advertisement
advertisement
  • 12:49 pm

Instagram cross-app messaging: Here’s how to stop random Facebook users from sliding into your DMs

As part of a new update, Facebook users can now send you message requests on Instagram, but it’s easy to block them.

Instagram cross-app messaging: Here’s how to stop random Facebook users from sliding into your DMs
[Photo: Kelli McClintock/Unsplash]

The Facebook mothership is at it again.

advertisement
advertisement

Over the past few weeks, the social media giant has been rolling out new features that combine messaging capabilities across Facebook, Instagram, and Messenger. As we reported last month, the new capabilities are part of a broader effort by the the company to meld its core services into a more closely knit data-crunching machine.

Most of the changes have already been announced, but many users are just learning about them. On Instagram, many were greeted yesterday with a new message introducing “Cross-App Messaging.” As part of the update, people on Facebook can now send you message requests on Instagram.

[Screenshot via Instagram]

Perhaps you, a simple Instagram user who didn’t ask for this feature, would prefer not to receive message requests from users on Facebook. Fortunately, there is an easy fix for that—at least for now. The first thing to know is that you don’t have to continue to the update yet. Instead, when you see the introduction message, click “Learn More About this Change.”

Then you can take the following steps:

  • Go to Message Controls
  • Scroll down to “Other People”
  • Click “People on Facebook”
  • Check the button for “Don’t Receive Requests”

[Screenshot via Instagram]
That should keep Facebook randos out of your requests folder, although it doesn’t stop the broader integration of features that Facebook is planning. In September, the company published a blog post outlining the changes and explaining users’ privacy options in more detail.

If you’ve already continued with the update and want to change your setting to block Facebook message requests after the fact, don’t panic. You can do that by going to Instagram settings > privacy > messages, which takes you back to the “Message Controls” section. Then follow the above steps. Good luck!

advertisement
advertisement

About the author

Christopher Zara is a senior staff news editor for Fast Company and obsessed with media, technology, business, culture, and theater. Before coming to FastCo News, he was a deputy editor at International Business Times, a theater critic for Newsweek, and managing editor of Show Business magazine

More

advertisement
advertisement
  • 6:55 am

Costco cocoa bombs: Everything to know about the latest viral TikTok trend

Cocoa bombs are a visual and taste bud delight.

Costco cocoa bombs: Everything to know about the latest viral TikTok trend
[Photo: Aliona Gumeniuk/Unsplash]

Now that we’re over halfway through October, it’s that time of year where people are throwing on cozy sweaters and grabbing mugs of hot drinks to keep their hands warm. Which brings us to the . . . you guessed it . . . latest TikTok trend: hot cocoa bombs. TikTok users are obsessed with sharing their bomb-making skills. But far from being anything dangerous, these are the kind of bombs that explode into sweet, warm goodness you can’t wait to gulp down.

advertisement
advertisement

So just what is a cocoa bomb? It’s a hollow sphere made of chocolate, and inside its hollowed body it unusually contains marshmallows, sprinkles, or other candies. You place the sphere into a mug and then pour hot milk over it. As the milk hits the chocolate sphere, it melts, dissolving the chocolate into the milk and releasing the contents of the sphere into the mug as well. What you’re left with is a warm mug of delicious hot chocolate topped with marshmallows (or whatever else was in the sphere).

@cristinacordero1

Milk chocolate bomb #hotcocoabomb #hotcocoa #yum #coldweather #cocoabombs #chocolate

♬ Tampa Curhat Beat / Baila – Tik Tok Remix – Eduardo Luzquiños

The TikTok clip above shows your traditional hot cocoa bomb, but check out the one below—it’s Halloween themed.

@goldyglocks0397

Hot Cocoa Ball #3 #hotcocoabomb #chocolate #jackolantern #pumpkin #treats #halloween #cocoa #fyp #cozy #foodie

♬ pastel skies – Rook1e

Along with all the hot cocoa bomb posts, you may see “Costco cocoa bombs” trending too. Why? It’s because Costco sells premade cocoa bombs you can buy to drown in your own hot milk.

advertisement

But if you don’t live by a Costco, don’t fret! You can make your own cocoa bombs at home. There’s a ton of tutorials on TikTok that show you how—like the one below. Enjoy!

@sugar_pusher

This one’s for you, @itsmetinx! #baking #fyp #hotchocolate #hotcocoabomb #tiktokcooks #beinspired

♬ Lofi Beat Lovely – Type Beat

advertisement
advertisement
advertisement
advertisement

Here’s what’s in Mitch McConnell’s stimulus plan (no mention of $1,200 checks)

The blame game continues on Capitol Hill as Americans reeling from the coronavirus pandemic go empty-handed.

Here’s what’s in Mitch McConnell’s stimulus plan (no mention of $1,200 checks)
[Photo: Lisa Ferdinando/DoD Photo/Flickr; Sharon McCutcheon/Unsplash]

After promising to take up a stimulus bill for coronavirus relief this week, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell outlined what his striped-down plan would include in a press release on Saturday. The Senate is expected to vote on the proposal on Wednesday. Here’s what McConnell says it will include:

advertisement
  • “More federally-expanded unemployment benefits for laid-off Americans”
  • “An entire second round of the Paycheck Protection Program to save workers’ jobs at the hardest-hit small businesses”
  • “$100B+ to make schools safe for kids”
  • “More testing”
  • “More tracing”
  • “More funding for Operation Warp Speed to produce a vaccine”
  • “More funding to distribute that vaccine across the country”

Noticeably absent from the list? Additional aid for state and local governments and direct payments to Americans in the form of $1,200 stimulus checks. At $500 billion, McConnell’s plan is not even one-third the size of latest $1.8 trillion proposal from the White House—a deal some prominent Democrats, including Representative Ro Khanna of California—have urged House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to take.

McConnell has said that he won’t even bring a bill that size to the floor, but President Trump—looking for last-minute pre-election win—wants a deal before November, so we’ll see if McConnell changes his tune at all this week. As the Hill reports, Chuck Schumer, the Senate minority leader, has already called McConnell’s pared-down bill and pending vote this week a “stunt.”

Stay tuned . . .    

advertisement
advertisement

About the author

Christopher Zara is a senior staff news editor for Fast Company and obsessed with media, technology, business, culture, and theater. Before coming to FastCo News, he was a deputy editor at International Business Times, a theater critic for Newsweek, and managing editor of Show Business magazine

More

advertisement
advertisement

Aaron Sorkin Sorkinizes the radical left in Netflix’s ‘Trial of the Chicago 7’

The new film is well structured, witty, and eminently watchable, but it also further reveals a filmmaker confused about the limits of performing one’s civic duty.

Aaron Sorkin Sorkinizes the radical left in Netflix’s ‘Trial of the Chicago 7’
Yahya Abdul-Mateen II as Black Panther cofounder Bobby Seale in The Trial of the Chicago 7 [Photo: Niko Tavernise/Netflix]

Die-hard fans of Aaron Sorkin may be experiencing a case of whiplash at the moment.

advertisement
advertisement

After Thursday night’s reunion of the creator’s beloved tribute to bipartisan compromise, The West Wing, Friday, Oct. 16, saw the release of his new Netflix film, The Trial of the Chicago 7. The former was a call to civic action, in which liberal luminaries such as Lin-Manuel Miranda urged viewers to vote—despite the unlikelihood that any hadn’t already planned to do so—while the latter is a meditation on what it means to take more direct political action.

The self-congratulatory pablum of the former is at odds with the complicated concepts of the latter—which are ultimately rendered in as Sorkin-y a manner as possible.

In talking with Fast Company about the reunion special recently, one of the world’s greatest West Wing skeptics, screenwriter Josh Olson, lodged the following complaint about the show’s cast and creator urging viewers to vote, in a moment that was left out of the article:

“It seems to be a way to kind of breed and promote complacency,” he said. “It’s funny that that whole crowd really fucking hates Susan Sarandon. She may be on Twitter right now saying, ‘Go vote,’ but that’s in between tweeting photos of herself chained to a fence and marching and going, ‘Come on out! Join us! Get bodies in the streets and get active and organized!’ That’s scary. That’s a sacrifice. That stuff takes time and money and blood. And it’s just much easier to sit in your comfy house and lecture people on voting.”

The Trial of the Chicago 7 is evidence that Sorkin has at least considered this contradiction. It’s a thoroughly watchable cinematic examination of the events surrounding the police riot at the 1968 Democratic National Convention. The filmmaker sets the scene by introducing us to leaders from disparate left-leaning groups such as the Students for a Democratic Society, the Youth International Party, and the Black Panthers, as they gear up to make a stand against, alternately, the Vietnam War and the U.S. police state in general. He then picks up the action six months later, as the incoming Nixon administration seeks to make an example out of those leaders for the riot that followed. Along the way, Sorkin fills in the details on what actually went down during the night in question, with an expertly paced trickle of flashbacks. (I may object to his politics, but I can’t argue with his command of structure.)

Jeremy Strong (left) and Sasha Baron Cohen portray activists Jerry Rubin and Abbie Hoffman in The Trial of the Chicago 7. [Photo: Niko Tavernise/Netflix]
Considering that Sorkin originally wrote the screenplay in 2007, and went into preproduction in 2018, the timing of this film is remarkable. It couldn’t be more relevant. The protest movement sparked by George Floyd’s killing at the hands of an officer back in June put the police response to civil unrest directly under the microscope. Unlike during the similarly turbulent era of the film, however, everyone now has a phone-camera and means to distribute video instantly. Suddenly, the police version of how riots unfold is no longer merely accepted as read. People at home can watch with their own eyes as officers cover up their badges and force nonviolent protesters into reacting.

Also mirroring the events of the film: Donald Trump’s recent attempts to use rioters as props for his election the way Nixon did in 1968, and a series of unfit, Trump-appointed judges continuing the legacy of the film’s clearly biased judiciary, embodied with Harry Potter villain-level subtlety by Frank Langella. Not to mention the fact that the inciting incident of the film involves leftists being mad at a Democratic candidate and former VP (Hubert Humphrey) for not appealing enough to the left. The parallels to now are, more or less, apparent in nearly every scene.

advertisement

Sometimes the characters seem to talk directly to 2020 viewers, as when Black Panther Bobby Seale (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) is warned that his words, “Fry the pigs,” will be taken out of context. This summer, Trump and his surrogates like to claim that Black Lives Matter protesters regularly chant, “Pigs in a blanket, fry ’em like bacon” at police, despite the fact that only one protest on record is known to have featured that chant, and it took place in 2015, without the participation of Black Lives Matter organizers. Other times, the characters speak in classically clever Sorkin dialogue, like when the least notorious member of the Chicago 7 remarks of his inclusion in the group, “This is the Academy Awards of protests and as far as I’m concerned, it’s an honor just to be nominated.” Much of the dialogue during the courtroom scenes, though, comes from actual transcripts.

Mark Rylance plays defense attorney William Kunstler (left) and Eddie Redmayne is civil rights and anti-war activist Tom Hayden in The Trial of the Chicago 7. [Photo: Niko Tavernise/Netflix]
Sorkin loves a courtroom scene nearly as much as he loves the idea of opposing sides setting aside their differences. He made his name writing Jack Nicholson’s courtroom outburst in A Few Good Men, based on his play and adapted To Kill a Mockingbird on Broadway with Jeff Daniels in 2018. As the title suggests, The Trial of the Chicago 7 is loaded with such scenes. These moments alternately dangle red meat in front of viewers and reward them with what Josh Olson calls “liberal porn.”

We watch sharp lawyers coax proper context from ill-intentioned bureaucrats under oath. It’s the kind of thing observers of the singularly mendacious Trump administration are clamoring for—the chance to pin down liars and force them to answer truthfully, perhaps resulting in a Nicholsonion “Damn right, I ordered the code red!”-type jailable admission. Unlike in the world of most Sorkin projects, though, insulated as they are with wishful thinking, Chicago 7 shows how malicious actors like a biased judge can remain immune to reason in real life.

One wonders whether Sorkin was aware of the world’s long lineage of bad actors working within the justice system when he was creating his signature TV show. (He must have been; the dude clearly does his research.) Either way, this movie makes it clear that he is now. Perhaps the discovery of just how many such harmful forces occupy roles throughout the government today has led him to grapple with how to take on a system when civic norms fail.

“We’ve dealt with jury tampering, wiretapping, a defendant who was literally gagged, and a judge who’s been handing down rulings from the bench that would be considered wrong in Honduras,” lead defense attorney William Kunstler (Mark Rylance) laments at one point. “So I’m a little less interested in the law than I was when this trial began.”

The Trial of the Chicago 7 [Photo: Niko Tavernise/Netflix]
If Kunstler’s disillusion appears to echo Sorkin’s own, so too does the rift between Chicago 7 members Tom Hayden (Eddie Redmayne) and Abbie Hoffman (Sacha Baron Cohen, fully in his element here), which scans as the auteur exorcising his internal struggle. Hayden is the leader of the Students for a Democratic Society—a reasonable, rational incrementalist who will get his hands dirty if need be—while Hoffman is a flashy, motormouthed, Molotov-tosser, both figuratively and otherwise. The two clash over the importance of winning elections to further goals (Hayden) versus the importance of cultivating a revolutionary attitude in the masses using forceful spectacle (Hoffman).

advertisement

“My problem with you,” Hayden says to Hoffman in a heated clash, “is that for the next 50 years, when people think of progressive politics, they’re gonna think of you. They’re gonna think of you and your idiot followers, passing out daisies to soldiers and trying to levitate the Pentagon.”

It’s interesting talk from the guy who created The West Wing, a show that basically crystallized neoliberalism for the last 20 years and taught viewers it might be possible to pass a daisy to Mitch McConnell.

Perhaps Sorkin is sick of doing things the Hayden way, though, and ready to go into Hoffman mode?

Perhaps not.

The emotional low point of the movie comes when a secret recording of one of the Chicago 7 is uncovered, with words that can be construed as an incitement of violence, while the high point is a climactic piece of righteous courtroom grandstanding that makes the hack judge big mad.

The only form of direct action that’s permissible in Sorkin’s telling is the kind that rises to the level of insolence—despite the abject, inhuman cruelty on the other side of it.

advertisement

That cruelty manifests most clearly in the film with the fate of revolutionary socialist, Fred Hampton (Kelvin Harrison Jr.), who appears briefly, as courtroom counsel to Bobby Seale. Later, he is murdered off-screen in what was later proved in real life to be an extrajudicial killing by paramilitary police. It’s tasteful for Sorkin not to dwell on the details of Hampton’s death, because it’s a different story altogether for another auteur to tell. But Hampton’s may be the more urgent, useful story for this moment. (Don’t worry, the movie version is coming in 2021.)

The Chicago 7 were made into ideological martyrs to burnish the credibility of the original “law and order” presidency. Hampton, however, was actually martyred, in the biblical sense, to prevent his ideological message from spreading any further than the charismatic 21-year old had already spread it.

If Sorkin is well aware of the system that sanctioned Hampton’s murder, and the many elements of it that linger today, he should be concerned that 50 years from now, he’ll be mostly remembered as a writer who made people feel good about pretending things didn’t happen that way.

advertisement
advertisement
advertisement
advertisement

The tyranny and sadness of the endless furlough

Millions of furloughed Americans are trapped in a cruel in-between world where they don’t have jobs, but they also don’t not have jobs.

The tyranny and sadness of the endless furlough
[Photo: Nik Shuliahin/Unsplash]

The call from the general manager came right after Easter. Jim, a 37-year-old Disney employee who doesn’t want to use his real name due to concerns about his job security, was being furloughed after a decade of service. At the time, he thought it wouldn’t last long, but in mid-August, he got an email, saying the furlough was continuing.

advertisement
advertisement

“People in my position are put in limbo,” Jim explains. “I find hope in the furlough because it’s still going on. I know there would be a sense of relief being laid off. At least I know what my future entails. Right now, they put us all in a sort of glass box, waiting for the perfect time to open it.”

It’s the uncertainty that’s a killer. Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, millions of furloughed Americans have found themselves trapped in a cruel in-between world where they don’t have jobs, but they also don’t not have jobs. As unemployment continues to make headlines—another 898,000 Americans applied for it last week, according to the U.S. Department of Labor—it’s the lack of knowing what comes next that is hellish.

Furloughs are unpaid, temporary mandatory absences from work, with the expectation that the affected employees will return at some point. Staffers, in many cases, still receive employee benefits, like health insurance. In contrast, layoffs are permanent terminations.

Among the large companies that have furloughed employees since the coronavirus pandemic began are are Marriott, La-Z-Boy, Mohawk Industries, Macy’s, Gap, SeaWorld Entertainment, and Mohawk Industries. Hit most recently is the airline industry, including American Airlines, which furloughed an estimated 19,000 workers, and United Airlines, about 12,000.

Disney didn’t respond to Fast Company‘s emails.

The psychological impact is significant. Furloughed workers are 37% more likely to report declines in their mental health than laid-off employees, according to new COVID-era data from Qualtrics.

advertisement

“The furlough itself is a really, really stressful event, and that stress can bleed over into all aspects of their lives,” says Anthony Wheeler, dean of the Widener University School of Business Administration. “It then becomes a cycle. The stress increases and that makes you less able to mitigate that very stress. Coping strategies are unsuccessful. You can’t job hunt . . . You get burned out. Life becomes miserable and you get depressed.”

I find hope in the furlough because it’s still going on. I know there would be a sense of relief being laid off.”

Jim, Disney employee

How the COVID furloughs will play out over the long run is unclear, but Wheeler’s furlough research in 2013 as a University of Rhode Island associate professor of human resources management is what experts today are looking to for insights and predictions. But, he explains, the situations are different on two fronts. First, the government workers whom he and his colleagues studied knew they’d eventually be brought back; they couldn’t be discharged endlessly or the state infrastructure would fall apart. Secondly, they found that furloughed staffers who were able to keep their minds off their work situation—by exercising or hanging out with friends, for instance—survived better, but those coping mechanism are difficult to deploy during the pandemic.

“What you’re seeing with a lot of people in that stuck situation is they simply don’t know what to do,” Wheeler says. “We have not seen something like this in this country or in the world probably since the Great Depression. It’s almost like how can you compare the two? The world was so different in 1929.”

Ninety-one years later and there are 12.6 million Americans unemployed, the U.S. Department of Labor’s most recent data shows.

‘Temporary’ disruption

Furloughs quickly entered the mainstream lexicon this past spring, as businesses small and large began to shut down temporarily due the COVID-19 pandemic. Until then, “furloughs” was primarily a word used by unions as a way to avoid layoffs or salary cuts during contract negotiations, or by the criminal justice system for convicts granted time out of prison. (Presidential election buffs will recall how an ad during the 1988 race about Willie Horton, a Massachusetts prisoner who’d raped a woman repeatedly and bound and knifed her boyfriend while out on furlough, tanked Michael Dukakis’s candidacy.)

Why a workplace furlough in 2020 hurts so much goes back to the very essence of being a person.

advertisement

“It stems, in part, from the human need to feel connected,” Wheeler explains. “A furlough short-circuits that sense of belonging and with it, a person’s way to self-identify. You suffer a crisis of who you are and it and makes you feel unsettled. If a layoff is converted into a reduction in workforce, at least you know that door is closed. For a lot of people, that finality removes that uncertainty we don’t deal with well.”

We have not seen something like this in this country or in the world probably since the Great Depression.”

Anthony Wheeler, Widener University School of Business Administration

At first, Jim launched an extensive job hunt, but after looking really hard for new work in April and May unsuccessfully, he gave up. For now, he still has healthcare through his employer and cash from unemployment insurance to tide him over as he keeps busy by meditating, working out, and hanging out with his sister who lives nearby. Reading is Jim’s No. 1 form of escapism; he’s reluctant to go back to school, in case he’s called back to work. He has money in the bank, so while he’s not panicking, he is growing concerned about maintaining his apartment if laid off.

“Like for a lot of people, the walls are closing in gradually, but I’m doing my best,” he says. “I’m waiting for a phone call that basically either tells me good news or bad news—either my job is secure and I can go back to it and everything’s cool or I’m getting laid off and I have to rethink my life. The ball’s in their court.”

That lack of predictability fuels the cycle. Long-term anxiety about one’s furlough leads to catastrophizing, thinking about worst-case scenarios. The ruminating that follows makes it hard to move on, which in this case means job hunting, gathering references, and networking. The worrying grows worse, depending on how much money a person has saved, how many dependents the furloughed individual has, and what support systems he or she has in place.

“Let’s have a plan A, B, C, D, and E. Once we feel we have some control over some aspects of our lives, then that helps us calm down and builds resilience,” says Mary Alvord, a psychologist in suburban Washington, D.C., and an expert in resilience. “People hang on and think this is short-term at the beginning. Some people thought it’d only be a few months, even though science was clear. They’re on hold and they’re not sure.”

The domino effect

Furloughs impact even the people who haven’t been furloughed, Wheeler points out. The mere announcement of furloughs at a company can stress out the people still at work, because they start to fear that they’ll be next on the chopping block. That type of anxiety is known to impact job performance and productivity. That, in turn, hurts the employer itself; many businesses are already on the brink without this added stressor dragging them down.

advertisement

And the furloughed individuals called back to service return with psychological scars that don’t heal with a restored paycheck. Employees who resume their duties remember the trauma of the furlough and still suffer, according to Wheeler, who says there’s no research showing how long it takes for formerly furloughed employees to get back to recover psychologically.

I knew it was going to happen. That didn’t make it easier.”

Greg, furloughed lawyer

“Because these events are so rare, we don’t know how long it’ll take for people to return to their pre-furlough selves,” he says. “There’s emotional stress and emotional exhaustion shoots up. It’s bad. It creates long-term stress and burnout. And people can’t function like that. That’s how you end up with people having breakdowns.”

Alvord recommends staying mentally healthy by taking care of yourself—move your body, like take a nature walk; stay socially connected; get enough sleep, which is critical to mood regulation and mental clarity.

“What makes people happy is having a goal and meaningfulness,” she explains. “Accept what you can control instead of stewing in it. Use your time.”

Workplace whiplash

Greg, a lawyer at a 25-person firm in Yonkers, N.Y., endured some workplace whiplash. The 31-year-old, who asked that his last name not be used, was furloughed briefly in April, then went back to work from his home in Jersey City, N.J., for 1.5 months, and was furloughed again early July. With housing court closed, the firm was left with few landlords and tenants to represent.

“I knew it was going to happen. That didn’t make it easier,” he says. “Even in early July or late June, it seemed as though by the winter, we could be back to normal, but that doesn’t seem to be the case.”

advertisement

Greg is trying to find other work, but his side hustle had been in the entertainment business, an industry that was also hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead, he volunteers at a voter-registration not-for-profit, posts on Twitter, cleans the house and tries to get into shape. Meanwhile, his husband, a manager at a tech company, is busier than ever.

“There are definitely good days and bad days,” Greg reflects. “Some days, I sit around wondering what the hell was I thinking spending $300,000 [on school] and seven years on and I can’t even practice law right now. Other times, I can spend the whole day keeping myself busy. It’s a lot harder to be motivated to do something fun when I know I’m just doing it to kill time.”

advertisement
advertisement

17165 Stories