweet may have been deleted(opens in a new tab)(Opens in a new tab)
  • The best of Martha Stewarts deeply weird personal Instagram account

    The best of Martha Stewarts deeply weird personal Instagram account

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    To truly understand the heart of Martha Stewart, you need to dig deep into her personal Instagram account, @MarthaStewart48(Opens in a new tab), where you'll find Martha's full, uninhibited self.

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    There aren't carefully polished photos of omelettes, floral arrangements, or mint juleps like there are on her professional account(Opens in a new tab). This isn't where you go for that clean, Connecticut feeling.

    In Martha Stewart's personal Instagram world, there's cosmetic dentistry, dog puzzles, and excessive amounts of bunny content(Opens in a new tab).

    SEE ALSO:There's Nothing Martha Stewart Loves More Than a Good Drone

    Between partnering with a Canadian marijuana company(Opens in a new tab) and broadcasting her friendship with hip-hop legend Snoop Dogg(Opens in a new tab), Martha Stewart has been cultivating her "hip" persona for years now. She does it particularly well -- no one is better than Stewart at blending white collar criminal chic with New England couture.

    But there's something about Martha's personal Instagram that feels deeply authentic. Sure, it's possible that she's Instagramming (Opens in a new tab)so many bizarre cat videos because she wants to build an audience and generate clicks.

    I tend to believe that Stewart's personal account comes from the best, most private, most erratic part of her soul. Frankly, I never want to learn about the origins of some of her posts, I want to appreciate them like a good Rothko painting. I want to take them in as a pure aesthetic experience and not search for any grand meaning.

    Martha Stewart content is Renaissance Instagram art. Here are the very best posts from her Instagram.

    The time she took a photo of a copy error she noticed in an inflight magazine

    Someone give her an editing job.

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    View this post on Instagram

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    (opens in a new tab)(Opens in a new tab)

    The time she bedazzled "Vote" sandals

    Screw voting stickers. I want Martha Stewart's election day sandals. I want to wear these every day of the year, not just election day. Nothing screams pride in your country like bedazzled sandals by Martha Stewart.

    View this post on Instagram

    (opens in a new tab)(Opens in a new tab)

    The infamous blurry horse selfie

    I personally will always remember the time she asked for more followers on Vero, a social media platform, by posting a blurry photo of herself on top of a horse. As one does.

    View this post on Instagram

    (opens in a new tab)(Opens in a new tab)

    Martha's intimate dog portrait

    I am here for this extremely up-close-and-personal photo of her dog, Genghis Khan(Opens in a new tab). Martha is known for her extensive collection of pets, some of whom are named after famous(Opens in a new tab) composers (Vivaldi, Verdi) and incredible desserts (Creme Brûlée).

    View this post on Instagram

    (opens in a new tab)(Opens in a new tab)

    Martha's imperial puppy photo

    Who doesn't love a person who applauds their dog, named Empress Qin, for exhibiting "exemplary" behavior?

    View this post on Instagram

    (opens in a new tab)(Opens in a new tab)

    Her cosmetic dentistry series

    I have tremendous empathy for Martha Stewart after her 20-part cosmetic dentistry series.

    View this post on Instagram

    (opens in a new tab)(Opens in a new tab)

    View this post on Instagram

    (opens in a new tab)(Opens in a new tab)

    Then there's XXXtreme Martha Stewart

    Martha in her element.

    View this post on Instagram

    (opens in a new tab)(Opens in a new tab)

    The time she Instagrammed a beached whale and said it was a "Great photo"

    Correction: This is an incredible photo.

    View this post on Instagram

    (opens in a new tab)(Opens in a new tab)

    When she had fun with some filters

    Martha Stewart is a 77-year-old(Opens in a new tab) teen.

    View this post on Instagram

    (opens in a new tab)(Opens in a new tab)

    View this post on Instagram

    (opens in a new tab)(Opens in a new tab)

    Her zoomed-in photo of Taylor Swift

    This is exactly how intimate I want my Taylor Swift photos to be. I want to see every single pore.

    View this post on Instagram

    (Video) Tauren Wells - Hills and Valleys (Acoustic Video)

    (opens in a new tab)(Opens in a new tab)

    Her Persian cat photos

    Mostly, I'm here for the Martha Stewart Persian cat content.

    View this post on Instagram

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    View this post on Instagram

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    View this post on Instagram

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    Her broccoli art

    The best Martha Stewart Instagram post of all time belongs to this photo featuring three stalks of broccoli. It's so insipid it's charming.

    Martha Stewart(Opens in a new tab) is already well known for her personal food photos, which have been called "disgusting." But this post looks like a coupon for broccoli you might get from your local shitty supermarket. There's no perspective, everything is disproportionate, and the broccoli itself is enormous. The broccoli is too green for my personal comfort level.

    I'm not sure if this is a Martha Stewart Instagram or a piece of postmodern conceptual art. Either way, I'm in love with it, and you should be too.

    View this post on Instagram

    (opens in a new tab)(Opens in a new tab)

    To the real Martha, the Martha behind @MarthaStewart48, thank you.

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  • Facebook Dating finally arrives in Europe

    Facebook Dating finally arrives in Europe

    It's a weird time to be dating right now.

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    Facebook, nonetheless, is undeterred.(Opens in a new tab) From today, the social network's Facebook Dating platform is expanding to Europe after launching in the U.S. and 19 other countries around the world.

    For the uninitiated, Facebook Dating is an "opt-in space within the Facebook app". You can create a Facebook Dating profile that's separate from your main profile (you'll need to be over 18 and using the most recent version of the app).

    The launch comes nine months after the intended release date was halted(Opens in a new tab) at the 11th hour after a leading data regulator raised concerns about privacy and the processing of personal data. In February, the Irish Data Protection Commission (DPC) visited Facebook's Dublin office and flagged that the social media company hadn't given ample information about how Dating would work, and hadn't given the regulator enough notice of the product launch (Facebook gave them just a few days warning). "Facebook has provided detailed clarifications on the processing of personal data in the context of the Dating feature," deputy commissioner Graham Doyle told(Opens in a new tab) TechCrunch. "Facebook has also provided details of changes that they have made to the product to take account of the issues raised by the DPC."

    Facebook Daters have access to several features including Stories, much like you'd share on Instagram or non-dating Facebook. You can also share your existing Facebook or Instagram Story to your dating profile.

    There's also a feature called Secret Crush, which lets you select up to nine of your Facebook friends or Instagram followers who you might be interested in. If your crush adds you to their Secret Crush list, you'll get a match. But if the crush you've selected isn't on Facebook Dating or they didn't add you to their crush list, then they'll never know how you feel. Unless you tell them, of course.

    Virtual Dates are also an option for users — which is to be expected given the current, errr, situation we find ourselves in. Once you've matched with someone and you feel ready to, you have the option of video calling each other. Initiating a call will send an invite, which your match will need to accept before joining the call.

    Much like non-dating Facebook, there are also events and groups, which can help you find people with similar interests.

    SEE ALSO:Tinder launches apocalyptic Swipe Night in the UK and around the world

    There are security measures in place, like the ability to report and block anyone, as well as the prevention of people sending photos, links, payments, or videos in messages. Your Facebook friends won't be informed that you've joined Dating, nor will they be suggested as potential matches.

    In case you're worried about your main Facebook profile being taken over by dating content, fear not. Your Dating profile, messages, and matches won't show up in your Facebook News Feed.

    Facebook Dating is now available in the United Kingdom, Ireland, France, Germany, Spain, Greece, Italy, Belgium, Luxembourg, Bulgaria, Poland, Portugal, Austria, Norway, Switzerland, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Croatia, Hungary, Lithuania, Latvia, Malta, Netherlands, Romania, Sweden, Slovenia, Slovakia, Iceland, and Liechtenstein.

  • Massage guns are everywhere. But do they work?

    Massage guns are everywhere. But do they work?

    Life-changing or just plain shady? Mashable is getting to the bottom of promises made by health and wellness products by answering the simple question: "Does It Work?"

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    Lebron James has just come off the court to take a breather on the sidelines. He flings a towel over his head, chugs water, crashes down onto a padded chair, and then proceeds to take out…a massage gun? He moves the handheld device up and down his calves and quads, semi-watching the game, semi-zoned out.

    James, like many other athletes and fitness aficionados, is actually using a percussive massager. These handheld devices a user can wield on their own muscles —the original of which is the Theragun(Opens in a new tab), which came out in 2016 and has spawned scores of imitators — combine a vibrating head with the repetitive motion and pressure of a drill that athletes (or anyone) can use for a super-charged, targeted massage on their muscles. Essentially, vibration + deep, repetitive pressure = "percussive therapy."

    The guns entered the market in the late 2010s and have only become more visible through partnerships with athletes and leagues, not to mention social media. The NBA(Opens in a new tab) and NFL(Opens in a new tab) have partnerships with Hyperice (the company behind Hypervolt, which came out in 2018 and is an industry leader), while tennis player Maria Sharapova, famed quarterback Aaron Rodgers, NBA star Kevin Durant, and other prominent athletes and celebrities are investors(Opens in a new tab) in (and vocal supporters of) Therabody, which makes the Theragun.

    Today, there are many companies making versions of percussive therapy guns. Most come in the shape of a right angle, with a handle and a shaft, though Therabody's "ergonomic" design comes in the form of a triangle with the massage head protruding from one of the corners, so you can grip from multiple angles. The guns come with different attachments for the head — some softer silicone to absorb more force, some harder to pack a bigger punch, some with multiple prongs to deliver that pressure at different points. Both Hyperice and Therabody make Bluetooth-connected versions and have companion apps that lead the user through routines for different areas of the body, or to prepare for or cool down from workouts.

    Check out Mashable's comparison of the different products here.

    The promises these devices make are big, and so are the price tags of the most well-regarded products. You can pay anything from the low, low price of $30 for an Amazon knockoff to $600 for the "pro" version of the highest-end product, the Theragun Pro(Opens in a new tab). Advertisements and websites claim that regular use can help reduce pain and soreness from exercise while also improving general wellness, with some vague implications that they improve performance.

    These value propositions, and the performance implications in particular, often come in the form of athlete testimonials: "Theragun helps me play longer and get more out of my body," says soccer player Trent Alexander Arnold on the Therabody website. Superbowl MVP and new Hyperice investor Pat Mahomes says, "I've used Hyperice throughout my career as an instrumental part of my overall training and recovery routines to ensure I'm performing at my peak on game day."

    But…do these things actually work?

    The claims of multiple companies boil down to the idea that the combination of a head that can hit your muscles both really fast and really deep is more effective than massaging or vibrating alone. Supposedly, this sends blood to the area you're massaging, which helps muscles warm up for exercise and repair. Supposedly, it will increase flexibility and range of motion by encouraging muscle lubrication(Opens in a new tab), which can theoretically improve performance. Supposedly, it will cause your body's pain responses to chill out. Therabody even says its percussive therapy, when used regularly, can potentially help you sleep better (just make sure to use it before bed and buy Therabody's CBD sleep tincture(Opens in a new tab), too).

    "The reason people love the product is because it feels good, obviously," Jim Heuther, the CEO of Hyperice, said. "But it's actually changing the viscosity of the body and the fluids within the body which allows you to have that energy in circulation."

    These products do not have large, peer-reviewed studies backing up their claims.

    However, these products do not have large, peer-reviewed studies backing up their claims. A couple small studies (of 16(Opens in a new tab) and 40 individuals(Opens in a new tab), respectively) have found that percussive massage can increase range of motion and decrease stiffness in the calf muscles. The latter study found percussive therapy to be just as effective as manual massage, and "possibly more effective" than foam rolling or vibration therapy.

    But, despite some encouraging results and similarities to more established technology, it's a stretch (~see what I did there~) to say these studies prove the efficacy of percussive massagers at the level that companies are claiming.

    "It's a big leap to say, from changes in physiology, that you're going to get an increase in performance," Darryl Cochrane, a former trainer and current associate professor of sports, exercise, and nutrition at University of New Zealand Massey, who studies the effects of vibration therapy on performance, said.

    In fact, the smaller of the two studies explicitly measured for increased strength following a five-minute treatment, and found no change in the group that underwent percussive massage therapy versus the control.

    A consensus statement(Opens in a new tab) published in Human Kinetics Journal establishes that "recovery" is important for athletic performance. This tracks with the theme of the athlete's statements; they say it helps them play their best, or that they use it to "give my muscles a little extra boost," as in soccer player Sam Mewis' Theragun endorsement(Opens in a new tab). However, the consensus statement also says that recovery includes free activities like sleep and letting time pass, while "proactive approaches" to recovery vary from activity to activity, and even among individuals. In short: You don't need a $600 massage gun to "recover."

    A lack of gold-standard science is not necessarily a reason to write off these products entirely. One reason, according to Therabody, is that "basically science takes a long time to catch up."

    "Innovation moves a lot faster, while research takes its time," Tim Roberts, the director of science and innovation at the company said.

    Roberts and Therabody mostly point to posters(Opens in a new tab) (posters are overviews of research presented at conferences), non-peer reviewed reports, and internal and "upcoming" research to support their claims that the combination of massage and vibration in one handheld package can have the "local and global," as Roberts put it, effects on the body they describe. Therabody and Hyperice also look at research around the effects and benefits of massage and vibration — separately — and extrapolate on what they can do when combined.

    "There's a good amount of science around vibration and percussion out there," Heuther said. "Publications take a little bit of time to be published. But I think you're going to see a lot of tangible, quantitative studies that emerge over the next 18 months around the space, because a lot of them started in 2019."

    Some researchers agree with the general idea of these assumptions about related therapy types and see potential in the unpublished research, while stressing that the claims are still unproven.

    "There are several mechanisms, physiological explanations," Andreas Konrad, a human movement, sport, and health researcher at Austria's University of Graz, who authored the 16-person calf muscle study, said. "But it's also only speculation, or maybe based on other devices."

    Percussive massage guns run the gamut from high-end models to cheap knockoffs.Credit: screenshot: amazon

    Still, those kernels of possibility are what made Konrad pursue his research.

    "It's maybe a good basis for further research," Konrad said.

    In fact, Konrad — a triathlete in his spare time — uses a percussive massage gun himself. Mostly because it just feels really good, he said. Which gets to another point: If we're asking "does it work?" when it comes to these devices feeling pleasurable in the moment, the answer, at least for Konrad, multiple(Opens in a new tab) reviewers(Opens in a new tab), and me, is heck yes.

    "It's bliss," Mashable reviewer Amanda Yeo's mother, who "loves massages," said of the Theragun.

    To me, using one of these guns on my hamstrings or calves feels like I'm finally able to reach deep enough and hard enough into a place that's screaming "untangle me!" Absentmindedly going over my quads or triceps while watching TV feels generally pleasurable. But if I really focus on one sore spot that's bothering me after a workout, I get a sense of relief. At least, for the moment.

    If I really focus on one sore spot that's bothering me after a workout, I get a sense of relief.

    "Although it hasn't been proven by any stretch of the imagination, because it's quite difficult to do control experiments on this, I think it's probably causing a reduction in the pain receptors," Cochrane said. "It may be feeding back to the brain and saying hey, you know, the vibration is causing this oscillation in the muscle, it's maybe reducing the inflammation around the muscle or joint, and the pain receptors are being dulled a little bit. Maybe."

    So, is a short-term reduction in pain, some possible increased flexibility and range of motion, and potentially (unproven) other benefits worth the price tag? Remember, buying a fancy new toy won't make you change your behavior, and Therabody's Roberts even said "anything used once isn't going to make the biggest difference."

    Then again, if you find yourself reaching for a convenient new toy when your triceps are sore, you could increase your mental focus on recovery. Be careful not to go too hard on sensitive areas like your neck or spine or joints. But if you focus on large muscles, there's no known negative effect of using these massagers.

    Both companies say their products are about living overall healthier lives. Therabody stresses that it is a wellness company that's all about facilitating natural behavior change; Hyperice's Hypervolt is about alleviating stiffness and soreness while also "unlocking human potential," whatever that means.

    At the same time, the company's apps for their massage guns include pre- and post- workout routines. This directed use might be somewhat misleading: While the guns might feel good and potentially may have physiological benefits, there isn't gold-standard evidence that supports using these devices as a replacement for — or even valuable supplement — to dynamic warm-ups and stretching(Opens in a new tab).

    (Video) What Happens To Your Body After You Die? | Human Biology | The Dr Binocs Show | Peekaboo Kidz

    When it comes to exercise prep and recovery, there are plenty other things you can do that don't cost half a grand. Cochrane points to plenty of sleep, hydration, and a balanced diet as the best places to start. Without a mix of these strategies, and others, an occasional massage session with a $400 gun likely won't give you the edge you're looking for.

    "Everyone wants a silver bullet," Cochrane said. "We are a society of consumers getting things that we think will work without having to do the hard yards. And I see recovery is a whole gamut of just not using one tool, but includes psychological, nutritional, and physical tools in the toolkit."

    So, if you can afford it, think of that pleasure-meets-pain luxury percussive massager as just one of those tools.


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