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9 Ways Facebook Is Changing People's Lives

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Facebook has over 800 million users, and researchers and pollsters have been busy studying them. Here are some of the ways the site is impacting people's lives and changing their behavior.

1. You Might Be Addicted

If you're on Facebook, could you go 24 hours without checking your page? According to polls, 80% of users couldn’t. And for a little over a third of the site’s users, it's even worse. One study found that the need to check your Facebook page is more powerful than an addiction to alcohol or cigarettes, and says many of the site's users suffer from "Facebook Addiction Disorder." One psychiatrist says symptoms include letting Facebook interfere with your sleep or work, spending more than one hour a day on the site, and being filled with fear or panic at the thought of deleting your account.

2. It Makes You Jealous

When polled, a majority of people admit to snooping on their significant other through social media. And while there is nothing wrong with checking out your partner’s page, easy access to what he or she is saying—and to whom—has been shown to lead to increased jealousy in relationships. In one study, 35% of the people surveyed said that Facebook directly contributed to their feelings of jealousy. And it’s not all paranoia, sometimes users are finding things to get jealous about: 1 in 5 American divorce petitions and 1 in 3 in the UK now cite Facebook as contributing to the end of the relationship. In fact, it is so common that according to various reports divorce lawyers now request access to a client’s estranged spouse’s Facebook page as a matter of course.

3. It Makes You a Better Employee

While many employers are blocking their workers’ access to social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter, studies have shown that people who use Facebook at work are actually up to 9% more productive than people who don't. Short breaks to do what you want online allow your brain to zone out for a little bit, making you better able to concentrate afterwards.

4. It Can Make You Unhappy...

Most people use social networks to talk about the positives in their lives. And that’s fine, but it is leaving out a large part of their day-to-day reality. So when you are constantly viewing pictures of your friends happy and smiling (as someone usually does when a camera is pointed at them), Facebook users start to feel that others feel this sense of happiness all the time.

Since you are only seeing the good part of a hundred or more people’s lives, you may end up feeling increasingly upset about the problems in your own life, which, at least according to their pages, none of your friends have. Over the long term, studies have shown this makes Facebook users feel that life is unfair. In some extreme cases, Facebook use has been directly tied to depression.

5. ...or it Can Boost Your Self Esteem

But wait, didn’t we just say using Facebook makes you unhappy? It turns out it depends which part of the site you are visiting at the time. While looking at other people's Facebook pages can make you depressed, looking at your own can actually boost your self-esteem, at least in the short term. Having all the best information about you in one place increases your self-assurance, and actually editing your profile makes you even happier.

6. It Makes Your Friends Not Like You

While many people post only the good things in their life, everyone has a friend or two who posts about how their world is falling apart numerous times a day. Hey, we all go through bad times, and Facebook is a legitimate way to share those feelings. But be warned: studies show those people who do post unhappy statuses regularly are more likely to be seen as whiny and annoying by their Facebook friends. Since less secure people tend to be the ones posting negative status updates, this annoyed response from others just contributes to the problem.

7. It Makes You Feel Fat

It's probably no surprise that 75% of Facebook users say they are unhappy with their body since most people have something they don’t like about themselves, but 51% of those people say that their body image issues worsened thanks to Facebook. It seems that seeing photos of yourself posted by others, photos that might not be as flattering as the ones you would post yourself, makes those flaws you try to hide seem magnified. Knowing your friends are always on the verge of whipping out their phone and taking a picture also leads to some people feeling that they need to be "camera ready" at all times, or just avoiding cameras altogether.

8. It Stresses You Out

The point of Facebook is to connect with friends, but friend requests stress people out, no matter which side of the request you are on. One study found that 63% of people delay replying to friend requests. More than three in 10 said rejecting friend requests made them feel guilty, while 12% disliked receiving any friend requests at all. For people whose requests are rejected, another study found that they felt just as much pain and sadness from the snub as they would in a real life situation even though it was "only" online.

9. It’s Replacing a Time-Honored Tradition

For decades it’s been a trope for TV and movies: after having, ahem, relations with someone, you share a cigarette. Even if you don’t smoke, you’d expect to spoon for a while, but these post-coital rituals are being replaced with updating Facebook. Not about what you just did (we hope), but 36% of people under the age of 35 polled admit that they post something on Facebook or Twitter right after sex. Men and iPhone users are the most likely to exhibit this behavior.

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10 Memorable Neil deGrasse Tyson Quotes
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Neil deGrasse Tyson is America's preeminent badass astrophysicist. He's a passionate advocate for science, NASA, and education. He's also well-known for a little incident involving Pluto. And the man holds nearly 20 honorary doctorates (in addition to his real one). In honor of his 59th birthday, here are 10 of our favorite Neil deGrasse Tyson quotes.


"The good thing about science is that it's true whether or not you believe in it."
—From Real Time with Bill Maher.


"As a fraction of your tax dollar today, what is the total cost of all spaceborne telescopes, planetary probes, the rovers on Mars, the International Space Station, the space shuttle, telescopes yet to orbit, and missions yet to fly?' Answer: one-half of one percent of each tax dollar. Half a penny. I’d prefer it were more: perhaps two cents on the dollar. Even during the storied Apollo era, peak NASA spending amounted to little more than four cents on the tax dollar." 
—From Space Chronicles


"Once upon a time, people identified the god Neptune as the source of storms at sea. Today we call these storms hurricanes ... The only people who still call hurricanes acts of God are the people who write insurance forms."
—From Death by Black Hole


"Countless women are alive today because of ideas stimulated by a design flaw in the Hubble Space Telescope." (Editor's note: technology used to repair the Hubble Space Telescope's optical problems led to improved technology for breast cancer detection.)
—From Space Chronicles



"I knew Pluto was popular among elementary schoolkids, but I had no idea they would mobilize into a 'Save Pluto' campaign. I now have a drawer full of hate letters from hundreds of elementary schoolchildren (with supportive cover letters from their science teachers) pleading with me to reverse my stance on Pluto. The file includes a photograph of the entire third grade of a school posing on their front steps and holding up a banner proclaiming, 'Dr. Tyson—Pluto is a Planet!'"
—From The Sky Is Not the Limit


"In [Titanic], the stars above the ship bear no correspondence to any constellations in a real sky. Worse yet, while the heroine bobs ... we are treated to her view of this Hollywood sky—one where the stars on the right half of the scene trace the mirror image of the stars in the left half. How lazy can you get?"
—From Death by Black Hole


"On Friday the 13th, April 2029, an asteroid large enough to fill the Rose Bowl as though it were an egg cup will fly so close to Earth that it will dip below the altitude of our communication satellites. We did not name this asteroid Bambi. Instead, we named it Apophis, after the Egyptian god of darkness and death."
—From Space Chronicles


"[L]et us not fool ourselves into thinking we went to the Moon because we are pioneers, or discoverers, or adventurers. We went to the Moon because it was the militaristically expedient thing to do."
—From The Sky Is Not the Limit


Perhaps we've never been visited by aliens because they have looked upon Earth and decided there's no sign of intelligent life.
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Perhaps we've never been visited by aliens because they have looked upon Earth and decided there's no sign of intelligent life.
Read more at:

"Perhaps we've never been visited by aliens because they have looked upon Earth and decided there's no sign of intelligent life."


A still from Steven Spielberg's E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial
Universal Studios
"[I]f an alien lands on your front lawn and extends an appendage as a gesture of greeting, before you get friendly, toss it an eightball. If the appendage explodes, then the alien was probably made of antimatter. If not, then you can proceed to take it to your leader."
—From Death by Black Hole
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40 Fun Facts About Sesame Street
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Now in its 47th season, Sesame Street is one of television's most iconic programs—and it's not just for kids. We're big fans of the Street, and to prove it, here are some of our favorite Sesame facts from previous stories and our Amazing Fact Generator.

Sesame Workshop

1. Oscar the Grouch used to be orange. Jim Henson decided to make him green before season two.

2. How did Oscar explain the color change? He said he went on vacation to the very damp Swamp Mushy Muddy and turned green overnight.

3. During a 2004 episode, Cookie Monster said that before he started eating cookies, his name was Sid.

4. In 1980, C-3PO and R2-D2 visited Sesame Street. They played games, sang songs, and R2-D2 fell in love with a fire hydrant.

5. Mr. Snuffleupagus has a first name—Aloysius

6. Ralph Nader stopped by in 1988 and sang "a consumer advocate is a person in your neighborhood."

7. Caroll Spinney said he based Oscar's voice on a cab driver from the Bronx who brought him to the audition.

8. In 1970, Ernie reached #16 on the Billboard Hot 100 with the timeless hit "Rubber Duckie."

9. One of Count von Count's lady friends is Countess von Backwards, who's also obsessed with counting but likes to do it backwards.

10. Sesame Street made its Afghanistan debut in 2011 with Baghch-e-Simsim (Sesame Garden). Big Bird, Grover and Elmo are involved.

11. According to Muppet Wiki, Oscar the Grouch and Count von Count were minimized on Baghch-e-Simsim "due to cultural taboos against trash and vampirism."

12. Before Giancarlo Esposito was Breaking Bad's super intense Gus Fring, he played Big Bird's camp counselor Mickey in 1982.

13. Thankfully, those episodes are available on YouTube.

14. How big is Big Bird? 8'2". (Pictured with First Lady Pat Nixon.)

15. In 2002, the South African version (Takalani Sesame) added an HIV-positive Muppet named Kami.

16. Six Republicans on the House Commerce Committee wrote a letter to PBS president Pat Mitchell warning that Kami was not appropriate for American children, and reminded Mitchell that their committee controlled PBS' funding.

17. Sesame Street's resident game show host Guy Smiley was using a pseudonym. His real name was Bernie Liederkrantz.

18. Bert and Ernie have been getting questioned about their sexuality for years. Ernie himself, as performed by Steve Whitmere, has weighed in: “All that stuff about me and Bert? It’s not true. We’re both very happy, but we’re not gay,”

19. A few years later, Bert (as performed by Eric Jacobson) answered the same question by saying, “No, no. In fact, sometimes we are not even friends; he can be a pain in the neck.”

20. In the first season, both Superman and Batman appeared in short cartoons produced by Filmation. In one clip, Batman told Bert and Ernie to stop arguing and take turns choosing what’s on TV.

21. In another segment, Superman battled a giant chimp.

22. Telly was originally "Television Monster," a TV-obsessed Muppet whose eyes whirled around as he watched.

23. According to Sesame Workshop, Elmo is the only non-human to testify before Congress.

24. He lobbied for more funding for music education, so that "when Elmo goes to school, there will be the instruments to play."

25. In the early 1990s, soon after Jim Henson’s passing, a rumor circulated that Ernie would be killed off in order to teach children about death, as they'd done with Mr. Hooper.

26. According to Snopes, the rumor may have spread thanks to New Hampshire college student, Michael Tabor, who convinced his graduating class to wear “Save Ernie” beanies and sign a petition to persuade Sesame Workshop to let Ernie live.

27. By the time Tabor was corrected, the newspapers had already picked up the story.

28. Sesame Street’s Executive Producer Carol-Lynn Parente joined Sesame Workshop as a production assistant and has worked her way to the top.

29. Originally, Count von Count was more sinister. He could hypnotize and stun people.

30. According to Sesame Workshop, all Sesame Street's main Muppets have four fingers except Cookie Monster, who has five.

31. The episode with Mr. Hooper's funeral aired on Thanksgiving Day in 1983. That date was chosen because families were more likely to be together at that time, in case kids had questions or needed emotional support.

32. Mr. Hooper’s first name was Harold.

33. Big Bird sang "Bein' Green" at Jim Henson's memorial service.

34. As Chris Higgins put it, the performance was "devastating."

35. Oscar's Israeli counterpart is Moishe Oofnik, whose last name means “grouch” in Hebrew.

36. Nigeria's version of Cookie Monster eats yams. His catchphrase: "ME WANT YAM!"

37. Sesame's Roosevelt Franklin ran a school, where he spoke in scat and taught about Africa. Some parents hated him, so in 1975 he got the boot, only to inspire Gob Bluth’s racist puppet Franklin on Arrested Development 28 years later.

38. Our good friend and contributor Eddie Deezen was the voice of Donnie Dodo in the 1985 classic Follow That Bird.

39. Cookie Monster evolved from The Wheel-Stealer—a snack-pilfering puppet Jim Henson created to promote Wheels, Crowns and Flutes in the 1960s.

40. This puppet later was seen eating a computer in an IBM training film and on The Ed Sullivan Show.

Thanks to Stacy Conradt, Joe Hennes, Drew Toal, and Chris Higgins for their previous Sesame coverage!

An earlier version of this article appeared in 2012.


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