A Japanese think-tank has unveiled an in-depth study of Asean’s Generation Z, offering insights into the future of the region.
So-called Gen Z citizens – those born between 1997 and 2012 and now aged 9-24 – account for about 24 per cent of Southeast Asia’s population, according to the Hakuhodo Institute of Life and Living Asean (HILL Asean).
As the first generation born in the internet age, they also have an outsized influence on society and the economy, according to HILL Asean’s survey, titled “Now you Z me: Debunking myths about Asean’s Generation Z”.
The survey of six countries – Thailand, Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam, Philippines – revealed that Asean’s Gen Z are more connected with the outside world via their smartphones and take a dispassionate view of the words and deeds of previous generations. The survey showed a more democratic viewpoint among Gen Z members, who are keen to solve the social challenges caused by previous generations by valuing themselves, their families and others around them equally while tolerating each other’s differences.
HILL Asean dubs these Gen Zers who value harmony and synergy, “SynergiZers”.
It identifies SynergiZers as sharing several core characteristics.
Generally, Asean Gen Zers were raised in a more liberal atmosphere and encouraged by parents to have their own opinions. The survey found 46 per cent agreed with the statement “I was encouraged to question things, form arguments, and have a point of view”.
However, 63 per cent agreed they were “Encouraged to follow traditions and norms set by others” to maintain good relations with society and those around them.
Only 7 per cent agreed that “Success is making family and friends proud”.
Meanwhile, 86% agreed with the statements “Life is about fulfilling responsibility” and “Life is about self-love”. They value both themselves and their families, said HILL Asean. They think those around them can’t be happy if they are not happy.
Also, 74 per cent agreed that “Success is being happy with who I am despite what others say”, indicating that high positions and money are not the only “proof of success” to Gen Z.
Gen Z also understands the rules (how to behave) on the various social media platforms, and keep distinct identities for each in line with these. But none of these identities is false; they’re all their real selves. 82 per cent agreed with the statement “When posting on social media, I’m very conscious about my character”, and 68 per cent agreed with “I want to show my natural self on social media”.
Compared to older generations, they prefer posting in formats that can be enjoyed intuitively and sensorially, like stories and memes. The top three contents they view on social media were 1) Text and photos, 60% (Generation Y: 65%); 2) Videos, 52% (Generation Y: 49%); and 3) Stories, 46% (Generation Y: 41%).
In interviews conducted in conjunction with the survey, many Gen Z-ers said they wanted to work on social issues. 85 per cent agreed they were “Willing to pay 10 per cent more if a brand contributes to social issues in the community”. They had high expectations of brands and looked to them to fulfil many roles.
SAN FRANCISCO – First, we stopped paying for things. Gym memberships, movie tickets, Ubers, restaurant bills, fancy clothes.
But as the pandemic carried on and more of our lives switched from in person to over screens, we started racking up new costs. Streaming services, delivery apps, online fitness classes, virtual learning apps, the Zoom account that lets you talk longer than 40 minutes.
People in some parts of the United States have started using gyms and eating at restaurants again, or are using a combination of online and in-person services. But without physical bills or regular reminders, lingering subscriptions can be easily forgotten.
Those small digital charges add up. And in a struggling economy, finding even small ways to save money can be a huge help.
There are plenty of tools to help figure out where money is being lost, like budgeting apps Mint and subscription tracking apps like Truebill, which connects with your bank accounts and lets you pick how much to pay. Another option, Bobby, is free but requires more work to set up.
Truebill CEO Yahya Mokhtarzada said that the number of users has risen during the pandemic and that users’ spending habits have changed. He says services such as Kindle Unlimited became more popular than Barnes & Noble, more people paid for YouTube Premium than tickets to movies at Cinemark Theatres, and they spent more money on Uber Eats than Uber rides. The shift to automated payments has made it easier for companies to make money and harder for customers to keep track, he said.
“We used to pay everything in cash so you know where your money is going,” Mokhtarzada said. “Now you just have no visibility, and people aren’t exactly anxious to tell you they’re charging you every month.”
You can use apps, or you can take control yourself. As the New Year rolls in, it’s a good time to hop on your phone and make sure you’re not paying for anything you don’t need.
– Schedule a subscription intervention. You probably don’t need all of your new subscriptions, but finding them isn’t always easy, and canceling some can be a chore.
There’s a high probability you are paying monthly fees for things you’ve already forgotten you signed up for, whether it’s a free trial of CBS All Access you got to binge “Star Trek: Picard” or a subscription to the Noggin kids’ app you agreed to in a moment of work-from-home panic. The longer a free trial, like Apple TV Plus’s free year with a new device, the easier it is to forget about.
They can seem small at the time, $5 or $10 here and there for a bit of entertainment, but add up fast. An average subscription to all of the nine big streaming platforms, including Netflix, Disney Plus and HBO Max, comes to around $900 a year, or $80 a month. Then there are streaming workout apps, games, kids’ apps, newsletters and news publications (which are great).
You can go through your credit card statement to see which companies are charging you, but that doesn’t tell the whole story. Most reoccurring payments are automatic deductions charged every month or as a lump sum once a year. However a growing number of services bill through a third party, such as Amazon, Apple and Google, and can be bundled together as one charge, meaning they’re easier to miss on statements.
(The Washington Post is owned by Amazon chief executive and founder Jeff Bezos.)
Go to your settings on each app store and review what you’ve signed up for, including free trials that you forgot are coming to an end.
On an iOS device, go to settings, tap on your profile on top, then tap “subscriptions” to see what you are paying for through Apple. Make sure the option for renewal receipts is turned on so you get emails reminding you that you pay for these services. On an Android device, go to the Play Store, then tap the menu icon (the box with lines in the upper left corner) and look for “subscriptions.” And on the Amazon website, use the “accounts and lists” drop-down menu next to the search bar to click on “memberships and subscription.”
Keep track going forward by checking your statements regularly, keeping a list or spreadsheet of all your subscriptions as you start them, and by setting a calendar reminder to cancel a subscription or free trial when you’re done with it.
– Share, negotiate or take a break from accounts. Keeping or canceling aren’t your only options for saving money on things like subscriptions.
A surprising number of payments are negotiable. The most well known are cable and cellphone service fees, which can usually be lowered with a phone call and a threat to switch to another company. Car insurance and credit card interest rates can also be haggled down. Mokhtarzada says the best time to bargain is after your initial contract is up: “There’s often retention offers that they have available, but they’re not going to reach out and tell you about them.”
But you can also try bargaining down less obvious payments, such as expensive software you use for work. Companies including Adobe have allowed some customers to pay less during the pandemic, when work slowed.
Another way to pay less is to share your subscriptions. In the proper, legal way, of course. Look into any family plans and read the fine print for how that company defines family. Does your mom need to live at the same address to share a streaming account or just actually be your mom? If having more people on a streaming account lowers the cost for everyone, it might be worth switching. Some companies, such as Spotify, allow you to pay 50 percent more to add up to five family members, or just $3 more if you want to have a two-person account. And if you’re absolutely going to keep using it for another year, many subscriptions offer discounted rates if you pay for an entire year upfront. (Set that calendar reminder for 11 months from now!)
If you’re on the fence about giving up an account forever, some companies will let you pause an account instead of canceling it. And services including Netflix make it easy to quit and come back without losing your watch history, or your spot in the middle of bingeing Bridgerton, and having to sign up all over again.
– Comparison-shop on delivery apps. The boom in grocery and restaurant delivery during the pandemic means you have multiple options when it comes to paying someone to bring you a fresh or frozen burrito. The prices across apps can vary, even for the same restaurant or grocery store.
Before shopping for groceries, look at prices on apps such as Instacart or Amazon Fresh to see how they compare, calculating in any delivery fees. Also try the stores’ sites directly and see if they offer pickup or delivery. For restaurants, prices can also vary between apps, so open a few and check your favorite entrees before purchasing. If possible, see if the restaurant is taking orders directly. Even if the prices aren’t lower, the business will probably be able to keep a larger share of your payment when not using an app like Grubhub. Some companies, such as DoorDash, that offer subscriptions are basically prepaying a delivery fee. If you don’t order enough through a single app to make this a deal, skip it.
It’s also time to audit delivery memberships, starting with an Amazon Prime account if you, like more than half of U.S. households, have one. Amazon Prime costs $119 a year and includes benefits such as free two-day shipping and its Prime Video service, but it is no longer the only game in town. Non-Prime members can still get free, slower shipping on orders over $25.
Walmart has added its own similar service, called Walmart Plus, for $98 a year. If you use Prime for groceries from Whole Foods, there are alternatives for other stores, such as an Instacart membership. Many companies offer free, fast shipping for a minimum order, and if it’s just “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” you want, Prime Video can be paid for separately. (If you do hold on to Amazon Prime, don’t forget to Google a product before you buy it and see if it’s available for a lower price, even with shipping.)
– Bring your cloud storage bills down to earth. Somewhere along the line you ran out of free iCloud or Google storage. Or maybe you signed up for multiple services and are paying for more space than you need. This is a two-step money saver that might also help streamline where all your important documents and photos live.
First, figure out how much storage you need. Audit your Amazon, Google, Apple, Dropbox and Microsoft storage (we’re talking personal files, not pro-level storage). They all have easy ways to see a visual breakdown of how much storage you are using and for what types of files. A photo or video collection is usually one of the biggest chunks of cloud storage. You could be surprised to find some unexpected space hogs, such as an automatic backup of all your text messages including photo attachments. Try backing up to a computer instead of the cloud, deleting past backups and clearing out old message attachments.
Prune where you can, then shop around for the best price for however much storage you’re using and reasonable upgrade options as you grow. Until recently, Google Photo’s unlimited storage for slightly compressed photos was the biggest steal, but now it’s only 15 GB for free, then $1.99 a month for 100 GB. Amazon still offers unlimited full-resolution photo storage for Prime members, with the caveat that you need to use its app to browse through them. Dropbox is up to 2 GB for free, then jumps to $9.99 a month for 2 TB. Apple’s iCloud storage offers up to 5 GB for free or 50 GB starting at $0.99 a month.
In theory, you could spread your files across a few services for free, but that might lead to forgetfulness and heartbreak down the road. For some people, the right cloud storage option is whatever’s tied into their phone. If it’s ease of use you’re looking for, Android users can stick with Google Drive and Apple users iCloud.
Ahead of the official launch of next year’s Michelin guide for Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Phuket and Phang-Nga on December 16, the French guide on fine-dining unveiled the 2021 Bib Gourmand selection for 2021, which features 106 restaurants and street food establishments.
Of them 65 are in Bangkok, 20 in Chiang Mai and 21 in Phuket and Phang-Nga. This year, 17 food establishments are joining the list for the first time – nine in Bangkok, three in Chiang Mai, five in Phuket and Phang-Nga, while four in each province have been promoted from Michelin Plate.
The Bib Gourmand distinction, symbolised by the famous “Michelin Man” licking his lips, recognises eateries that offer a carefully prepared three-course meal – starter, main course and dessert – for no more than Bt1,000.
Gwendal Poullennec, international director for Michelin Guides, said: “Due to the Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent economic slowdown, we want to especially boost the morale of restaurant professionals, continue to support the culinary industry and encourage local foodies to embark on more food-ventures within the parameters of current public health guidelines.
“Providing a combination of quality dishes and affordable prices, Bib Gourmand establishments serve as the ideal dining solution for budget-savvy foodies, and play a significant part in keeping Thailand’s culinary scene alive during these tough times.”
In the soon-to-be-released fourth edition of the Michelin Guide for Thailand, the 17 new additions to the Bib Gourmand list include Bangkok’s Burapa, a restaurant with the Orient Express theme that takes diners on a journey East-by-Northeast to taste unique, flavoursome cuisine that joins culinary elements from Isaan and Trat; Chang-Wang-Imm, a restaurant in a charming two-storey house built in 1957 on the banks of the Chao Phraya River serving delicious wallet-friendly Thai food that highlights traditional cooking techniques and flavours; and Phed Phed Bistro, a restaurant with minimalist décor and wire mesh accents focusing on comfort food made with quality ingredients. It also includes Chiang Mai’s Go Neng (Wichayanon), a street food establishment that has been around for more than three decades specialising in deep-fried dough sticks, “pa tong go”, that boast puffy perfection and crispy texture, uniquely shaped as crocodiles, dinosaurs, dragons, and elephants; Phang-Nga’s Hok Kee Lao, a Thai-Chinese restaurant beloved for decades for its delicious and affordable banquet-style food; and Tokola, a restaurant in lush gardens next to Khuekkhak beach serving intensely-flavoured traditional and southern Thai dishes using locally sourced ingredients as well as ancient and original cooking methods and Phuket’s Salaloy, a casual Rawai Beach eatery famous for a good selection of fresh seafood that are freshly cooked to order.
The four restaurants promoted from the Michelin Plate to Bib Gourmand are Bangkok’s Somtum Khun Kan, a restaurant offering its famous “som tam” plus a wide variety of authentic Thai and Thai-Isaan dishes; Chiang Mai’s Charoen Suan Aek, a neighbourhood restaurant loved for its authentic and boldly flavoured northern Thai dishes that rely on indigenous, seasonal ingredients; Phang-Nga’s Nai Mueang, an authentic Southern Thai restaurant featuring a charming retro ambience with old tin-mining memorabilia, record players, sewing machines and other nostalgic bric-a-brac; and Phuket’s Tu Kab Khao, an elegant, atmospheric restaurant set in a grand Chino-Portuguese building, serving tasty Southern Thai cuisine.
“By expanding the geographical scope of this year’s selection, Michelin Guide inspectors found more eateries worthy of a Bib Gourmand rating. Thus, we would like to encourage local foodies to go on tasting ventures of their own, and discover by themselves – as our inspectors did – that Thailand is a true haven for good value, quality, and reasonably priced dining experience,” concluded Poullennec.
National Zoo’s giant pandas will head to China in three years
LivingDec 07. 2020The National Zoo’s giant panda cub is shown at 8 weeks old. He is growing and crawling, zookeepers said. MUST CREDIT: Photo courtesy of National Zoo.
By The Washington Post · Michael E. Ruane · NATIONAL, WORLD, FEATURES, ASIA-PACIFIC, ANIMALS
WASHINGTON – The National Zoo said Monday that all three of its giant pandas will be going to China at the end of 2023, according to a new agreement struck with Chinese officials.
The agreement grants a three-year extension to the stay of the adult giant pandas, Mei Xiang, a female, and Tian Tian, a male, who have been at the zoo for 20 years, the zoo said.
But they and their 4-month-old cub, Xiao Qi Ji, a male, are to go to China by the end of the extension on Dec. 8, 2023.
The agreement means the zoo and the adoring public will have the popular black and white animals for three more years.
But it leaves the future of the National Zoo’s almost 50-year giant panda program unsettled.
Zoo director Steve Monfort said he was confident, despite international tensions, that Chinese officials would consider sending more giant pandas to Washington in the future.
He said he was thrilled to have Mei Xiang and Tian Tian for three more years.
The current agreement that has allowed them to stay expires Monday. Giant pandas are native to China, and it owns all giant pandas in U.S. zoos. As with earlier extensions, the zoo will pay the Chinese government $500,000 per year of the new stay, the zoo said.
“We have . . . three more years to really prepare ourselves also for saying goodbye,” Monfort said. “These animals are beloved not just by the people who work and care for them, but by millions of people.”
“It’s great to have them for a little longer but it also is a reminder that that’s ephemeral, and they will return to China,” he said. “This gives us three years to celebrate that and to get ready for it.”
“It’s going to be a heartbreak for us,” he said. Some keepers have been with the adult pandas their entire careers and will be “absolutely crushed when these animals go away. Lots of tears will flow.”
But there will also be a sense of pride at how well the zoo has cared for them, he said.
Montfort, who has been studying giant pandas for 33 years, said the zoo’s relationship with Chinese panda experts is solid.
“I went over there in January . . . to Beijing, and we had an excellent meeting with our counterparts there,” Monfort said. “It was all good, and we’ve just been having positive interactions since then.”
“We have a 48-year history with pandas, and we’d like to have another many decades of additional collaboration with Chinese colleagues,” he said.
“There’s no question that, when the time is right, we will approach them and begin discussions about the future of the program after this pair,” he said.
“It is our hope that we will have pandas for decades to come,” he said. The zoo’s relationship with its Chinese counterparts is “such a good and strong partnership that we hope that that could be made possible.”
But tensions between the United States and China are ongoing, and President Donald Trump has repeatedly blamed the Chinese for the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, calling the deadly malady the “Chinese virus.”
(The zoo is closed because of the virus.)
Monfort said he is not worried.
“There’s a lot of concern that people have about the relationship between our two countries, on the political side of things,” he said. “That’s all very fraught.”
“But . . . the relationships that we have with our colleagues on the ground there . . . are very strong professional relationships . . . very productive, very collegial, friendly,” he said. “On that level, everything’s really great.”
“But we can’t control politics,” he noted.
“I don’t believe there’s any sign that anyone is interested in politicizing these pandas . . . No one that I’ve talked to thinks that would be a smart idea . . . It’s a winning story . . . Why would you want to disrupt that success?”
“I don’t see any sign that anyone is interested in making a political statement via pandas,” he said. “I really don’t.”
By prior agreement with the Chinese, all giant panda cubs born in U.S. zoos must be sent to a breeding program in China by the time they turn 4. So at the end of the new three-year deal the cub, Xiao Qi Ji, would depart with the adults, Monfort said.
“It’s just going to make sense to do it all at once,” he said.
The zoo has had giant pandas almost continuously since 1972, when Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai gave the United States Ling-Ling, a female, and Hsing-Hsing, a male. Both were 18 months old.
In return, the United States sent China two musk oxen, Milton and Matilda, from the San Francisco Zoo. Musk oxen are shaggy natives of the Arctic known for their strong odor.
Ling-Ling died in 1992, and Hsing-Hsing died in 1999. There was a gap of about a year between Hsing-Hsing’s death and the arrival of Mei Xiang and Tian Tian on Dec. 6, 2000.
Both Mei Xiang, 22, and Tian Tian, 23, were born at the China Conservation and Research Center for the Giant Panda in Sichuan province.
Their Washington debut was spectacular. Several hundred VIPs met their plane when it arrived. Outgoing President Bill Clinton and daughter Chelsea Clinton got an early audience. “They have long claws and very big teeth,” the president said afterward.
The conductor of the Washington Symphony Orchestra reportedly wrote a piece called “March of the Giant Pandas.” And zoo goers began a romance with the animals that would last more than 20 years.
The estimated life span of a giant panda is about 15 to 20 years in the wild, and about 30 years for those in human care, the zoo said. .
When Mei Xiang gave birth to Xiao Qi Ji on Aug. 21, she became the oldest giant panda to have a cub in North America.
So why does China want two aging giant pandas back?
Monfort said he thinks the Chinese believe they can best take care of older pandas. “They have many, many more pandas,” and more experience, he said.
Also, he said Chinese experts feel they have an obligation to care for their giant pandas in their declining years.
“They’re very special animals,” he said. “They’re . . . revered . . . in China, and I think they feel like it’s their responsibility to care for them at the end of their lives.”
Along with the announcement of the new agreement, the zoo said that benefactor David Rubenstein has pledged another $3 million to its giant panda research program.
Rubenstein has, with this pledge, donated a total of $12 million in support of the giant panda conservation program, the zoo said.
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She fell into QAnon and went viral for destroying a Target mask display. Now she’s rebuilding her life.
LivingNov 11. 2020Melissa Rein Lively, seen here at her home in Scottsdale, Ariz., went viral after an incident at Target. MUST CREDIT: Photo for The Washington Post by Dominic Valente
By The Washington Post · Travis M. Andrews · NATIONAL, FEATURES, HEALTH, POLITICS, SCIENCE-ENVIRONMENT, WHITEHOUSE, HEALTH-FEATURES The night before she almost ruined her life, Melissa Rein Lively couldn’t sleep.
She had gotten into a fight with her husband, Jared, and though they had never spent more than a few nights apart during their nine-and-a-half-year marriage, they both needed space. It had been a difficult few months. So here she was, alone in a hotel room on the night before July 4, her favorite holiday, one she and Jared traditionally spent in Greece. She felt trapped. And she couldn’t sleep.
“Every few minutes, I was gasping for air. I couldn’t slow my mind down. My thoughts were racing. It was like a panic attack on steroids,” Lively recalled. “I should have checked myself into a hospital voluntarily.”
Instead, she went to Target the next morning to buy a bottle of Fiji water, as if everything were normal. It wasn’t. The Scottsdale, Ariz.-based PR professional, a self-described “type A” personality, had spent the pandemic barely eating, barely sleeping, barely socializing with friends. Instead, “I was all consumed with doom-scrolling on the Internet. I was living in these conspiracy theories. All of this fear porn that I was consuming online was just feeding my depression and anxiety.” She had found comfort in QAnon, a loose collection of conspiracy theories that touch on everything from politics to covid-19.
En route to grab the water, she noticed a display of masks, the ones to help prevent the coronavirus. “The culmination of everything I had experienced, like all that energy, just zeroed in on the masks. And I just snapped,” she said.
She took videos of what happened next and streamed them on Instagram Live. They quickly spread to other platforms, reported on by publications such as USA Today. She was labeled a Karen – and far worse. She thought her career was over. She thought her marriage was over. She thought her life was over.
There’s an old bit of advice that the end of a story should be surprising yet inevitable. The Target incident almost perfectly encapsulates the adage, save for one important detail – Lively is adamant it wasn’t an ending. For 15 years, the 35-year-old worked to “put people in their best light, to put them on a pedestal.” Now she’s her own client. She has embarked on something of a media tour to tell her side of the story and is penning a memoir titled “You Can’t Cancel Me – The Story of My Life.”
She’s hoping to rehabilitate her own image, yes. This article, of course, is a part of that effort. But she also wants to help others who might find themselves in the same spiral.
You’ve probably seen the videos. According to Lively’s PR firm’s tracking software, more than 100 million people around the globe have. One version, which has more than 10 million views on Twitter, features a rack of facial coverings and Lively’s voice.
“Finally, we meet the end of the road. I’ve been looking forward to this,” she says, adding, “Target, I’m not playing any more of their games.”
As she tears the masks off the display and throws them at the ground, she repeatedly shouts expletives.
A later video shows her in the garage of her home, after her husband has summoned the police. She’s telling them that she’s the “QAnon spokesperson” and explains that she has been on the phone with President Donald Trump “all the time.” They detain her to bring her to a nearby psychiatric facility, as she yells, “You’re doing this to me because I’m Jewish.”
What you probably didn’t see was everything leading up that moment – and everything that happened after she became social media’s Villain of the Day.
As it has for so many, 2020 swallowed Lively in an “overwhelming tidal wave of loss and rage and grief and confusion.” It resurfaced trauma from her childhood in Denver that she had spent years hiding. She lost her mother at 14 to an overdose and her father eight years later, after he had a bicycle accident. But she never spoke about it, never went to therapy, never worked through it.
Meanwhile, work took a dark turn as covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, hit the economy. “These are big corporations I work with, having to lay off hundreds of people, and I have to look people in the eye and try to communicate that in PR jargon,” she said, adding, “It kind of sent me in a tailspin, searching for answers.”
She found those answers in QAnon, which she discovered through some of the natural wellness and spirituality spaces she inhabited online. She spent her nights, then her days, scrolling through them as her mind wandered further away from reality.
“It basically purports to have all the answers to the questions you have. The answers are horrifying and will scare you more than reality, but at least you feel oddly comforted, like, ‘At least now I have the answer,’ ” she said, adding, “They tell you the institutions you’re supposed to trust are lying to you. Anybody who tells you that QAnon is is a bad guy, including your friends and family. It happens gradually, and you don’t realize you’re getting more and more deep in it.”
Kim Prince, the founder and chief executive of Proven Media, remembered worrying about Lively, who she knows through PR circles. Something seemed off.
“I observed a woman having some mental health issues,” she said, citing Lively’s strange online behavior. Later, when she saw the video, “I thought she broke. It was one foot in front of the other toward that. It wasn’t a complete shock. It was the natural progression.”
Lively remembers the lead-up, but she doesn’t remember what she termed a “mental breakdown episode” at Target, saying it was akin to being “blacked out.” Watching the videos now is an “out-of-body experience.” She has no idea what she was trying to say, either at the store or to the police.
“I was living in a fantasy land in my mind,” she said. “But I take full accountability. I know I scared a lot of people. I know I angered a lot of people.”
That anger became evident when she came home from a week-long involuntary hospitalization to hundreds of furious emails and phone calls.
“My messages would fill up every single day with people saying, ‘I hope you die. Please kill yourself. I’m going to come and kill you. I know you have two little dogs, and I just put a spell on them to make them die tonight,’ ” she said. “The most horrible things you can possibly imagine. I received instructions with pictures: ‘Here’s how you should kill yourself.’ “
Her husband, her husband’s business partners and even her hairstylist’s husband were getting threats. She was too ashamed to be seen in public.
“Her blessing is her curse,” Prince, noting Lively’s social media following, said. “If she weren’t such a great PR person, no one would have known about her breakdown.”
Ashley Anderson said she wishes the public knew more about her friend. When the investment banker first moved to Phoenix and didn’t know anyone, her son with special needs got very sick. Anderson had only known Lively for a couple weeks but asked for her help. Lively made several phone calls to doctors to get Anderson’s son seen quickly. During his three-week hospital stay, she frequently visited him and brought him gifts, Anderson said. “I barely knew this person, and that is how she treated my family, which I will never forget.”
But the public didn’t see this side of Lively. And she felt alone.
“You obviously learn who your real friends are fast. I found out that I didn’t have very many,” Lively said through tears. “This is why this whole cancel culture is so scary. What happens when a human being gets canceled? They don’t want to exist anymore.”
After trying to repair her marriage and figure out the help she needed, she attended an eight-week trauma program at the Meadows, a rehabilitation facility in Wickenburg, Ariz. She swore off QAnon. She sent an apology letter to the employees of Target. She started a YouTube channel to discuss topics like mental health and conspiracy theories. Finally, in mid-August, a former client called to hire her, the first since the incident.
“I was in bed, like not able to move. I had no reason to get up. Every day was Groundhog’s Day, with nothing going on,” she said. But after the call, “I got out of bed, and I was like, ‘There’s one person who still believes in me. I’m going to get up and put my shoes on and get my briefcase and go back to work. You can cancel me all you want, but I will not cancel myself.’ “
She became a PR professional to help people get their voices heard, to tell their powerful stories. “Ultimately, it’s in my nature to be a helper, and in the business of PR you have to have the kind of personality that is always willing to think big, do more and push harder.”
Soon thereafter, she received a call from Doc Elliot, who runs the California-based Phoenix Training Group, which conducts de-escalation training. He wanted to hire her, too. He wanted her to tell her own story.
“When I watched the video of Melissa, instantly my heart was breaking. I knew it wasn’t a typical incident where a so-called Karen goes off the rails,” said Elliot, a longtime mental health advocate. “And that fact that she was [later] owning that was, to me, brilliant.”
“Now, she has really taken on a different professional role, speaking about the mental health crisis we’re experiencing right now . . . rather than trying to sell a magazine or a company,” he said. “I really have to applaud her for that. She’s followed through on her message.”
Lively suggests anyone who’s detaching from life, a sign of mental illness, seek help. And if anyone witnesses someone doing the same, consider reaching out.
“My downfall was so spectacular . . . jaw-dropping shocking,” she said. But not everyone has to reach that point. If they do, though, she wants to be living proof of hope. “If I can come back from this, anybody can come back from anything.”
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For women of color, a new sense of possibility
LivingNov 08. 2020Joe Biden and Kamala Harris supporters celebrate Saturday outside the Pennsylvania Convention Center following the victory of the President-elect, in Philadelphia. MUST CREDIT: Photo by the Amanda Voisard for The Washington Post
By The Washington Post · Chelsea Janes · NATIONAL, POLITICS, RACE
Rep. Barbara Lee began her political career on the campaign of the first Black woman to run for president, Shirley Chisholm, serving as one of Chisholm’s delegates to the 1972 Democratic National Convention.
Nearly fifty years later, Lee, D-Calif., watched as Kamala Harris name-dropped Chisholm at nearly every rally as a candidate for president and, later, the Democrats’ vice-presidential nominee. On Saturday, Lee celebrated as she learned that Harris is now the first woman elected vice president of the United States.
“I have been waiting and working for this moment. Shirley Chisholm paved the way for so many of us, including myself,” said Lee, who represents Harris’s hometown of Oakland. “She knew what the challenges were then in terms of racism, in terms of sexism. And also that we had to keep fighting, that this was a marathon, but sooner or later, the country would know what we knew about Black women.”
For many, Harris’s victory was as much a celebration of that marathon as it was of Harris herself – of those who came before as the one arriving now. Harris, the daughter of Indian and Jamaican immigrants, made such an acknowledgment at nearly every campaign stop she made. She evoked heroes from the civil rights movement and during the Democratic primary she nodded to Chisholm with the colors of her campaign merchandise – yellow, red and blue, the same as Chisholm’s – and emphasized the weighty piece of advice her mother gave her as a child.
“Kamala, you may be the first to do many things, but make sure you’re not the last,” Harris would often tell crowds, reciting the words of her immigrant mother, a breast cancer researcher at the University of California at Berkeley.
Harris is now the first Black woman, Asian American and graduate of a historically Black college or university to ascend to one of the nation’s two highest offices. Women across the country are now working to ensure she is not the last, celebrating not only the breaking of the glass ceiling, but of a ladder to and through it.
“We will see in 2021, 2022 and beyond a record number of Black women” running for office,” said Glynda Carr, co-founder of Higher Heights and a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, just like Harris.
“Her presence extends beyond those who voted for her,” Carr said of Harris. “She has forever changed the fabric of women’s political leadership, even for those who didn’t support her.”
Carr, whose organization supports women of color in politics, was usually organizing on election days past and had to mail in her ballot. This year, she ordered a pair of Chuck Taylors – Harris’s shoe of choice on the campaign trail – via overnight mail so they would arrive in time, laced them up Tuesday morning, and headed to the polls.
Some supporters were overwhelmed by emotion after learning that President-elect Joe Biden and Harris won the election. Former Democratic National Committee Chair Donna Brazile cried while commentating about Harris’s win on Fox News. CNN Commentator Van Jones wept openly about Biden’s win and the impact a Biden-Harris ticket could have on minority families.
Others found themselves unexpectedly moved.
“I did not think I would be this moved to see a black woman/south Asian woman/woman as Vice President. But I am. It’s so wonderful. My nieces know so much more is possible now,” tweeted author Roxane Gay, whose work often centers on race and gender.
Cable news cameras in the streets of Washington, New York and Philadelphia caught glimpses of women wearing shirts with Harris’s face on them. The Biden campaign has been selling them for some time, including one that features a picture of Harris as a little girl alongside the phrase “the first, but not the last.”
The sense of fresh possibility was also felt in the South Asian community. Although Nikki Haley and Bobby Jindal have risen to prominence in the Republican Party, the South Asian community took to Harris in an entirely different way, providing a major fundraising source and social media support.
“Representation only goes so far,” said Nik Dodani, and Indian American actor who was active in organizing that community in support of the Biden ticket. “Yes, we want our elected officials to look like us, but they also have to represent our values, and that is why Kamala D. Harris means so much to the South Asian community.”
Padma Lakshmi, the host of the television show “Top Chef,” said Harris brings a mix of backgrounds and experiences to the White House that have never been seen before.
“I’m 50 years old. It’s not been easy to be a person and woman of color in this country,” said Lakshmi, who was overcome with emotion talking about Harris’s rise.
“It’s very hard to wrap your head around what it’s like to be in someone else’s skin. And the psychological impact of that is so deep and so foundational . . . you still feel like a second-class citizen. You still feel a little bit like you don’t have the right to reach for the same things as your White counterpart or peer does.”
Lakshmi remembers her early days in television, when Sanjay Gupta was one of the few Indian Americans in prominent television roles and her White neighbors could hardly name more than a few South Asian actors. Now, she said, there are far more, rooting for one another as they carve out their place in American cultural awareness.
“It’s important to see ourselves represented in the American landscape and as part of the American narrative and as part of the American future,” said Aasif Mandvi, an actor and “Daily Show” correspondent who was born in India.
Actress Mindy Kaling tweeted: “Crying and holding my daughter. ‘look baby, she looks like us.’ “
Others hailed Harris’s victory as historic, but said far more needs to happen in a polarized nation that is grappling with a movement to end systemic racism, sparked by the deaths of numerous Black people at the hands of police in recent years.
“Very curious to see how media covers the historic election of Kamala D. Harris considering that white hostility toward the election of Obama is how we ended up with Trump,” wroteBree Newsom Bass, an artist and activist.
“A Black and Indian American woman named Kamala will be our Vice President. We are the first generation of Americans who will be able to respectfully say Madam Vice President,” writer Ibram X. Kendi tweeted. “Now let’s be the first generation of Americans to root out sexism and racism.”
Brazile said she thought Saturday morning about her mother and grandmother, Black women who did not have the right to vote.
“To be the last to get voting rights, to be those who just waited and waited for our turn,” she said.
Brazile reflected on the legions of women who paved the way for Harris, and the men who believed in them. Now, there has been a Black president and, soon a woman of color vice president.
“We have made this country what it said it was going to be, a country for all of us,” Brazile said, tears wet on her cheeks. “But this is a country that now has to get back to work. So I’m going to dry my tears and get ready to work.”
LivingNov 05. 2020A worshipper approaches the altar at the Cathedral of Sts. Peter and Paul in Washington on Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2020. MUST CREDIT: Washington Post photo by Michelle Boorstein
By The Washington Post · Michelle Boorstein · NATIONAL, POLITICS, RELIGION
WASHINGTON – Filled with emotion about America’s presidential election, Maria Mercedes Bejarano came twice Wednesday to the Cathedral of Sts. Peter and Paul.
In the morning, the 73-year-old walked from her home just to be near the place she calls holy, even though its cavernous, huge sanctuary was not yet open, to ask God whether the bright blue sky was an omen, “an alliance” and that President Donald Trump would be defeated. By afternoon she was on her knees, shuffling all the way up the long main aisle in a prayer of gratitude.
“I wanted to retrace my steps from four years ago,” when Trump’s election brought what the Colombian American said was a “chaotic energy.” “I want to show gratitude for divine mercy. I am a Latino. A grandmother. These four years have been too hard. Gratitude that this president will leave, God willing, God willing, God willing. And leave us to peace and a means to rebuild.”
A few miles to the north, Mary Suarez Hamm was saying a special prayer every hour with a group of other Catholics in hopes that Trump would remain the president and continue to pursue policies Hamm has devoted her life to – opposing abortion and same-sex marriage, and protecting religious legal rights.
“Through the intercession of Mary, Your holy mothers, I knock, I seek. I ask that my prayer be granted,” Hamm prayed. “Deliver us, O God of truth, from the belief that the Catholic Church is anti-Democratic, deliver us, from the belief that the United States was not founded on Christian principles.”
Hamm, retired from running a pregnancy center and working for the region’s archdiocese, took a break at 8:15 a.m. to attend Mass at Little Flower Parish in Bethesda, Md. She attends every day but by Wednesday. She was worried.
“What was on my mind was: Bring it to the good Lord. It’s easy to be downtrodden when things don’t go the way you want them to, but God knows what will happen,” she said.
Not that she thinks her prayers are magic. “It’s a silly old relationship between a child and a parent. When a parent says no, maybe it’s not meant to me. It’s for our best good.”
Worry, fear and stress led some Americans to find themselves in sanctuaries of different kinds Wednesday as the outcome of the country’s presidential race remained elusive. People prayed or meditated on potential outcomes. They looked for inner strength to deal with whatever happens. Although police in many U.S. cities had braced for a Wednesday of protests and even potential violence, instead the streets remained quiet and many were looking for spiritual guidance in that silence.
Cindy DeLano, a D.C. editor who has been in a church a few times in the past 30 years, was so anxious about the outcome and potential violence that she found herself in the cathedral Tuesday and Wednesday.
“This is how stressed I feel!” she said Wednesday afternoon on the cathedral’s front steps, with her friend Hugh O’Neill.
She came for the fresh air and the walk and to step away from work, but DeLano, who is not religious, looked for the right plea in the sanctuary’s quiet.
“It’s hard for me. If you say, ‘God, can you make this OK?’ – it’s like, no. I’m not convinced it works that way,” she said. She found another mantra: ” ‘It’s going to be OK’. . . . even though I’m not convinced it will be.” For her, “OK” is a Joe Biden win. And “Trump armed battalions coming to D.C.”
DeLano found comfort in the reaction she got on Facebook when she posted that she had been in the cathedral. Even people with whom she has not communicated well since Trump became president, she said, “liked” the post.
Since coronavirus quarantining began, most American houses of worship have been closed or have trimmed their hours. Many Catholic parishes have kept generally open hours during the day.
More than 1,000 people came to the cathedral on Tuesday and about 200 on Wednesday, said cathedral spokesman Kevin Eckstrom.
Across the Potomac River, Laraine Bennett was repeating a similar mantra at noon Mass from the back row at Blessed Sacrament in Alexandria, Va. The communications manager and writer did not want to say who she was supporting, but she said her focus and prayer is on unity and healing and peace in the country.
“All will be well, all will be well, and everything will be well,” she repeated, a tweak on a centuries-old Catholic expression: “All shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.”
“It gives me peace to put it in God’s hands. It gives a sense of peace to my soul,” Bennett said. She said prayer is partly about discerning what is true – in a deep way, but also in a pragmatic way on a day when literal allegations of truth and falsehoods were flying.
“I pray every day to the Holy Spirit to help me see what is true. That I’d be enlightened,” she said. “Sometimes things are confusing, and that’s OK, too. Right now we just pray that we accept the situation as it is.”
Acceptance was one of the primary things on the mind of one worshiper at St. Matthews Cathedral in downtown Washington. The woman, who emigrated from Peru and who declined to give her name, teared up as she talked about children separated from parents after traveling across the U.S. border – a trip she made herself as a young woman. Her voice shook at she motioned to boarded-up buildings as far as the eye could see. She blamed these situations on Trump.
“There’s nothing I can do. There’s nothing you can do. It’s only God,” she said on the steps after 1:20 p.m. Mass, which was attended by about 20 people. If Trump wins, she said, “we have to respect it. There must be some reason. Something we need to learn. It’s not that God doesn’t love us. We have to learn to live with one another.”
O’Neill, 80, a retired lawyer and longtime Republican, said he felt calm inside the cathedral, even as uncertainty swirled. “The republic will survive,” he said. “My only fear is we run out of money.”