A Trusted Friend in a Complicated World

Fall is the season of apple cider donuts and pumpkin spice everything. And as we put the summer wardrobe away and move into autumn, what better way to enjoy those favorite fall treats than curling up and bingeing the best Halloween movies with family?

With hundreds of Halloween movies to watch on platforms like Netflix and Hulu, it can be overwhelming to choose which fall flicks to make up your movie marathon.

Not to worry: Freeform’s “31 Nights of Halloween” lineup has you covered.

What are the “31 Nights of Halloween”?

Freeform’s “31 Nights of Halloween” is an annual Halloween-movie event that lasts the entire month of October. Get ready for 31 days jam-packed with all your favorite Halloween classics, funny Halloween movies, thrillers and more, perfect for the whole family. From Hocus Pocus (which happens to be one of our favorite witch movies) to Halloweentown, aka one of the best Disney Halloween movies, Freeform has Halloween movies for kids and adults that will make every day of the month feel like Halloween.

When does the “31 Nights of Halloween” TV event start?

“31 Nights of Halloween” starts bright and early at 7 a.m. ET on Oct. 1, with a screening of Edward Scissorhands. Each day in October, you can get your Halloween movie fix with favorites old and new playing back to back all day, every day. Plus, the schedule includes Freeform premieres of A Quiet Place and Get Out—scary movies that will have you on the edge of your seat.

Where can I watch it?

Now that we’ve given you the rundown of Freeform’s highly anticipated monthlong movie marathon, you may be wondering, What channel can I watch “31 Nights of Halloween” on? If you have access to live TV, you can catch the bingefest on Freeform—formerly known as ABC Family.

If you don’t have access to live TV, there are still plenty of streaming options: Hulu + Live TV, Sling TV, DIRECTV STREAM and YouTube TV are all great services that will get your fall movie nights started with Freeform ASAP. And with a cable login, the Freeform app and official website will allow you to stream the movie lineup live on any device.

Now check out when your favorites will be airing in October—and get your caramel corn ready!

The “31 Nights of Halloween” schedule

(Note: All times are in Eastern Time)

Saturday, Oct. 1

  • 7 a.m. Edward Scissorhands
  • 9:10 a.m. The Witches (1990)
  • 11:20 a.m. The Haunted Mansion (2003)
  • 1:25 p.m. Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas 
  • 3:05 p.m. Hotel Transylvania
  • 5:10 p.m. Hotel Transylvania 2
  • 7:15 p.m. Hocus Pocus
  • 9:25 p.m. Beetlejuice
  • 11:30 p.m. Ghostbusters (1984)

Sunday, Oct. 2

  • 7 a.m. The Witches (1990)
  • 9:10 a.m. Decorating Disney: Halloween Magic 
  • 10:10 a.m. Halloweentown
  • 12:15 p.m. Hotel Transylvania
  • 2:20 p.m. Hotel Transylvania 2
  • 4:25 p.m. Maleficent
  • 6:30 p.m. Beetlejuice
  • 8:35 p.m. Hocus Pocus
  • 10:45 p.m. Ghostbusters (2016)

Monday, Oct. 3

  • 1 p.m. Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1992) Freeform Premiere
  • 3 p.m. Ghostbusters (1984)
  • 5:30 p.m. Ghostbusters II
  • 8 p.m. Ghostbusters (2016)
  • Midnight The Simpsons: Treehouse of Horror Episodes

Tuesday, Oct. 4

  • 11:30 a.m. Ghostbusters (1984)
  • 2 p.m. Ghostbusters II
  • 4:30 p.m. Edward Scissorhands
  • 7 p.m. Maleficent
  • 9 p.m. Hocus Pocus
  • Midnight Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb

Wednesday, Oct. 5

  • Noon Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb
  • 2 p.m. Madagascar
  • 4 p.m. Hotel Transylvania
  • 6 p.m. Hotel Transylvania 2
  • 8 p.m. The Simpsons: Treehouse of Horror Episodes
  • Midnight The Simpsons: Treehouse of Horror Episodes

Thursday, Oct. 6

  • 11 a.m. Madagascar
  • 1 p.m. Hotel Transylvania 
  • 3 p.m. Hotel Transylvania 2
  • 5 p.m. Shrek Forever After
  • 7 p.m. Halloweentown
  • 9 p.m. Halloweentown II: Kalabar’s Revenge
  • Midnight The Simpsons: Treehouse of Horror Episodes

Friday, Oct. 7

  • 10:30 a.m. Scared Shrekless
  • 11 a.m. Shrek Forever After
  • 1 p.m. Family Guy 
  • Midnight Hotel Transylvania 2 

Saturday, Oct. 8

  • 7 a.m. Decorating Disney: Halloween Magic
  • 8 a.m. Hotel Transylvania 2 
  • 10 a.m. Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween
  • 12:05 p.m. Ghostbusters (1984)
  • 2:35 p.m. Ghostbusters II
  • 5:05 p.m. Beetlejuice
  • 7:10 p.m. Hocus Pocus
  • 9:20 p.m. Maleficent 
  • 11:25 p.m. Maleficent: Mistress of Evil

Sunday, Oct. 9

  • 7 a.m. Monsters vs. Aliens: Mutant Pump
  • 7:30 a.m. Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween
  • 9:35 a.m. Ghostbusters (1984)
  • 12:05 p.m. Ghostbusters II
  • 2:40 p.m. Beetlejuice
  • 4:45 p.m. Hocus Pocus
  • 6:55 p.m. Get Out — Freeform Premiere
  • 9:25 p.m. Halloween (2018) — Freeform Premiere
  • 11:55 p.m. A Quiet Place — Freeform Premiere

Monday, Oct. 10

  • 11:30 a.m. A Quiet Place
  • 1:40 p.m. Get Out
  • 4:15 p.m. Halloween (2018)
  • 6:50 p.m. Happy Death Day — Freeform Premiere 
  • 9:25 p.m. Happy Death Day 2UFreeform Premiere
  • Midnight The Simpsons: Treehouse of Horror 

Tuesday, Oct. 11

  • 12:30 p.m. Maleficent
  • 2:30 p.m. The House with a Clock in its Walls
  • 5 p.m. The Haunted Mansion (2003)
  • 7 p.m. Hotel Transylvania 
  • 9 p.m. Hotel Transylvania 2
  • Midnight The Simpsons: Treehouse of Horror

Wednesday, Oct. 12

  • 10:30 a.m. The House with a Clock in its Walls
  • 1 p.m. Hotel Transylvania
  • 3 p.m. Hotel Transylvania 2
  • 5 p.m. Ghostbusters (2016)
  • 8 p.m. The Simpsons: Treehouse of Horror
  • Midnight The Simpsons: Treehouse of Horror

Thursday, Oct. 13

  • 10:30 a.m. Frankenweenie (2012)
  • 12:30 p.m. Edward Scissorhands
  • 3 p.m. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children
  • 6 p.m. Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride
  • 7:30 p.m. Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas
  • 9 p.m. Beetlejuice 
  • Midnight Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride

Friday, Oct. 14

  • 10:30 a.m. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children
  • 1:30–5 p.m. Family Guy Halloween Programming
  • 5 p.m. Beetlejuice
  • 7–11 p.m. Family Guy Halloween Programming
  • Midnight Family Guy Halloween Programming

Saturday, Oct. 15

  • 7 a.m. Hook
  • 10:15 a.m. How to Train Your Dragon 2
  • 12:25 p.m. Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride
  • 2:25 p.m. Toy Story of TERROR!
  • 2:55 p.m. Scared Shrekless
  • 3:25 p.m. Shrek Forever After
  • 5:30 p.m. Hocus Pocus 
  • 7:40 p.m. Hotel Transylvania 
  • 9:45 p.m. Hotel Transylvania 2
  • 11:50 p.m. Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation

Sunday, Oct. 16

  • 7 a.m. How to Train Your Dragon 2
  • 9:10 a.m. Tim Burton’s Corpse Bridge
  • 10:45 a.m. Scared Shrekless
  • 11:15 a.m. Shrek Forever After
  • 1:20 p.m. Hotel Transylvania
  • 3:25 p.m. Hotel Transylvania 2
  • 5:30 p.m. Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation
  • 7:40 p.m. Hocus Pocus
  • 9:50 p.m. Maleficent
  • 11:55 p.m. The Witches

Monday, Oct. 17

  • Noon Ghostbusters (1984)
  • 2:30 p.m. Ghostbusters II
  • 5:05 p.m. The Haunted Mansion (2003)
  • 7:10 p.m. Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas
  • 8:50 p.m. Hocus Pocus
  • Midnight The Simpsons: Treehouse of Horror 

Tuesday, Oct. 18

  • 10:30 a.m. Ghostbusters (1984)
  • 1 p.m. Ghostbusters II
  • 3:30 p.m. Fright Night (2011)
  • 6 p.m. Ghostbusters (2016)
  • 9 p.m. Beetlejuice
  • Midnight The Simpsons: Treehouse of Horror

Wednesday, Oct. 19

  • 10:30 a.m. Fright Night (2011)
  • 1 p.m. Ghostbusters (2016)
  • 4 p.m. Maleficent
  • 6 p.m. Beetlejuice
  • 8 p.m. The Simpsons: Treehouse of Horror
  • Midnight The Simpsons: Treehouse of Horror

Thursday, Oct. 20

  • 11 a.m. The Witches (1990)
  • 1 p.m. Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb
  • 3 p.m. Halloweentown
  • 5 p.m. Halloweentown II: Kalabar’s Revenge
  • 7 p.m. Hotel Transylvania
  • 9 p.m. Hotel Transylvania 2 
  • Midnight The Witches (1990)

Friday, Oct. 21

  • 10:30 a.m.–5 p.m. Family Guy 
  • 5 p.m. Hotel Transylvania
  • 7 p.m. Hotel Transylvania 2
  • 9–11 p.m. Family Guy
  • Midnight Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1992)

Saturday, Oct. 22

  • 7 a.m. Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1992)
  • 9 a.m. Maleficent
  • 11 a.m. Ghostbusters (1984)
  • 1:30 p.m. Ghostbusters II
  • 4 p.m. Ghostbusters (2016)
  • 7:15 p.m. Beetlejuice
  • 9:20 p.m. Hocus Pocus
  • 11:30 p.m. The House with a Clock in its Walls

Sunday, Oct. 23

  • 7 a.m. The House with a Clock in its Walls
  • 9:30 a.m. Ghostbusters (1984)
  • Noon Ghostbusters (2016)
  • 3:10 p.m. Beetlejuice
  • 5:15 p.m. Hocus Pocus
  • 7:25 p.m. Monsters, Inc. 
  • 9:30 p.m. Monsters University
  • Midnight Shrek Forever After 

Monday, Oct. 24

  • Noon Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride
  • 2 p.m. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children
  • 5 p.m. Shrek Forever After
  • 7 p.m. The Haunted Mansion (2003)
  • 9 p.m. Maleficent
  • Midnight The Simpsons: Treehouse of Horror Episodes

Tuesday, Oct. 25 

  • 10:30 a.m. Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride
  • Noon Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children 
  • 3 p.m. Halloweentown
  • 5 p.m. Hotel Transylvania
  • 7 p.m. Hotel Transylvania 2 
  • 9 p.m. Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation 
  • Midnight The Simpsons: Treehouse of Horror Episodes

Wednesday, Oct. 26

  • Noon Halloweentown II: Kalabar’s Revenge
  • 2 p.m. Hotel Transylvania
  • 4 p.m. Hotel Transylvania 2 
  • 6 p.m. Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation 
  • 8 p.m. The Simpsons: Treehouse of Horror Episodes
  • Midnight The Simpsons: Treehouse of Horror Episodes

Thursday, Oct. 27

  • 11 a.m. Ready or Not
  • 1 p.m. Maleficent
  • 3 p.m. Ghostbusters (1984)
  • 5:30 p.m. Ghostbusters II
  • 8 p.m. Ghostbusters (2016)
  • Midnight Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1992)

Friday, Oct. 28

  • 10:30 a.m. Ghostbusters (2016)
  • 1:30–11 p.m. Family Guy 
  • Midnight–2 a.m. The Office

Saturday, Oct. 29

  • 7 a.m. How to Train Your Dragon 2
  • 9:10 a.m. Edward Scissorhands
  • 11:40 a.m. Frankenweenie (2012)
  • 1:40 p.m. Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride
  • 3:35 p.m. Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween
  • 5:40 p.m. Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas
  • 7:20 p.m. Hotel Transylvania 
  • 9:25 p.m. Hocus Pocus
  • 11:35 p.m. Ghostbusters II

Sunday, Oct. 30

  • 7 a.m. The Witches (1990)
  • 9:05 a.m. Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride
  • 10:45 a.m. Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween
  • 12:50 p.m. The Haunted Mansion (2003)
  • 2:55 p.m. Hotel Transylvania 
  • 5 p.m. Beetlejuice
  • 7:05 p.m. Hocus Pocus
  • 9:15 p.m. Maleficent
  • 11:20 p.m. Maleficent: Mistress of Evil 

Monday, Oct. 31

  • 10:30 a.m. Ghostbusters (1984)
  • 1 p.m. The Haunted Mansion (2003)
  • 3 p.m. Beetlejuice 
  • 5 p.m. Maleficent
  • 7 p.m. Hotel Transylvania 
  • 9 p.m. Hocus Pocus 
  • Midnight The Simpsons: Treehouse of Horror Episodes 

The Reader’s Digest Version:

  • The metaverse uses virtual reality and augmented reality to virtually transport you to a different place, or world.
  • Accessing the metaverse is as simple as putting on a virtual reality headset and holding a set of controllers.
  • While its biggest use at present is gaming, the metaverse will increasingly be used for shopping, education, job training, doctor’s appointments and socializing.
  • There are a number of ways to make money in the metaverse, including buying and selling virtual real estate, trading cryptocurrency and NFTs, and selling goods/products, both real-world and virtual.
  • Experts predict interactions in the metaverse will become commonplace in the next five to ten years.

A virtual world so compelling that people would rather “live” there than in reality—in the 1990s novel Snow Crash, it’s the Metaverse; in the 2000s Matrix movies, it’s the Matrix; and in the 2010s novel and movie Ready Player One, it’s OASIS. But whatever you call it, humans have been imagining this type of digital, all-consuming, futuristic realm for decades. Now, in the 2020s, we’re all the way back to calling it the metaverse, and it’s feeling more real than ever. But what is the metaverse, exactly? And what is VR (aka virtual reality), and how are they different?

At the moment, the term metaverse is a bit of a catch-all, explains Chris Madsen, senior engineer for Engage, a professional virtual reality and augmented reality (AR) platform used by many Fortune 500 companies. “Loosely speaking, you can think of the metaverse as the ‘universe’ of the virtual world,” he says. The metaverse is founded on the internet but is much more expansive than that technology. It isn’t owned by a single country or corporation.

Still having trouble wrapping your head around the concept? Think of it this way: The internet is the “world wide web” and is used for a vast array of different things, ranging from shopping and socializing to banking and entertainment. Practically everything that exists in the real world can now be found on the internet and eventually will also be “in” the metaverse.

Now, think back to the very beginning—the early Wild West days of the internet in the ’90s, when websites had either limited graphics or neon-colored text that scrolled by too quickly and crashed more often than not—and that’s where the metaverse is right now, says James Shannon, CEO and co-founder of XONE, a mobile augmented reality social network. But it’s evolving faster than you realize.

Never heard of the metaverse? You’re not alone; nearly 70% of Reader’s Digest readers polled in our Future of Tech survey said they aren’t familiar at all with the metaverse, and another 27% said they are only somewhat familiar. Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered with the answer to “What is the metaverse?” along with the underlying technologies—start with our NFT explainer and Web3 explainer.

What does metaverse mean?

Metaverse Concept in the real city, Futuristic digital design for Smart city and technology in the future

There’s a reason for the confusion: There isn’t one simple definition of the metaverse, says Madsen. Most people think of it generally as a virtual place where people, companies or other entities can create their own virtual worlds. It’s an “extended reality,” which uses virtual reality and augmented reality to take you out of your real world and into a different, virtual world, Madsen explains.

But the word is currently being used in many different contexts in wildly different ways. For instance, the Forbes Technology Council gave it an expansive definition as a Marvel-esque “multiverse of metaverses.”

For his part, Meta/Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg famously defined the metaverse as not a place at all, virtual or otherwise, but a time. “One definition of this [the metaverse] is it’s about a time when basically immersive digital worlds become the primary way that we live our lives and spend our time,” he said in a February 2022 interview.

(And don’t be confused: Despite Facebook rebranding in Oct. 2021 to Meta Platforms Inc., or just Meta for short, Meta isn’t the entire metaverse, just like Facebook isn’t the entire internet.)

Remember, “internet” didn’t mean much at first either, and eventually people settled on a universal understanding of the term. Over time the same will happen with metaverse (or whatever term becomes the popular choice), says Shannon.

Books and movies about the metaverse

What is the purpose of the metaverse?

The goal is that, eventually, anything you can do in the real world will have a virtual counterpart in the metaverse. However, it isn’t about replacing reality (a la the Matrix or Ready Player One) but working in sync with your real life, to enhance it, says Madsen.

Currently, the metaverse has a narrower scope based on the limits of the underlying technology, but there are still plenty of exciting things happening there, says Madsen. These include:

Gaming

cyber sport gamer playing game

Currently the most popular use of virtual reality, games use the metaverse to create an immersive gaming experience. Computer and console-based games like World of Warcraft and Roblox are creating metaverse games, part of the future of immersive technology.

Shopping

The opportunity to make money via marketing and increased sales is what entices most companies to the metaverse, and it’s where lots of the tech development is currently focused. The goal is to provide a shopping experience even better than you could get in real life. For instance, you might try on clothing using a digital avatar that matches your real-world dimensions, letting you try on multiple dresses for that upcoming wedding without ever leaving home or messing up your hair. Similarly, you can go through a virtual Walmart, selecting items and adding them to your cart in a way that is clearer and faster than either a real-world shopping trip or the current online click-through experience. The physical goods are then delivered to your home.

Companies including Gucci (via The Sandbox), Ralph Lauren and Nike (via Roblox) and Balenciaga and Moncler (via Fortnite, see below) have all dabbled with storefronts in the metaverse. While they aren’t fully functional stores, the goal is to offer both physical goods and digital-only offerings, like NFTs, avatars and virtual clothing.

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Job training

From teaching doctors how to perform surgery to the requisite safety trainings for new hires, the metaverse offers an easier and safer way to educate people. Here, you can practice first aid skills, learn complicated machinery and protocols, and take classes at a convenient time and place—and without endangering any real human bodies.

Education

The future of university classrooms lies in the metaverse, where anyone can learn cutting-edge information from the best professors around the world, says Madsen. In January 2022, Stanford University launched “Communication 166/266 Virtual People,” its first class hosted in the metaverse (students participate with Oculus 2 headsets), and other academic institutions are following suit. As of this writing, “metaversities” include Morehouse, Fisk, New Mexico State University, South Dakota State University, Florida A&M University, West Virginia University and the University of Maryland Global Campus.

Working remotely

Think Zoom is convenient? What if you could “appear” in a meeting room to collaborate with your colleagues—without ever leaving your home (or your pajamas)? Virtual workspaces are cheaper and more accessible, and will eventually become ubiquitous.

Doctor’s appointments

Anything that doesn’t require directly touching the body, from therapy to medication checks, could be done in virtual doctors’ offices.

Travel

Check out museums across the world, hike through rainforests without damaging wildlife or even take part in space tourism via virtual travel portals without having to buy an expensive ticket.

Social activities

Social media goes next level in the metaverse, says Shannon. Not only can you share information, pictures and videos, you can play group games, chat in VR rooms or even go on a date.

Entertainment

In addition to games, the metaverse is perfect for other types of entertainment. For instance, virtual movie theaters provide a much better experience than home TVs provide. Big names including Ariana Grande, The Chainsmokers and Travis Scott have all hosted digital concerts in the metaverse—where people got a much better view than the nosebleed seats they might have had in real life, plus digital extras that made the concerts more immersive. But Madsen’s favorite? Virtual mini golf with friends!

How to access the metaverse

Woman Is Using Virtual Reality Viewer. Modern Woman Portrait With Trendy Look And Bright Colors.

Accessing the metaverse requires a combination of specialized hardware (phones, computers, headsets, 3D screens, gloves, etc.) and software (games, programs, etc.). What you need depends on exactly what you want to do. For instance, to play most popular VR games, you’ll need a VR headset and controllers. Headsets range from $30 cardboard versions to $1,000 high-end sets that come with multiple cameras and sensory outputs.

There is no unified metaverse, so each company is developing its own platform, headsets and other technology. Currently, major players include Meta, NVIDIA, Epic Games, Microsoft, Apple, Decentraland, Roblox Corporation, Unity Software, Snapchat, The Sandbox and Amazon.

The most popular platforms for accessing the metaverse include Meta, Oculus (now owned by Meta), Sony, HTC, Pico, Valve and Samsung.

That’s not the only way to log in though, says Madsen. The portions of the metaverse featuring augmented reality come to you, usually via your phone screen and camera—think a Snapchat filter that puts a crawling tarantula on your face or the Pokémon Go AR game that was popular a few years back.

In the future, accessing the metaverse will be done with a simple pair of eyeglasses, Madsen predicts.

How does the metaverse work?

The technology underpinning the metaverse is cobbled together from other technologies, including virtual reality, blockchain and Web 3 (along with more mature programming tech that underpins the internet). Blockchain is a way of storing chunks of data in “blocks,” which are linked together into a chain based on relevance. Blockchain databases provide a way to share data while guaranteeing fidelity and security, which is why they are such a critical component of cryptocurrency. Blockchain provides the building blocks for Web 3, the newest iteration of the internet that provides the framework for extended reality. Last, virtual reality builds on these technologies to simulate a real-world experience. Most VR software is based on a “virtual world generator,” which is made using a software development kit from a specific VR headset vendor. This kit provides the basic programs, drivers, data and graphic-rendering libraries.

How to make money in the metaverse

Digital Money

As with most technology, the crucial question is how to monetize the experience. The metaverse offers most of the options available in the real world, plus a few that are only available virtually.

Buying and selling virtual land

Just like people are snapping up land in the real world, investors are buying up digital spaces, including “locations.” Buying virtual real estate requires using virtual currency, aka cryptocurrency, to buy directly from a virtual developer. Currently, the two most popular platforms are The Sandbox and Decentraland, each of which has its own currency (SAND and MANA, respectively).

Trading crypto

You can make money trading cryptocurrencies, similar to how you can make money investing in stocks—it requires upfront (real) capital and a high tolerance for risk.

Trading NFTs

Non-fungible tokens are a digital security stored in a blockchain that represents a real asset, usually music, art (especially popular memes), in-game items and videos. Creating, buying and selling NFTs can be a lucrative business if you can predict what will be popular. Keep in mind that NFTs are potentially bad for the environment.

Selling real-world goods virtually

Virtual storefronts for real products are already live for some stores, like the aforementioned Walmart. While there are currently a lot of kinks, the goal is to eventually provide a virtual experience that is better than a real one. Virtual purchases will deliver real goods.

Other ways to make money

New financial opportunities are popping up as the technology evolves. Some possibilities include hosting metaverse events, selling virtual items like digital clothing or hairstyles for avatars, selling metaverse-specific services and trading metaverse tokens.

Examples of the metaverse

The metaverse is already all around you if you know where to look for it. Second Life, the popular computer game that simulates real life, is a natural fit for the metaverse and is quickly gaining popularity. Other games, including those mainly popular with the younger generation, like Fortnite, Minecraft and Roblox, are also big in the virtual sphere; by some estimates, nearly 100 million people log on to these games daily. First-person shooter and quest games become even more realistic and immersive in the metaverse.

Meta Horizons is like Facebook … on steroids. The social platform is aiming to be the one-stop shop for digital socializing, communications and living.

It doesn’t have to be that intense though, adds Madsen. Even using a stargazing app or a voice-changing filter on your phone is engaging with the metaverse in a small way. “We all do it a lot more than we realize,” he says. “Anytime you’re using a virtual enhancement in your life, it’s a small part of extended reality or the metaverse.”

Is the metaverse safe?

Bitcoin AI machine close up

All the safety concerns that exist about the internet are magnified by virtual reality—the more real the environment, the more real-feeling the scams—along with some new ones particular to the metaverse, says Madsen.

Privacy

Blockchain technology is built to be a far more secure and private way to share information, but every tech has its flaws. In addition, laws regarding digital privacy rights are in flux, and there are many questions about the legality of data privacy in the metaverse.

Accessibility

Human bodies aren’t equipped on their own to access the metaverse, as it requires hardware, software and knowledge—all of which can be very expensive for individuals to get. In addition, some countries or regions would need to install expensive and complicated infrastructure to enhance data storage and data processing speeds. This could create a volatile system of technological haves and have-nots.

Health

Virtual reality has a powerful effect on the brain’s behavior, and this raises real-world concerns about physical and mental health, says Madsen. There are the obvious risks of physically injuring yourself from tripping or falling, but people are also reporting headaches, vertigo, muscle soreness and vision issues. Plus, people who are immersed in digital worlds often are doing so at the expense of exercising, breathing fresh air and socializing physically.

The more subtle health risks are mental. Because VR provides a much more realistic experience than watching something on a computer screen, the emotional and mental impacts are more intense. Watching a horror movie in VR, say, could cause real trauma, Madsen says. Not to mention that all the downsides of the current internet are magnified in VR, like violent pornography, the black market, sex trafficking and criminal activities.

When will the metaverse come out?

a virtual reality butterfly landing on a hand

The metaverse already exists in theory and in many practical ways, but expect the technology to explode over the next five to ten years, predicts Madsen. Wearables, like headsets, will become comfortable, portable and more powerful. Software will become more realistic, heading toward “fully immersive” experiences.

This technology will have huge impacts on how people work (physical proximity will be a much smaller priority, but people may be required to be on the clock, around the clock), how people play (games won’t be limited by physical constraints like gravity), how people socialize (being present as a hologram at a birthday party would be much better than a video chat) and, most important, how we consume information. If we live in a “post-truth” society now, imagine what it will be like when lies are even more realistic and believable and deepfakes aren’t just 2D.

The future is now

Remember that feeling in the ’90s, when the internet was brand-new and anything felt possible? Today’s metaverse has all that hope and opportunity, but on a much grander scale. For instance, virtual real estate is already big business: Less than a year ago, a small plot of virtual land that sold on Decentraland for $1,000 is now worth $13,000.

“It’s a really exciting time, because just like the internet did in the ’90s, the metaverse is going to revolutionize the world in ways we can’t even imagine yet,” says Shannon.

Sources:

  • Chris Madsen, senior engineer for Engage, a professional virtual reality and augmented reality platform used by many Fortune 500 companies
  • James Shannon, CEO and co-founder of XONE, a mobile augmented reality social network
  • Lex Fridman Podcast #267: “Mark Zuckerberg: Meta, Facebook, Instagram, and the Metaverse”

The Reader’s Digest Version:

  • The metaverse uses virtual reality and augmented reality to virtually transport you to a different place, or world.
  • Accessing the metaverse is as simple as putting on a virtual reality headset and holding a set of controllers.
  • While its biggest use at present is gaming, the metaverse will increasingly be used for shopping, education, job training, doctor’s appointments and socializing.
  • There are a number of ways to make money in the metaverse, including buying and selling virtual real estate, trading cryptocurrency and NFTs, and selling goods/products, both real-world and virtual.
  • Experts predict interactions in the metaverse will become commonplace in the next five to ten years.

A virtual world so compelling that people would rather “live” there than in reality—in the 1990s novel Snow Crash, it’s the Metaverse; in the 2000s Matrix movies, it’s the Matrix; and in the 2010s novel and movie Ready Player One, it’s OASIS. But whatever you call it, humans have been imagining this type of digital, all-consuming, futuristic realm for decades. Now, in the 2020s, we’re all the way back to calling it the metaverse, and it’s feeling more real than ever. But what is the metaverse, exactly? And what is VR (aka virtual reality), and how are they different?

At the moment, the term metaverse is a bit of a catch-all, explains Chris Madsen, senior engineer for Engage, a professional virtual reality and augmented reality (AR) platform used by many Fortune 500 companies. “Loosely speaking, you can think of the metaverse as the ‘universe’ of the virtual world,” he says. The metaverse is founded on the internet but is much more expansive than that technology. It isn’t owned by a single country or corporation.

Still having trouble wrapping your head around the concept? Think of it this way: The internet is the “world wide web” and is used for a vast array of different things, ranging from shopping and socializing to banking and entertainment. Practically everything that exists in the real world can now be found on the internet and eventually will also be “in” the metaverse.

Now, think back to the very beginning—the early Wild West days of the internet in the ’90s, when websites had either limited graphics or neon-colored text that scrolled by too quickly and crashed more often than not—and that’s where the metaverse is right now, says James Shannon, CEO and co-founder of XONE, a mobile augmented reality social network. But it’s evolving faster than you realize.

Never heard of the metaverse? You’re not alone; nearly 70% of Reader’s Digest readers polled in our Future of Tech survey said they aren’t familiar at all with the metaverse, and another 27% said they are only somewhat familiar. Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered with the answer to “What is the metaverse?” along with the underlying technologies—start with our NFT explainer and Web3 explainer.

What does metaverse mean?

Metaverse Concept in the real city, Futuristic digital design for Smart city and technology in the future

There’s a reason for the confusion: There isn’t one simple definition of the metaverse, says Madsen. Most people think of it generally as a virtual place where people, companies or other entities can create their own virtual worlds. It’s an “extended reality,” which uses virtual reality and augmented reality to take you out of your real world and into a different, virtual world, Madsen explains.

But the word is currently being used in many different contexts in wildly different ways. For instance, the Forbes Technology Council gave it an expansive definition as a Marvel-esque “multiverse of metaverses.”

For his part, Meta/Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg famously defined the metaverse as not a place at all, virtual or otherwise, but a time. “One definition of this [the metaverse] is it’s about a time when basically immersive digital worlds become the primary way that we live our lives and spend our time,” he said in a February 2022 interview.

(And don’t be confused: Despite Facebook rebranding in Oct. 2021 to Meta Platforms Inc., or just Meta for short, Meta isn’t the entire metaverse, just like Facebook isn’t the entire internet.)

Remember, “internet” didn’t mean much at first either, and eventually people settled on a universal understanding of the term. Over time the same will happen with metaverse (or whatever term becomes the popular choice), says Shannon.

Books and movies about the metaverse

What is the purpose of the metaverse?

The goal is that, eventually, anything you can do in the real world will have a virtual counterpart in the metaverse. However, it isn’t about replacing reality (a la the Matrix or Ready Player One) but working in sync with your real life, to enhance it, says Madsen.

Currently, the metaverse has a narrower scope based on the limits of the underlying technology, but there are still plenty of exciting things happening there, says Madsen. These include:

Gaming

cyber sport gamer playing game

Currently the most popular use of virtual reality, games use the metaverse to create an immersive gaming experience. Computer and console-based games like World of Warcraft and Roblox are creating metaverse games, part of the future of immersive technology.

Shopping

The opportunity to make money via marketing and increased sales is what entices most companies to the metaverse, and it’s where lots of the tech development is currently focused. The goal is to provide a shopping experience even better than you could get in real life. For instance, you might try on clothing using a digital avatar that matches your real-world dimensions, letting you try on multiple dresses for that upcoming wedding without ever leaving home or messing up your hair. Similarly, you can go through a virtual Walmart, selecting items and adding them to your cart in a way that is clearer and faster than either a real-world shopping trip or the current online click-through experience. The physical goods are then delivered to your home.

Companies including Gucci (via The Sandbox), Ralph Lauren and Nike (via Roblox) and Balenciaga and Moncler (via Fortnite, see below) have all dabbled with storefronts in the metaverse. While they aren’t fully functional stores, the goal is to offer both physical goods and digital-only offerings, like NFTs, avatars and virtual clothing.

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Job training

From teaching doctors how to perform surgery to the requisite safety trainings for new hires, the metaverse offers an easier and safer way to educate people. Here, you can practice first aid skills, learn complicated machinery and protocols, and take classes at a convenient time and place—and without endangering any real human bodies.

Education

The future of university classrooms lies in the metaverse, where anyone can learn cutting-edge information from the best professors around the world, says Madsen. In January 2022, Stanford University launched “Communication 166/266 Virtual People,” its first class hosted in the metaverse (students participate with Oculus 2 headsets), and other academic institutions are following suit. As of this writing, “metaversities” include Morehouse, Fisk, New Mexico State University, South Dakota State University, Florida A&M University, West Virginia University and the University of Maryland Global Campus.

Working remotely

Think Zoom is convenient? What if you could “appear” in a meeting room to collaborate with your colleagues—without ever leaving your home (or your pajamas)? Virtual workspaces are cheaper and more accessible, and will eventually become ubiquitous.

Doctor’s appointments

Anything that doesn’t require directly touching the body, from therapy to medication checks, could be done in virtual doctors’ offices.

Travel

Check out museums across the world, hike through rainforests without damaging wildlife or even take part in space tourism via virtual travel portals without having to buy an expensive ticket.

Social activities

Social media goes next level in the metaverse, says Shannon. Not only can you share information, pictures and videos, you can play group games, chat in VR rooms or even go on a date.

Entertainment

In addition to games, the metaverse is perfect for other types of entertainment. For instance, virtual movie theaters provide a much better experience than home TVs provide. Big names including Ariana Grande, The Chainsmokers and Travis Scott have all hosted digital concerts in the metaverse—where people got a much better view than the nosebleed seats they might have had in real life, plus digital extras that made the concerts more immersive. But Madsen’s favorite? Virtual mini golf with friends!

How to access the metaverse

Woman Is Using Virtual Reality Viewer. Modern Woman Portrait With Trendy Look And Bright Colors.

Accessing the metaverse requires a combination of specialized hardware (phones, computers, headsets, 3D screens, gloves, etc.) and software (games, programs, etc.). What you need depends on exactly what you want to do. For instance, to play most popular VR games, you’ll need a VR headset and controllers. Headsets range from $30 cardboard versions to $1,000 high-end sets that come with multiple cameras and sensory outputs.

There is no unified metaverse, so each company is developing its own platform, headsets and other technology. Currently, major players include Meta, NVIDIA, Epic Games, Microsoft, Apple, Decentraland, Roblox Corporation, Unity Software, Snapchat, The Sandbox and Amazon.

The most popular platforms for accessing the metaverse include Meta, Oculus (now owned by Meta), Sony, HTC, Pico, Valve and Samsung.

That’s not the only way to log in though, says Madsen. The portions of the metaverse featuring augmented reality come to you, usually via your phone screen and camera—think a Snapchat filter that puts a crawling tarantula on your face or the Pokémon Go AR game that was popular a few years back.

In the future, accessing the metaverse will be done with a simple pair of eyeglasses, Madsen predicts.

How does the metaverse work?

The technology underpinning the metaverse is cobbled together from other technologies, including virtual reality, blockchain and Web 3 (along with more mature programming tech that underpins the internet). Blockchain is a way of storing chunks of data in “blocks,” which are linked together into a chain based on relevance. Blockchain databases provide a way to share data while guaranteeing fidelity and security, which is why they are such a critical component of cryptocurrency. Blockchain provides the building blocks for Web 3, the newest iteration of the internet that provides the framework for extended reality. Last, virtual reality builds on these technologies to simulate a real-world experience. Most VR software is based on a “virtual world generator,” which is made using a software development kit from a specific VR headset vendor. This kit provides the basic programs, drivers, data and graphic-rendering libraries.

How to make money in the metaverse

Digital Money

As with most technology, the crucial question is how to monetize the experience. The metaverse offers most of the options available in the real world, plus a few that are only available virtually.

Buying and selling virtual land

Just like people are snapping up land in the real world, investors are buying up digital spaces, including “locations.” Buying virtual real estate requires using virtual currency, aka cryptocurrency, to buy directly from a virtual developer. Currently, the two most popular platforms are The Sandbox and Decentraland, each of which has its own currency (SAND and MANA, respectively).

Trading crypto

You can make money trading cryptocurrencies, similar to how you can make money investing in stocks—it requires upfront (real) capital and a high tolerance for risk.

Trading NFTs

Non-fungible tokens are a digital security stored in a blockchain that represents a real asset, usually music, art (especially popular memes), in-game items and videos. Creating, buying and selling NFTs can be a lucrative business if you can predict what will be popular. Keep in mind that NFTs are potentially bad for the environment.

Selling real-world goods virtually

Virtual storefronts for real products are already live for some stores, like the aforementioned Walmart. While there are currently a lot of kinks, the goal is to eventually provide a virtual experience that is better than a real one. Virtual purchases will deliver real goods.

Other ways to make money

New financial opportunities are popping up as the technology evolves. Some possibilities include hosting metaverse events, selling virtual items like digital clothing or hairstyles for avatars, selling metaverse-specific services and trading metaverse tokens.

Examples of the metaverse

The metaverse is already all around you if you know where to look for it. Second Life, the popular computer game that simulates real life, is a natural fit for the metaverse and is quickly gaining popularity. Other games, including those mainly popular with the younger generation, like Fortnite, Minecraft and Roblox, are also big in the virtual sphere; by some estimates, nearly 100 million people log on to these games daily. First-person shooter and quest games become even more realistic and immersive in the metaverse.

Meta Horizons is like Facebook … on steroids. The social platform is aiming to be the one-stop shop for digital socializing, communications and living.

It doesn’t have to be that intense though, adds Madsen. Even using a stargazing app or a voice-changing filter on your phone is engaging with the metaverse in a small way. “We all do it a lot more than we realize,” he says. “Anytime you’re using a virtual enhancement in your life, it’s a small part of extended reality or the metaverse.”

Is the metaverse safe?

Bitcoin AI machine close up

All the safety concerns that exist about the internet are magnified by virtual reality—the more real the environment, the more real-feeling the scams—along with some new ones particular to the metaverse, says Madsen.

Privacy

Blockchain technology is built to be a far more secure and private way to share information, but every tech has its flaws. In addition, laws regarding digital privacy rights are in flux, and there are many questions about the legality of data privacy in the metaverse.

Accessibility

Human bodies aren’t equipped on their own to access the metaverse, as it requires hardware, software and knowledge—all of which can be very expensive for individuals to get. In addition, some countries or regions would need to install expensive and complicated infrastructure to enhance data storage and data processing speeds. This could create a volatile system of technological haves and have-nots.

Health

Virtual reality has a powerful effect on the brain’s behavior, and this raises real-world concerns about physical and mental health, says Madsen. There are the obvious risks of physically injuring yourself from tripping or falling, but people are also reporting headaches, vertigo, muscle soreness and vision issues. Plus, people who are immersed in digital worlds often are doing so at the expense of exercising, breathing fresh air and socializing physically.

The more subtle health risks are mental. Because VR provides a much more realistic experience than watching something on a computer screen, the emotional and mental impacts are more intense. Watching a horror movie in VR, say, could cause real trauma, Madsen says. Not to mention that all the downsides of the current internet are magnified in VR, like violent pornography, the black market, sex trafficking and criminal activities.

When will the metaverse come out?

a virtual reality butterfly landing on a hand

The metaverse already exists in theory and in many practical ways, but expect the technology to explode over the next five to ten years, predicts Madsen. Wearables, like headsets, will become comfortable, portable and more powerful. Software will become more realistic, heading toward “fully immersive” experiences.

This technology will have huge impacts on how people work (physical proximity will be a much smaller priority, but people may be required to be on the clock, around the clock), how people play (games won’t be limited by physical constraints like gravity), how people socialize (being present as a hologram at a birthday party would be much better than a video chat) and, most important, how we consume information. If we live in a “post-truth” society now, imagine what it will be like when lies are even more realistic and believable and deepfakes aren’t just 2D.

The future is now

Remember that feeling in the ’90s, when the internet was brand-new and anything felt possible? Today’s metaverse has all that hope and opportunity, but on a much grander scale. For instance, virtual real estate is already big business: Less than a year ago, a small plot of virtual land that sold on Decentraland for $1,000 is now worth $13,000.

“It’s a really exciting time, because just like the internet did in the ’90s, the metaverse is going to revolutionize the world in ways we can’t even imagine yet,” says Shannon.

Sources:

  • Chris Madsen, senior engineer for Engage, a professional virtual reality and augmented reality platform used by many Fortune 500 companies
  • James Shannon, CEO and co-founder of XONE, a mobile augmented reality social network
  • Lex Fridman Podcast #267: “Mark Zuckerberg: Meta, Facebook, Instagram, and the Metaverse”

scene from Rings of power

When the new TV series The Rings of Power was first announced in 2017, it made major headlines as the most expensive Amazon Prime Video TV show—the most expensive TV show ever created, for that matter. Based on the Lord of the Rings books by J.R.R. Tolkien, the series seemed like a slam-dunk for the streamer. The novels are considered some of the best fantasy books of all time, and the film trilogy ranks among the best movies of all time. Amazon snapped up the rights for a cool $250 million. It gave the series a five-season commitment, which means it will eventually cost at least $1 billion—yes, billion—to make.

But ever since The Rings of Power‘s Sept. 1 release, it’s been making headlines for another reason: Thousands of so-called Tolkien fans have bombarded the internet with racist and misogynistic complaints. On the other side of the spectrum are the fans embracing it—25 million viewers tuned in to the series premiere, and many are calling it one of the best TV shows on air right now.

And the studio stands with them, releasing a statement that denounced the racist complaints: “We, the cast of Rings of Power, stand together in absolute solidarity and against the relentless racism, threats, harassment and abuse some of our castmates of color are being subjected to on a daily basis. We refuse to ignore it or tolerate it.” Want to learn more about The Rings of Power controversy before tuning in? Read on for all the details, then check out these other bestselling books behind TV shows.

What is The Rings of Power based on?

More than two decades after Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring wowed audiences with the breadth of Tolkien’s imagination, and a decade after the prequel, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, released in theaters, The Rings of Power hits small screens to give fans a taste of what happened before Frodo’s fateful trip to Mordor.

The show is roughly based on people and events mentioned in the Lord of the Rings book series and its appendixes. But it’s actually set thousands of years before The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. It depicts the major historical events that took place during Middle-earth’s Second Age. That includes the rise of the Dark Lord Sauron, the forging of the Rings of Power and the fall of the human island kingdom of Numenor. It also covers the alliance between elves and men, who must stick together if they wish to defeat the forces of evil.

One of the main characters is the elven warrior Galadriel (played by Morfyyd Clark), who believes evil is coming back to Middle-earth. If that name sounds familiar, it’s because she appeared in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, portrayed by Cate Blanchett in the films. (Yep, elves have long lives.) You’ll hear a few other familiar names in the new series, including Elrond (played by Robert Aramayo in the show and Hugo Weaving in the films) and Isildur (played by Maxim Baldry in the show and Harry Sinclair in the films).

Plenty of characters in The Rings of Power have been created completely from scratch for the series—including the harfoots, who Tolkien briefly described as ancestors of the hobbits. Why include them? In an interview with Vanity Fair, showrunner Patrick McKay said, “Really, does it feel like Middle-earth if you don’t have hobbits or something like hobbits in it?”

How closely does the series stick to the source material?

Unlike the films The Fellowship of the Rings, The Two Towers and The Return of the King, The Rings of Power doesn’t follow a single book or plotline written by Tolkien. Instead, it pulls from the entire Lord of the Rings series, including the appendixes. The streaming service’s eight-episode first season focuses on events and people who were mentioned throughout the books, no matter how briefly.

In an interview with Vulture, McKay noted that he and showrunner JD Payne truly studied all Tolkien’s works to gain knowledge about historical events that happened in Middle-earth. Snippets from songs and tales of the past helped build The Rings of Power. Take, for instance, the story of the forging of the rings. The action happens ages before The Lord of the Rings, but characters like Gandalf tell the tale during the books.

Why are people upset about The Rings of Power?

Tolkien fans whose imagined version of Middle-earth puts white people front and center have taken issue with the show’s casting. They claim The Rings of Power is doing a disservice to the books, which Tolkien based on ancient European civilizations. As they see it, there wouldn’t be any people of color around during the era. Declaring showrunners McKay and Payne “Hollywood woke” for the diverse casting, detractors claim all characters should be white, just as they were in the films.

And many take issue with the fact that the female dwarf Princess Disa (played by Sophia Nomvete) doesn’t have a beard when the books say all dwarves—male and female—have beards. Many also chafe at the idea of women in lead roles. Even Tesla founder and pot-stirrer Elon Musk got in on the complaints, taking issue with the portrayal of men versus women in the show. “Tolkien is turning in his grave,” he tweeted on Sept. 5. “Almost every male character so far is a coward, a jerk or both. Only Galadriel is brave, smart and nice.”

These aren’t just benign groanings of internet trolls. They “review bombed” both Rotten Tomatoes and Amazon, posting negative reviews that had nothing to do with the show’s quality. (Amazon even suspended reviews for 72 hours to weed out trolls.) And they’ve inundated the cast’s diverse actors with racist tirades. Black actor Ismael Cruz Cordova, who plays a new elven character named Arondir, noted he’s been harassed by hateful direct messages related to his casting for two years.

Who has come to the show’s defense?

group of people from a scene in rings of power

The backlash to the Rings of Power backlash has been swift, with the show’s cast and crew supporting the diverse cast and Amazon backing them up. “We refuse to ignore it or tolerate it,” Amazon’s statement said of the harassment. It went on to add that the company’s “love and fellowship goes out to the fans supporting us, especially fans of color who are they themselves being attacked simply for existing in this fandom.”

Celebrities were quick to point out a key fact about The Rings of Power: It’s a fantasy show. The inclusion of people of color can’t be inaccurate because the entire world is fiction.

“They have trouble believing Black people could be hobbits,” said actor Lenny Henry, who plays a type of character known as a harfoot. He points out that these same viewers have no problem believing in things like elves, hobbits and, in the case of the fantasy show Game of Thrones, dragons.

On The View, Whoopi Goldberg made a similar point: “You know that? There are no dragons. There are no hobbits. Are you telling me Black people can’t be fake people too?” she said. She added that if anyone had problems because there are Black hobbits, they should “go find yourself, because you are focused on the wrong stuff.”

Fantasy writer Neil Gaiman took to Twitter to push back at both Musk and others who sent hateful messages to the BIPOC actors in the show. “I feel like I’m taking a sledgehammer to squash the tiniest ants, and you really shouldn’t, but then again, they can be really irritating,” he wrote.

And original Lord of the Rings film stars Elijah Wood, Dominic Monaghan and Billy Boyd all posed for a photo wearing T-shirts that said “You are all welcome here” in Elvish.

The racist comments haven’t done anything to temper most viewers’ excitement, though. If anything, the hate has made even non-fantasy fans more eager to watch to see what the show is all about. And while review bombing may have hurt its audience score on Rotten Tomatoes (currently at 39%), its score from critics is a solid 84%.

What’s actually in the source material?

Considering critics point to Tolkien’s original work when decrying the diverse casting, it’s worth considering what the classic novels actually say. And as supporters point out, Tolkien never explicitly wrote that his characters were white-skinned. In fact, as Gaiman pointed out in a tweet, Tolkien described harfoots as “browner of skin.”

Amazon’s statement of support also references the diversity inherent in Middle-earth, noting that Tolkien created a “world that was multicultural, a world in which free people from different races and cultures join together, in fellowship, to defeat the forces of evil.”

It only makes sense to include people from diverse backgrounds in the series. As McKay pointed out Vanity Fair, the show is about power and race—even if those races are humans, elves, dwarves and other fictional beings. “[It’s about] the forging of the rings,” he said. “Rings for the elves, rings for dwarves, rings for men and then the one ring Sauron used to deceive them all. It’s the story of the creation of all those powers, where they came from and what they did to each of those races.”

And remember: The Rings of Power isn’t a strict retelling of a single Lord of the Rings book, and many of the characters were created for the show.

As for gender-based complaints, well, the Lord of the Rings series is no stranger to strong female characters. Eowyn is one of the greatest warrior women in cinematic history.

What other shows have faced similar backlash?

Sadly, other movies and TV shows have faced similar complaints for daring to have diverse casting. It may be one of the most popular HBO Max TV shows currently airing, but the Game of Thrones prequel, House of the Dragon, got pushback for its casting of Black actors.

The backlash primarily centers on the casting of actor Steve Toussaint as Lord Corlys Valeryan of the House of Targaryen. In the George R.R. Martin books, his character is described as having white-blonde hair, which his TV character indeed does have. Critics’ issue? Toussaint is Black.

“It seems to be very hard for people to swallow,” the actor said in an interview with Men’s Health. “They are happy with a dragon flying. They’re happy with white hair and violet-colored eyes, but a rich Black guy? That’s beyond the pale.”

And let’s not forget what happened when John Boyega was cast as a Black stormtrooper in 2015’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens. He faced endless trolling from so-called fans who said they would boycott the film in response to his casting.

“It makes you angry with a process like that. It makes you much more militant; it changes you. Because you realize, ‘I got given this opportunity, but I’m in an industry that wasn’t even ready for me,'” he said in an interview with GQ about his Star Wars experience. “Nobody else in the cast had people saying they were going to boycott the movie because [they were in it]. Nobody else had the uproar and death threats sent to their Instagram DMs and social media, saying, ‘Black this and Black that and you shouldn’t be a Stormtrooper.’ Nobody else had that experience.”

Shonda Rhimes’s frothy romance series Bridgerton also found itself the object of certain viewers’ ire when it cast characters of color in high-society Regency England.

And Gaiman, who readily defended The Rings of Power against racist complaints, recently dealt with similar protests about the adaptation of his comic book The Sandman. When the cast was announced, complaints rolled in: They didn’t like that a Black actress plays Death (a character portrayed as white in the comics), a woman plays Lucifer (who is male in the comic) and a nonbinary actor plays Desire.

But perhaps Gaiman’s response to The Sandman trolls is most apt for all the shows above: “Watch the show, make up your minds.”

Sources:

  • Vanity Fair: “Amazon’s Lord of the Rings Series Rises: Inside The Rings of Power
  • Vulture: “Close-Reading Lord of the Rings with the Creatives Behind The Rings of Power
  • @ElonMusk
  • @ElijahWood
  • @SeanAstin
  • Hollywood Reporter: “Everything You Need to Know About Tolkien’s Second Age to Watch ‘The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power'”
  • @NeilHimself
  • Men’s Health: “Steve Toussaint Isn’t Fazed by Racist House of the Dragon Criticism”
  • GQ: “John Boyega: ‘I’m the only cast member whose experience of Star Wars was based on their race'”
  • @NeilHimself

If you’re a fan of the dystopian drama The Handmaid’s Tale, you’re certainly not alone. Since its premiere in 2017, the Hulu TV show has won 15 Primetime Emmy Awards and found itself on countless lists of the best TV shows. It’s been such a phenomenon that the bestselling book behind the TV show jumped back to the top of bestseller lists, almost 40 years after its initial release. And the trailer for The Handmaid’s Tale Season 5 has just dropped.

Fans can’t wait to find out what will happen to June and the rest of the resistance as they work against the Republic of Gilead. Good news: We’ve got all the info you crave!

When will The Handmaid’s Tale Season 5 premiere?

Don’t worry, you don’t have to wait much longer. The first and second episodes of Season 5 of The Handmaid’s Tale, streaming on Hulu, will drop on Sept. 14, 2022.

You won’t be able to binge it all at once, though—after the initial two episodes come out, you’ll have to wait for a new episode each Wednesday. In between episodes, curb your craving for book-related entertainment with these book recommendations based on TV shows.

What will The Handmaid’s Tale Season 5 be about?

Before we dive in, let’s get this out of the way: Keep reading only if you’ve watched previous seasons or don’t mind spoilers.

To recap: When we last saw June (Elisabeth Moss) at the end of Season 4, she and some of her fellow handmaids had finally exacted revenge on her nemesis, Commander Fred Waterford (Joseph Fiennes).

What we know, thanks to a summary on Hulu, is that June will face the consequences of her actions. What we don’t know is whether Fred’s wife, Serena Joy (Yvonne Strahovski), is actually sad about the death of her husband. Was that a smirk we saw on her lips as she lightly touched his casket during the Season 5 trailer? Will this development just strengthen Serena’s resolve to rise to power herself and spread the gospel of Gilead in Canada? Either way, it’s clear from the trailer that Serena will be June’s main foe this season.

Who will be in The Handmaid’s Tale Season 5?

When Alexis Bledel, who played Dr. Emily Malek, announced last May that she wouldn’t be returning to the role for The Handmaid’s Tale Season 5, fans expressed the sort of shock they’d shown when Regé-Jean Page said he’d be skipping Bridgerton Season 2. It’s a shame—Bledel won an Emmy in 2017 for her portrayal and has earned three more nominations since.

The rest of the main cast will be back (except Fiennes, of course), and that includes Moss, Strahovski, Max Minghella as Nick, Samira Wiley as Moira, Ann Dowd as Aunt Lydia and O-T Fagbenle as Luke.

As for newcomers, fans will love to hate Mrs. Wheeler, played by actress Genevieve Angelson. She’s a rich woman in Canada who believes in Gilead’s mission and adores Serena and everything she stands for. Actress Christine Ko will also join the cast of The Handmaid’s Tale Season 5, playing Lily, a refugee from Gilead who becomes a pivotal member of the Canadian resistance. She’s been described as “gritty and resourceful” and will no doubt assist in myriad ways.

Will Season 5 of The Handmaid’s Tale be the last?

Bruce Miller, the creator and showrunner of the series, hasn’t confirmed whether Season 5 of The Handmaid’s Tale will be its last, but an executive at Hulu already hinted that this could be it. Jordan Helman, the head of original content at the streamer, told Deadline that Hulu was mainly focused on “closing out that show in a creative fashion that feels organic,” and that he’s in constant talks with both Miller and Moss about how to best end things.

Of course, it has also been the biggest hit series for Hulu so far, so time will tell if the streaming service tries to squeeze out another season. And, of course, there are plenty of other handmaids in the resistance, so if Hulu wanted to continue the plot without June, it could.

Does The Handmaid’s Tale TV series follow the books?

It certainly did in Season 1, when the series first introduced June, the near-future New England setting and the various caste systems in Gilead, including wives, commanders, handmaids and aunts.

Just as in the 1985 dystopian novel by Margaret Atwood, we meet June, her husband and their baby daughter as they try to escape Gilead to avoid being killed because her husband left his first wife for June. (Adultery and divorce are both illegal.) And just as in the book, their daughter is stolen.

June, one of the few remaining fertile women, is forcibly turned into a handmaid. Renamed Offred, she’s forced to bear children for one of the commanders.  That plot line is why the book so frequently finds itself on lists of the most banned books. And it’s a plot echoed in the television series.

That’s where the similarities end. The TV series introduces all sorts of new characters and explores their backgrounds in depths that the book never did. Atwood released a sequel, The Testaments, in 2019 (two years after the show began), but the protagonist is Aunt Lydia, not June.

Read The Handmaid’s Tale books

Sources:

  • Hulu: “The Handmaid’s Tale Season 5”
  • Deadline: “‘The Handmaid’s Tale’: Talks Underway About How & When to End Hit Hulu Drama Series; Will Season 5 Be Its Last?”

If you’re a fan of the dystopian drama The Handmaid’s Tale, you’re certainly not alone. Since its premiere in 2017, the Hulu TV show has won 15 Primetime Emmy Awards and found itself on countless lists of the best TV shows. It’s been such a phenomenon that the bestselling book behind the TV show jumped back to the top of bestseller lists, almost 40 years after its initial release. And the trailer for The Handmaid’s Tale Season 5 has just dropped.

Fans can’t wait to find out what will happen to June and the rest of the resistance as they work against the Republic of Gilead. Good news: We’ve got all the info you crave!

When will The Handmaid’s Tale Season 5 premiere?

Don’t worry, you don’t have to wait much longer. The first and second episodes of Season 5 of The Handmaid’s Tale, streaming on Hulu, will drop on Sept. 14, 2022.

You won’t be able to binge it all at once, though—after the initial two episodes come out, you’ll have to wait for a new episode each Wednesday. In between episodes, curb your craving for book-related entertainment with these book recommendations based on TV shows.

What will The Handmaid’s Tale Season 5 be about?

Before we dive in, let’s get this out of the way: Keep reading only if you’ve watched previous seasons or don’t mind spoilers.

To recap: When we last saw June (Elisabeth Moss) at the end of Season 4, she and some of her fellow handmaids had finally exacted revenge on her nemesis, Commander Fred Waterford (Joseph Fiennes).

What we know, thanks to a summary on Hulu, is that June will face the consequences of her actions. What we don’t know is whether Fred’s wife, Serena Joy (Yvonne Strahovski), is actually sad about the death of her husband. Was that a smirk we saw on her lips as she lightly touched his casket during the Season 5 trailer? Will this development just strengthen Serena’s resolve to rise to power herself and spread the gospel of Gilead in Canada? Either way, it’s clear from the trailer that Serena will be June’s main foe this season.

Who will be in The Handmaid’s Tale Season 5?

When Alexis Bledel, who played Dr. Emily Malek, announced last May that she wouldn’t be returning to the role for The Handmaid’s Tale Season 5, fans expressed the sort of shock they’d shown when Regé-Jean Page said he’d be skipping Bridgerton Season 2. It’s a shame—Bledel won an Emmy in 2017 for her portrayal and has earned three more nominations since.

The rest of the main cast will be back (except Fiennes, of course), and that includes Moss, Strahovski, Max Minghella as Nick, Samira Wiley as Moira, Ann Dowd as Aunt Lydia and O-T Fagbenle as Luke.

As for newcomers, fans will love to hate Mrs. Wheeler, played by actress Genevieve Angelson. She’s a rich woman in Canada who believes in Gilead’s mission and adores Serena and everything she stands for. Actress Christine Ko will also join the cast of The Handmaid’s Tale Season 5, playing Lily, a refugee from Gilead who becomes a pivotal member of the Canadian resistance. She’s been described as “gritty and resourceful” and will no doubt assist in myriad ways.

Will Season 5 of The Handmaid’s Tale be the last?

Bruce Miller, the creator and showrunner of the series, hasn’t confirmed whether Season 5 of The Handmaid’s Tale will be its last, but an executive at Hulu already hinted that this could be it. Jordan Helman, the head of original content at the streamer, told Deadline that Hulu was mainly focused on “closing out that show in a creative fashion that feels organic,” and that he’s in constant talks with both Miller and Moss about how to best end things.

Of course, it has also been the biggest hit series for Hulu so far, so time will tell if the streaming service tries to squeeze out another season. And, of course, there are plenty of other handmaids in the resistance, so if Hulu wanted to continue the plot without June, it could.

Does The Handmaid’s Tale TV series follow the books?

It certainly did in Season 1, when the series first introduced June, the near-future New England setting and the various caste systems in Gilead, including wives, commanders, handmaids and aunts.

Just as in the 1985 dystopian novel by Margaret Atwood, we meet June, her husband and their baby daughter as they try to escape Gilead to avoid being killed because her husband left his first wife for June. (Adultery and divorce are both illegal.) And just as in the book, their daughter is stolen.

June, one of the few remaining fertile women, is forcibly turned into a handmaid. Renamed Offred, she’s forced to bear children for one of the commanders.  That plot line is why the book so frequently finds itself on lists of the most banned books. And it’s a plot echoed in the television series.

That’s where the similarities end. The TV series introduces all sorts of new characters and explores their backgrounds in depths that the book never did. Atwood released a sequel, The Testaments, in 2019 (two years after the show began), but the protagonist is Aunt Lydia, not June.

Read The Handmaid’s Tale books

Sources:

  • Hulu: “The Handmaid’s Tale Season 5”
  • Deadline: “‘The Handmaid’s Tale’: Talks Underway About How & When to End Hit Hulu Drama Series; Will Season 5 Be Its Last?”

Since the dawn of time, siblings have given each other childhood nicknames. Sometimes these names arise because little ones can’t pronounce a brother’s or sister’s name properly. In other instances, they come from silly family situations. Even the Cambridge kiddos have nicknames for one another. Prince Louis, in particular, has been bestowed with an especially adorable moniker by his older siblings, Prince George and Princess Charlotte.

The youngest of Prince William and Kate Middleton‘s children, Prince Louis made quite an impression on the world with his 4-year-old antics during Queen Elizabeth’s Platinum Jubilee. While all the next-generation royals have captured our attention, the baby of the family became a real media darling that weekend. We all wanted to know more about the cutie pie who simply could not sit still during the royal events. After all, cheeky kids in the royal family tree are often the most relatable to us common folk, and nicknames and other personal anecdotes endear them to us even more.

What is Prince Louis’s nickname?

When Prince Louis and his famous siblings are just kicking around the house, they have taken to calling him “Lou Lou.” And this isn’t a new nickname. Royal sources recently revealed that Prince George and Princess Charlotte have been referring to Louis as Lou Lou since he was a baby. It’s so sweet and endearing, right? And it rolls off the tongue a lot more easily than His Royal Highness Prince Louis Arthur Charles of Cambridge, which is his full name and title. For those keeping count, this cutie is fifth in the line of succession to the British throne. That means Prince Charles, Prince William, Prince George and Princess Charlotte come before him.

Do Prince George and Princess Charlotte have nicknames?

Not to be left out of the family fun, Prince George and Princess Charlotte do, indeed, also have nicknames. Unfortunately, as the youngest sibling, Prince Louis didn’t have a hand in choosing the monikers for them. At school, Prince George’s classmates reportedly call him PG, and some friends also call him Tips, as a reference to the popular British tea brand PG Tips.

As for Princess Charlotte, she is often called Lottie by friends and family, including her parents, as a way of shortening her name. This makes perfect sense to us because the other popular option for shortening Charlotte is Charlie. Considering her grandfather is Prince Charles, that could make family gatherings all sorts of confusing.

According to royal watchers, Prince William also refers to his daughter as Mignonette. In French, the word mignon means sweet and delicate.

What are some other royal nicknames?

It’s not only the royal children who have nicknames. Many of the adults also use special monikers and terms of endearment for their loved ones—including Queen Elizabeth. For starters, Prince George calls her Gan-Gan. When he was just a toddler learning to talk, the future king couldn’t say the words granny or grandmother. So, Gan-Gan it was. For his part, Prince William simply calls the monarch Gran. We have a feeling the Queen doesn’t mind the variety of nicknames from her grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

But wait—those aren’t the Queen’s only nicknames. Her late husband, Prince Philip, affectionately called her Cabbage. Yes, Cabbage. This unusual nickname may have its roots in the French term mon petit chou, which is a way of saying “my darling” but translates to “my little cabbage” in English. And Elizabeth’s parents referred to her as Lilibet as a child, which is where Harry and Meghan’s daughter gets her name.

As for Prince William, it is said that Princess Diana bestowed the nickname “Wombat” on him as a child during a tour of Australia. The quirky name stuck with him throughout all his younger years.

Since the dawn of time, siblings have given each other childhood nicknames. Sometimes these names arise because little ones can’t pronounce a brother’s or sister’s name properly. In other instances, they come from silly family situations. Even the Cambridge kiddos have nicknames for one another. Prince Louis, in particular, has been bestowed with an especially adorable moniker by his older siblings, Prince George and Princess Charlotte.

The youngest of Prince William and Kate Middleton‘s children, Prince Louis made quite an impression on the world with his 4-year-old antics during Queen Elizabeth’s Platinum Jubilee. While all the next-generation royals have captured our attention, the baby of the family became a real media darling that weekend. We all wanted to know more about the cutie pie who simply could not sit still during the royal events. After all, cheeky kids in the royal family tree are often the most relatable to us common folk, and nicknames and other personal anecdotes endear them to us even more.

What is Prince Louis’s nickname?

When Prince Louis and his famous siblings are just kicking around the house, they have taken to calling him “Lou Lou.” And this isn’t a new nickname. Royal sources recently revealed that Prince George and Princess Charlotte have been referring to Louis as Lou Lou since he was a baby. It’s so sweet and endearing, right? And it rolls off the tongue a lot more easily than His Royal Highness Prince Louis Arthur Charles of Cambridge, which is his full name and title. For those keeping count, this cutie is fifth in the line of succession to the British throne. That means Prince Charles, Prince William, Prince George and Princess Charlotte come before him.

Do Prince George and Princess Charlotte have nicknames?

Not to be left out of the family fun, Prince George and Princess Charlotte do, indeed, also have nicknames. Unfortunately, as the youngest sibling, Prince Louis didn’t have a hand in choosing the monikers for them. At school, Prince George’s classmates reportedly call him PG, and some friends also call him Tips, as a reference to the popular British tea brand PG Tips.

As for Princess Charlotte, she is often called Lottie by friends and family, including her parents, as a way of shortening her name. This makes perfect sense to us because the other popular option for shortening Charlotte is Charlie. Considering her grandfather is Prince Charles, that could make family gatherings all sorts of confusing.

According to royal watchers, Prince William also refers to his daughter as Mignonette. In French, the word mignon means sweet and delicate.

What are some other royal nicknames?

It’s not only the royal children who have nicknames. Many of the adults also use special monikers and terms of endearment for their loved ones—including Queen Elizabeth. For starters, Prince George calls her Gan-Gan. When he was just a toddler learning to talk, the future king couldn’t say the words granny or grandmother. So, Gan-Gan it was. For his part, Prince William simply calls the monarch Gran. We have a feeling the Queen doesn’t mind the variety of nicknames from her grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

But wait—those aren’t the Queen’s only nicknames. Her late husband, Prince Philip, affectionately called her Cabbage. Yes, Cabbage. This unusual nickname may have its roots in the French term mon petit chou, which is a way of saying “my darling” but translates to “my little cabbage” in English. And Elizabeth’s parents referred to her as Lilibet as a child, which is where Harry and Meghan’s daughter gets her name.

As for Prince William, it is said that Princess Diana bestowed the nickname “Wombat” on him as a child during a tour of Australia. The quirky name stuck with him throughout all his younger years.

With more than 400 million users and counting, PayPal is an attractive target for scammers. Many online scams that involve payment apps—including Cash App scams, Venmo scams and Zelle scams—bank on the fact that users don’t understand how these services work or use them carelessly, leaving users vulnerable to bad actors looking to steal their money, financial information and more.

That doesn’t mean you need to delete your PayPal account, though. You can still take advantage of all the features PayPal has to offer by using it smartly and knowing how to spot the signs of a scam. To help you do just that, we got the download from cybersecurity experts on what PayPal scams to look out for and how to avoid them.

What is PayPal?

PayPal is an all-in-one digital payment platform that offers an alternative to traditional banking methods. To create a PayPal account, users must first link their bank accounts or credit cards to the system. From there, they can log in through their computer or smart device and make purchases from third-party retailers, accept payments and deposits, or transfer money or cryptocurrency between accounts.

Can you get scammed with PayPal?

Unfortunately, it is all too easy for scammers to steal your money or financial information through PayPal. “There are different scams and fraud attempts deployed by identity criminals trying to steal your money, financial information and more” on PayPal’s platform, according to Eva Velasquez, president and CEO of Identity Theft Resource Center.

But keep in mind that PayPal isn’t the only place you could get scammed. “It is important to note that you can be scammed with any site or service,” says Alex Hamerstone, a director with TrustedSec, an ethical hacking company. Other common scams to watch out for include Amazon scams, Facebook Marketplace scams, phone call scams and gift card scams.

What are some common PayPal scams?

While scammers can be sneaky and convincing, their scams also tend to have some common themes that make them easier to identify. Here are some of the most prevalent.

Order confirmation scam

In the majority of PayPal-related scams, scammers use phishing emails to impersonate PayPal. Here’s how this one works: Criminals will create a fake or “spoofed” email address that appears to be from PayPal. Then they will send you an email that looks like an order confirmation for a recent purchase. You will be asked to check the status of your order by logging in to your account through a link included in the message.

These phishing emails take many different forms, but “what remains the same each time is what the criminal is ultimately after,” says Karim Hijazi, CEO of the cybersecurity company Prevailion and former contractor for the U.S. intelligence community. “They want to steal your PayPal login credentials by tricking you into signing in to your account through a spoofed web page.” Once the scammer captures your login information, they can use it to log in to your account and make purchases, withdraw money or carry out a doxxing attack, among a host of other things.

Fake fraud alert scam

Beware of unsolicited text messages that look like fraud alert notifications from PayPal. Known as “smishing” attacks, these fake fraud alerts are tough to spot because no two messages are the same. Some might warn that someone is trying to access your account, while others will report suspicious activity on your profile. “There is a wide range of fake alerts that scammers will use, and every one of them will be different,” says Hijazi.

While PayPal does send text messages or emails for one-time login codes or two-factor authentication, receiving a PayPal notification unexpectedly is a sign that you might be dealing with a scam. The text may appear to come from a legitimate PayPal phone number, but the link in the message could actually take you to a fake PayPal login page that steals account details like your password when you try to enter them. Clicking on the link could also accidentally download malware that allows someone to spy on your iPhone, so make sure to delete any phony texts as soon as you receive them.

Unsolicited payment or transfer request scam

Before accepting an unexpected payment or transfer request on PayPal, take a close look at the message. Some scammers create profiles that impersonate real people or businesses—even going so far as to steal their usernames and profile pictures.

You should report the scam to PayPal if you end up accepting the scammer’s request and sending them money. However, PayPal can’t guarantee that you will receive a refund. That’s why you should avoid getting scammed in the first place by always initiating transactions and never accepting unsolicited payment or transfer requests on PayPal, Velasquez says.

Password reset request scam

Received a password reset notification from PayPal out of the blue? Don’t click any links in the text message or email, Hamerstone says. Instead, log in directly through PayPal’s app or website through your browser and change your password immediately, in case your account has been hacked.

Scammers often create fake password reset alerts that appear to be from PayPal too. By clicking a link attached to the text message or email, you could accidentally share your login credentials with scammers or download malware. Beefing up your iPhone security and checking these iPhone privacy settings can protect you if a hacker gains access to your smartphone.

Fake charity scam

Another common PayPal scam uses fake charities to solicit donations from unsuspecting users. The fraudster will create a webpage for a phony charity organization, then contact victims asking for donations via PayPal. Although they may share forged confirmation emails or receipts to make it appear as though the transaction is legitimate, in reality, they have already taken off with your money. These fake charity sites are getting more convincing, but there are ways to spot fake donation scams so you don’t fall victim going forward.

Promotional offer scam

Like fake fraud alerts or order confirmation emails, this scam relies on a spoofed email address or phone number that makes their message appear to be from PayPal. The message notifies users that they have qualified for a promotional offer and money has been deposited into their account. Ultimately, the scammer is hoping to trick the user into entering their PayPal login credentials on a fake webpage or clicking an attachment that infects their phone with a virus.

Refund request scam

Receiving a random PayPal transfer is not always an honest mistake. In fact, scammers often use this trick to fool you into giving them money. The fraudster might use the stolen financial information from a hacked PayPal account to transfer several hundred dollars to your account, then send you a message saying: “Oops! Can you send that back?” The money that you send goes to the criminal’s personal card—which they have added to the fake account—and the stolen funds are removed from your account.

Overpayment scam

Turns out, everyday users are not the only victims of PayPal scams; criminals target sellers and retailers through PayPal too. For example, a fraudster will overpay for an item using a fake or stolen credit card or bank account number, then contact the seller to ask them to return the overpaid amount, usually to a different account than the one they used to make the initial payment. Once they get the money back, the scammer will contact PayPal to cancel the original transaction, leaving the seller out of both their product and payment.

Shipping address scam

When you sell something online, always verify the address where you are shipping the item. Some scammers will purchase goods through PayPal but give the seller an invalid delivery address. After the shipping company marks the package as undeliverable, the buyer will contact the shipping company to change the address and request a refund from PayPal on the undelivered order. Retailers also should watch out for brushing scams when selling products online.

Hacked account scam

If a cybercriminal learns the login credentials and gains access to a PayPal account through a phishing attack, they can use that account to scam other users as well. They may transfer funds to your PayPal account as payment for a product or service, but after they receive the product, the money disappears from your account. More than likely, PayPal withdrew the money after getting word that the account was hacked.

How do I avoid getting scammed on PayPal?

Let’s be honest: Cybercriminals will never stop trying to scam you. But there are some steps you can take to protect yourself against future PayPal scams. Experts recommend following these tips to outsmart scammers.

  1. Always initiate transactions on PayPal. If you receive a request for money, do not accept it until you verify that it is legitimate.
  2. Never click on any links or attachments or respond to any unexpected messages from PayPal. Instead, reach out to PayPal directly to confirm that the message is real.
  3. Look for generic greetings, typos or incorrect grammar in messages from PayPal, which could be red flags of a scam.
  4. To find out whether an email message is actually from PayPal, click the “view source” or “open original” button in your email account. This will show the full header and routing details for the email you received. Find the line item in the header called “return-path,” which tells you whether the email you received came from PayPal or a fake email address. A phony sender’s address might be scrambled or off by one or two letters.
  5. Never log in to your PayPal account through a link that is shared with you via email, text message or other means. Instead, log in directly from your web browser or app.
  6. Rather than calling a phone number that has been provided to you in a message from PayPal, contact PayPal directly by looking up its publicly listed phone number.
  7. Never share your account information, including passwords, bank account or payment card information, by email or over the phone.
  8. If you receive a fake or suspicious email or text message, report it to PayPal at [email protected].
  9. Regularly monitor your PayPal account for suspicious activity, and contact PayPal if you notice anything unusual.
  10. Create a strong, unique password and enable two-factor authentication to prevent hackers from accessing your PayPal account.
  11. Use spam filters to block emails and stop spam texts going forward.

Sources:

  • Statista: “Number of PayPal’s total active user accounts from 1st quarter 2010 to 1st quarter 2022”
  • Eva Velasquez, president and CEO of the Identity Theft Resource Center
  • Alex Hamerstone, director of advisory solutions at TrustedSec
  • Karim Hijazi, founder and CEO of Prevailion

Just when you think you know how to avoid security threats online, cybercriminals keep getting savvier. Spoofing—a scam in which a criminal pretends to be someone else so they can commit fraud, spread malware or carry out other cyberattacks—is the latest in a long list of online scams to keep on your radar.

Here’s the good news: Taking simple security measures, like learning about spam texts to delete immediately, the area codes phone scam and the four-word phone scam, can make it harder for fraudsters to fool you. To help you stay safe, we’ve asked cybersecurity experts to explain how spoofing works and what you can do to avoid falling victim.

What is an example of spoofing?

A spoofing scam might be an email, text message or phone call that appears to be from a trusted source, like a loved one or even a popular brand. But in reality, a fraudster is behind the fake email address or phone number, hoping to convince you to download malicious software, send money or share personal information or data with them.

Spoofing attacks can take many forms. In one recent example, hackers created phony Zoom invitations for virtual meetings at community associations and school boards. Victims who clicked on the document attached to the emails infected their devices with malware. Other examples of spoofing include emails posing as a request from PayPal or eBay for your login information, or text messages that appear to be money transfers from an online wallet or bank.

Examples of a fake email versus real email

Is spoofing a crime?

Spoofed emails, phone calls or text messages that lead to criminal acts such as attempted hacking, fraud or financial theft are illegal, according to Karim Hijazi, CEO of cyber intelligence company Prevailion and a former contractor for the U.S. intelligence community. It happens more often than you think too. In a recent FBI report, people reported losing more than $82 million to spoofing scams in 2021.

If you are the victim of spoofing or other online fraud, you can file a complaint with the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3), as well as your local police station if you lost money. FYI, these Venmo scams, Amazon scams and Facebook Marketplace scams could also steal your money.

Spoofing by text

How it works

In spoofed text messages, fraudsters disguise their sender ID to appear as someone or something they are not. They might claim to be your boss or family member, or they might impersonate a familiar company like Amazon or your bank. Either way, their goal is to trick you into sharing personal data or clicking a link that infects your phone with a virus.

Unfortunately, it’s now easier than ever to create spoofed text messages. Most criminals use a software that allows them to create any sender ID they choose. “It used to require a business phone system to spoof caller ID, but now anyone can download an app from the App Store enabling them to make spoofed calls or texts,” says Aaron Higbee, co-founder and chief technology officer at cybersecurity firm Cofense.

Why it’s dangerous

The biggest danger of spoofing by text message: It is extremely difficult and sometimes impossible to recognize. “Spoofed text messages can sometimes be indistinguishable from legitimate messages, so the reader really has to pay attention,” says Andrew Barratt, vice president of technology and enterprise at cybersecurity firm Coalfire.

Not only are spoofing texts tough to spot, but they can also cause serious harm to victims. For example, by clicking a link attached to the text message, you could accidentally download malware that allows someone to spy on your iPhone. If a fraudster can convince you that they are from your bank, you might share financial or other sensitive information with them. Victims can also be fooled into sending money to a criminal if they believe they are texting a loved one.

How to recognize a spoofing text

Beware of any text message from a phone number that you don’t recognize, says Higbee. If you receive a message that appears to be a fraud detection or billing alert from a company you do business with, like your bank, look up the company’s publicly listed number and call them directly to confirm the message. These alerts are among the most popular tricks that fraudsters use today, Higbee says. You should also learn how to stop spam texts in the first place.

Spoofing by phone call

How it works

Like spoofed text messages, spoofing by phone call relies on technology that allows criminals to create a fake caller ID. Then they can place calls pretending to be Amazon, PayPal, your bank or any other familiar business in order to steal money or sensitive information.

For example, attackers may call someone to warn them about a fraud alert on their account and then offer to help, according to Higbee. By tricking the victim into sharing their login information, fraudsters can gain access to the person’s account and to any sensitive data it contains, like credit card numbers. These free password managers can help keep your log-ins secure from hackers.

Why it’s dangerous

People often fall victim to spoofed phone calls because mobile carriers are not able to block these calls or alert people that the call may be a scam, according to Hijazi. “For the recipient of the call, everything appears legitimate,” he says. “When your bank’s name appears in your caller ID, it’s easy to be fooled.”

Hijazi also notes that criminal call centers have gotten very good at imitating the real customer service procedures of legitimate organizations like banks, which makes it even harder for the victim to realize they’re being conned. Stay ahead of spoofing phone calls by learning how to stop robocalls for good.

How to recognize a spoofing call

If you receive a suspicious call, Barratt recommends paying attention to the quality of the audio. “The perpetrator is likely to be using a low-grade internet phone service that results in poor call quality,” he says. Always verify that the call is legitimate by contacting the company directly before handing over any sensitive information like your login credentials or credit card numbers.

Urgent requests to share information, send money, click a link or download an attachment should be viewed with suspicion, according to Hijazi. “These scammers are very good at preying on our anxieties, and they will also try to move quickly to prevent the person from having time to think,” he says.

Spoofing by email

How it works

Believe it or not, spoofing is one of the many things hackers can do with just your email address. “Email historically has been very [easy] to spoof,” Barratt says. All fraudsters need to do is create a forged sender address that looks like yours, making small and tough-to-spot changes, like adding a period or swapping a number with a letter. Then they use the email address to send “spoof” messages containing harmful malware or urgent requests for money.

Keep in mind that “spoofing isn’t the same thing as hacking,” Hijazi says. “When a person’s email is spoofed, it hasn’t actually been compromised by the hacker. It’s just been copied.”

You could receive spoofed emails too. With email spoofing, attackers are hoping to fool you by assuming the identity of a person or organization you know and asking you for money, sensitive information or other favors. The sender’s title mimics the real person’s or organization’s name, but the email address is slightly different from their actual one.

Why it’s dangerous

A spoofed email address looks legitimate, so email spoofing allows scammers to bypass the spam filters on most email accounts. Once spoofed emails make it into an inbox, victims are much more likely to open and fall for them. “People assume that when a sender’s name appears in their inbox, it’s the real person,” Hijazi says. “But this is very easy to fake.”

Email spoofing is the number one way people and companies get hacked, according to Hijazi. “You can be scammed out of money or personal information, lose access to your accounts or wind up with a malware infection on your device,” he says. Malware attacks that rely on phishing emails, such as these Apple ID phishing scams, are on the rise as well.

What’s more, spoofed emails might be linked to sextortion schemes, which lure the victim into engaging in a private conversation or sending sensitive images of themselves that are later used for blackmail. Hackers may also impersonate a law enforcement agency and claim they have proof that you have engaged in illegal activities, like accessing child pornography, Hijazi warns.

How to recognize a spoofing email

Receiving any emails from a contact through a new sender address should be a red flag that you might be dealing with a spoofing attack. Higbee advises being skeptical of any explanation as to why the sender is using a new email address. “When an attacker spoofs the friendly name, they will usually have a lie to explain why they are using a new email address,” he says. Instead, reach out to your contact in person or by phone call to confirm that the message is real.

For spoofing emails from companies or brands, Hijazi recommends checking the sender address to make sure it matches the sender’s name and actual email address. He also suggests looking for grammar and spelling mistakes, as well as any errors in the email format, which could indicate the email is not legitimate.

Luckily, “many online mail providers are already picking up spoof emails with the additional security they provide to help users with spam,” Barratt says. Still, you should always stay alert for spoofing emails and other phishing attacks in your inbox.

Other types of spoofing

There are many other types of online spoofing to watch out for, and not all of it is related to financial fraud, experts say. For example, name spoofing—when fraudsters spoof the names of people with large audiences online to promote pyramid schemes or cryptocurrencies—is common on Twitter, YouTube and other social media platforms, Higbee says.

Don’t assume screenshots of text messages are legitimate, either, Higbee says. People can fabricate a conversation with someone by spoofing their phone number, screenshotting it and claiming the messages are a real conversation. This can cause personal and reputational damage for the spoofed person.

To keep your own info from falling into the wrong hands—and potentially leading to a spoofing attack—know the security risks of using public Wi-Fi networks and prevent companies from buying and selling your personal information.

Sources:

  • Karim Hijazi, CEO of Prevailion
  • Aaron Higbee, co-founder and chief technology officer at Cofense
  • Andrew Barratt, vice president of technology and enterprise at Coalfire
  • FBI: “Internet Crime Report 2021”
  • Avanan: “Local Meetings Under Attack”

Just when you think you know how to avoid security threats online, cybercriminals keep getting savvier. Spoofing—a scam in which a criminal pretends to be someone else so they can commit fraud, spread malware or carry out other cyberattacks—is the latest in a long list of online scams to keep on your radar.

Here’s the good news: Taking simple security measures, like learning about spam texts to delete immediately, the area codes phone scam and the four-word phone scam, can make it harder for fraudsters to fool you. To help you stay safe, we’ve asked cybersecurity experts to explain how spoofing works and what you can do to avoid falling victim.

What is an example of spoofing?

A spoofing scam might be an email, text message or phone call that appears to be from a trusted source, like a loved one or even a popular brand. But in reality, a fraudster is behind the fake email address or phone number, hoping to convince you to download malicious software, send money or share personal information or data with them.

Spoofing attacks can take many forms. In one recent example, hackers created phony Zoom invitations for virtual meetings at community associations and school boards. Victims who clicked on the document attached to the emails infected their devices with malware. Other examples of spoofing include emails posing as a request from PayPal or eBay for your login information, or text messages that appear to be money transfers from an online wallet or bank.

Examples of a fake email versus real email

Is spoofing a crime?

Spoofed emails, phone calls or text messages that lead to criminal acts such as attempted hacking, fraud or financial theft are illegal, according to Karim Hijazi, CEO of cyber intelligence company Prevailion and a former contractor for the U.S. intelligence community. It happens more often than you think too. In a recent FBI report, people reported losing more than $82 million to spoofing scams in 2021.

If you are the victim of spoofing or other online fraud, you can file a complaint with the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3), as well as your local police station if you lost money. FYI, these Venmo scams, Amazon scams and Facebook Marketplace scams could also steal your money.

Spoofing by text

How it works

In spoofed text messages, fraudsters disguise their sender ID to appear as someone or something they are not. They might claim to be your boss or family member, or they might impersonate a familiar company like Amazon or your bank. Either way, their goal is to trick you into sharing personal data or clicking a link that infects your phone with a virus.

Unfortunately, it’s now easier than ever to create spoofed text messages. Most criminals use a software that allows them to create any sender ID they choose. “It used to require a business phone system to spoof caller ID, but now anyone can download an app from the App Store enabling them to make spoofed calls or texts,” says Aaron Higbee, co-founder and chief technology officer at cybersecurity firm Cofense.

Why it’s dangerous

The biggest danger of spoofing by text message: It is extremely difficult and sometimes impossible to recognize. “Spoofed text messages can sometimes be indistinguishable from legitimate messages, so the reader really has to pay attention,” says Andrew Barratt, vice president of technology and enterprise at cybersecurity firm Coalfire.

Not only are spoofing texts tough to spot, but they can also cause serious harm to victims. For example, by clicking a link attached to the text message, you could accidentally download malware that allows someone to spy on your iPhone. If a fraudster can convince you that they are from your bank, you might share financial or other sensitive information with them. Victims can also be fooled into sending money to a criminal if they believe they are texting a loved one.

How to recognize a spoofing text

Beware of any text message from a phone number that you don’t recognize, says Higbee. If you receive a message that appears to be a fraud detection or billing alert from a company you do business with, like your bank, look up the company’s publicly listed number and call them directly to confirm the message. These alerts are among the most popular tricks that fraudsters use today, Higbee says. You should also learn how to stop spam texts in the first place.

Spoofing by phone call

How it works

Like spoofed text messages, spoofing by phone call relies on technology that allows criminals to create a fake caller ID. Then they can place calls pretending to be Amazon, PayPal, your bank or any other familiar business in order to steal money or sensitive information.

For example, attackers may call someone to warn them about a fraud alert on their account and then offer to help, according to Higbee. By tricking the victim into sharing their login information, fraudsters can gain access to the person’s account and to any sensitive data it contains, like credit card numbers. These free password managers can help keep your log-ins secure from hackers.

Why it’s dangerous

People often fall victim to spoofed phone calls because mobile carriers are not able to block these calls or alert people that the call may be a scam, according to Hijazi. “For the recipient of the call, everything appears legitimate,” he says. “When your bank’s name appears in your caller ID, it’s easy to be fooled.”

Hijazi also notes that criminal call centers have gotten very good at imitating the real customer service procedures of legitimate organizations like banks, which makes it even harder for the victim to realize they’re being conned. Stay ahead of spoofing phone calls by learning how to stop robocalls for good.

How to recognize a spoofing call

If you receive a suspicious call, Barratt recommends paying attention to the quality of the audio. “The perpetrator is likely to be using a low-grade internet phone service that results in poor call quality,” he says. Always verify that the call is legitimate by contacting the company directly before handing over any sensitive information like your login credentials or credit card numbers.

Urgent requests to share information, send money, click a link or download an attachment should be viewed with suspicion, according to Hijazi. “These scammers are very good at preying on our anxieties, and they will also try to move quickly to prevent the person from having time to think,” he says.

Spoofing by email

How it works

Believe it or not, spoofing is one of the many things hackers can do with just your email address. “Email historically has been very [easy] to spoof,” Barratt says. All fraudsters need to do is create a forged sender address that looks like yours, making small and tough-to-spot changes, like adding a period or swapping a number with a letter. Then they use the email address to send “spoof” messages containing harmful malware or urgent requests for money.

Keep in mind that “spoofing isn’t the same thing as hacking,” Hijazi says. “When a person’s email is spoofed, it hasn’t actually been compromised by the hacker. It’s just been copied.”

You could receive spoofed emails too. With email spoofing, attackers are hoping to fool you by assuming the identity of a person or organization you know and asking you for money, sensitive information or other favors. The sender’s title mimics the real person’s or organization’s name, but the email address is slightly different from their actual one.

Why it’s dangerous

A spoofed email address looks legitimate, so email spoofing allows scammers to bypass the spam filters on most email accounts. Once spoofed emails make it into an inbox, victims are much more likely to open and fall for them. “People assume that when a sender’s name appears in their inbox, it’s the real person,” Hijazi says. “But this is very easy to fake.”

Email spoofing is the number one way people and companies get hacked, according to Hijazi. “You can be scammed out of money or personal information, lose access to your accounts or wind up with a malware infection on your device,” he says. Malware attacks that rely on phishing emails, such as these Apple ID phishing scams, are on the rise as well.

What’s more, spoofed emails might be linked to sextortion schemes, which lure the victim into engaging in a private conversation or sending sensitive images of themselves that are later used for blackmail. Hackers may also impersonate a law enforcement agency and claim they have proof that you have engaged in illegal activities, like accessing child pornography, Hijazi warns.

How to recognize a spoofing email

Receiving any emails from a contact through a new sender address should be a red flag that you might be dealing with a spoofing attack. Higbee advises being skeptical of any explanation as to why the sender is using a new email address. “When an attacker spoofs the friendly name, they will usually have a lie to explain why they are using a new email address,” he says. Instead, reach out to your contact in person or by phone call to confirm that the message is real.

For spoofing emails from companies or brands, Hijazi recommends checking the sender address to make sure it matches the sender’s name and actual email address. He also suggests looking for grammar and spelling mistakes, as well as any errors in the email format, which could indicate the email is not legitimate.

Luckily, “many online mail providers are already picking up spoof emails with the additional security they provide to help users with spam,” Barratt says. Still, you should always stay alert for spoofing emails and other phishing attacks in your inbox.

Other types of spoofing

There are many other types of online spoofing to watch out for, and not all of it is related to financial fraud, experts say. For example, name spoofing—when fraudsters spoof the names of people with large audiences online to promote pyramid schemes or cryptocurrencies—is common on Twitter, YouTube and other social media platforms, Higbee says.

Don’t assume screenshots of text messages are legitimate, either, Higbee says. People can fabricate a conversation with someone by spoofing their phone number, screenshotting it and claiming the messages are a real conversation. This can cause personal and reputational damage for the spoofed person.

To keep your own info from falling into the wrong hands—and potentially leading to a spoofing attack—know the security risks of using public Wi-Fi networks and prevent companies from buying and selling your personal information.

Sources:

  • Karim Hijazi, CEO of Prevailion
  • Aaron Higbee, co-founder and chief technology officer at Cofense
  • Andrew Barratt, vice president of technology and enterprise at Coalfire
  • FBI: “Internet Crime Report 2021”
  • Avanan: “Local Meetings Under Attack”

Steph Clemence always intended to go to college. But life has a tendency to throw obstacles in the way. Growing up, she led a nomadic life because her mother, who divorced and remarried several times, was always on the move. As a result, Steph attended five different kindergarten programs. By the time she was a senior in high school, Steph had lived in 25 places.

Still, she had good grades and considered herself college bound. But when her stepfather died tragically in a car accident, leaving her mother to support three daughters on a modest income, paying for college became out of the question.

Stumbling upon an idea

Around that time, Steph’s boyfriend, Gary Frye, enlisted in the Navy, a four-year commitment that would send him overseas. Before he shipped out, the couple tied the knot.

“We got married on July 7, and Gary left on August 18,” says Steph. “I dropped him off at the bus station and cried all the way home.”

With her husband at sea, Steph lived with her family, found a job, and tried to figure out what to do with a life that had deviated so from the plan she’d carefully laid out.

The answer came one afternoon when she was cleaning her bedroom closet. Inside a box of files she spotted a thick folder on which she’d written “High School Keepsakes.” Tucked in among memorabilia and photos from her time at McKenzie High School in Vida, Oregon, Steph found two stapled mimeographed pages from the English teacher she’d had her junior year, Dorothy Clark.

More Teacher Stories

Mrs. Clark was small and animated, given to waving her hands when she spoke. One afternoon, she walked into the classroom carrying a stack of stapled papers. She instructed the students in the front of each row of desks to take one and pass the rest to the students behind them. The handout was titled “Mrs. Clark’s Book List.” It wasn’t homework, the teacher announced, but it could be a road map.

How Reading Taught One Woman About Life Quote 1

“Some of you might not go on to higher education,” Mrs. Clark said, “but you can continue to learn.” She’d spent months creating a list of 153 fiction and nonfiction books, plays, and short stories from the United States and abroad, covering science, history, economics, politics, and literature. It would, she believed, form the equivalent of two years at a liberal arts college.

“She knew the income levels of the kids in my high school,” says Steph. “Working-class and logging families. She knew most of us would not go to college. She was right. But she knew we could continue to learn after high school. She was also right about that.”

Steph studied the list. The first book was Bulfinch’s Mythology. She flipped the page to see the last book: The Alexandria Quartet by Lawrence Durrell.

And so it began. It was 1970. “I was hopeful and determined to improve myself,” Steph says. She had always read for pleasure—magazines, true-crime books, mysteries, and romance novels. Now she would add Mrs. Clark’s suggestions to the mix. Starting at the top, she would read every book in the order they appeared.

A passion for learning

That night she wrote her husband, who was stationed in the Mediterranean, to tell him about her plan. When she eventually went to college, she told him, she’d be further along than the other freshmen.

Four years later, he left the Navy and enrolled in college while Steph worked a variety of jobs. She helped pay his tuition, and she kept reading.

The only other people she told about her goal were her mother, her sister, and a few friends. She assumed that people would find little value in her journey. But she felt differently. Each of those books sparked her passion to learn more about the person, subject matter, or time in history. That made her look for other books that weren’t on the list, hoping to deepen her knowledge.

Illustration of a woman walking into a book: Moby Dick

Over the years, the Fryes, who chose not to have children, moved around a lot, living in 16 homes in multiple states. Steph buried her mother. She and Gary lost one home, scrimped, saved, and bought another. Gary retired as the property manager for a hospital in Portland, Oregon. Then Steph retired as an office manager for a dentist.

Through it all, the reading list was a constant in her life, traveling with her even on vacations so she could refer to it while prowling flea markets and used bookstores for the next book on the list. (She never bought the books in advance; she looked for the title only when it was the next one up.) When the original list wore out, she typed up a new copy. And then another.

“Finding the next book on the list was fun, like a treasure hunt,” says Steph. Whenever she couldn’t find a used copy of a book, she’d mark the title with a dash. If she couldn’t find it in the library, she’d use a circle. While she kept looking, she’d read other books that weren’t on the list.

“The only book I skipped over was the Bible,” says Steph. “I’d read parts of it during my life, and I figured I’d eventually get to it. Then 9/11 happened. That very day I began reading the Bible, and I read it from start to finish. I wanted to get a better understanding of mankind.”

Illustration of a woman walking out of a book: Mill Floss

Unlike many people who crack open a book in bed before it’s time to sleep, Steph prefers to read while sitting in a chair with a cup of coffee by her side. She doesn’t race through a book, as she wants to savor the experience.

“Reading these books is an emotional and intellectual experience,” she says. “What am I going to discover? How will my heart change?”

Her favorite from the list was The Human Comedy by William Saroyan. It’s about a fatherless boy growing up during World War II. “It made me think and feel. It’s heartwarming. I’ve read it three times,” she says.

Her least favorite: Karl Marx’s critique of capitalism, Capital (Das Kapital). Her critique: “It’s so dry. Reading it was like working on a complicated math problem.”

The list goes on

Now Steph is 70, and she never did get to college. But she has only four books left to read from the list. She expects to complete them sometime in 2023.

“Each of the books has added something to who I am and how I see the world,” she says. “They’ve opened so many doors for me about race, the environment, history, and politics. I’m no expert, but I now have the background to see why things happened and what it might mean.”

She wishes she could thank Mrs. Clark. She wishes she could share with her teacher how reading the works on her list has changed her life.

How Reading Taught One Woman About Life Quote 2

In Madame Curie, the author, Eve Curie, writes: “Each of us must work for his own improvement, and at the same time share a general responsibility for all humanity, our particular duty being to aid those to whom we think we can be most useful.”

The way Steph Frye sees it, Mrs. Clark felt it was her particular duty to help young students navigate a changing and ever more complicated world. And thanks to a simple classroom handout, at least one young woman who couldn’t afford college was the better for it.

“It was never just a list I got from some teacher in school,” says Steph. “It’s always been Mrs. Clark’s Book List.”

Next, read about this teacher’s genius strategy for addressing students’ mental health.

See Mrs. Clark's Book List

Each June, communities across the globe celebrate Pride Month—a time to spotlight the LGBTQ+ community, recognize its contributions, and raise awareness about the issues it faces today. Pride celebrations have been around for decades, and there’s more than one way to celebrate all month long. You can attend jubilant parades and proudly wave LGBTQ flags, volunteer with LGBTQ+ charities, support LGBTQ-owned businesses, read inspiring LGBTQ quotes that highlight the struggles and triumphs of the movement, and dedicate time to learn more about the LGBTQ+ community as a whole.

Pride is a meaningful month for the community—but what exactly does the history of Pride Month entail? Well, to answer that, we have to go back to New York City in the 1960s—when an incident at a gay bar sparked a movement.

What is the history of Pride Month?

The catalyst for Pride Month started in 1969 Manhattan with the Stonewall Riots, also referred to as the Stonewall Uprising. At the center of those riots was the Stonewall Inn, purchased by the Genovese Mafia family in 1966 and opened the following year as a gay bar. It was one of the few in New York City that welcomed drag queens and allowed dancing, and homeless gay runaways sought refuge there night after night.

Police raids were regular, as they were for other gay bars in the city, but for a quid pro quo $1,200 monthly payment by the owners, the cops would tip them off beforehand so they could hide the booze being sold illegally (Stonewall had no liquor license). However, on the night of June 28, 1969, the police showed up at Stonewall without warning. They physically assaulted customers and arrested 13 employees and patrons who were in violation of liquor laws and a New York statute requiring gender-appropriate clothing to be worn in public.

“The police came in, and they tell me: ‘What are you doing here?’ I said, ‘Well, I came in here to just see a friend.’ They said, ‘Get out of here!’” transgender activist Judy Bowen, who had just finished her shift at a nearby dance club, told PBS in 2019. “So, as soon as I got outside, they locked the door, and then I started hearing screams of people being beaten. Those things you do not forget.”

This night, though, the 200 or so patrons weren’t going down easily. Perhaps emboldened by the civil rights movement of the 1950s and early ’60s that had resulted in the Civil Rights Act of 1964, they fought back, throwing bottles and bricks. The cops barricaded themselves inside the bar and called for backup as the crowd outside tossed makeshift firebombs at the barricade. A few officers were injured that night and several protesters required medical treatment, but no one died or was critically wounded.

Although the police managed to disperse the crowd after about an hour, and the fire department put out the fires, the events of that night set off days of protests. Thousands joined in, and the demonstrations spread to nearby Christopher Square and neighboring streets, with occasional bursts of violence flaring up. While the riots didn’t immediately change anything for the LGBTQ community, it was a galvanizing force that inspired them to seek true equality.

While the Stonewall Riots are the most famous examples of the LGBTQ+ community taking a stand, there were several LGBTQ+ uprisings that predated Stonewall. They include:

  • The Cooper Do-Nuts Riot (Los Angeles, 1958)
  • Dewey’s Sit-In (Philadelphia, 1965)
  • Compton’s Cafeteria Riot (San Francisco, 1966)

LGBTQ+ in History and Culture

When did Pride Month begin?

Another key moment in Pride Month history came in 1970, on the first anniversary of the Stonewall Riots. That’s when thousands of people marched from the Stonewall Inn to Central Park for Christopher Street Liberation Day, the first gay pride parade in the United States. Thousands were inspired by the march, and as such, Pride celebrations grew within the United States and abroad. It grew so much that in 2000, then-president Bill Clinton declared June as Gay and Lesbian Pride Month; former president Barack Obama updated it to Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month in 2011.

Pride Month, celebrated in June each year, is a time to celebrate the LGBTQ+ community, commemorate the progress that’s been made, and reflect on what still needs to be done. One way to celebrate is to read up on LGBTQ+ history and stories from the community—like the ones below.

Pride Month Must-Reads

Sources:

  • History.com: “Stonewall Riots”
  • History.com: “How Dressing in Drag Was Labeled a Crime in the 20th Century”
  • PBS: “Why Did the Mafia Own the Bar?”
  • PBS: “What Stonewall means to the people who were there”
  • Library of Congress: “About Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer Pride Month”
  • University of Central Florida: “Why Do We Celebrate Pride Month in June and LGBT History Month in October?”
  • History.com: “7 LGBTQ Uprisings Before Stonewall”

Each June, communities across the globe celebrate Pride Month—a time to spotlight the LGBTQ+ community, recognize its contributions, and raise awareness about the issues it faces today. Pride celebrations have been around for decades, and there’s more than one way to celebrate all month long. You can attend jubilant parades and proudly wave LGBTQ flags, volunteer with LGBTQ+ charities, support LGBTQ-owned businesses, read inspiring LGBTQ quotes that highlight the struggles and triumphs of the movement, and dedicate time to learn more about the LGBTQ+ community as a whole.

Pride is a meaningful month for the community—but what exactly does the history of Pride Month entail? Well, to answer that, we have to go back to New York City in the 1960s—when an incident at a gay bar sparked a movement in bar.

What is the history of Pride Month?

The catalyst for Pride Month started in 1969 Manhattan with the Stonewall Riots, also referred to as the Stonewall Uprising. At the center of those riots was the Stonewall Inn, purchased by the Genovese Mafia family in 1966 and opened the following year as a gay bar. It was one of the few in New York City that welcomed drag queens and allowed dancing, and homeless gay runaways sought refuge there night after night.

Police raids were regular, as they were for other gay bars in the city, but for a quid pro quo $1,200 monthly payment by the owners, the cops would tip them off beforehand so they could hide the booze being sold illegally (Stonewall had no liquor license). However, on the night of June 28, 1969, the police showed up at Stonewall without warning. They physically assaulted customers and arrested 13 employees and patrons who were in violation of liquor laws and a New York statute requiring gender-appropriate clothing to be worn in public.

“The police came in, and they tell me: ‘What are you doing here?’ I said, ‘Well, I came in here to just see a friend.’ They said, ‘Get out of here!’” transgender activist Judy Bowen, who had just finished her shift at a nearby dance club, told PBS in 2019. “So, as soon as I got outside, they locked the door, and then I started hearing screams of people being beaten. Those things you do not forget.”

This night, though, the 200 or so patrons weren’t going down easily. Perhaps emboldened by the civil rights movement of the 1950s and early ’60s that had resulted in the Civil Rights Act of 1964, they fought back, throwing bottles and bricks. The cops barricaded themselves inside the bar and called for backup as the crowd outside tossed makeshift firebombs at the barricade. A few officers were injured that night and several protesters required medical treatment, but no one died or was critically wounded.

Although the police managed to disperse the crowd after about an hour, and the fire department put out the fires, the events of that night set off days of protests. Thousands joined in, and the demonstrations spread to nearby Christopher Square and neighboring streets, with occasional bursts of violence flaring up. While the riots didn’t immediately change anything for the LGBTQ community, it was a galvanizing force that inspired them to seek true equality.

While the Stonewall Riots are the most famous examples of the LGBTQ+ community taking a stand, there were several LGBTQ+ uprisings that predated Stonewall. They include:

  • The Cooper Do-Nuts Riot (Los Angeles, 1958)
  • Dewey’s Sit-In (Philadelphia, 1965)
  • Compton’s Cafeteria Riot (San Francisco, 1966)

LGBTQ+ in History and Culture

When did Pride Month begin?

Another key moment in Pride Month history came in 1970, on the first anniversary of the Stonewall Riots. That’s when thousands of people marched from the Stonewall Inn to Central Park for Christopher Street Liberation Day, the first gay pride parade in the United States. Thousands were inspired by the march, and as such, Pride celebrations grew within the United States and abroad. It grew so much that in 2000, then-president Bill Clinton declared June as Gay and Lesbian Pride Month; former president Barack Obama updated it to Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month in 2011.

Pride Month, celebrated in June each year, is a time to celebrate the LGBTQ+ community, commemorate the progress that’s been made, and reflect on what still needs to be done. One way to celebrate is to read up on LGBTQ+ history and stories from the community—like the ones below.

Pride Month Must-Reads

Sources:

  • History.com: “Stonewall Riots”
  • History.com: “How Dressing in Drag Was Labeled a Crime in the 20th Century”
  • PBS: “Why Did the Mafia Own the Bar?”
  • PBS: “What Stonewall means to the people who were there”
  • Library of Congress: “About Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer Pride Month”
  • University of Central Florida: “Why Do We Celebrate Pride Month in June and LGBT History Month in October?”
  • History.com: “7 LGBTQ Uprisings Before Stonewall”

Each June, communities across the globe celebrate Pride Month—a time to spotlight the LGBTQ+ community, recognize its contributions, and raise awareness about the issues it faces today. Pride celebrations have been around for decades, and there’s more than one way to celebrate all month long. You can attend jubilant parades and proudly wave LGBTQ flags, volunteer with LGBTQ+ charities, support LGBTQ-owned businesses, read inspiring LGBTQ quotes that highlight the struggles and triumphs of the movement, and dedicate time to learn more about the LGBTQ+ community as a whole.

Pride is a meaningful month for the community—but what exactly does the history of Pride Month entail? Well, to answer that, we have to go back to New York City in the 1960s—when an incident at a gay bar sparked a movement in bar.

What is the history of Pride Month?

The catalyst for Pride Month started in 1969 Manhattan with the Stonewall Riots, also referred to as the Stonewall Uprising. At the center of those riots was the Stonewall Inn, purchased by the Genovese Mafia family in 1966 and opened the following year as a gay bar. It was one of the few in New York City that welcomed drag queens and allowed dancing, and homeless gay runaways sought refuge there night after night.

Police raids were regular, as they were for other gay bars in the city, but for a quid pro quo $1,200 monthly payment by the owners, the cops would tip them off beforehand so they could hide the booze being sold illegally (Stonewall had no liquor license). However, on the night of June 28, 1969, the police showed up at Stonewall without warning. They physically assaulted customers and arrested 13 employees and patrons who were in violation of liquor laws and a New York statute requiring gender-appropriate clothing to be worn in public.

“The police came in, and they tell me: ‘What are you doing here?’ I said, ‘Well, I came in here to just see a friend.’ They said, ‘Get out of here!’” transgender activist Judy Bowen, who had just finished her shift at a nearby dance club, told PBS in 2019. “So, as soon as I got outside, they locked the door, and then I started hearing screams of people being beaten. Those things you do not forget.”

This night, though, the 200 or so patrons weren’t going down easily. Perhaps emboldened by the civil rights movement of the 1950s and early ’60s that had resulted in the Civil Rights Act of 1964, they fought back, throwing bottles and bricks. The cops barricaded themselves inside the bar and called for backup as the crowd outside tossed makeshift firebombs at the barricade. A few officers were injured that night and several protesters required medical treatment, but no one died or was critically wounded.

Although the police managed to disperse the crowd after about an hour, and the fire department put out the fires, the events of that night set off days of protests. Thousands joined in, and the demonstrations spread to nearby Christopher Square and neighboring streets, with occasional bursts of violence flaring up. While the riots didn’t immediately change anything for the LGBTQ community, it was a galvanizing force that inspired them to seek true equality.

While the Stonewall Riots are the most famous examples of the LGBTQ+ community taking a stand, there were several LGBTQ+ uprisings that predated Stonewall. They include:

  • The Cooper Do-Nuts Riot (Los Angeles, 1958)
  • Dewey’s Sit-In (Philadelphia, 1965)
  • Compton’s Cafeteria Riot (San Francisco, 1966)

LGBTQ+ in History and Culture

When did Pride Month begin?

Another key moment in Pride Month history came in 1970, on the first anniversary of the Stonewall Riots. That’s when thousands of people marched from the Stonewall Inn to Central Park for Christopher Street Liberation Day, the first gay pride parade in the United States. Thousands were inspired by the march, and as such, Pride celebrations grew within the United States and abroad. It grew so much that in 2000, then-president Bill Clinton declared June as Gay and Lesbian Pride Month; former president Barack Obama updated it to Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month in 2011.

Pride Month, celebrated in June each year, is a time to celebrate the LGBTQ+ community, commemorate the progress that’s been made, and reflect on what still needs to be done. One way to celebrate is to read up on LGBTQ+ history and stories from the community—like the ones below.

Pride Month Must-Reads

Sources:

  • History.com: “Stonewall Riots”
  • History.com: “How Dressing in Drag Was Labeled a Crime in the 20th Century”
  • PBS: “Why Did the Mafia Own the Bar?”
  • PBS: “What Stonewall means to the people who were there”
  • Library of Congress: “About Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer Pride Month”
  • University of Central Florida: “Why Do We Celebrate Pride Month in June and LGBT History Month in October?”
  • History.com: “7 LGBTQ Uprisings Before Stonewall”

grocery store scene with portrait of Sharita M Humphrey

Households across the country are feeling the financial squeeze of higher grocery prices. American families are dealing with food shortages and the highest inflation numbers at the grocery store that we’ve seen in 40 years. Everything from bacon and eggs to bread and juice costs a lot more than it did last year.

Rising grocery prices can put anyone’s budget—even a financial expert’s—under stress. Sharita M. Humphrey, Houston-based Certified Financial Educator and founder of Sharita M. Humphrey Consulting, knew it was time to take action when higher grocery bills threatened to stall her big financial goals.

Setting goals

As a financial educator, Humphrey has dedicated her life to helping women and small business owners reach their goals. But as much as she loves helping others conquer the financial stresses in their lives, there’s another area that this working mom is even more passionate about—her family.

Love for family has inspired Humphrey to shoot for the stars in many ways. Her most audacious goal is to retire early. “Financial and time freedom are important to me,” Humphrey says, “because I have a goal to retire by December 2029.”

If left unchecked, inflation could threaten to derail, or at least slow down, Humphrey’s financial goals. So this mom and business owner decided to take some actions to offset the damage that a higher grocery bill was doing to her budget.

(Psst: Learn more about the women-owned businesses we love.)

Saving money on groceries

These smart strategies helped Humphrey save $4,800 on groceries in one year.

Change #1: Buying in bulk

Monthly savings: $250

If you’re careful with your shopping choices, buying in bulk could save you both money and time. This savings potential is why wholesale warehouse clubs are so popular.

Humphrey decided to put this theory to the test and started buying staples, snack items, detergents, and more in bulk at her local Sam’s Club and Costco stores. The adjustment to her shopping habits saved her around $250 per month. Plus, buying strategically in bulk eliminated the need for multiple trips to the grocery store, saving Humphrey valuable time and gas money too.

Change #2: Embracing technology

Monthly savings: $50

Another adjustment that Humphrey made to save money on groceries was the decision to use technology to her advantage. By using two grocery shopping apps, she made some big changes in her food budget.

The Flipp app made it easy for the Houston-based mom to plan meals according to her local grocery deals. Fetch Rewards helped Humphrey earn gift-card bonuses on food purchases that she needed to make anyway. Using these two convenient tools on her mobile phone helped Humphrey rack up a monthly savings of at least $50 (often more). By the way, these are the things money experts tend to buy cheap.

Change #3: Shopping from the pantry

Monthly savings: $100

The final change Humphrey made to her grocery-buying habits was shopping from her own pantry first. This decision saved her around $100 per month. “I would use all or most of the items in my pantry before going to the grocery store.” The working mom watched YouTube videos for inspiration on making new meals from pantry ingredients.

Making the most of the savings

These changes helped Humphrey offset the negative impact inflation was having on her grocery budget. But the newfound grocery shopping habits helped her wind up with extra savings, as well. So Humphrey had the enjoyable task of figuring out how to use the extra money.

“I’ve committed to spending only a small percentage of the extra savings,” she says. “I treat myself to a monthly facial, an item on my shopping wish list, and a weekend road trip once a quarter.”

Starting your own savings plan

If you’re interested in cutting your food budget like Humphrey did, consider making these grocery shopping changes, as well. The financial coach also suggests doing a spending audit. “I would encourage you to review your bank statements for the last 30 to 60 days to see how much you’re eating out,” she says. “Reducing dining-out purchases can help put money back into your monthly grocery budget.” Humphrey also recommends using cash to avoid overspending on food purchases and planning meals around deals at your local grocery stores.

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