Does quitting social media make you happier? Yes, say young people doing it

3 days ago

Teenagers and young adults switching off from Facebook and other social apps reveal how the change has affected their lives

Our love of social media seems to have grown and grown in the past decade, but recent studies show the tide may be turning for some platforms, with young people in particular ditching Facebook. One study claims that more than 11 million teenagers left Facebook between 2011 and 2014. Its been argued that they are swapping public platforms such as Twitter and Instagram for more private messaging apps like WhatsApp and Snapchat.

We asked the Guardians younger readers whether they have quit social media and why, as well as what apps they are ditching. Almost all reported a greater sense of happiness after going offline. Here, we share some of their experiences.

Daisy, 23, Manchester: I feel less anxious and less like a failure

Daisy

After a romance ended with a guy I really liked, I kept trying to avoid Facebook so I wouldnt have to see him. It was after this that I gradually switched off from it, but before that Id been wanting to quit for a while.

Facebook made me feel anxious, depressed and like a failure. When I went online it seemed like everyone was in Australia or Thailand, and if they werent travelling they were getting engaged or landing great jobs. I felt like everyone was living the dream and I was still at home with my parents, with debt from my student loan hanging over me.

I also felt that if I wasnt tagging myself at restaurants or uploading photos from nights out, people would assume I wasnt living. I remember a friend from uni said to me once, Yeah, but youre still going out having fun, Ive seen on Facebook. I tried to present myself as always having a great time. If my status didnt get more than five likes, Id delete it.

My life has changed for the better since deleting social media. I now enjoy catching up with my friends, and when they tell me new plans my response isnt just, Yeah, I saw on Facebook. It makes you realise who your real friends are and how social media takes the joy out of sharing news with people. I also feel less anxious and less of a failure.

Im planning to visit a friend in Australia next month, and she and my mum and a couple of other friends want me to go back on Facebook to share my pictures. Id really prefer not to, though. Im on Instagram, but I mostly follow sarcastic quote pages. Ive never had a Twitter account.

George Lincoln, 17, Hampshire: A lot of young people arent interested in Facebook any more

George

When I first got Facebook, it appealed to me because I could talk to all my friends and see how they were feeling, but now it seems to have become more trivial. Instead of seeing what friends are putting up, I just see the articles that they like and other comments Im not interested in. I want to concentrate on more useful things and I find it very distracting. I dont worry about missing out on stuff, because I still use the Messenger app on Facebook to stay in touch with everyone.

Ive been off Facebook for two weeks now and I dont really feel tempted to go back. Ive thought a few times about logging back in but I havent so far. Since I quit, no one has really spoken to me about it; everyone is busy focusing on college work.

A lot of young people arent interested in Facebook any more its become really overcrowded and other sites such as Snapchat are offering something new and exciting.

Snapchat
Snapchat has been called teens favourite app. Photograph: Carl Court/Getty Images

Ben, 21, Surrey: I have a much more positive mindset now

I made a New Year resolution to cut down on my social media use. After doing this I started to ask, why am I using it at all? Thats why Ive quit various platforms over the past year: Snapchat in November and Facebook in June. Ive never really had WhatsApp or Twitter. I mainly used Facebook at university, for organising events and meet-ups, but Ive gradually started to realise how pervasive is it. I also feel uncomfortable with the amount of time I used to spend on it.

Ive always found social media to be an environment in which people constantly seek attention and validation through one-upping peoples comments, and boasting over likes and retweets.

Weve not needed social media for thousands of years and now it feels like people think your life is over if you dont have it, which is ridiculous. I joined when I was 13, but I dont feel like I really knew what I was signing up for and the platform has changed a lot over the years. Theres much more advertising on it now, for example.

I didnt find it hard to quit and, after a while, contacting people through other means became the norm. People completely respect my not being on social media, and some wish they could do it too. Since I left, Ive spoken to people about it and thats convinced them to do the same.

Im more productive and less concerned with what other people think about me now, the only person I have to regularly compare myself with is me. Im in a much more positive mindset without social media than I ever was with it. Its let me see who my friends truly are, and who I was only concerned with simply because they were there on social media. I now use a basic non-smartphone and email as my only forms of communication, and people have adjusted to it.

Twitter
Twitter has more than 300m monthly active users. Photograph: Damien Meyer/AFP/Getty Images

Syed Ali, 19, Birmingham: I dont need to prove anything to people

Theres so much negativity on social media, with people complaining about how tough their lives are (and these are the same people who post a picture of every meal they eat). Thats part of the reason I havent been using it for the past three years.

Posting on social media is quite frustrating because it feels like everyone is conforming to the norms, and you have to post photos of yourself (every place you visit, etc). Some people merely like your pictures so you return the favour its childish. I dont need to prove anything to people or show people Im doing well. This has made me a much happier person.

Rosanna Cassidy, 25, Nottingham: I can live my life instead of trying to shape it into one that looks good online

Rosanna

Id been thinking about quitting Facebook for a long time, but the EU referendum finally made me bite the bullet. I was sick and tired of people trying to force their political beliefs upon me, and I found it so depressing that people were repeating views they had heard that werent true.

Now, three months later, without Facebook I feel much happier and more content. I can live my life instead of trying to shape it into one that looks good online. I also have a lot more time now, and its easy enough to keep in touch with my friends in other ways. Whats more, now we can have conversations about what weve been doing because we havent seen it all already on social media.

I dont plan on going back to Facebook, but I still have my Instagram account, which I check once a day. Instagram is different because its not as time-consuming, and you dont get bombarded with other peoples views. Plus, the Instagram community is more supportive. I gave up Twitter years ago because it didnt really feel like it had a point, and it was just a space for opinionated people to air their views in a non-constructive way.

Andy Staunton, 23, Dublin: I enjoy actually talking to people face to face

Andy

When I used Facebook, I found myself aimlessly watching videos and scrolling through articles that I never had any interest in reading in the first place. Furthermore, the Facebook statuses I saw were very uninspiring.

Leaving Facebook was one of the best decisions Ive made this year. Aside from the increased productivity that comes from not having it, I enjoy actually talking to people face to face, and not seeing what someone I met once, years ago, had for breakfast.

I do, however, forget to wish a lot of people happy birthday and I seem to be months behind in finding out some news but I find out eventually.

Sophie, 18, Surrey: I used to check for updates countless times a day. Now, Im free

Ive never really used Instagram and Tumblr because I dont see the point of them. I had Twitter for news updates when I was in school and sixth form, but stopped using it when my exams started. As for Facebook, I only ever used it to contact my friends, but Skype chats and other apps mean I dont need it any more.

Ive been free from the chains of social media for about six months now, which doesnt seem like a lot of time, but it feels like it now that my time isnt being sapped by these apps. It sounds so silly, but since leaving I feel like my own person. Before, Facebook and Twitter became almost like extra arms attached to me that I constantly had to be aware of. I used to check for updates countless times every day. Now, I dont have to be reliant and dependent on it any more its like a breath of fresh air. I dont plan on going back, except for maybe WhatsApp if I need to talk to people when Im abroad.

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Elena Ferrante: ‘Dreaming of a return to the past is a denial of youth’

5 days ago

I love young people who fight to give their time a new form and demand a better life for the entire human race

I very much like recognising myself in my daughters and, at the same time, feeling that they do their utmost to be different from me. Even when this attitude makes me angry, it seems positive. Not a day goes by when they don’t tell me, more or less subtly, that I belong to the past. Not a day goes by when they don’t point out that what I say is banal and out of touch with the present, which is their area of expertise. Not a day goes by when they don’t find a way to pit their intelligence against mine, and the aim is always the same: to let me know that I should keep quiet. Not to mention that whenever I have trouble with the computer or some other electronic device, they intervene to remind me that I am of the era of the fountain pen and the pay phone.

I look at them and, sometimes with satisfaction, sometimes with alarm, see myself in their bodies, in their tone of voice. Bits of me appear for a few seconds, and I barely have time to recognise them, as when, in a page you’ve just written, you see flashes of the literary tradition behind you. They naturally don’t notice, and that’s good. I hope they have as much time as possible to declare themselves miraculously new and set about teaching me a thing or two. I, too, felt different from my mother and pushed out her generation to make room for mine. The cruelty of the latest arrivals, when they feel they’re the first to come into the world, is necessary.

I greatly fear the generations who don’t proudly leave their parents behind. But I’m also frightened by those who, at 20, leave their parents behind to embrace the mores of grandparents and great-grandparents. I don’t understand the young people who would replace the world of today with a golden age when everyone knew their place, that is, in an order based on sexist and racist hierarchies. Sometimes, especially when they declare themselves fascists, they don’t even seem like young people, and I tend to treat them even more harshly than the old people who inspired them. Dreaming of a return to the past is a denial of youth, and it grieves me to discover that young women, too, dream those dreams.

I love young people who fight to give their time a new form and demand a better life for the entire human race. I hope my daughters stay that way for a long time. Then – it’s in the natural order of things – as they get older they’ll find me within themselves, discovering physical details, flashes of personality, thoughts, and will learn to welcome me, make room for me. As happened with my mother and me, they’ll discover that, even admitting they’re partly me, they’ll continue to be themselves. In fact they’ll be themselves more fully, with greater autonomy.

Translated by Ann Goldstein

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Love in the age of living for ever: could your marriage last 80 years?

14 days ago

Getting married used to mean a promise of 40 years, if you were lucky increased life expectancy means it could be much longer. Will your relationship go the distance?

My boyfriend looks terrible for his age. His skin feels as fragile and wrinkled as used clingfilm; age spots pepper his face and arms. What hair he still has is faded to grey, and the laughter we have shared over the years has etched itself in the lines around his eyes. Mind you, I dont look too hot, either. We have both been transformed by a makeup artist who, with latex and face paint, has fast-forwarded us from partners of four years into husband and wife of 60 years. It is a very odd experience; I feel a flash of nostalgia for 30-year-old me, and immediately feel the urge to wear a bikini. Its like an injection of Nora Ephron: Oh, how I regret not having worn a bikini for the entire year I was 26. If anyone young is reading this, go, right this minute, put on a bikini, and dont take it off until youre 34.

These pictures are the result of an experiment. I wanted to explore a question that pricks the minds of many couples at our life stage. We are both 30; a year and a half ago we bought a flat together; we have started to think about marriage. Perhaps the phrase started to think is disingenuous; the truth is, Shaun grew so bored with my talking about it that he banned me from mentioning it until after Euro 2016.

And so we find ourselves on the brink of a lifelong commitment, poised to make the same promise made by our parents, our grandparents and our great-grandparents, stretching back as far as our family trees will go, into countries I have never visited, from Yemen to Poland. But if and when we make that same promise, it will mean something very different. Because when our ancestors swore to love each other unto death, that meant 40 years together, if they were lucky. For us, thanks to improvements in healthcare and life expectancy (currently 79 for men and 83 for women in England and Wales, and set to rise), it could be more like 60 years. This is a radical shift, and one that forces us to question our assumptions about commitment and love. What does the age of longevity mean not just for individual marriages, but for the institution of marriage itself? What does it mean to say, Till death do us part in 2016?

As our life expectancy has improved (more than one-third of babies born today could live to 100), so have our expectations: we want a marriage to be great, not just good enough, all the way to the end. Dr Helen Fisher has been researching this issue for 40 years, and recently published an updated edition of her book Anatomy Of Love: A Natural History Of Mating, Marriage And Why We Stray. The focus of modern marriage is not stability, its love, she says. A century ago, a woman wouldnt have ended a marriage that was satisfactory, but a recent survey showed that one-third of people would leave a satisfactory marriage if they werent in love with their partner. Today, we want it all, and well walk away if we dont have it.

And so to the rise of the grey divorce. Recent figures from the Office for National Statistics show divorce is falling in all age groups in the UK except for the over-50s, among whom it has risen by nearly 11% in a decade. Nearly 60,400 people in this demographic divorced in England and Wales in 2013, while the overall number of divorces fell to a 40-year low. The same trend has also been observed in the US, where in 2014 those aged 50 and over were twice as likely to go through a divorce than in 1990; the increase was even higher for those over 64.

I have always assumed that the grey part of marriage was the best bit. I watch with loving envy as my parents enter their fifth decade together, finally allowed to relax and enjoy themselves after all the child-rearing and careering and work-life balancing. But, for many, decades of marriage can simply bring boredom that feeling of, Is this all there is? Of meh.

Roger Jenkins, 68, ended his 33-year marriage at the age of 65. For me, as for a lot of people, crunch time in a relationship comes when you retire, he says. Suddenly the person you saw for a couple of hours each night, mostly spent in front of the telly, you are now seeing 24/7. And all the problems, which you saw for only a few hours a week, you now see 24/7, too. My wife had a great social life, and when I finally retired and wanted a holiday, she said, No, I have my own life. I dont want to go around with you all the time.

After trying marriage counselling and discussing the situation with his children, both in their 30s, Roger filed for divorce. It was not an easy decision he had to overcome the stigma he had absorbed as a boy: People of my generation grew up at a time when divorce was virtually unknown and viewed as terribly sinful. That burrows into your psyche at a fairly early age. But a lot of people my age are fit and reasonably affluent, because theyve had the benefit of a property boom, and its now easier to get divorced than it used to be so why should I spend the rest of my life in misery?

Relate counsellor Barbara Bloomfield agrees: Women and men are feeling so much younger than they did in previous generations, and they fervently believe they have 30 more years after retirement. Some think, why stick with the same old same old if you might be able to find someone better?

Older couples have always had to deal with an onslaught of potentially stressful factors: boredom, yes, but also hormonal changes that can lead to mismatched sex drives, children leaving home, retirement. Bloomfield explains: There are quite a few mothers and fathers who cant get used to being a couple after children have left home and they have stopped working, when theyre under each others feet all day. Either the marriage crumbles or they find a new way to be together. But people are refusing to accept these changes as inevitable even at 80, because five, 10 years is too long if you are unhappy.

Divorce lawyer Kerry Russell says she has seen many couples like Roger and his ex-wife. The main trend I have seen is couples divorcing due to the realisation that there is more in life. They sometimes describe their marriage as tedious, and many feel trapped in a routine. They often care very much for their spouse, but the differences between them seem more apparent. They see divorce as a way to gain some independence and live life to the full.

Moya
Will you still love me tomorrow? Moya and Shaun reimagined. Photograph: David Yeo for the Guardian

Roger met his new partner through work two years ago. Were blissfully happy, he says. Sixty is the new 50 were not old gits, we love life, we travel. Im deeply in love with my partner and looking forward to spending the rest of my life with her.

After speaking to Roger, I find myself questioning my naive, unmarried assumptions about what constitutes a failed marriage. Can you really consider two children, 30 years together, an amicable end and a second happy relationship a failure?

For Fisher, the rising divorce rates among the over-50s represent one part of a sea change. She says, I think the concept of till death do us part is going by the way. What were going to see is serial monogamy, a series of pair bonds. Much of marriage as we know it we owe to the agrarian revolution, she argues: On the farm, you had to marry the right girl, from the right kin connection, from the right social standing, and hopefully from the farm next door. And you really had to stay married for life because you couldnt leave the farm.

She thinks well have more civil unions, and that it will become easier to marry and easier to divorce. Does this mean well drop that line, till death do us part? No, were very schmaltzy people. And theres something called cultural lag: our marriage habits may change much more rapidly than our marriage belief systems. So even though a great many people dont really know if it will be forever, theyll use the term, and have it in their heads, along with a whole lot of hopes and dreams.

Jessica Graham sees this as a positive development. She married her ex-husband at 22 and divorced at 52, 10 years ago. They got engaged a few months after meeting, and this, she suggests, is another reason for the spike in divorce among the over-50s. A speedy engagement is more unusual now: this wasnt true of her generation of grey divorcees back when they were lustrous newlyweds.

Jessica is a fiercely intelligent, witty, compassionate woman, a proud northerner with a sense of humour. She cant recall any happy times from her marriage. So why did she wait 30 years? Her answer she wanted to protect her daughters is another explanation for the increase in later-life divorce, and reminds me of the punchline of a dark joke: a 96-year-old is asked by his divorce lawyer, why did you wait so long? He replies, We wanted to wait until the children had died.

Jessica tells me, You feel bound to it, so you carry on, grit your teeth and stay married, despite it being very, very unhappy. My daughters grew up in a mild war zone; I look back and wish they hadnt had to experience it. She had planned to delay divorce until her daughters went to university, but they intervened earlier.

When I ask if she wants to meet someone else, Jessica is adamant in her refusal. I am happy being single, and financially secure. I like being able to do pretty well what I want, when I want. I can commute to London, go to the theatre, to concerts. Although she felt lonely to start with, she says, I felt lonelier in my marriage than I do now. What is the hardest thing about her situation? I dont find anything hard right now. Im OK. And yet: I wouldnt say Im yabadabadoo happy, and I dont think I ever will be. She thinks this is because that kind of happiness comes from sharing a life with someone.

As plan Bs go, there are far worse, says relationship psychologist Susan Quilliam. I would argue that the best option is a happy partnership, but the next best option is happy singledom. Ive known many friends and clients who are much happier now that theyre not in their relationship. Of course, there are single people who are unhappy without a companion, but from what Ive seen, the unhappiest option is an unhappy marriage, because you dont just have yourself to cope with.

When I speak to Lucy Taylor, 59, she seems politely, quietly, yabadabadoo happy. After her divorce, she swore she would never marry again. She was traumatised by the breakdown of her marriage. Her then husband called her his soul mate, and she believed him. Then he came home from work one evening and said he had fallen in love with somebody else, and wanted to be with her. The door opened, the grenade rolled in, then the door was closed.

Her husband was a corporate high flyer, and Lucy worked part-time in IT while their son was young, before returning to full-time work as a facilities manager. She was 46 when they divorced. It was shocking, devastating. When you meet somebody that you really care for, they give you a piece of their soul. And when they leave, they take that part back. You feel as if youve been amputated from their life.

In some ways, I despise myself because it took me so long to get over him years and years. It was a scary, lonely time. When you have loved deeply, its very difficult to trust people. Thats why I said I would never marry again. Because to intertwine your heartstrings and your finances with somebody elses, well, the prospect of being hurt or abandoned again is in the background of your mind all the time.

She met Joe at a dance class a couple of years after the divorce. Their first date was a lunch that lasted 12 hours, but she wanted to take things very, very slowly. Over a number of years, and with the blessing of her daughter, Joe moved in one sock at a time. They married two years ago, when Lucy was 57.

She still believes in marriage, and that you have to give it everything, even if it may fail. Joe and I didnt have a pre-nup that was my choice, against my solicitors advice. I felt its not a great way to start a marriage, if youre immediately saying I dont trust you. When we made our vows, I absolutely thought, I want to be with this man, I will always be good to him and I wont betray him. I loved hard and I lost, and Im loving hard again. And, hopefully, thats the way it will end, and we will die in each others arms. Thats what I would like.

The happy marriage is so ingrained in us as the only acceptable happy ending, from Shakespeare to When Harry Met Sally, that many of us (myself included) must subconsciously absorb the idea that any other ending is a failure. When I was younger, I never thought I would get married. Its just a piece of paper, I would say. I wanted my partner to wake up every morning and choose to stay with me because he wanted to, not because of some promise he had made decades earlier. But as the years have passed, and Ive cried at the weddings of so many friends, and watched my parents grow old, Ive come to feel differently. I see the value that these pieces of paper have in our lives passports, birth certificates, job contracts; these documents mark out the minutiae and the momentous in our lives, and marriage is both of those. I want our names to be written next to each other in that register, for them to be buried deep in the council archives, gathering dust. But perhaps I need to be more open-minded.

Emily White, 72, cast a light on the assumptions I never knew I had about finding happiness in old age: it doesnt have to mean going to bed with your husband every night. She was a widow when she met her second husband, but 11 years into that marriage, she realised he had transformed into a Jekyll and Hyde character. She divorced him four years ago and, she says, Im much happier now. Ive got a new partner, hes 77, and I get ruined rotten he takes me out for dinner every Saturday night. I keep getting told by my daughter that I have a better social life than she does. Im in the University of the Third Age, Im in a history group. I go to keep fit and do all sorts of daft things. When youre over 70, you can decide for yourself what you do. My partner and I each have our own houses, and we have a great time. I get a phone call every night, but we dont get under each others skin.

Its never too late to find an expression of love that works for you, and that may well not involve marriage. Sue Andrews, partner at the law firm BP Collins, has 35 years experience in family law and has represented many older clients, ranging in age up to their 90s: It was lovely to be told by an elderly client that I had enabled them to enjoy the rest of the time they had left, she says.

But there is also a darker side, especially at a time when loneliness among the elderly is such a compelling issue. Ruth Langford, community manager at Wikivorce, a social network for people in the UK going through divorce, says this year she has spoken to more people divorcing in their 70s and 80s than ever before. Its quite sad. These are people who have been married for 60 years, who should be enjoying their remaining years in peace and comfort, instead of entering into a legal situation that is fraught with emotional distress and expense. Langford says divorce for older people can be even more painful than it is for younger couples: It can often be a very lonely experience, losing long-term friends and causing family members to fall out. Often the disputes are over things of sentimental rather than real value, such as photograph albums of their children and grandchildren.

All the people I spoke to told me they married for life, all of them got divorced, and not one of them felt he or she was to blame. This is an alarming thing to hear when you are thinking about getting married yourself. No matter how fiercely you believe in your relationship, no matter how much you love your partner, you cannot see into the future, especially 80 years ahead; you cannot know for certain if boredom, unhappiness or personality changes will mean you are parted not by death but before. You have to take a punt. But I am comforted by Susan Quilliam, who tells me, In some ways, longer life expectancy is a threat; in others, its a huge opportunity, because unless youre very unlucky or closed and unreflective, your later life relationships can be better. They can be worse because of the Pandoras box of baggage you bring with you. But they can also be informed by the wisdom you bring.

Most of my interviewees felt no regrets about marrying their partners; they saw the value in the happy times they had spent together, the children they had raised. Jessica Graham felt she had failed because she had broken her vows, but she thinks a younger generation wont feel that: Younger people have the confidence to hold their hands up and say, it isnt a failure, it just hasnt worked.

After speaking to so many people about why their marriage ended, I feel less afraid of commitment. The desire to get married remains a gut instinct. I think Fisher gets closest to explaining why: I have studied the brain circuitry for romantic love and marriage, and these brain systems arent going to die. They evolved more than 4m years ago, and theyll be with us, if our species survives on the planet, for another 4m. The drive to fall in love and form a pair bond, rear your children as a team and make it a socially sanctioned relationship through marriage is not going to go away.

So what did I see at that photoshoot, when Shaun came out of makeup? My voice caught in my throat, in a rush of emotion I hadnt expected. I saw the man I love, but a future version of him, softer around the edges. He looked kind and wise and handsome, and, if I squinted a little (OK, a lot), a bit like George Clooney. I thought, I want to grow old with you. A week later, Shaun bought me a bunch of flowers. Inside the flowers was a photograph of us, and a postcard. On the postcard he had written a funny little poem, including the lines, Since you make me, and I hope I make you, just as happy as Larry, how about we marry? I felt terrified and overwhelmingly happy. Perhaps it was my age spots that made him forget about Euro 2016; well never know. All we can do, like the generations before us, is take our chance.

Some names have been changed.

How to stay together, for ever: relationship therapist Andrew G Marshalls advice

Learn how to argue
We have this idea that we will find a soul partner who will agree with us on everything. This is a myth and often makes people feel that they are not allowed to disagree with their partner, which can be disastrous. The important phrase is, I can ask, you can say no, and we can negotiate. Argue about one thing at a time. Dont attack your partners personality, and dont bottle everything up, because one day it will all come pouring out. People sometimes have affairs because they havent had their needs met. But remember that you must articulate what those needs are.

Embrace change
Accept that, even after 35 years of marriage, your partner might change in ways you never expected. I think couples should go out every 10 years and have a first date again to meet the new person theyre married to. Ask your partner, What are your hopes and dreams? They may not be what you expect. Dont let this make you anxious. Be open to finding out that your partner isnt exactly as you had imagined.

Have separate interests
Spending periods of time apart studying or travelling or having different hobbies can bring energy back into the relationship. Its important to have joint endeavours, but make time to be apart, too. If you stop your partner doing what they want, it makes your relationship vulnerable.

Make each other a priority
What often happens is that after retirement, or when children leave home, a couple realise that they have been on separate train tracks for years. It was just hidden by the business of life. Family time and couple time are two totally different things. You might think that your partner will understand if you ignore them for 25 years and focus on your children. But if you feel bottom of the pecking order, it can get to you.

Flirt
We often tell people what we dont like, but were bad at communicating the positives. Flirting with each other is fabulous. It shows you care. You need to learn how to touch each other, too. Make sure it doesnt only happen when initiating sex. Make time to hug and kiss and stroke each other. It keeps you feeling connected.

Appreciate the magic
When talking about newlyweds, people often say, Its all downhill from here. I disagree. Yes, falling in love is beautiful, but after more than 35 years together it can be just as magical as when you first met. At first its about the promise of a life together. Later on, its about the reality of the life you have made together. What could be more romantic than that?

Andrew G Marshall is author of I Love You But Im Not In Love With You: Seven Steps To Saving Your Relationship.

Read more: www.theguardian.com

How to parent without limitations | Trevor Silvester

15 days ago

Foisting unnecessary anxieties on to our children can severely restriction their futures, says Trevor Silvester

For 20 years Ive sat in my therapy room and listened to people. Ive heard hundreds of stories from childhood that have led to lives of pain and restriction. Some are what youd expect abuse, trauma and deprivation but many are much more mundane. Can a bad first day at school genuinely lead to a dread of failing? Can a single moment of rejection lead to serial relationship tragedies? It certainly seems so.

Yet for every childhood sufferer of trauma which is continuing bears the scars as an adult, theres an adult for whom trauma contribute to a life of meaning and achievement. Until its sad demise I ran as a therapist with Kids Company, a charity that helped vulnerable young person. As a consequence, Ive often find young people dragging themselves out of a routine of deprivation to pursue a better life with a resilience that left me breathless.

While in my Harley Street practice, I sometimes assure clients whove lived a life of privilege who remain stuck in a gilded prison that only their thinks have created. It doesnt seem to be what happens to us that defines us anywhere near as much, or as often, as the meaning we devote it. If what we induce of life is the result of our interpretations, how can we guide ourselves and our children towards a positive understanding of an event rather than a negative one? How can we select an interpretation that causes us to open up to the world and its potentials rather than shut ourselves off?

If we take one of our cells and set it in a Petri dish with information sources of nutrient, it will move towards the nutrient. If you replace the nutrient with a toxin, the cell will move away. In other words, the cell moves towards an opportunity for growth, or it recognises and responds to a need for protection.

As a collecting of a trillion cells, I suggest we do the same thing. Freud described this as the pleasure principle that we all move towards pleasure and away from pain. From day one on this planet your brain has been interpreting your experiences, using them to predict the way the world runs and what is going to happen to you moment to moment.

Your brain is constantly shuttling backwards into the past to look for relationships between whats happening to you now and what happened before. It then uses the connections it determines to predict what is likely to happen to you next. What this means is that decisions we make as children, whether its about the meanings of our parents screaming at us; or splitting up; or seeming to favour a sibling; or feeling stupid in front of our friends or rejected by them; or humbled by a teacher, any of these can be the beginning of a chain of interpretings or misunderstandings that result us unnecessarily into being in a state of protection. In a world where youre primed for assault, everyone is a possible attacker and menace is contained in every opportunity.

Im not is recommended that our protection response is wrong. It has played a key role in our survival as a species. Wanting to protect “our childrens” is one of the most powerful instincts we have. However, that very strength can cause us to teach our children to fear unnecessarily and even guide them into limiting beliefs about themselves that hold them back their whole life.

What is crucial is to distinguish unnecessary protection from actual threats. Its about how to let go of the limitations you experience and realise that the more you are able to be in growth, the more opportunities youre likely to have to thrive.

Grow! by Trevor Silvester is published by Coronet at 14.99. To order a transcript for 12.74, visit bookshop.theguardian.com

Read more: www.theguardian.com

Stripparaoke: the new nightlife tendency that combines- yes- stripping and karaoke

21 days ago

You can tell theres something a little different about Devils Point Strip Club in Portland, Oregon from the get-go.

Buzzy, horned neon signs beckon in guests with satanic, come-hither appeal. A various kinds of subterranean rocknroll vibe pervades everything from artwork selections to the shadowy red-bulb lighting. Among performers, there are more facial penetrates than not. It feels refreshingly authentic; Ive logged a significant number of hours in exotic dancing joints, but Devils Point is the first where Ive heard Nina Simone crooning as I strolled in the door.

An elevated level of convenience is especially important here, where Sunday nights are home to the weeks most popular event: stripparaoke.

This titillating portmanteau experience is exactly what it sounds like, blending two heavy-drinking, wee-hours-of-the-morning amusement favourites into one massive demonstrate.

Dancer

Dancer Toxic tries on one of the masks she sometimes wears during performances. Photo: Leah Nash for the Guardian

Shon Boulden, co-owner of Devils Point, sports a thick blue knit beanie, a full beard and a genial nature. He looks like a poster boy for Oregonians.

We started stripparaoke back in about 2005. We were basically only having a regular slow Sunday night. Since we had only three or four girls running, we decided to do karaoke. We originally called it Karaoke Sabbath. Eventually we just took both terms, crammed them together, and it became stripparaoke. It ran from our slowest night of the week to our busiest night of the week in three or four years.

Each Sunday, the club fills up with songbirds itching to show off their sing chops as a dancer twerks, twiddle and glides up and down the pole. Unlike many strip clubs, which have a dancing corral in the center of the space carved out for performances, Devils Point is set up like a live music venue. The stage is suspended by giant, faux-chain-link ropes, and those singing stand in a designated backstage place as a dancer get down upstage.

Its a symbiotic relationship when you go up there, theres an energy exchange that happens, said Vincent, a dancer who has been working stripparaoke night for only over a year. Runway-model height with cascading, pitch black hair, Vincent puts on some of the most alluring and elegant performances. Typically youre doing your own thing. Its so different when another person is up there. A plenty of people are receptive to being goofed around with. Then there are others who are hardcore, who feel like: Im singing, dont distract me! Karaoke people get truly passionate about it.

The

The impetus towards being both body-positive and sex-positive was assuredly at the forefront of the event. Photograph: Leah Nash for the Guardian

The combined performance quickly becomes more theatrical and burlesque-like than any run-of-the-mill strip club reveal, with a huge bin of backstage props at dancers disposal.

Toxic, a karaoke enthusiast who has been dancing at stripparoke for a few months, agrees that the intersection between professional dancer and amateur performer always gets the crowd running. I did choir most of my life, so Ive always been really musical. If person forgets the words, Ill step in and assist, and well make it a duet. The mob that comes in here, they want to have fun, she giggles, platinum blonde hair shimmying over a Clueless T-shirt thats been shredded and scissored to look more punk. Its actually kind of nice not to have to be the sole center of attention. When you interact with the singers, people get excited.

Devils Point has become the mothership for stripparaoke nationally, as the concept has picked steam in cities from San Diego to New Orleans.

Ive find other stripparaokes pop up around, but its really cool that were the original. We filed for the federal trademark on the name stripparaoke and got it about a year ago. I havent is sending out any cease and desists, because I dont think a club doing stripparaoke in Arkansas is going to impact us, genuinely, Shon chuckles. We are interested in franchising it in some way, though.

Started

Started in 2005, it has become their most popular evening with the dancers utilizing props and interacting with the singers. Photograph: Leah Nash for the Guardian

In New Orleans last autumn, a stripparaoke-like event resulted for the first time during a citywide arts festival, billing itself as ScumBash: Live Band Stripper-oke. Coordinated by a pair of well-known bartenders, the late-night reveal proved to be markedly different than a typical night in Portland, with two dancers set up go-go style like booty-shaking Doric columns on either side of a vocalist as guitars shredded in the background.

We want to have a really good diversity of shapes and sizings and race and gender, Mark Schettler, a ScumBash co-organizer, told me in the days leading up to the event. Having that balance is really important to us.

The impetus towards being both body-positive and sex-positive was assuredly at the forefront of the event, with a wide swath of pasty-, wig- and thong-donning men and women strutting their stuff in tandem as aspiring rockers let loose on Come Together by the Beatles and Little Red Riding Hood by Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs.

While it remains to be seen if ScumBash will return for another year, every Sunday at Devils Point seems to be stronger than the one before. The event is, curiously, particularly popular with Canadians, who make up 30 -4 0% of the crowd on any dedicated night.

The KJ there are currently bringing in a lot of top 40 makes, so people are actually singing the Weeknd and Drake, said Sean. I like to see the old-school stuff, like the theme to Ghostbusters.

Weird

Weird isnt merely encouraged its celebrated. Photograph: Leah Nash for the Guardian

Proper song selection is even more imperative at stripparaoke than during a typical karaoke set; one incorrect move and a dancer could be left trying to make a gut-wrenching rendition of Unbreak My Heart at least somewhat appealing.

Sometimes people pick ballads and they dont think about someone having to perform to it. We get Disney sungs sometimes. During Christmastime, I had to strip to person singing Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas and I was like, oh God, so many weird memories are being made to this song right now! Vincent giggles.

In a situation where weird isnt only encouraged its celebrated people can still surprise.

Every year now we do a stripparaoke tournament, and the win last year was dressed up as Meatloaf, Shon recollects. He sang I Would Do Anything for Love and one of the girls put on a chefs attire and pretended to cook him. It was amazing.

Stripparaoke is, at its core, performance art.

Im from Kansas and I started dancing there, and strippers there do not do pole tricks and all the crazy acrobatic shit that we do here, Brodie chuckles. Clocking in now for five and a half years, she has become something of a stripparaoke expert and a mentor for newcomers. While Brodie is modest when discussing her own abilities, her performance is akin to a three-ring circus of contortionist bendings, high-wire balancing and barbell-lifting strength. Im really nerdy and I was into theater in high school, so Sunday nights are a lot of fun for me.

Indeed, afterward into the night, a woman climbed onstage to sing the crowd-pleasing classic Africa by Toto. Never missing a beat, Brodie crawled on stage on her hands and knees wearing a giraffe mask.

Karaoke is fun and great, but to add performances in with it and particularly in Oregon where we have more strip clubs per capita than anywhere in the US the naked girls, the debauchery it attains it that much better, Sean muses.

While I have yet to ascend the stage and try my hand at stripparaoke glory, I can only hope than when the time comes for me to belt out my go-to song( Convoy by CW McCall) either Brodie, Toxic or Vincent will be on hand to play along by my side as a burlesque truck driver, calling out orders over a CB radio as she gale her style down the pole.

Read more: www.theguardian.com

Why work is much easier than love | Alain de Botton

1 month, 3 days ago

If youre breathing a sigh of relief that its Monday and you can get a break from your relationship, youre not alone

As a culture we are highly attuned to what is beautiful and moving about love; we know its high points and celebrate its ecstasies in films and songs. By comparison, work is the dull, tedious bit the thing we have to do to pay the bills. And yet whats striking is how often work, despite its lack of glamour, in fact turns out to be the easier, more enjoyable and ultimately more humane part of life. There are a number of reasons for this.

1 You have to be professional

Couple
At home everyone feels a duty to be an utterly frank, uncensored correspondent of their every inner mood and qualms. Photograph: Noel Hendrickson/Getty Images

Work demands that all who walk through the office door must behave professionally. What behaving professionally essentially means is that when you are in situations where deep inside youre tempted to explode, insult, curse and weep, you actually have to handle yourself with stoic calm and reserve.

At work, you cant really be yourself and nor can others around you which could sound a little fake and therefore inauthentic. But this lack of honesty may in fact be an extremely welcome development compared to a home life where everyone feels a duty to be an utterly frank, uncensored correspondent of their every inner mood and qualms.

2 You get trained

The assumption of most jobs is that people who begin them dont have the first clue about whats going on. Youre not expected to know the machinery or the protocol by intuition alone. Therefore youre sent on training programmes and given extensive manuals to read. It might be two years before youre supposed to understand very much at all.

There is no such luxury for lovers, who are meant to get one another by immediate instinct and take this speedy comprehension to be a proof of the sincerity of their love. Sometimes lovers will even say they knew they were meant to be together because they could communicate without needing to speak. But outside the early days of romance, such aspirations are a pure catastrophe, which can lead lovers to a bias against ever explaining themselves and their desires with appropriate patience and thoroughness.

Fatefully for our chances of happiness, in the romantic ideology, love is understood to be an enthusiasm, rather than what it really is: a skill that needs to be learned.

3 Feedback is more sensitive

A
Reviews are steeped in a culture of tact. Photograph: Nils Jorgensen/Rex Features

Everyone hates reviews at work, but what deeply kind phenomena they actually are compared with what goes on at home. Reviews are steeped in a culture of tact. One rather tough remark has to be wrapped in at least seven compliments. Work culture knows that people dont improve and cant take new ideas on board if they are feeling threatened and humiliated.

Home life finds us able to be far less competent teachers. Were so panicked and frightened by the thought that the other person cant do what we want them to (even if we havent actually ever explained it), we take to trying to teach them by slamming doors and calling them idiots or worse. Sadly, no one has ever learned very much under conditions of hysteria.

Furthermore, were likely to feel that being taught anything by a lover contravenes the rules of love: we think we need to be loved just for being who we are. Though we are all very flawed, we imagine that love has nothing to do with education, and that the lover who tries to point something out to us is therefore always just being nasty. Rather than doing what all people in a relationship should actually do, which is to do their utmost to improve those they care for through their love.

4 You depend on a job less

We rely on work of course, but wed survive, somehow, if it came to an end. Thats not the feeling we often get around love, especially when there are a couple of kids and a mortgage in common.

And the more we depend on someone, the more alarmed we get by any disappointment at their hands. We arent nastier around love per se; were just a whole lot more dependent which can end up looking like the same thing.

5. Work is just easier

A
No wonder were often really quite happy when its finally Monday morning again. Photograph: Alamy

Running a nuclear power station or landing large jets is hardly simple but still very much easier than trying to be happy around another human being in a sexual relationship over many decades. There is simply nothing harder in this world, so complicated are we, so high are our expectations and so very poor is our romantic culture at helping us to raise the quality of our levels of patience, our insights, our feedback sessions and our training manuals.

No wonder were often really quite happy when its finally Monday morning again and we can leave the house and do something properly simple with our lives once more.

Alain de Botton launches his new novel The Course of Love at The School of Life on Wednesday 4 May. Tickets are 30 from theschooloflife.com

Read more: www.theguardian.com

Human expertise: it’s not what you know, it’s who …

1 month, 9 days ago

Sharing knowledge is a form of playing, say Steven Sloman and Philip Fernbach. And it depends heavily on others

Most things are complicated even things that seem simple. You wouldnt be shocked to learn that modern automobiles or computers or air traffic control systems are complicated. But what about, say, lavatories?

If you take a minute and try to explain what happens when you flush one, do you even know the general principle that governs its operation? It turns out that most people dont. Nobody could be a master of every facet of even a single thing. Even the simplest objects involve complex webs of knowledge to manufacture and use. Most people cant tell you how a coffee maker works, or how glue holds paper together, let alone something as complex as love.

Our point is not that people are ignorant. Its that people are more ignorant than they think they are. We all suffer, to a greater or lesser extent, from an illusion of understanding, an illusion that we understand how things work when, in fact, our understanding is meagre.

We all have domains in which we are experts, in which we know a lot in exquisite detail. But on most subjects we connect only abstract bits of information, and what we know is little more than a feeling of understanding we cant genuinely unpack.

So how can we get about, audio knowledgeable and take ourselves seriously while understanding only a small fraction of what there is to know?

The answer is that we do so by living a lie. We tell ourselves that we understand whats going on, that our opinions are justified by our knowledge and that our actions are grounded in justified faiths, even though they are not. We tolerate intricacy by failing to recognise it. Thats the illusion of understanding.

So how can humanity achieve so much when people are so ignorant? It turns out we have been very successful at dividing up our cognitive labor. We would not be such competent thinkers if we had to rely only on the limited knowledge stored in our heads and our facility for causal reasoning. The secret to our success is that we live in a world in which knowledge is all around us.

We have access to huge amounts of knowledge that sit in other peoples heads: we have experts that we are going to be able contact to, say, fix our dishwasher when it breaks down for the umpteenth period. We have professors and talking heads to inform us about events and how things work. We have books, and we have the richest source of information of all time at our fingertips, the internet.

But sharing the competences and knowledge is more sophisticated than it voices. Human beings dont merely construct individual contributions to a project, like machines operating in an assembly line. Rather, we are able to work together, well informed others and what they are trying to accomplish. We pay attention together and we share aims. In the language of cognitive science, we share intentionality. This is a form of collaboration that you dont see in other animals. We actually enjoy sharing our mind space with others. In one kind, its called playing.

The nature of thought is to draw on knowledge wherever it can be found, inside and outside our own heads. But we live under the knowledge illusion because we fail to draw an accurate line between what is inside and outside our heads. And we fail because there is no sharp line. So we dont know what we dont know. What we need is a greater appreciation of how much of our own knowledge varies depending on the things and people around us. What goes on between our ears is extraordinary, but it ultimately varies depending on what goes on elsewhere.

The Knowledge Illusion by Steven Sloman and Philip Fernbach( Macmillan, 18.99) is out now. Buy it for 16.14 at bookshop.theguardian.com

Read more: www.theguardian.com

How to talk to strangers: a guidebook to bridging what divides us

1 month, 10 days ago

The more we do to interact with people who arent like us, the better off well be in the face of hatred that has become so visible thanks to Donald Trump

We seem to have lost the capacity to live with our differences in peace. The complex lines that divide us are now exposed, and they run deeper than we supposed from what we see as the most pressing issues facing the country, to our values, to our understanding of race, gender and liberty. In her concession speech, Hillary Clinton herself observed: We are a far more divided society than we realized.

In the Seattle Times, Nicholas Confessore and Nick Corasanti described the electorate as unprecedentedly segregated socially and geographically: About half of Americans now live near people more politically like them than not, whether in conservative rural townships or sprawling liberal cities. Few Trump supporters report having close friends voting for Mrs Clinton. Many Clinton advocates are more likely to see Trump voters on television than in person.

Republicans and Democrat have always been on opposite sides of political and social fences. Whats new, what might feel insurmountable, is the degree of change. The gap has widened very quickly over the past two decades. Weve arrived at perhaps the most difficult moment in recent history: approximately half the electorate have voted into the presidency of the United States an openly bigoted, racist, xenophobic, sexist, sex predator. Divisiveness personified in an authoritarian leader.

In the face of pervasive, violent hatred that has become so visible and so normalized, people are struggling with what to do, how to take action.

Republicans
Republican and Democrats have always been on opposite sides of political and social fences. Whats new is the degree of change. Photograph: Julia Rothman

I want to suggest that many actions we can take will be local: talking to the strangers we intersect routes with on the street and sidewalks, in coffeehouse and parks, stores and restaurants. And the more we do this in places that require us to interact with people who arent like us, the very best.

People who arent like you and who you dont know exist for you merely as categories. Abstractions. People who are different than you who you satisfy in physical space and talk with not at are someones. The more we can have contact with people who arent like us, the more we are challenged, invited, required to see them as humen, as specific individuals with a context. Hate breeds on watching people as categories and abstractions.

When I say contact, I entail contact in person. Researchers at MIT found that our interactions in physical space with peers have a much more significant effect on our notions and sentiments than any other relationships, and more than our online lives. Physical interactions, researcher Alex Pentland wrote in Nautilus, are much better at changing sentiments than digital media and offer a greater chance of reaching consensus.

Researchers
Our interactions in physical space with peers have a much more significant effect on our faiths and sentiments than any other relationships. Photo: Julia Rothman

Sociologists, policymakers and urban planners have long examined and supported an idea “ve called the” contact hypothesis, which, at its most basic, says that increased positive contact with people who arent like you lessens prejudice. Researchers recently turned their attention to the negative interactions catalogued in contact hypothesis analyzes and found that a significant factor had been overlooked. A negative interaction carries far more emotional weight than a positive one and tends to increase prejudice. It takes so much goodness between people to overcome negative experiences.

Nothing about what is going on right now supports the idea that anyone should give anyone else the benefit of the doubt, and I dont advocate empathizing with tormentors and racists. But every time I nod or say hello to a stranger in the past few days and they return it, I know some human decency remains.

In our smallest positive interactions with strangers in passing, we experience something called fleeting intimacy. Thats a brief encounter that devotes us a momentary feeling of connectedness, of belonging. I think we need to start using our interactions with strangers to generate what Ill call fleeting confederations . We need to do the things that make for mutual acknowledgement of our fundamental humanity the smiles and hellos and brief dialogues in which we recognize a stranger as a person. We also need to recognize a new dimension to these moments. We can show one another we are not fitted with loathe. We can show we are allies and we will protect each other.

Kio Stark is the author of When Strangers Meet .

Read more: www.theguardian.com

Mobile dating apps spur HIV epidemic among AsiaaEUR( tm) s adolescents, says UN

1 month, 12 days ago

Smartphone technology has increased the opportunities for casual sex and led to a spike in HIV infections among teens in Asia, researchers find

United Nations research has observed the growing utilize of mobile dating apps by young gays men is a major factor in a new HIV epidemic among adolescents in Asia, the Guardian can reveal.

The report uncovered a upsurge of HIV infections among 10 -1 9 years olds in the Asia-Pacific region, where more than half of the worlds 1.2 billion teens live.

The two-year study found that smartphone dating apps have expanded possibilities for spontaneous casual sex as never before.

The epidemic is fastest growing amongst men who have sex with humen. Other groups include those who are sexually exploited by or engaged in sexuality work, people who inject drugs, and young transgender people.

Young lesbian men themselves has systematically told us that they are now utilizing mobile dating apps to meet up for sexuality, and are having more casual sex with more people as a result. We know that this kind of risky behaviour increases the spread of HIV, said Wing-Sie Cheng, HIV/ Aids consultant for Unicef in east Asia and the Pacific.

We are hence convinced that there is a connection, and that we need to work better with mobile app providers to share information about HIV and safeguard the health of adolescents.

The previously unreported epidemic threatens the UNs goal to end the global Aids crisis by 2030, which appeared achievable after a sharp drop in Africa during the past 15 years.

Adolescents are also more likely to die of Aids-related demises, researchers from Unicef and UNAIDS detected, as they are less inclined to seek therapy, dreading they will be stigmatised or forcing them to expose their sexuality to their family or the authorities concerned. In many countries in the region, under-1 8s cannot get an HIV test without parental consent.

Dating site visits

While global HIV infections are dropping, the number of teens aged 10 -1 9 officially living with HIV in Asia and the Pacific has grown to more than 220,000, with the unofficial number expected to be much higher, Unicef says. Fewer than half of them are receiving treatment and demises have risen nearly every year for a decade.

An HIV-positive Filipino man aged 30, speaking on condition of anonymity to protect himself from abuse, said it was hard to find sex for a gay teen, bullied at school and closed off from the adult-only lesbian bars.

At university, the introduction of internet dating chat rooms and online forums allowed him to find more sex partners his age. He would chat with men and agree to rent a room for a few hours in the capital.

If I write down all the people I had sexuality with in Manila, I can probably write one to five people for each stop of the metro, he said.

Smartphones and mobile dating revolutionised his sex life. Whereas internet dating involved a laborious process of arranging a session up, dating apps are location-based, allowing users to scan their surroundings for others.

Dating site visits

Even if youre still in school and “youre feeling” the need to have sex, you just open Grindr, he said. You dont even have to talk to them. People simply send you naked photos or photos of their cocks. If youre fine with them, you just go and have sex.

The immediacy of the sexuality, organised in minutes, attained condom utilize less likely, he said. I did use condoms. But it was not consistent. You dont want to lose the momentum.

Despite his promiscuous mobile dating years, the Filipino mans HIV test returned negative and he entered into a long-term relationship. But two years later he contracted the virus from his boyfriend who was secretly cheating on him by employing mobile dating apps.

In the Philippines, new HIV infections among teenagers have doubled in four years. In Bangkok, young gay humen now have a one in three opportunity of HIV infection.

HIV rates in Bangkok

And eighteen countries across the Asia-Pacific region criminalise against same-sex relationships which UNAIDS says causes lesbian humen to avoid life-saving HIV services.

A separate study last year found that men who have sex with men utilizing dating apps are at greater hazard of contracting gonorrhoea and chlamydia than those who gratify in-person or on the internet.

Wing-Sie, the Unicef adviser, said that dating apps create networks of men, in which infections rapidly spread among users. Mobile dating apps essentially hook you up to a central network.

She said the study looked at observational trends around the region reported by United Nations policemen and local community workers who said their HIV strategy urgently needed to adapt to the explosion of mobile dating apps. HIV is a covert issue, it is very hidden. So data is not available.

She said researchers found that with the rise of these apps, the probability and risk of infection will increase multifold because it stimulates it so much easier for them to date other guys and hook up for sex, she said.

A spokesman from Grindr, used in 196 countries worldwide with 1 million active users every minute, said it has a minimum age requirement of 18. As the worlds largest homosexual platform, we take matters of sex health very seriously, the spokesman said, adding that Grindr runs in-app proclamations fostering testing at local clinics.

David S Novak, senior health strategist at Online Buddies, the mother company of the dating app Jackd, directed the Guardian to its ManHunt Cares project, which provides health resources to its users. In 2009, the company also set up a research institute focusing on lesbian sex health.

Other major dating app companies Tinder, Blued and Growlr did not respond to requests for comment.

The UN report says these apps can become vital conduits promoting sexual health, including HIV messaging and testing, and references a 2014 World Aids Day project by the Chinese gays dating app Blued where a red ribbon was added next to every users profile scene, linking to details of nearby testing centres.

Wing-Sie said Unicef will approach mobile dating app companies in the next month for a collaborative endeavor and so the world body might collect data to further investigate the impact of mobile dating.

Based in Bangkok, Jesse Krisintu has been working with charities trying to persuade young people to get tested for HIV through tactics such as pop-up advertisements on dating apps. He said the project did not work.

Dating site visitors by PC

Its their business. If they advertise too much about HIV/ Aids services there, do you think people are going to go online? he said.

He said that one project involving pop-ups offered discounts on HIV tests but that very few were claimed and that the analytics depicts most users instantly closed the pop-up advert.

The application is where the key population is but no one is going to read the pop-up because the purpose of people going to those apps to find sex , not to find knowledge. The results are not that favourable, he said. People merely close it.

The UN is now also advocating for comprehensive sex education beyond a simple explanation of the sex organ and for reducing the age at which adolescents can take an HIV test without parental consent.

AIDS is already the leading cause of demise for adolescents in Africa and the second leading cause of death among teens globally, tripling over the past 15 years and largely as a result of mother-to-child transmission. However, this new breed of epidemic found in Asia-Pacific could be replicated elsewhere, public health officials warn.

There is a risk of not being able to eliminate Aids at all, Wing-Sie said. This is the new frontier of Aids to tackle right now. The world can never end Aids if this matter is not controlled.

Read more: www.theguardian.com

Emma Watson starts feminist book group on Twitter

1 month, 19 days ago

Actor pledges to ask stars including Taylor Swift and JK Rowling to join platform for reading deliberation, to be named Our Shared Shelf

Harry Potter actor, UN ambassador and feminism campaigner Emma Waston has announced she is starting a feminist volume group on Twitter, called Our Shared Shelf. Watson, who is a goodwill ambassador for UN Women and figurehead of the gender equality campaign HeforShe, tweeted yesterday that she wanted to start the book club, with her request for indicated names for the group sparking a flurry of responses.

Emma Watson (@ EmWatson) January 6, 2016

Hi Team, I want to start a feminist book club but so far have only brainstormed ‘Feminist Book Club’ and ‘Emma Watson Book Club’.

After suggestions including Wats Up Fems, Watson Your Shelf and Hermiones Army, Watson announced today that she absolutely loved Twitter user @ emilyfabbs suggestion: Our Shared Shelf and portended further information about the book club was still to come.

Emma Watson (@ EmWatson) January 7, 2016

Thank you to everyone who came up with ideas and suggestions. That was VERY cool of you all. More info coming soon … Xxx

Twitters response has been enthusiastic: alongside punters, retired American footballer Abby Wambach, performer Sophia Bush and singer Kate Voegele have all tweeted they would take part in the club, with Watson agreeing to ask Harry Potter author JK Rowling and singer Taylor Swift to join in.

The first volume may have been chosen: when Wambach asked for nominations, Watson elected American feminist Gloria Steinems latest memoir, My Life on the Road, a collection of the authors reflections on her life and activism that the Guardian called illuminating.

Emma Watson (@ EmWatson) January 7, 2016

@AbbyWambach @katevoegele @SophiaBush @GloriaSteinem only released a new memoir? Thought it seemed like a good place 2begin? #MyLifeOnTheRoad

Watson made headlines when she launched the UNs HeForShe campaign in 2014, asking men to help women tackle sexism and for increased awareness of the negative impact masculine stereotypes had on men. Both men and women should feel free to be sensitive. Both men and women should feel free to be strong, she said, in her speech to UN delegates.

Watson is not alone in her aspirations to start an online celebrity volume club: actor Gwyneth Paltrow operates a cookbook club on her lifestyle website Goop, while fellow actor Reese Witherspoon who has a history of producing film adaptations of her favourite books, including Gillian Flynns novel Gone Girl and Cheryl Strayeds memoir Wild runs a volume club on Instagram, on the hashtag #RWBookclub.

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg announced his biweekly volume club in January last year, focusing on books that have an emphasis on learning about different cultures, faiths, histories and technologies. Zuckerbergs first choice, The Objective of Power by Moises Naim, rocketed up the Amazon bestsellers list, outstripping 18 months of marketings in days after the announcement.

Read more: www.theguardian.com

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