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Pornhub searches for Karen McDougal skyrocket after CNN interview about alleged Trump affair

2023-05-12 04:43:39

Pornhub searches for Karen McDougal skyrocket after CNN interview about alleged Trump affair(图1)

Pornhub searches for Karen McDougal skyrocket after CNN interview about alleged Trump affair

On Thursday, CNN aired an interview(opens in a new tab) with former Playboy model Karen McDougal, who claims she had a 10-month affair with Donald Trump over ten years ago.

And Pornhub, which has analyzed its users' habits during major events like the Winter Olympics and the Super Bowl, pointed out that searches for "Karen McDougal" saw a 1140 percent increase(opens in a new tab) shortly after the interview. The last time searches for her name spiked was shortly after a feature in the New Yorker(opens in a new tab) broke the story of her alleged affair with the president.

SEE ALSO: 7 wild moments from Playboy playmate's CNN interview about alleged Trump affair
Searches for Karen McDougal's name spiked again after her interview with CNN. Credit: pornhub

The most searched phrase with her name was "karen mcdougal naked pics." Other notable searches included "vintage" and variations of "nude" and "sex."

Searches included the word "vintage" and variations of "nude" and "sex" Credit: pornhub

Another woman tied to the Trump men has seen a considerable spike in Pornhub searches: Aubrey O'Day. The singer and Celebrity Apprentice contestant allegedly had an affair(opens in a new tab) with Donald Trump Jr. in 2011 after meeting on set. His wife, Vanessa Trump, filed for divorce(opens in a new tab) on last week.

Page Six(opens in a new tab) published a story about the rumored affair on Monday, Mar. 19. Pornhub searches for Aubrey O'Day(opens in a new tab) surged 11,105 percent over the next two days.

After the article in Page Six, Pornhub searches for Aubrey O'Day surged more than 11,000% Credit: pornhub

Pornhub's data shows that Americans are at least staying politically informed about the First family -- and their various scandals.

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    (Note: While our advice mostly focuses on people with vaginas — since that's what this writer knows — a lot of it can also apply to people with penises. This guide is geared toward more experienced masturbators, but beginners are welcome, too! Just make sure you're familiar with the basics(Opens in a new tab) before trying anything too far outside your comfort zone.)

    Change positions, locations, and time of day

    I get it: Who wants to get out of bed for anything, even for sex? But there's a cap to the level of pleasure you can achieve by just lying back and whacking it every time. Even small changes can have huge impacts.

    If you're super-attached to the bedroom (or if it's your only option), switching up the position you touch yourself in can totally transform your masturbation experience.

    SEE ALSO: Your guide to audio erotica apps and websites

    So experiment with doing your thing while on all fours, on your stomach, knees, or even standing up. For some inspiration, check out MysteryVibe's Playbook(Opens in a new tab), which includes tons of different ways to experiment with their toys, though many still apply to manual methods too. Hell, forget the hand altogether. Go for a classic throwback: Try dry-humping your pillow like in the good old days of your earliest masturbation experiences.

    There's a cap to the level of pleasure you can achieve by just lying back and whacking it every time.

    Think about location, location, location. An easy way to step outside your usual routine is moving your session to a comfy chair in your room. Venture further — like to the bathroom, where you can explore the wonders of either a waterproof sex toy or the water pressure from a handheld shower head during your morning routine. If you're bold and in the right situation (meaning you won't cause any innocent neighbors or roommates distress), bang yourself in the backyard for an exhibitionist rush.

    Changes in where you masturbate can also facilitate another exciting variant: time of day. Don't let masturbation always be the last thing you do in the day before going to bed. You won't have the energy to want to explore new things.

    That's one case where this new era of working from home can be beneficial: Consider replacing your usual afternoon yoga lunch break with, well, something you'll want to do on your personal rather than work laptop.

    Get off to different porn (or your own imagination)

    This one's a bit obvious but can drastically shake up the way you experience and think about self-love. Lots of people don't know that there's been a recent wave of fantastic developments in erotica!

    To be clear, there's nothing inherently wrong with enjoying mainstream porn (though you should take into account some ethical concerns while engaging with it). But it might be worth it to invest in paid porn, whether it's live webcams, more personal platforms like OnlyFans, or trying out specific fetish porn — or even exploring the burgeoning world of ASMR porn(Opens in a new tab).

    We also really recommend the kind of porn that offers higher production value, better storytelling, and much more expansive visions of eroticism. There's a growing, exciting new world of alternative, women-led visual porn out there (we've written about these options many times before), but a recent one we've been jazzed about is FrolicMe. Or use more education-oriented platforms that up your masturbation game, like OMG Yes(Opens in a new tab) or in a new tab).

    We recommend experimenting with erotica that engages your mind more than the passive experience of a visual medium, too.

    Audio erotica (read our guide here) is hot as hell, totally ethical, instructive, and lets you imagine exactly what you like. That's ideal for folks who don't see their orientations or preferences represented in mainstream porn, as well as those who may need more control over what they see because of triggers from past trauma. Or you can even join the extremely perverse (like yours truly) and appropriate your favorite silky-voiced podcast to help you do your business.

    Audio and written erotica are both great ways to transition into getting off on your own imagination and sexual fantasies. There's nothing like orgasming to the hottest thing your mind can imagine. But it's a muscle you have to develop. For starters, think back to your favorite sex scene in a book, movie, TV show, fanfiction — whatever. Then replace whatever character you identify with the most with yourself and enjoy. :)

    It's like writing fanfiction, but in your head, while masturbating. Credit: VICKY LETA / mashable

    Take "self-love" literally

    This will sound pretty corny, but try to reframe your masturbation session as going on a date with yourself. I know, I know — but humor us.

    Start by setting the right romantic mood. Throw on some lingerie that makes you feel sexy, use your favorite candle or essential oil diffuser, put on some sexy yet low key tunes, pour yourself a glass of wine or engage in your preferred weed consumption method, and finally rub massage oil over every inch of your skin, working out the kinks and relaxing your muscles. Now, touch yourself down there in all your favorite ways.

    Does a solo date sound too silly now?

    You are your own best sex partner. Credit: BOB AL-GREENE / MASHABLE

    But seriously, use masturbation as an occasion to shower your body in love. There's research showing a positive link between positive body image and sexual satisfaction(Opens in a new tab). Achieving that is a lot easier said than done. But certain masturbation exercises can really help you embody the fact that you are worthy of and deserve deeper pleasure (we'll get into that more in the mindful masturbation section below).

    For now, while rubbing massage oil on yourself, marvel at the parts of your body you love most. They don't even have to be an erogenous zone, just something you genuinely adore — like the nape of your neck, insides of your wrists, curve of your hip, the butt dimples on the small of your back.

    Give yourself the luxury of going slow

    Let's be real: quick orgasms kinda suck a lot of the time. Despite sex toy marketing and rappers glorifying this idea of "making her cum fast," pleasure is neither a race nor a competition. Actually, if you cum too quickly, there's usually not enough build-up and it's an indication that you're masturbating on auto-pilot.

    Working hard to reach orgasm —and by that we mean either purposefully delaying your orgasm by "edging" or experimenting with other new, untried, potentially even unsuccessful methods — is nothing to be ashamed of.

    Pleasure is neither a race nor a competition

    While trying out a lot of these new tips, don't think of climax as the ultimate goal of your masturbation session. It puts a lot of unnecessary pressure on yourself and distracts from the fun process of exploration. Success during a self-love session is simply learning more about what you like and don't like. And, counterintuitively, you'll actually be more likely to reach orgasm if you're not actively thinking or trying to get there.

    Anyway, the longer it takes to reach orgasm, the more powerful they usually are. That's why edging can be a great solo experiment.

    Edging is low effort with high reward. Start by getting off with your tried and true jerking off methods, but just as you feel yourself on the edge of climax, pull back and stop. It'll take some practice and patience, but trust us, it's worth it. Just do it over and over again, as many times as you can take before finally giving in.

    Experiment with new, unexplored sensations

    Edging isn't the only easy way to turn familiar techniques into new sensations.

    If you like to get your rocks off manually, test patterns and speeds that vary from your usual methods. Again, OMG Yes(Opens in a new tab) and O.School(Opens in a new tab) are fantastic resources for this. If you've got some sex toys in your arsenal, use them in unexpected ways (though, of course, respect any warnings from the manual about internal versus external use). For example, use your vibrator for more indirect stimulation, like to tease your nipples, or over your panties, or anywhere other than your clitoris — like the area around your vaginal opening. If your sex toy has different edges or attachments, test those out. If you've got the right kind of toy, you might experiment with temperature play by warming it in hot water or putting it in the fridge for a little while.

    Immerse yourself in any type(Opens in a new tab) of sensory play(Opens in a new tab), really. Use an ice cube or low-temperature, body-safe massage oil(Opens in a new tab) and wax candles(Opens in a new tab). Bring different textures into the mix, luxuriating in how silk feels on your skin, running a downy feather all over, or venturing into some light pain territory with a pinwheel(Opens in a new tab). If those are too out there, experiment with lubes focused on different sensory experiences, especially cannabis-infused lube. (Be sure to look up some guides(Opens in a new tab) on which type to use and how to use them properly.)

    You won't always end up liking a lot of what you try. But these exercises will help spark your curiosity and ground you in your body (so remember these tips for our section on mindful masturbation below).

    Last, go for a variety of different types of orgasms. Clitoral orgasms are great, don't get me wrong — there's a reason they're the most popular and effective method for people with vaginas. But use your masturbation sessions to explore your potential for other types, like multiple, vaginal, g-spot, or even the holy grail blended orgasm. Do not put pressure on yourself to cum, though, because not everyone's body responds to these types of stimulations.

    Practice mindful masturbation before and during your self-love sesh

    This one's kind of a trick, because most of everything we've gone over so far can fit under the umbrella of mindful sex, an increasingly popular approach to helping you stay present in your body during experiences of pleasure.

    Mindful sex includes many different practices, methods, and exercises (some of which we've already covered). To oversimplify a bit, it basically applies sexuality to the core principles and exercises of mindfulness (like meditation). And it's also an especially powerful solo practice.

    Let's start with something pretty familiar, like sexy tantric yoga before masturbating.

    Yoga can help you get in touch with your body, disperse breath throughout it, and release tension from your muscles (especially the usually tense ones around your pelvis). By opening your body up and relaxing, there's a high chance you'll have better orgasms(Opens in a new tab).

    Tantric breathing or orgasmic mediation(Opens in a new tab) is another great way to do this that doesn't require getting off your ass. We enjoy the guides to tantric breathing and meditation on Dipsea(Opens in a new tab) or Youtube instructors like this one(Opens in a new tab) as a jumping-off point.

    By opening your body up and relaxing, there's a high chance you'll have better orgasms.

    For mindful sex geared toward positive body image, incorporate a meditative mindset into the solo date-night massage oil ritual we went over earlier.

    While touching and looking at your naked body, approach every part of it with a detached, non-judgmental curiosity, like you're seeing it for the first time. In your head, describe the parts of your body using neutral language. Focus on the exact shade of your skin, the angle of your elbows, the size of your toes. This will be tough at first, since your mind is likely conditioned to zero in on insecurities with charged, harsh language (like ugly, saggy, flabby, etc). That's OK, too. Accept those thoughts, letting them go before continuing to observe the color of the veins on your wrist, roundness of your knees, number of freckles on your arm.

    Next, do all that in front of a mirror for as short or as long a time as you feel comfortable. The more regularly you do it, the better you'll get at both accepting any negative thoughts and going back to nonjudgmental curiosity.

    You reaching nirvana through jerking off. Credit: bob al greene / mashable

    If you really want to ramp up this exercise, bring a handheld mirror into the bed and look at your genitals while you touch them. Knowing your own anatomy is key to knowing your pleasure. So just play around with identifying the different parts of your vagina (use charts like these(Opens in a new tab) to help guide you), noticing which areas feel good, bad, or just meh when you touch them.

    Again, it's only natural for these exercises to feel difficult or jarring at first. We suggest doing these more advanced practices after you've already done other, more basic mindful sex stuff, like deep breathing or yoga or whatever else helps you get into that present-moment mindset.

    Keep a journal of all the new things you're trying

    While you're in the process of immersing yourself in these new sensations, exercises, and experiments, keep a little masturbation captain's log to debrief and analyze your experiences. It doesn't need to be much. Just the act of giving yourself the space and time to really analyze your pleasure can do wonders to up your masturbation game in the long run.

    If you're unsure what to write down, start by tracking and rating every self-love session or orgasm (if you have one). Why was it better or worse, do you think? What really turned you on? What didn't work? Are you excited to try something else, based on what you learned? Did anything make it more difficult to enjoy yourself?

    It can be fun to think of yourself almost like a scientist, framing each masturbation experiment as a question, then testing that hypothesis, then writing about the results after.

    Soon enough, you'll have a full-on doctorate in self-love.

  • Airlines keep upping their social media game, but its far from the perfect system

    Airlines keep upping their social media game, but its far from the perfect system


    When travel expert Laura Begley Bloom forgot her laptop on a flight last month, she threw up a tweet in hopes of a small Christmas miracle.

    Her prayers were answered(opens in a new tab).

    Bloom, who is chief content officer at Family Traveller(opens in a new tab), saw firsthand the power of social media channels(opens in a new tab) and why travelers are turning to their phone apps like Twitter and Facebook to get in touch with airlines about their travel problems.

    Bloom is far from alone, though her success story isn't that common. Airlines (some more than others) continue to wrangle the onslaught of tweets, DMs, and Facebook Messages coming in from frustrated flyers, many who hope their pleas will get noticed.

    But even with air carriers going all in on customer service programs with 24/7 assistance, social media has its limits.

    SEE ALSO: 2017 was a safe year for airlines, terrible for passengers

    Conversocial, a social customer service software, looked at top air carriers and how their social customer service methods are working. The report mainly reviewed how often and how quickly (or slowly) airline social channels got in touch with passengers on Twitter.

    The industry average for social media responsiveness was just over 25 percent this year. Last year it was 21 percent -- a small bump, but not enough to make tweeting a travel panacea.

    "There's a lot of noise that doesn’t warrant a response," Conversocial CEO and founder Joshua March said in a call last week. So airlines responding to a quarter of inbound complaints isn't as paltry as it sounds.

    Even so, just a quick response for something beyond an airline's control -- like a massive snow storm -- increases customer satisfaction and breeds loyalty. But for higher satisfaction levels, a problem needs to be resolved, March said, and that isn't always possible.

    Airlines are quickly overwhelmed on social, where stakes are higher due to the public nature of the interactions.

    "They don’t want to look bad," travel expert Bloom said.

    Rather than try to make every last traveler happy, airlines have begun to draw lines. Bloom isn't seeing travel refunds or coupons handed out too freely. Mostly it's advice or just reassurance that someone, somewhere is listening to your horror story of a trip.

    Even if our travel woes aren't fully addressed, travelers at least have airlines' or airports' ears.

    "We have a lot more leverage now as consumers," Bloom said. "We have a voice that we didn't have in the past."

    Air travel might feel like it's improving with the bevy of social media channels at our fingertips, but we've reached something close to peak social media assistance.

    United is the worst at responding to customers on social media. Credit: Conversocial

    Not surprisingly United was one of the slower responders to social posts, taking 1 hour 34 minutes on average to respond to customers. The best top North American airline was JetBlue with a speedy 4 minute 50 second response time.

    When something like a busted entertainment system crosses JetBlue's social channels, the team responds -- and ASAP.

    United is lagging. Timing can be everything when trying to make a connection or literally fly across the country.

    "We do see a correlation between speed of resolution and customer satisfaction," March said.


    Airlines are trying to listen to our grumblings and helping as much as they can, but it's usually not enough.

    Delta -- who scored a 31.3 percent response rate and just over 30 minutes to respond on average -- has been pumping more staffing and resources into their social and digital channels.

    "There's been a tremendous increase of volume of messages year over year," Eric Carlsen, Delta general manager of digital customer engagement, said in a phone call.

    There's also more tools than every for customers to reach airlines.

    In the past few years, Carlsen said he's seen huge growth on Facebook Messenger. Facebook has been pushing Messenger as a business-to-consumer(opens in a new tab) platform, and chat app WhatsApp for businesses is expected to be a game-changer for digital customer service.

    Another new tool, Apple Business Chat(opens in a new tab), will seamlessly connect Siri to your complaints and make online customer service that much more accessible. Outside the U.S., Carlsen said WeChat is the go-to platform to connect with the airline.

    Conversocial recorded a 100 percent growth rate of Messenger use from March through August 2017 and a 50 percent increase in Twitter DMs. These numbers show how easy and convenient it is to log onto well-used apps and start talking to a company.

    March from Conversocial sees automated bots used in a very specific way as the next step in advancing online customer service beyond the mostly tapped-out capabilities of social media support.

    "A bot should be handling super simple stuff," he explained.

    But bots can't replicate the satisfaction a customer gets from knowing another person has heard their complaint. The bots can save time doing simple things, but then usually hand people off to customer service agent — with your flight info and details about your problem already laid out.

    Delta's Carlsen thinks social media is capable of helping travelers even more than it already does -- it might seem like these tools have hit max helpfulness, but it's only getting started, he believes.

    "There's tons of runway left for improvement here," he said.

    For Delta, Carlsen believes passengers are still testing out social platforms. As people start to see that an airline will get back to them quicker on Twitter than on a phone call: "I think we'll continue to see more of a channel shift."

    "Savvy travelers will figure out any line of communication they can," travel expert Bloom said. "It’s so frustrating to take the traditional route of calling the 800 numbers and be on hold for an hour."

    So even if every message doesn't get answered or a response isn't that helpful or timely, at least social media has given us some feeling of control. And something serendipitous like an airplane cleaner spotting your tweet about a lost laptop is more likely to happen.

    As to #travelgoals, the report found 43 percent of airlines want to make social media customer service a top priority for 2018. So keep tweeting -- it just might make your flight that much better. Delta encouraged tweeting, messaging, tagging or posting to the airline as much as possible -- the more volume coming in, the more resources the airline will eventually focus for social communication.

    But still, social media can only carry airlines so far.

  • 6 travel tech trends you can expect in 2023

    6 travel tech trends you can expect in 2023

    The pandemic may still be rearing its ugly head, but travel is back(Opens in a new tab) in a big way.

    While bingeing our favorite shows and working from home, we've been plotting our next wanderlust destinations. At the same time, travel and tech companies have been quickly evolving with the times to develop technologies like AI, biometrics, and remote work solutions to enhance or improve the travel experience. That's setting up 2023 for a big year in travel. Here are some of the top travel tech trends we expect to see in 2023.

    1. Airports getting a tech upgrade 

    Expect to see a whole lot more technology designed to make airport travel easier. From before you even leave your house to baggage claim, new technologies are stepping in to address the headaches that come with flying. Clear now offers a free online tool called Reserve to book your spot in the security line ahead of time. Of course, Clear also hopes you'll sign up for its paid membership, which offers identity verification and expedited security using biometrics (eye or fingerprint scanning).

    SEE ALSO: Holiday travel savings tips: How to fly smarter and spend less money

    The Transportation Security Administration is expanding its biometrics pilot. TSA is testing(Opens in a new tab) facial recognition technology in 16 airports for identity verification and plans to expand the program to more airports in the "coming months." 

    Once you're through the security line, your face and hands will be put to work a lot more for buying snacks and magazines, per a 2023 travel trend report from Amadeus(Opens in a new tab). ApplePay and GooglePay already offer payments authorized by facial recognition technology. But this year, your favorite airport store Hudson partnered with Amazon(Opens in a new tab) to begin testing its "Just Walk Out" technology, which accepts payment with palm recognition

    Once you've touched down at your destination, companies like Boomerang(Opens in a new tab), SITA(Opens in a new tab), and Roadie(Opens in a new tab) will help you track, recover, and deliver your lost luggage.

    We're all for a hassle-free flying experience, but the use of biometric data and personal item tracking comes with privacy risks. False biometric identification (which is more prevalent amongst people of color(Opens in a new tab) and trans and nonbinary people(Opens in a new tab)) and data breaches are factors to take into account. Plus, the TSA biometric pilot is currently opt-in, but programs like this often become the norm. "We often see with these biometric programs that they are only optional in the introductory phases — and over time we see them becoming standardized and nationalized and eventually compulsory," privacy advocate Albert Fox Cahn told the Washington Post(Opens in a new tab)


    Ultimately, it's important to know what you're getting into — and giving away — for a slightly speedier experience.

    2. Airbnb continuing its domination

    In 2022, Airbnb turned lemons into lemonade. First, it finally resolved the drama about the surprise cleaning fees that aren't added on until checkout. Now when you search for an Airbnb, you have the option of seeing the total amount you would pay, with the cleaning fee included. For good measure, Airbnb also had the final say(Opens in a new tab) on the growing trend of excessive cleanings requests from hosts: "Guests should not have to do unreasonable checkout tasks such as stripping the beds, doing the laundry, or vacuuming when leaving their Airbnb. But we think it’s reasonable to ask guests to turn off the lights, throw food in the trash, and lock the doors — just like they would when leaving their own home."

    Second, it finally solved the problem of landlords who banned tenants from Airbnbing their apartment. This had been a huge untapped market for Airbnb, but it turns out cutting landlords in on the deal goes a long way. Now, Airbnb has partnered with property management(Opens in a new tab) companies across the country to create the "Airbnb-friendly apartments(Opens in a new tab)" program. Renters can search the website for apartments that allow Airbnb rentals and see how much they could make as a host — after Airbnb and the landlord gets their cut of the profits. It's a pretty ingenious solution to help people offset the skyrocketing cost of rent that Airbnb contributed to in the first place(Opens in a new tab)

    Like or not, Airbnb is going full speed ahead in 2023. With more transparent pricing and more potential Airbnb hosts, the short-term booking platform is expected to be as prevalent as ever. Plus, with travel and real estate prices on the rise, it's all win-win for Airbnb.

    3. Our favorite streaming shows inspiring us to get off the couch

    If you found yourself wanting to book a trip to Sicily while watching Season 2 of The White Lotus, despite all the scamming and murders, you're not alone. Travel-related searches for the Italian island have skyrocketed(Opens in a new tab) since the second season launched. But this phenomenon isn't just exclusive to The White Lotus. According to Expedia's 2023 travel trends report, 68 percent of US travelers wanted to visit a destination after seeing it in a streamed show or movie, and 61 percent actually booked a trip.

    SEE ALSO: The best carry-on luggage for every traveler

    Paris (Emily in Paris), the United Kingdom (Bridgerton and The Crown), New Zealand (The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power), and both Hawaii and Italy (thanks to the aforementioned The White Lotus, with an assist from Searching for Italy) were all trending destinations in search and flight demand in 2022, with no signs of slowing down in 2023 per Expedia.

    Sure, these are mainstay favorites on the top travel destinations, but the report also says streamed TV shows and movies are now the top sources of travel inspiration, so it's hardly a coincidence. 

    4. Digital nomads are officially mainstream

    Digital nomads have been around for a while, but the surge of remote work during the pandemic has rocketed this lifestyle into the mainstream. Research shows(Opens in a new tab) that hybrid and remote employees have better work-life balance(Opens in a new tab) and are more productive(Opens in a new tab), which has fueled more companies offering these policies. 

    Now that many workers are no longer location-dependent, they're taking full advantage of the digital nomad lifestyle. And the remote work trend is expected to increase. According to Upwork(Opens in a new tab), 36.2 million Americans will work remotely by 2025, which is double the amount from pre-pandemic times (16.8 million). In fact, Nomad List(Opens in a new tab), a membership platform for digital nomads, predicts by 2035 one billion people will be working remotely at least part of the year.  Last year, the platform reported over 4,000,000 users.

    SEE ALSO: The 10 best gadgets for digital nomads

    Early on, digital nomadism was considered only for privileged, twenty-something dreamers. "You not only need a relatively powerful passport that makes tourist visas seamless to attain, but also a knowledge economy job and access to the technology and devices that make remote working possible," declared The Guardian(Opens in a new tab) back in 2015. But broadband continued to improve globally, flights continued to get cheaper, countries began offering remote work-friendly visas(Opens in a new tab), and there was enough critical mass for digital nomad hubs and co-working spaces to start popping up. 

    Today, according to Nomad List stats(Opens in a new tab), digital nomads are 44 percent women, 40 percent non-white, an average of 33 years old, and work a variety of jobs, including marketing, UI/UX design, product management, and yes, software development. 

    Suffice to say, being a digital nomad has never been more attainable.

    5. Virtual and augmented reality boosts IRL travel

    The pandemic brought travel and tourism to screeching halt, which forced companies to get creative using virtual and augmented reality. "Coming out the other side, the same absorbing technology will be employed to enhance the visitor experience rather than replicate it," said Euronews in its 2023 travel report(Opens in a new tab).

    VR/AR was quickly adopted to give sheltered-in-place consumers the virtual travel experience they were craving. Without leaving your house, you could visit museums(Opens in a new tab) and explore sites like Machu Picchu(Opens in a new tab) And now, it's also being used to help travelers research their next vacation spots, as a way to "try before your buy" when choosing hotels and tours, and even a way to book them. As VR/AR becomes increasingly more mainstream thanks to Meta's Quest lineup and Sony's PlayStation 5 (and maybe soon Apple?) offering consumer-friendly VR headsets, expect to see more travel and tourism companies offering VR tours.

    Hotel companies like Marriott(Opens in a new tab), Shangri-La(Opens in a new tab), and Holiday Inn(Opens in a new tab) are offering virtual tours of their rooms, and companies like Beeyonder(Opens in a new tab) and Weezy(Opens in a new tab) have cropped up to offer immersive virtual travel experiences. Ultimately, VR/AR for travel is being integrated into every step of the customer journey. Whether you're at home or visiting the real deal, expect VR/AR to cross your path.

    6. Getting back to nature in wild new ways (beekeeping!)

    If you're sick of all of this tech talk, you're not alone. People want to unplug and recharge — without their devices. After the past few years, it's no surprise that travelers are prioritizing wellness. But they're not just looking for a visit to the spa. According to in a new tab) (which is owned by Expedia) 53 percent of US travelers in search of wellness activities want something exciting and new. "The trend here is that the same old yoga retreat is out. People are looking for what we're calling a new wave of wellness," said Melanie Fish Head of Global PR, Expedia Group Brands, at Expedia's event revealing its 2023 travel trends. 

    If you're looking for a wellness escape, expect to see more hotels and tours offering activities like forest bathing (also known as sylvotherapy), foraging, fruit harvesting, and even beekeeping. Alternative wellness destinations are cropping up all over the world. Apparently the US is the top destination for millennials, but Gen Z seems to be more adventurous, preferring Norway, Turkey, Switzerland, Iceland, and Sri Lanka. 

    Whether you're a digital nomad who has made globe-trotting a way of life or an everyday traveler getting back in the swing of things after a break, these tech trends will be hard at work behind the scenes wherever you are.

  • What its like to learn from Twitter that your grandpas become a meme


    What its like to learn from Twitter that your grandpas become a meme

    At any moment in time, whether you want it to happen or not, someone could take a photo of you, post it online, and turn it into a meme for the internet's enjoyment. (This, I assume, is the price we pay for existing in 2018.)

    And as one Reddit user recently learned, this applies to everyone — even grandpas. On Thursday, u/manic_unicorn(opens in a new tab) revealed in a post that her grandfather was once the subject of a meme.

    SEE ALSO: Instagram now lets you see when your friends are online

    "My cousin was browsing Twitter and came across this picture of our grandpa at the mall with his friends that a stranger took and captioned 'Squad Goals'," she wrote in the Reddit post of the photo, and noting that the image "had been retweeted thousands of times."

    My cousin was browsing Twitter and came across this picture of our grandpa at the mall with his friends that a stranger took and captioned “Squad Goals” it had been retweeted thousands of times. (My grandpa is the one looking straight at the camera)(opens in a new tab) from r/pics(opens in a new tab)

    In a Reddit direct message with Mashable, u/manic_unicorn (whose name is Brooke) explained how she first learned that her grandfather and his friends were now viral content.

    "It all happened during a family get together," Brooke wrote. "It was actually my cousins [sic] girlfriend who first saw the meme circling twitter and she thought it was Pawpaw so she confirmed it with my cousin."

    Brooke said she was initially shocked to see the photo, but considered it pretty benign and even humorous. Then her grandfather caught wind of what happened.

    "We told him then and there about it but he had no clue what a meme was and was just very angry that a stranger would post a photograph of him on the internet without his knowledge," she wrote.

    Though her grandfather was annoyed at first, Brooke said that once they'd explained the concept of memes and "squad goals," he ended up thinking the whole thing was "pretty funny."

    Brooke says the photo's been floating around the internet for four years now, though she's not sure when it first ended up online. It still exists on Twitter, Pinterest(opens in a new tab), and even 9gag(opens in a new tab).

    Not much has changed since her grandfather became a meme, according to Brooke. He's yet to be recognized in public, though a few people who know him personally have seen the meme online and asked if it was him.

    Lucky for Brooke's grandfather, the experience of becoming a meme against one's will hasn't been nearly as irritating as it has been for others, like Dustin Mattson(opens in a new tab) of "Hipster Barista," or romance novelist Carly Philips(opens in a new tab) of "Sheltering Suburban Mom" fame.

    And if you're wondering if Brooke's grandfather and his friends still hang out, the answer is yes. Brooke says they meet at the mall every morning, five days a week.

  • The deadliest fictional pandemics and what they tell us about coronavirus panic

    The deadliest fictional pandemics and what they tell us about coronavirus panic

    Novel-writing may be the weirdest occupation on the planet. While public health officials are out there at all hours desperately trying to save humanity from potential pandemics — including the latest threat, the new coronavirus(Opens in a new tab) — fiction writers can spend entire careers threatening to murder us by the same means. And they've been doing so ever since the novel became a thing in the 19th century.


    Relatively few writers, however, have succeeded in eradicating the majority of humanity. For starters, that just isn't realistic; not even history's most notorious killers, the Black Death and the 1918 flu virus, managed more than a third of any given population.

    Also, it's often more dramatically interesting if the bug keeps us alive while turning us into something nightmarishly incurable — usually vampires or zombies. (See Richard Mattheson's I Am Legend in 1954, Max Brooks' World War Z in 2006, and a zillion books in-between).

    But a handful of authors have managed to stay zombie-free while pushing their pandemic to the post-apocalyptic limit. Each of the books below follows the same chilling template: A virus suddenly grips a complacent world, civilization breaks down in a matter of weeks, and one or more survivors roam around, marveling at how quickly everything returns to nature. (Often a character bonds with a stray animal.)

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    Our familiarity with this kind of fiction probably doesn't help the panic-buying and other unnecessarily fearful behavior when threats like the coronavirus roll around: we're conditioned to expect apocalypse. But at the same time, it speaks to our morbid curiosity about what the world might look like without us — a question even nonfiction books have tried to answer(Opens in a new tab).

    So who are the leading lights of these perverse post-apocalypses, how much of humanity do they manage to kill, and who is the undisputed queen of civilization-ending plagues? Let's dive in at the deep end of the world.

    4. Earth Abides, by George R. Stewart

    Credit: fawcett

    Year published: 1949

    The killer: "Some new and unknown disease of unparalleled rapidity ... a kind of super-measles," according to one newspaper found by the protagonist, an academic called Ish. He is made accidentally immune by a snake bite.

    Kill count: Since Ish is in a cabin in the Sierra mountains when the outbreak happens, details are sketchy. But driving across the U.S. afterwards, he encounters fewer than a dozen people — suggesting that more than 90 percent of the population has died.

    How fast does it spread? Very. Ish was in that cabin for just two weeks. This is the first novel to suggest that a new virus, "aided by airplane travel," could appear "almost simultaneously in every center of civilization, outrunning all attempts at quarantine."

    What we learn: Another science fiction writer, Brian Aldiss, coined the phrase "cozy catastrophe" to describe books like Earth Abides. The pandemic is oddly neat, and Ish rarely encounters a single dead body. He's able to find food, fuel supplies, and a dog named Princess for his road trips. It's an introvert's paradise! Soon, however, nature starts fighting back — and Ish returns to California to find it filled with wildfires.

    3. The Stand, by Stephen King

    Gary Sinese gets a disturbing update from the CDC in the TV version of 'The Stand.' Credit: ABC

    Year published: 1978

    The killer: "Blue Virus", a military-engineered superflu commonly known as Captain Trips.

    Kill count: The flu is described as having "99.4 percent communicability," which doesn't exactly translate to it killing 99.4 percent of humanity, but it's in that ballpark. Although its first symptoms feel like a head cold, everyone who gets it dies within days.

    How fast does it spread? King spends the whole first section of The Stand painting a very clear picture of how a virus can spread rapidly, from person to people, through a community, a state, a country. The U.S. is pretty much toast inside of three weeks.

    What we learn: The U.S. government, afraid and embarrassed by its inability to contain the virus, tries to shut down all reporting that contradicts its official story. Of course, this just makes the problem worse. Imagine that.

    2. Station Eleven, by Emily St. John Mandel

    Credit: penguin randomhouse

    Year published: 2011

    The killer: "Georgia flu"

    Kill count: "Ninety-nine point ninety-nine percent" of the human race, according to the novel's villain. Take that, Stephen King.

    How fast does it spread? In the opening chapters, most people die within three weeks.

    What we learn: After the familiar tropes of those opening chapters — panic-buying, locking yourself in your apartment, looting, the TV news going offline —we fast-forward 20 years and the mood turns surprisingly positive. The narrative mostly follows a troupe of actors around a smaller, quieter world that is, for the most part, functioning pretty well. An old airport has become a whimsical "museum of civilization." Message: Life goes on, even when most of us don't.

    1. The Last Man, by Mary Shelley

    Credit: wikimedia

    Year published: 1826

    The killer: Uncertain, but this was written in an age before we had precise names for diseases. "Were it yellow fever or plague," writes Shelley, "the epidemic was gifted with a virulence before unfelt."

    Kill count: Literally everyone in the world except the narrator — and this is set in the year 2100, so in theory, we're talking a greater death toll than any other novel.

    How fast does it spread? The plague takes a leisurely seven years or so, and seems to take a break during winters. But it doesn't stop completely until there are three people left, then two of them drown at sea. Infection spreads by "pernicious qualities in the air;" this was written back when the miasma theory of disease(Opens in a new tab) was all the rage.

    What we learn: Nobody's safe. The novel serves as a satire of future British society, which has turned itself into an aristocratic republic (there's still a king, he just happens to be called the Earl of Windsor). Borders are closed, politicians think their island nation is protected, but the plague hits London anyway. Eventually, the UK is invaded by desperate American refugees, and the thousand or so remaining Brits decide to go on a continental tour from Paris to Venice before they die.

    In short, The Last Man is a pretty grim read about the inevitability of death. Which isn't surprising, considering Mary was mourning her husband, the poet and radical Percy Shelley. But it ends on a note of optimism: the lonely hero visits Rome, finds a sheepdog, and sets sail around the world to confirm he is in fact alone. "It was still possible, that, could I visit the whole extent of earth, I should find in some part of the wide extent a survivor," he says. We smell sequel!

    These aren't the only fiction writers eerily forecasting future scenarios. For more, check out Mashable's podcast, Fiction Predictions(Opens in a new tab).