How To Become a Master at Talking To Strangers

A couple of years ago, I started to talk to strangers. That’s not to say I hadn’t talked to strangers before that, because I had. I’m the son and brother of highly social small-­business owners, and I’m a journalist, so talking to strangers has been both a way of life and a livelihood for me. And yet, a few years ago I noticed I wasn’t doing it much anymore — if at all. Between balancing a demanding job and a really demanding small child, I was often tired, distracted, and overscheduled. The prospect of striking up conversations with random strangers in coffee shops, or bars, or on the bus started to feel daunting. Eventually, I just stopped doing it.

This was a coping strategy, of course. I was overwhelmed, so something had to go. And talking to strangers can, as it turns out, be taxing. Psychologists have found that just making with a stranger can be cognitively demanding, tiring, and even stressful. That makes sense. You don’t know the person, you don’t know where the conversation is going, so you must pay closer attention than you would if you were talking to someone you know well. But psychologists have found that talking to a stranger actually boosts your mental performance — for that same reason: It’s a workout. I was saving myself a bit of effort, but I also noticed that my life was becoming less interesting, less surprising, maybe even a little lonely.

Related: 3 Ways to Make Memorable Small Talk That Gets People Interested In Working With You

After my epiphany, I got to wondering: Why don’t we talk to strangers more, what happens when we do, and how can we get better at it? It turns out, many researchers are asking the same questions. I started flying around the world to meet them: psychologists, evolutionary scientists, historians, urban planners, entrepreneurs, sociologists, and — you guessed it — a ton of fascinating strangers I met along the way. They all taught me that talking to strangers can not only be fun but also enhance our sense of well-being, make us smarter, expand our social and professional networks, and even help us overcome some of our most intractable social problems. (I detail this all in my new book, The Power of Strangers: The Benefits of Connecting in a Suspicious World.)

And as I researched the book, I kept coming back to the implications talking to strangers could have for entrepreneurs. Because I come from a family of small-business owners — and for a while served as executive editor at this magazine — I have seen firsthand how beneficial it is for businesspeople to hone those social skills. I have also spoken to a lot of college professors who lament that their students struggle to make the sorts of serendipitous social connections that will serve them so well once they start their careers. And, like all of us, I’m coming out of a year spent in relative quarantine. I’m rusty on these skills and need to get used to the sorts of fun, fruitful, and, yes, sometimes difficult freewheeling social interactions we were deprived of for more than a year.

All of which is to say, I decided that I needed to become an expert at talking to strangers. How? I signed up for a class unlike anything I’d ever taken before and bought a plane ticket to London.


Our journey begins on a bright day in a small classroom at Regent’s University. I’m sitting on a chair, limp with jet lag, clutching my third cup of coffee. There are four other people there, too. They appear to be functioning at a higher level than I am, thankfully. We have come to this classroom to learn how to talk to strangers.

Our teacher is an energetic 20-something named Georgie Nightingall. She’s the founder of Trigger Conversations, an acclaimed London-based “human connection organization” that hosts social events and immersive workshops aimed at helping people have meaningful interactions with strangers. Since she founded it in 2016, Nightingall has done more than 100 events and many training sessions — with strangers, companies, communities, universities, and conferences, both in London and around the world.

Related: How to Start a Conversation With Strangers at a Networking Event

Nightingall has learned that, for a lot of people, the hardest thing about talking to strangers is initiating the conversation: approaching someone, making them feel safe, and quickly conveying the idea that you don’t have an agenda, that you’re just being friendly or curious. She found that older people are much more likely to initiate a conversation, for instance, whereas younger people require a little more assurance. But she also found that in all her own attempts to speak to strangers, the vast majority of those interactions were substantial, and many went great.

She came to believe, too — and this is important — that making a practice of talking to strangers could offer more than a jolt of good feeling for an individual. There was joy in it, profundity, real communion. If practiced widely enough, she believed it could help repair a fracturing society. “We’re not just talking about a few individualized things,” she says. “We’re talking about a different way to live.”

Nightingall stands before our class, bright, engaging, and articulate, and walks us through what to expect over the coming days. She wants to take us “from unconscious incompetence to conscious incompetence, and from conscious competence to unconscious competence,” she says. In other words, we are currently bad at this and we’re unaware of why or how. We will learn what we are lacking. We will improve on it. And we will, hopefully, become so proficient that it will become second nature to us.

Our first lesson is small talk. A lot of people hate small talk, which is understandable, because a lot of small talk is deadly boring. Nightingall concedes the point. Yes, she says, small talk can be dull. But that’s because most people don’t understand what it’s for. It’s not the conversation. It’s the opener for a better conversation. It’s a way to get comfortable with one another and cast around for something you want to talk about. That, she says, is why it’s important to be aware of your response when someone asks something like “What do you do?” You are failing to understand what that question is really asking, which is this: “What should you and I talk about?”

Nightingall came to this insight via a couple of sources. She had done improve comedy in the past, and in improve, you start a sketch with something familiar to everyone in the audience — something relevant, timely, or present in the room — to bind the room together. Only then can you really take the audience on a ride. That’s small talk. But Nightingall has also followed the work of social anthropologist Kate Fox, who has studied, for instance, the seemingly inexhaustible English desire to discuss weather. While some critics have pointed to this affinity as evidence of a listless and unimaginative people, Fox argued that weather wasn’t the point. Instead, it is a means of social bonding, a greeting ritual. “English weather-speak is a form of code, evolved to help us overcome our natural reserve and actually talk to each other,” Fox writes. The content is not the point — familiarity, connection, and reassurance are. Once those are in place, a real conversation can happen.

When you recognize that small talk is just a door to a better conversation, Nightingall says, then it can be useful, because it’s structured in a way that naturally leads you toward common ground. We have all experienced how these conversations, if given the time, can move in ever-tightening circles until you both zero in on something you have in common and want to talk about. With that in place, you can wander, get a little personal, go deeper. But it’s probably on you to take it there, Nightingall says. “Everyone is interesting, but it’s not up to them to show you — it’s up to you to discover it.”

The best way to discover that interesting stuff, Nightingall says, is by “breaking the script.” That means using the techniques of small talk, but resisting the temptation to go on autopilot. For example, you go into a store and say, “How are you doing?” and the clerk says, “Fine; how are you?” and the conversation contains no information and goes nowhere. That’s a script. We use scripts to make interactions more efficient, particularly in busy, dense, fast-moving places like big cities. But in doing so, we deny ourselves the chance at a better experience and maybe a new contact, and we wall ourselves off from all the benefits that can come from talking to strangers.

Related: 10 Ways to Connect With Absolutely Anyone You Meet

So how do you break those scripts? With specificity and surprise, Nightingall says. For example, when someone says, “How are you?” she doesn’t say, “Fine.” Instead, she says, “I’d say I’m a 7.5 out of 10.” She briefly explains why she’s a 7.5, asks them how they’re doing, and then just waits. This is when mirroring kicks in; it’s a phenomenon where people naturally follow the lead of their conversational partners. If you say something generic, they will say something generic. If you say something specific, they are likely to as well. Thus, because Nightingall gave a number, her partner is likely to give a number themselves. If they say they’re a 6, Nightingall will ask, “What’ll it take to get you to an 8?” This specificity creates a light atmosphere and makes it harder for the other person to maintain the that you’re of a lesser mind, because it instantly demonstrates complexity, feeling, and humor: humanity, in other words. “Straightaway, they’re like, ‘Oh, you’re a human,’ ” Nightingall says. “You have that bond, and then, naturally, things open up.”

Here are other ways Nightingall suggests breaking a script. When a shop clerk asks, “Can I help you?” you can reply, “Can I help you?” Or instead of asking people at a party what they do, ask them what they’d like to do more of, or what they don’t do. Or instead of asking someone how their day went, ask, “Has your day lived up to your expectations?” All these things require a certain measure of confidence to pull off, Nightingall says. But they work. And when they do, they will reveal a little nugget of what it’s like to be that person. That is meaningful, because that nugget is indicative of what is beneath the surface. “How you do anything is how you do everything,” Nightingall says. That nugget tells you where to go next in the conversation.


Once you’ve established a little connection, what do you do? I normally start asking questions. Which makes sense: I’m showing an interest in the other person, and I demonstrate my interest by indulging my curiosity. But one paradox about talking to a stranger, Nightingall explains, is that while curiosity is indispensable, a barrage of questions out of the gate can feel like prying, or an interview. They don’t quite know where you’re coming from yet, and they don’t know if you have some kind of agenda. Even one personal question asked too early can create an uncomfortable dynamic because you’re asking something of someone. You’re making a demand.

Nightingall suggests that statements, not questions, can be a better way to open a conversation. A question compels an answer, whereas a statement leaves it up to the other person to decide whether they want to talk. It’s not a demand; it’s an offer. You notice something about your shared surroundings, offer an observation, and leave it to the other party to respond. If they do, you respond with another statement that builds on what they said.

These observations should ideally not be moronic — “I noticed that the sun came up today!” — but they can be simple. Like weather talk in England, the point is to indicate a shared experience. Nightingall has found that proximity helps, too. If you are at a museum, walking right up to someone looking at a painting and blurting out “What do you think?” is very different from making an observation about a painting after standing next to them for 30 seconds looking at it. That’s because you have been in their proximity. They have adjusted to your being there, and you have demonstrated a measure of self-control. Then you can speak. It feels less like an invasion.

Related: How to Become a Master Communicator by Following This One Rule

One day in class, my fellow students and I pair off to practice our technique. I’m partnered with “Paula,” who tells me that one of her favorite things is making a cup of good coffee for herself on the weekends and just sitting alone. I try to remember Nightingall’s advice about opening with statements, not questions, but now we’re in a groove — so I dig in. After four questions, Paula is talking about how resentful she is at having to work for other people. I’m obviously quite pleased with myself as I trot back to Nightingall with this pheasant in my mouth. But she is less impressed. She delicately explains that while “it’s clear you’re a person who asks questions for a living,” everything about my suggested I was looking for something to pounce on. I asked questions too quickly, she said. I was leaning forward. This wasn’t a conversation; it was an interview. Possibly an interrogation.

Nightingall suggested asking simpler and more open-ended questions. Instead of saying, “Do you think this was because you were a control freak?” just echo, or say, “Why do you think that is?” That is the opposite of what I usually do, but it’s what I must learn to do. In a good conversation, you must relinquish control. Your job is to help your partner arrive at their own conclusion and surprise you, not to ferret out whatever it is, slap a bow on it, and go, Next! There’s a powerful lesson there: If you’re interested only in things you know you’re interested in, you will never be surprised. You’ll never learn anything new, or gain a fresh perspective, or make a new friend or contact. The key to talking to strangers, it turns out, is letting go, letting them lead. Then the world opens itself to you.

Why don’t we talk to strangers? The answer I heard, over and over again from experts, is simply that we don’t talk to strangers. In many places, for many reasons, it has become a social norm, and social norms are really powerful. That is why Nightingall uses what she calls a foolproof method to not just violate the norm — but to openly acknowledge that you are violating the norm.

She asks us to imagine riding mass transit — which, as we know, is the last place anyone ever talks to a stranger. There is someone who strikes us as interesting. We can’t turn to that person and say, “Why do I find you so interesting?” because if you said something like that to a stranger on the subway, they’re going to assume this is the initiation of a chain of events that will ultimately conclude with their becoming crude homemade taxidermy. So Nightingall suggests something called a pre-frame. It’s an idea based in the field of neurolinguistic programming, which coaches people to “reframe” the possible negative thoughts of others — ­­in essence redefining their expectations for the interaction to come. Ordinarily, we might be wary if a stranger just starts talking to us. We don’t know who they are, or what they want, or whether they’re right in the head. What a pre-frame does is reassure them that you know all this.

To do it, you acknowledge out of the gate that this is a violation of a social norm. You say something like “Look, I know we’re not supposed to talk to people on the subway, but…” This demonstrates that you’re in full possession of your faculties. You’re not erratic, disturbed, or otherwise off in some way. It helps alleviate wariness and opens the possibility of a connection. Once that is established, Nightingall says, you follow the pre-frame with your statement — “I really like your sunglasses,” for instance. Then you follow that with a justification: “I just lost mine and I’ve been looking for a new pair.” The justification eases the person’s suspicion that you have some kind of agenda and allows you to talk a little more openly.

Related: What to Do When You Don’t Know Anyone in the Room

That’s when questions become more important, Nightingall says. Questions serve a multitude of functions, which is why, as I learned in my exercise with Paula, they can be so complicated. Yes, questions help you obtain information. And yes, on a deeper level, they help your conversational partner clarify the point they are trying to make. But they also help us emotionally bond with other people. In a series of studies in 2017, psychologist Karen Huang and her colleagues discovered that “people who ask more questions, particularly follow-up questions, are better liked by their conversation partners.” Those who ask more questions, the authors found, are perceived as higher in responsiveness — which is defined as “listening, , validation, and care.” In other words, people like us because we are interested in them.

And yet, the researchers noted, people tend not to ask a lot of questions. Why? Several reasons. “First,” Huang writes, “people may not think to ask questions at all…because people are egocentric — ­focused on expressing their own thoughts, feelings, and beliefs with little or no interest in hearing what another person has to say. Or they may be so distracted by other aspects of the conversation that they do not realize that asking a question is an option.” Even if a question does pop into someone’s head, they may not ask it, because they worry it’ll land badly and be “perceived as rude, inappropriate, intrusive, or incompetent.” In these cases, people will probably just talk about themselves, which studies show they do twice as often as they talk about other matters — ­which, ironically, makes people like them less. (Good work, everybody.)

But what’s a good question to ask? Nightingall has us complete an exercise in which we are given banal statements — the sort commonly offered in small talk—and tasked with coming up with good questions. For instance, one student says she ran along the Thames yesterday. There is almost nothing in the world less interesting to me than running, and usually I’d take this as my cue to begin plotting my escape. But, working from the idea that small talk is the means, not the end, the class brainstorms good questions to ask that might lead to something more personal or interesting: “Do you run every day?” “Is that a passion for you?” “What would you do if you couldn’t run every day?” I suggest, “What are you running from?” which is meant as a joke, but the class seems to go for it.

Then we move on to the flip side of question-asking: It is listening. When people do start talking, you must listen, make eye contact, and generally show you’re engaged. We know this, of course. But we are not always good at showing it. Two effective techniques to signal engagement are paraphrasing what people have just said — “It seems like you’re saying…” — and echoing — which is simply occasionally repeating things your partner just said—both of which are commonly used by therapists and hostage negotiators to foster connection and build trust. For instance, if they say, “I guess at that point I was frustrated,” you say, “You were frustrated.” This seems deeply weird and unnatural, and feels awkward to do, and if you overdo it, your partner is going to think something’s wrong with you. But I am here to attest that, done well, it is extremely effective. It’s like a magic trick. Researchers have concluded as much. According to the French psychologists Nicolas Guéguen and Angélique Martin, “Research has shown that mimicry…leads to greater liking of the mimicker” and helps create rapport during a social interaction.

Nightingall breaks down listening into three levels. There is listening for things you know about. That’s the most superficial level. That’s when someone says something about baseball and you jump on it and start talking about baseball. Then there is listening for information — you show curiosity about someone but your questions are about collecting factual data. That’s also more about you and your interests. And then there’s the deepest level of listening: listening for experiences, feelings, motivations, and values. That kind of listening is more than simply hearing, or self-­affirmation. It’s paying attention and endeavoring to understand. It is demonstrated with eye contact, echoing, and paraphrasing, and it can be deepened by asking clarifying questions —­ Why? How? Who? — that help the person get to the heart of the matter.

In other words, at this level of listening, you are not simply listening for something you want to talk about, or offering advice, or trying to think of something smart to say in response. It’s not about your agenda. It is a level of engagement that is about helping your partner get to what they really want to talk about, and you going along for the ride. You still want to talk about yourself a bit, Nightingall says — to give a little, and not leave the person feeling like you’ve just rummaged around in the bureau of their personal life and made off with a watch. But you want most of the focus to be on them. It is, again, a form of . You are hosting someone. You are surrendering a measure of control. You are giving them space. You are taking a risk. That risk opens you to the potential rewards of talking to a stranger.

During lunch and after class, I try out some of these techniques around London. I ask a 20-something bartender at a pub if the day has met her expectations, and she confesses with very little prompting that yes, it has. She’s about to quit her day job. She feels she’s been sold a bill of goods about the merits of a straight corporate career, and she’s going to empty her savings and travel the world. She hasn’t told anyone this yet, she says. But she will soon.

At lunch at a Lebanese takeout restaurant, I ask the owner what items he’s most proud of — because that’s what I want. He starts taking bits of this and that and dropping them into my bag. I tell him I grew up in a white neighborhood, and when I was a kid, a Lebanese family moved in behind us and used to hand us plates over the fence of what was at that time very exotic food. Since then, Lebanese food has always been among my favorites. Curiously, when I eat it, I think about home. This, as Nightingall instructed, was me opening up the conversation with a statement, not a question. The owner tells me that in Lebanon, that kind of hospitality is a big deal; people always make a lot of food for visitors. While he talks, he keeps dropping more food into my bag. When he’s done, the bag weighs about five pounds and he charges me for maybe a third of it.

Related: Here’s How to Strike Up a Conversation With Almost Anyone

At the end of the final day of class, Nightingall tells us that practice will be everything. Some encounters will go poorly, she says, and some will be great, but in time, we will get more comfortable with doing this as we internalize the techniques we have learned. We will be able to get a little bolder or more playful. Our confidence, tone, and body language will alleviate people’s wariness at the flagrant violation of a social norm of long standing.

Indeed, Nightingall is something of a wizard at this. She once started a conversation with a man on the tube just by pointing at his hat, smiling, and saying, simply, “Hat.” She will randomly high-five people in the street, she says. She smiles at people going the opposite direction down an escalator just to see if they’ll smile back. She doesn’t order an Americano; she orders “the best Americano in the world.” And people respond. During a break one day, I walked into the campus Starbucks to get more coffee. Nightingall was already in there, talking animatedly with a barista she’d never met before. When she and I walked out, she told me he gave her the coffee on the house.

Nightingall’s free coffee, my Lebanese meal — these were not coincidences. As I learned repeatedly while testing techniques of talking to strangers, I’d often be rewarded with free food. There are, of course, far more fruitful, meaningful, and valuable reasons to talk to strangers. But the food stuck with me. Then I realized why: When you start a good conversation with a stranger, it’s like you’re giving them an uncommon gift. And more often than not, they want to give you something in return.

Joe Keohane

By: Joe Keohane / Magazine Contributor

Source: How to Become a Master at Talking to Strangers

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References:

“Micro review: ‘Talking to Strangers’ by Malcolm Gladwell – Times of India”. The Times of India. 5 October 2019. Retrieved 2020-04-07.v

Long Working Hours Killing 745,000 People a Year, Study Finds

 

The first global study of its kind showed 745,000 people died in 2016 from stroke and heart disease due to long hours.The report found that people living in South East Asia and the Western Pacific region were the most affected.

The WHO also said the trend may worsen due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The research found that working 55 hours or more a week was associated with a 35% higher risk of stroke and a 17% higher risk of dying from heart disease, compared with a working week of 35 to 40 hours.

The study, conducted with the International Labour Organization (ILO), also showed almost three quarters of those that died as a result of working long hours were middle-aged or older men.

Often, the deaths occurred much later in life, sometimes decades later, than the long hours were worked.Five weeks ago, a post on LinkedIn from 45-year-old Jonathan Frostick gained widespread publicity as he described how he’d had a wake-up call over long working hours.

The regulatory program manager working for HSBC had just sat down on a Sunday afternoon to prepare for the working week ahead when he felt a tightness in his chest, a throbbing in his throat, jawline and arm, and difficulty breathing.

“I got to the bedroom so I could lie down, and got the attention of my wife who phoned 999,” he said.While recovering from his heart-attack, Mr Frostick decided to restructure his approach to work. “I’m not spending all day on Zoom anymore,” he said.

His post struck a chord with hundreds of readers, who shared their experiences of overwork and the impact on their health.Mr Frostick doesn’t blame his employer for the long hours he was putting in, but one respondent said: “Companies continue to push people to their limits without concern for your personal well-being.”

HSBC said everyone at the bank wished Mr Frostick a full and speedy recovery.”We also recognise the importance of personal health and wellbeing and a good work-life balance. Over the last year we have redoubled our efforts on health and wellbeing.

“The response to this topic shows how much this is on people’s minds and we are encouraging everyone to make their health and wellbeing a top priority.”

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While the WHO study did not cover the period of the pandemic, WHO officials said the recent jump in remote working and the economic slowdown may have increased the risks associated with long working hours.

“We have some evidence that shows that when countries go into national lockdown, the number of hours worked increase by about 10%,” WHO technical officer Frank Pega said.

The report said working long hours was estimated to be responsible for about a third of all work-related disease, making it the largest occupational disease burden.

The researchers said that there were two ways longer working hours led to poor health outcomes: firstly through direct physiological responses to stress, and secondly because longer hours meant workers were more likely to adopt health-harming behaviours such as tobacco and alcohol use, less sleep and exercise, and an unhealthy diet.

Andrew Falls, 32, a service engineer based in Leeds, says the long hours at his previous employer took a toll on his mental and physical health.”Fifty to 55 hour weeks were the norm. I was also away from home for weeks on end.”

“Stress, depression, anxiety, it was a cauldron of bad feedback loops,” he says. “I was in a constant state of being run down.”After five years he left the job to retrain as a software engineer. The number of people working long hours was increasing before the pandemic struck, according to the WHO, and was around 9% of the total global population.

In the UK, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) found that people working from home during the pandemic were putting in an average of six hours of unpaid overtime a week. People who did not work from home put in an average of 3.6 hours a week overtime, the ONS said.

The WHO suggests that employers should now take this into account when assessing the occupational health risks of their workers. Capping hours would be beneficial for employers as that had been shown to increase productivity, Mr Pega said. “It’s really a smart choice to not increase long working hours in an economic crisis.”

Source: Long working hours killing 745,000 people a year, study finds – BBC News

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References

“Spain introduces new working hours law requiring employees to clock in and out”. Idealista. Retrieved 30 April 2020.

How To Actually Stop Caring What Other People Think Of You

Firstly, don’t beat yourself up for caring about the opinions of others – we’re actually programmed to do it, so that’s extra negativity you don’t need.

“We care about what people think about us because we need to belong to a group,” says Counselling Directory member Dr Melissa Sedmak. “This is hard-wired into us and there was even research a few years back about how we accept lies from people (unconsciously) just to be a ’member of the tribe’.

“As species, we have an innate need to belong in order to survive. Therefore, caring about what other people think, and tailoring how we express ourselves and who we are, enables us to fit in and not become an outcast.”

Like most things in life, it should be activated in moderation, though, says life coach Kanika Tandon. “Caring about the opinions of other people helps when it comes to working as a group,” she says, “but it turns into a problem when we begin to lose the path to our integrity by putting others before us.

“It crosses a line when we begin to make decisions on how it will be received by others instead of what we truly, genuinely want and desire.”Taking time to figure out what you truly value in life can be the first step in realigning your behaviour.

“A lot of people in lockdown have come to question their choices because they realised they were loving life according to other people’s standards and values,” says Tandon. “Realising that we are people-pleasing is the first step to finding solutions.”

To further redress the balance, it can also help to ask yourself whether your group – or “tribe” – would really judge you for making a mistake/saying what you think, or whether this fear of judgement stems entirely from you.

“We need to ask ourselves: is this just a perceived mould we are trying to fit in or are these expectations of my tribe really this high? And if they are real, do I want to associate with the tribe where people impose this mould on the members?” says Dr Sedmak. “Is there another tribe where I would fit better, with having to let go of less of myself?”

Having strong self-esteem will help you stick to your decisions, adds life coach Joanna Ward. “Remind yourself of your achievements, qualities, skills and your unique perspective,” she says. “Be in touch with your purpose. Understand why you’re taking the path you’re taking. If you can explain it to yourself as much as to others, you’re less easily swayed by alternatives.”

For big life choices, Tandon recommends asking big, long-term questions, such as: “Will I regret the decision five-10 years down the line?”

But for the smaller, every day worries, when our biggest concern is looking a bit silly, Ward says it’s good to respond with humour and never be afraid to laugh at yourself and at life. After all, what’s the worst that could happen?

Rachel Moss - Reporter at HuffPost UK

 

By:

Source: How To Actually Stop Caring What Other People Think Of You | HuffPost UK Life

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David Goggins is an American ultramarathon runner, ultra-distance cyclist, triathlete, motivational speaker, and author. He is a retired United States Navy SEAL and former United States Air Force Tactical Air Control Party member who served in the Iraq War. His self-help memoir, Can’t Hurt Me, was released in 2018. ►Credits: Speaker Credits: David Goggins Music Credits: Whitesand https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCe96… Music Credits: Borrtex https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCAiH… Music Credits: “Keys of Moon – The Epic Hero” is under a Creative Commons license (CC BY-SA 3.0) https://creativecommons.org/licenses/​… Music promoted by BreakingCopyright: https://youtu.be/ETbsXdqgcTM

YouTube Remove Man Who Wanted Sick People to Drink Paint Thinner

Candida and parasite elimination specialist, Danny Glass, has been telling people for years on YouTube how to remove parasites from their system. Ironically, YouTube has done just that, as they have removed him from their platform for violating terms of service.

Danny, who is currently living in Thailand, offers “health coaching” services under the name Sun Fruit Dan.  Before YouTube deleted him from their platform, he had uploaded over 1,300 videos, in which he would promote dangerous fringe alternative health treatments to his nearly 90,000 followers. For example, Danny published tens of videos rambling about the alleged health benefits of consuming the industrial bleach, Miracle Mineral Solution (MMS), believing it to cure everything from Candida (an opportunistic pathogenic yeast) to HIV. He was also a strong supporter of the Genesis II cult and their self-styled Archbishop leader Jim Humble, who first promoted MMS as a panacea and who sees consumption of the hazardous chemicals as sacrament. Danny went so far as to recommend a book written by the cult’s leader, which recommends injecting critically ill people with this bleach.

Danny is perhaps best known as YouTube’s most prevalent pusher of drinking turpentine, believing it to be a panacea. Turpentine is comprised of a mixture of aromatic organic compounds known as terpenes, and is primarily used as a solvent or paint thinner. It is obtained by the distillation of the resin from pine trees and, therefore, is natural and, according to Danny, is safe to consume.

In the past, turpentine and it’s related products have a long history of medical use, mainly as topical counterirritants for the treatment of muscle pain. For a brief period of time, these compounds became the main ingredients in snake oil cure-alls, along with ammonia and chloroform, but as moderne medicine not only progressed, but became more accessible, this cure-all tonic became a thing of the past. That was until a woman by the name of Jennifer Daniels began prescribing the paint thinner to her patients. As you can imagine, this did not go down well with the authorities, who began to investigate Daniels. According to the New York medical board, she surrendered her license in 1989, less than 6 years after it was granted, to avoid any further investigation into her questionable treatment methods (like when she fed an incredibly sick woman a glass of kerosene) or board actions. No longer able to practice medicine, Daniels moved to Panama, where she is making a comfortable living producing books, radio shows, CDs, and videos selling supplements and health coaching.

Both Danny and Daniels subscribe to the idea that Candida is responsible for all of man’s ailments, and believe that turpentine can rid the body of this parasite. Although Candida exists, it is not responsible for any of the plethora of illnesses these charlatans claim it to be and, in many ways, is a fake disease.

There is zero evidence to suggest that consuming turpentine will have any health benefits, but there is a mountain of data to prove its toxicity. Yet, despite this simple fact, Danny became one of turpentine therapy’s strongest supporters, publishing hundreds of videos on the subject, all of which had Amazon affiliate links in the underbar. When combined with ludicrous amounts of Google ads he would pepper throughout his videos, Danny earned “thousands, upon thousands, upon thousands” of dollars every month.

The more of Danny’s videos I watched, the more concerned I became, as It became clear early on that his viewers who had tried turpentine therapy had become unwell. They had reached out to Danny, after feeling the effects of consuming this toxic solvent, for advice, and were told in multiple videos to continue consuming it. Danny, who has no medical or scientific qualifications, did this because he believes “pain is healing” and the discomfort you feel when consuming turpentine is not a direct result of your body interacting with this toxic substance, but from the toxins released from the parasites after it kills them.

I felt compelled to make a video because I believed it would only be a matter of time before someone was seriously hurt after following Danny’s advice. I hoped that my video would either deter one of Danny’s unsuspecting victims, or even help the man himself see how dangerous the fringe alternative health treatments he promotes are.

Soon after publishing the video I got my answer.

The fact that the first thing to come to his mind after watching my video was money and views, and not the wellbeing of the people who listen to his ‘medical’ advice, says everything about him. Despite being confronted with evidence that, not only were the products and treatments he was promoting useless, but also potentially life threatening, Danny continued to publish videos promoting the magical non-existent properties of turpentine. That was until YouTube, earlier this month, removed him from their platform.

 

Danny was removed from the platform because he violated the YouTube terms of service; particularly their policies on publishing content that “aims to encourage dangerous or illegal activities that risk serious physical harm or death”. This was obvious to everyone apart from Danny, who couldn’t fathom why he would be removed from the site.

In the video below, published on his second channel, Danny is confused as to why his channel has been removed, believing that the only reasons channels are ever terminated is because of copyright strikes, advertiser unfriendly content, and videos in which people swear.

People like Danny believe what they believe because they want to believe it. They think they are in possession of privileged knowledge, which gives them a sense of unwarranted authority and importance that they lack in their day to day mundane life. That’s why when they are confronted with information that contradicts their beliefs, they double down, even if it means they continue to spread dangerous ideas, because it’s all about them, them, THEM!

“And it’s not just affecting me. The main issue I have with this is, yes it’s affecting my income, but also at the same time it’s stopping me from fulfilling my mission and helping as many people as possible. So much of my information in the videos I have made have helped so many people heal from so many health issues and symptoms. So now people can’t receive that content. And I am not spreading my message through YouTube, which is one of the biggest social media platforms in the world.” – Danny Glass

Danny is deluded! He never helped anyone! He conned them into drinking poison so he could make a quick buck! When confronted with evidence that he may be promoting harmful treatments, he gloated that the increased viewership would generate him more money.

In his latest video, Danny said he was moving to BitChute, which would allow him to make more risky content. Clearly, he’s running with this, as his latest video is advising on how to give ‘turpentine therapy’ to dogs.

The guy is quite literally a parasite feeding off the desperation and ignorance of his hosts, making himself wealthy as he makes them ill. I, for one, am glad that YouTube acted on his advice and removed this parasite from their platform. I can only hope that he is the first of many.

Source: YouTube Remove Man Who Wanted Sick People to Drink Paint Thinner

20-year-old college student says Uber driver left her on side of the road when he found out she was getting an abortion

A 20-year-old college student’s Reddit post about “the worst, most backwards day” of her life is gaining traction online after she recounted how she was dropped on the side of the road by an Uber driver who disagreed with her decision to get an abortion.

Claire Montgomery, a pseudonym, was faced with a difficult decision after finding out that she was pregnant in March. The college sophomore at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, tells Yahoo Lifestyle that she was talking to her boyfriend, who attends school in North Carolina, about how her period had been about a week late. And although she had put aside the anxiety of possibly being pregnant because she had previously taken Plan B, an emergency contraception pill, she took a pregnancy test and realized that what she feared had come true.

“The minute I saw that the test was positive I called my boyfriend, hysterical, and told him the news,” Montgomery says. “I cried for the rest of the weekend and stayed in bed. I didn’t go outside unless I absolutely had to. I shut down.”

The student explains that she felt that she couldn’t confide in anybody at school about the pregnancy or her decision to get an abortion because it wasn’t “an appropriate or proportional response to innocent small talk” taking place on campus or in class. Montgomery also felt uncomfortable about unnecessarily burdening other people with her “personal problems.”

Montgomery faced more discomfort, however, when she turned to Uber for a ride to a doctor’s appointment on March 21, where she was going for a non-surgical medical abortion by herself.

“The minute I got into the car, there was inexplicable tension. My driver didn’t greet me or confirm my name or the destination; he was just silent. After a few minutes, he asked if we were going to a Planned Parenthood,” she says. “I was confused about why he would ask me this, considering there was nothing in the address I put in that would suggest it was a Planned Parenthood or even near one. I said, ‘No, I’m just going to a doctor’s appointment.’ A few more minutes of uncomfortable silence passed. Then he asked, ‘Are… are we going to an abortion clinic?’ I was dumbfounded.”

Montgomery admits that tears immediately came to her eyes, and she felt like her heart had stopped beating.

“All the embarrassment and shame I had been feeling the last week or so rose to the surface,” she says. “I looked at him pleadingly, silently begging him to stop.”

The driver, identified only by Montgomery as Scott, continued to press her for information before describing the procedure to her in detail.

“I know it’s none of my business, but you’re going to regret this for the rest of your life,” he allegedly told her. “There’s so much they don’t tell you. You’re making a mistake.”

Montgomery checked the map on her phone in the moments that she had service, as they were driving through a rural area just outside of Ithaca. The ride would still be another 35 minutes when the driver suddenly pulled over near a small gas station and antiques shop on Route 38 and told Montgomery that he couldn’t take her any farther.

The young woman says that despite the sudden end to her ride, she thanked him as she got out of the car on the side of a road in Upstate New York.

“I was scared and I felt more alone than I had ever felt,” she says.

But she was still set on finding a way to her appointment.

“I took refuge on the porch of the antiques shop and called my parents, each three times. No answer. I called my boyfriend, who I had been texting throughout this whole ordeal, and he picked up on the first ring. Through my heaves and sobs I managed to tell him the situation,” she recalls. “As I called the three cab companies closest to me, my Uber driver waited 10 feet away, probably expecting me to go back to Ithaca with him. After about 15 minutes, he asked me once more if I wanted him to drive me back. Firmly, I said no thank you. He drove away, and about 15 minutes later a cab came.”

Montgomery paid $120 for a cab that took her the remaining half-hour of the drive. When she got to the clinic an hour after her appointment time, she felt “incredible relief” to be in the company of doctors who treated her with dignity and respect. She admits that her ride home was also uncomfortable, but she didn’t feel unsafe as she had during the Uber ride prior.

“I debated sticking up for myself, justifying my choice to get an abortion with my young age or my inability to provide for this child financially had I brought it to term, but I knew I shouldn’t have to justify my choices to anyone, least of all my Uber driver,” she says. “Was responding to this man’s harassment potentially worth my life? Would my responding actually change anything, or deescalate the situation? Maybe, but to me, it wasn’t worth the risk.”

For a split second, Montgomery says she even considered exiting the vehicle while it was in motion, thinking that even a life-threatening injury was preferable to being in the car.

But Montgomery opted to not take action in that moment, which she notes “is a decision I’ll always regret.” Once she was home though, she reported Scott to Uber and filed a police report with the Ithaca Police Department.

“The officer I met with who filed the report was very sympathetic, but he insisted that nothing criminal had actually occurred,” she explains. “Uber comped my ride, and after telling them I filed a police report against the driver, a representative immediately got in touch with me and apologized for my experience on Uber’s behalf. He said they would launch an investigation, during which Scott’s account would be suspended, so he’d be unable to pick up riders. Within a few days, the representative said Scott was permanently banned from the app.”

Uber confirmed to Yahoo Lifestyle that the driver was removed from the service as his actions violated the company’s community guidelines. Montgomery says it was a small price for Scott to pay.

“Sometimes I think of Scott going home to his family and feeling like a hero for what he did. A job driving for Uber is a small price to pay for a misguided attempt at saving a life, right? I imagine his colleagues at his main job (if he has one) patting him on the back, congratulating him for his courageous decision to leave a 20-year-old pregnant girl on the side of the road, alone, in March, with no way back home except with him, in the back of the car he just expelled her from,” she says. “He’ll never understand the ramifications of his actions. He’ll never know the pain he caused. He’ll never pay for what he did in the way that I’ve paid for it, emotionally and psychologically.”

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To help with the emotional pain, Montgomery turned to Reddit, where she shared her story and received more than 3,500 responses — most of which she says were positive. Now, nearly a month after that fateful day, she said that Reddit played a part in her healing.

“Writing about it felt akin to writing in a diary; I was rushing to get it all on the page, and writing it down helped me to process it,” Montgomery says. “Reddit was an unbelievable comfort and resource, and I’m not sure what I would have done without it.”

Montgomery has since taken to the legal advice subreddit, where she’s looking for guidance on how to pursue further legal action.

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Source: 20-year-old college student says Uber driver left her on side of the road when he found out she was getting an abortion

What Do 90-Somethings Regret Most – Lydia Sohn

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My preconceptions about older people first began to crumble when one of my congregants, a woman in her 80s, came into my office seeking pastoral care. She had been widowed for several years but the reason for her distress was not the loss of her husband. It was her falling in love with a married man. As she shared her story with me over a cup of tea and Kleenex, I tried to keep a professional and compassionate countenance, though, internally, I was bewildered by the realization that even into their 80s, people still fall for one another in that teenage, butterflies-in-the-stomach kind of way.

One of the strange and wonderful features of my job as a minister is that I get to be a confidant and advisor to people at all stages of life. I’ve worked with people who are double and even triple my age. Experience like this is rare; our economic structure and workforce are stratified, and most people are employed within their own demographics. But because I’m a minister in a mainline denomination with an aging base, the people I primarily interact with are over the age of 60. I came into my job assuming that I, a Korean-American woman in my mid-30s, would not be able to connect with these people — they’re from a completely different racial and cultural background than me. It did not take long for me to discover how very wrong I was.

We all have joys, hopes, fears, and longings that never go away no matter how old we get. Until recently, I mistakenly associated deep yearnings and ambitions with the energy and idealism of youth. My subconscious and unexamined assumption was that the elderly transcend these desires because they become more stoic and sage-like over time. Or the opposite: They become disillusioned by life and gradually shed their vibrancy and vitality.

When I initially realized that my assumptions might be wrong, I set out to research the internal lives of older people. Who really were they, and what had they learned in life? Using my congregation as a resource, I interviewed several members in their 90s with a pen, notebook, a listening ear and a promise to keep everyone anonymous. I did not hold back, asking them burning questions about their fears, hopes, sex lives or lack thereof. Fortunately, I had willing participants. Many of them were flattered by my interest, as America tends to forget people as they age.


I began each conversation by asking if they had any regrets. By this point, they’d lived long enough to look at life from multiple angles so I knew their responses would be meaningful. Most of their regrets revolved around their families. They wished relationships, either with their children or between their children, turned out differently. These relational fractures, I could see on their faces, still caused them much pain and sorrow. One of my interviewees has two children who haven’t seen or spoken to each another for over two decades. She lamented that this, among all the mistakes and regrets she could bring to mind, was the single thing keeping her up at night.

I then moved on to the happiest moments of their lives. Every single one of these 90-something-year-olds, all of whom are widowed, recalled a time when their spouses were still alive and their children were younger and living at home. As a busy young mom and working professional who frequently fantasizes about the faraway, imagined pleasures of retirement, I quickly responded, “But weren’t those the most stressful times of your lives?” Yes of course, they all agreed. But there was no doubt that those days were also the happiest.

Their responses intrigued me. They contradicted a well-known article on happiness in The Economist, “The U-bend of Life.” The article went viral in 2010 and was a common conversation topic among my family and friends. Its counter-intuitive yet completely reasonable analyses seemed to resonate with my generation.

The theory of the “U-bend” came about as researchers discovered consistent findings from several independent research projects on happiness and well-being around the world. They concluded that happiness, pleasure and enjoyment are most tenuous during the middle ages of life, starting in our 20s with depression peaking at 46 — which the author described as “middle-age-misery.” The happiness of youth however, not only returned but was experienced at higher levels in subjects’ 70s. Researchers hypothesized that middle-age-misery was due to the overwhelming number of familial, professional, and financial demands during these years. Following a happiness dip in middle age, researchers concluded that we become more self-accepting, less ambitious and more mindful of living in the present moment (instead of the future) as we approach our 70s.

My interviewees’ responses contradicted the popular “U-bend” theory. Why? Perhaps happiness is more complex than we thought. Maybe our understanding of what makes us happy changes as we age. When we’re younger, perhaps we think of happiness as a feeling instead of a state of fulfillment, meaning, or abundance — which my interviewees were associating it with. Regardless, their responses came as a sobering reminder to fully appreciate and soak in these chaotic days of diaper changes, messiness, and minimal me-time. They may just end up being my happiest moments.


I was dying to ask if their spouses (of many decades, in most cases) were really the loves of their lives. As it turns out, this was true for some and not for others. In both cases, though, they kept trying to make their marriages work. I got the sense from their responses that after they had children, their marriages became much less important to their happiness than the overall nuclear family dynamic. This focus on the family unit, however, did not mean their sexual and romantic passion vanished. They still longed to be wooed and pursued. They still experienced intense attraction to people who were not their spouses and continue to experience intense attraction for others to this day. Of course, sex becomes more tiresome, as well as masturbation, but their desire for companionship is just as prominent as it was during the height of their youth.

Being old brought a lot of advantages: more time, more perspective, less hustling to be the best and most successful, and an urgency to strengthen the important relationships in her life.

My interviewees’ thoughts on beauty and aging were also varied — their physical appearance only mattered insofar as it mattered to them when they were younger. Those who were valued for their good looks or athleticism experienced much more grief in regards to their current bodies than those who derived confidence from qualities that were much less time-fixed. One interviewee, for example, was well-known in her community for being a writer and columnist in local newspapers. When I asked her if she was saddened by her aging appearance, she responded, “Well, I never thought I was pretty to begin with so, no.” The ones who did experience greater negative emotions about aging, though, shared that the peak of that grief occurred in their 70s and has diminished since then.

The same woman who told me she wasn’t bothered by her aging appearance also shared that she wasn’t afraid of death but of dying. I found this to be a profound distinction. She believed in an afterlife, as one might expect given that she belongs to a church. She felt sure that she would, in one way or another, be well taken care of after her time here came to an end. She is still very physically and mentally healthy, so it was that final leg of her journey that worried her. Would she be restricted to a hospital bed, just a mess of tubes and needles? Would she still recognize family and friends? Would she be in constant pain? Being old didn’t bother her until it affected the quality of her life in an incredibly detrimental way. In fact, being old, she shared, brought a lot of advantages: more time, more perspective, less hustling to be the best and most successful, and an urgency to strengthen the important relationships in her life.


The radical relationship-based orientation of all my subjects caught me by surprise. As someone entering the height of my career, I expend much more energy on work than on relationships. And when I imagine my future, I envision what I will have accomplished rather than the quality of my interactions with those who are most important to me. These 90-something-year-olds emphasize the opposite when they look back on their lives. Their joys and regrets have nothing to do with their careers, but with their parents, children, spouses, and friends. Put simply, when I asked one person, “Do you wish you accomplished more?” He responded, “No, I wished I loved more.”

My conversations challenged me. I certainly won’t be giving up my job to hang out with my family more because I also recognize that satisfying careers and financial stability are great sources of fulfillment — which, in turn, affect family well-being. But these different perspectives helped me focus on what really matters in the face of competing responsibilities and priorities. That sermon really does not have to be the best sermon in the world when my son is starving for my attention. My husband really does not need to get the highest-paying job he can find if that means I can spend more time with him.

Put simply, when I asked one person, “Do you wish you accomplished more?” He responded, “No, I wished I loved more.”

However, the biggest impact they left on me was not reprioritization but being okay with aging. I confess that prior to my conversations, I had an intense fear about growing old. This, I realize, was what motivated me to begin this research in the first place. I assumed the elderly lost their vibrancy and thirst for life. That couldn’t be further from the truth. They still laugh like crazy, fall in love like mad and pursue happiness fiercely.

 

 

 

 

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This Is Why You Are Afraid of Photographing People while Traveling — Discover

Sweden-based travel photographer Lola Akinmade Åkerström reflects on the invisible barriers that stand between her (and every traveler’s) camera and the strangers that become the subjects of many of her most powerful photos.

via This Is Why You Are Afraid of Photographing People while Traveling — Discover

 

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DNA From Ancient Latrines Reveal What People Ate Centuries Ago

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There’s treasure to be found in mining excrement. At least, it’s treasure to scientists studying the diets, habits and health of people who lived centuries ago.

In a new study, Danish researchers dug up old latrines and sequenced the DNA they found in the ancient poop. The results paint a picture of diets and parasites spanning times and places that range from an ancient fort Qala’at al-Bahrain, near the capital Bahrain in 500 B.C.E. to the river-ringed city of Zwolle in the Netherlands in 1850. The researchers published their results in the journal PLOS One.

The team collected samples of old latrines and soil deposits at eight different archeological sites. They screened the samples for the eggs of parasites, which can last for centuries, and analyzed the DNA in each sample to determine species. They also gleaned the DNA of plants and animals from the samples to determine what people ate.

In some ways, the team found that life centuries ago was unhygienic as might be imagined. Most people probably dealt with intestinal parasites at least once in their life, veterinary scientist and paper co-author Martin Søe, with the University of Copenhagen, tells Angus Chen at NPR. “I think it’s fair to say it was very, very common,” he says. “In places with low hygienic standards, you still have a lot of whipworm and round worm.”

Søe explains that the types of parasites they found could also give insight into the animals people consumed. Parasites that live in fish and pigs but that can also infect humans were a common find, indicating that undercooked or raw pork and fish was a diet staple.

The analysis also identified a handful of parasites that only infect humans such as the giant roundworm (Ascaris lumbricoides) and the whipworm (Trichuris trichiura).

By sequencing the mitochondrial DNA of the parasite eggs, the researchers found that Northern European whipworms from 1000 C.E. to 1700 C.E. were more closely related to worms found in present-day Uganda than to those in present-day China. Findings like this offer “hints about ancient patterns of travel and trade,” writes Charles Choi for a blog post at Discover magazine.

Researchers also found parasites that don’t infect human but are more commonly found in sheep, horses, dogs, pigs and rats. This suggests the critters all likely lived near the latrines, leading people to dispose of the animal waste in the ancient toilets, Søe tells Choi.

The menagerie of ancient DNA helps paint a picture of life at some of the sites. For example, samples from Gammel Strand—a site in Copenhagen’s old harbor—include DNA from herring and cod, horses, cats and rats. The harbor was ”[l]ikely a very dirty place by our standards, with a lot of activity from humans and animals,” Søe says.

The findings also reveal information about ancient diets. DNA in Danish samples shows that the people probably ate fin whales, roe deer and hares, writes Sarah Sloat for Inverse. The study also delves into the analysis of plant DNA, which included cherries, pears, cabbages, buckwheat and other edible plants. The ancient Danes’ waste had an abundance of DNA from hops, showing the people’s fondness for beer, whereas the samples from the Netherlands showed people there had a preference for wine.

This isn’t the first time that scientists have looked to unappetizing leavings to learn more about the past. Researchers have traced the path of explorers Meriwether Lewis and William Clark by looking for traces of mercury in the soil. The metallic element was in pills the men took to treat constipation and its presence indicates where the expedition dug latrines and camped. And parasites in a castle latrine in Cyprus attest to the poor health endured by crusaders. But the DNA analysis of the new study offers a uniquely detailed picture of the past.

Together, the new findings offer intriguing hints about ancient life. Following up on some of these leads could lead future researchers to tell us more about ancient people’s health and the migrations of our ancestors. As Maanasa Raghavan, a zoologist at Cambridge University who wasn’t part of the new study, tells NPR: “Having these datasets will help us look further at how these pathogens evolved over time or how people moved around.”
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The 25 Most Influential People on the Internet

For our third annual roundup of the most influential people on the Internet, TIME sized up contenders by looking at their global impact on social media and their overall ability to drive news. Here’s who made this year’s unranked list:

via The 25 Most Influential People on the Internet — TIME

The Empowered Life – Discover Your Life Purpose…


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