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via Jimmy Kimmel / YouTube

Fake news is rampant on the internet. Unscrupulous websites are encouraged to create misleading stories about political figures because they get clicks.

A study published by Science Advances found that elderly conservatives are, by far, the worst spearders of fake news. Ultra conservatives over the age of 65 shared about seven times more fake information on social media than moderates and super liberals during the 2016 election.

Get ready for things to get worse.

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Photo by Maria Teneva on Unsplash

Today, word choice matters, not only at the highest levels of political power in our country, but in our everyday speech, no matter our political persuasion or good intentions. Since the election of Donald Trump, we have seen an increase in hate speech everywhere from public gatherings to social media channels.

The past two months have been especially traumatic for so many groups, including the Latinx community who were targeted by a gunman in El Paso after being called "illegal invaders" of this country; immigrants who were told to "go back where they came from"; and journalists who were deemed disseminators of "evil propaganda" by our president.

These examples are enough for us to make the case, as some already have, that words matter more than ever in the current American public discourse. We must, however, all be responsible for the intentions of our speech (or tweets) and also how they are perceived.

Often, even those of us with the best intentions or the most 'woke' social justice warriors among us, use terms that are unknowingly othering, that contribute to long standing societal stereotypes or that embed violence into our speech.

While it is impossible to ignore the rhetoric stemming from the most powerful office in the land, that must not hinder each of our efforts to employ empathy and respect in the pursuit of a more just and equitable society.

For our team at Elle Communications, word choice is arguably the most important part of each of our days as we work to shape messaging with and for activists, advocates, entrepreneurs, companies, nonprofits, and other groups striving to create positive change in our country and our world.

Here are four things to consider when thinking about the ways in which we choose to move through this world and the words that we use along the way.

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When homeowner Kazeem Oyeneyin was awakened by his burglar alarm he didn't expect a police officer to show up with his gun drawn, handcuff him in his underwear, and parade him outside in front of his neighbors under the suspicion of trying to burglarize his own home. But, unfortunately, that is exactly what happened.

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There's been an uptick in fake emotional support animals (ESAs), which has led some airlines to crack down on which animals can and can't fly. Remember that emotional support peacock?

But some restrictions on ESAs don't fly with the Department of Transportation (DOT), leading them to crack down on the crack down.

Delta says that there has been an 84 percent increase in animal incidents since 2016, thanks in part to the increase of ESAs on airplanes. Last year, Delta airlines banned pit bulls and pit bull-related dog breeds after two airline staff were bitten by the breed while boarding a flight from Atlanta to Tokyo.

"We must err on the side of safety. Most recently, two Delta employees were bit by a pit bull traveling as a support animal last week. We struggled with the decision to expand the ban to service animals, knowing that some customers have legitimate needs, but we have determined that untrained, pit bull-type dogs posing as both service and support animals are a potential safety risk," Delta told People regarding the new rule.

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via Liam Beach / Facebook

Trying to get one dog to sit still and make eye contact with a camera for more than half a second is a low-key miracle. Lining up 16 dogs, on steps, and having them all stare at the camera simultaneously is the work of a God-like dog whisperer.

This miracle worker is Liam Beach, a 19-year-old animal management graduate from Cardiff, Wales. A friend of his dared him to attempt the shot and he accepted the challenge.

"My friend Catherine challenged me to try to get all of my lot sat on the stairs for a photo. She said, 'I bet you can't pull it off,' so I thought 'challenge accepted,'" he said, accoriding to Paws Planet.

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Jon Tyson on Unsplash

In 2015, the American Enterprise Institute — a conservative think tank that researches government, politics, economics, and social welfare — hosted a panel discussion to explore the challenges and possible solutions of homelessness on the street. One speaker on the panel was law enforcement consultant and LAPD officer of over 24 years, Deon Joseph.

Joseph, who spent 22 of his years on the force in downtown Los Angeles' Skid Row Community, discussed his experiences and what he believes the best approach is to help the homeless population, including how society can take better care of the mentally ill. Check out his impassioned discussion, below.

How we can help people off Skid Row: Lessons from LAPD Officer Deon Joseph

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