Habits: How to be successful every day
Habits are easier to hack and change when you understand how they work.
GRETCHEN RUBIN: The key thing about a habit really comes down to decision-making because sometimes people think about it's something that you do repeatedly, or you know, it unfolds over time. But really the key thing about a habit is that you're not making a decision. You're not deciding whether to brush your teeth. You're not deciding whether to use a seatbelt. You're not deciding whether to go to the gym first thing in the morning. You've already decided, and the advantage of a habit is that once something's on automatic pilot, then the brain doesn't have to use any energy, or willpower to make a decision. You've already made that decision. You're just moving forward. And so, it happens easily without any thought, without any willpower, without any effort. You're just on cruise control, and then you can do what you wanna get done. Habit is like the invisible architecture of everyday life. Research shows that something like 40% of what we do every day we do in pretty much the same way and in the same context. So it's easy to see that if you have habits that work for you, you're much more likely to be happier, healthy, and more productive. If you have habits that don't work for you, it's really gonna drag you down, because such a big part of our days is taken up by habits.
CHARLES DUHIGG: And this gets to the way that habits work, which is that there's this thing called the habit loop. There's three parts to it. There's first a cue, which is a trigger for a behavior, and then the behavior itself, which we usually refer to as a routine, or scientists refer to as routine, and then there's the reward, and the reward is actually why the habit happens in the first place. It's how your brain sort of decides should I remember this pattern for the future or not? And the cue and the reward become neurologically intertwined until a sense of craving emerges that drives your behavior. And this actually explains so much of our lives, and not only our lives, but also how companies function.
DAN ARIELY: So what happened is that the world around us is designed to tempt us. You know, one of the principles from behavioral economics is choice architecture, the idea that we, when we are placed in an environment, we make decisions as a function of the environment we're in. Think about the environment that we're in. What is it about? Is it about our long-term health? Or is it about the short-term profits of that environment? You walk down the street, there's a coffee shop. What does this coffee shop want? They want you to be healthy in 30 years from now, or do you want them to, they, do they want you to buy another coffee right now? Dunkin' Donuts, what is their optimization function? Are they trying to get you to be healthy in 20 years, or to buy another donut now? Your cell phone, what is it trying to do, to get you to be a productive citizen in two years, or to check your phone a couple of more times today? So what happened is that we are in an environment that tempts us all the time. These temptations are only increasing, and because of that, we fail.
RUBIN: One of the mysteries of habits is why do we persist in having bad habits when we know they're not good for us, when they know they don't make us happy? But you know, there's usually multiple things going. Maybe it's what you want right this minute versus what you want on the long-term. Or maybe you want two things that are in conflict.
JULIA GALEF: One example of rationality in action, just to give you a sense of what it looks like, and how it's relevant, back in 1985, Intel had a large foot in the memory chip manufacturing business, and they'd been losing money on memory chips for years. So the two co-founders, Andy Grove and Gordon Moore, met to figure out what to do. And at one point, Andy asked, "What do you think a new CEO would do if the board kicked us out and brought in a new CEO?" And without hesitating, Gordon replied, "Oh he would get out of the memory business." And Andy said, "Well, so is there any reason we shouldn't do that, if we just walk out the door and come back in, and switch out of the memory business?" And in fact, that's exactly what they decided to do, and it was a huge success. And this is just one example of a cognitive bias that appears in lots of contexts and lots of scales called the commitment effect, where we stick with a business plan, or a career, or a relationship long after it's become quite clear that it's not doing anything for us, or that it's actively destructive, or self-destructive, because we have an irrational commitment to whatever we have been doing for a while, because we don't like the idea of our past investment having gone to waste, or because it's become part of our identity. And the technique that Andy and Gordon used to snap themselves out of their commitment effect is also a really generally useful technique called looking at a problem as if you were an outsider, or an outside party.
ARIELY: So here's what happens. When you think about your own life, you're trapped within your own perspective. You're trapped within your own emotions and feelings and so on. But if you give advice to somebody else, all of a sudden you're not trapped within that emotional combination mishmash complexity, and you can give advice that is more forward-looking, and not so specific to the emotions.
RUBIN: So when you have a bad habit, it's very helpful to think very clearly 'What do I really want over the long-term? What's really most important to me?' And that can help you fight back against the pull, the gravitational pull, that a bad habit can exert.
PENN JILLETTE: I was probably over 340, certainly around there. And now as I sit here in front of you I'm probably about 232. There's a fluctuation of a couple pounds that goes back and forth. It's a lot of weight. I did not lose it for vanity. I was pretty happy with myself fat. I didn't mind being fat. Wasn't a big deal to me. I didn't mind how I looked. But my health was getting bad. I didn't even mind how I felt very much, didn't mind, you know, not being energetic and stuff, but I started having blood pressure that was stupid high, like you know, the English voltage, like 220, even on blood pressure medicine. And I have two young children. I'm an old dad. My children, my daughter was born when I was 50. And now that I'm lighter, I feel lighter and I feel happier. And you know, there's a chance, my chances of living longer for my children have gone up considerably. You know, I lost my mom and dad when I was 45, and a year of my life was in deep, deep mourning, you know? And there's a very good chance my children will have to go through losing their dad, and I'd much rather they do that when they're a little older than having to do that when they're 15. It turns out that being with my children was more important to me than chocolate cake.
ADAM ALTER: If you look at life as a series of goals, which for many of us it is, it's a period of being unsuccessful in achieving the goal, then hitting the goal, then feeling like you haven't really got much from that goal, and going to the next one. Goals generally, I think, are in many ways broken processes. I think part of the problem with goals is that they don't tell you how to get to where you're going. A better thing to do is to use a system. So the idea behind a system rather than a goal is that a system is saying things like I'm a writer, my goal is to finish writing this book, but I'm not gonna think about it that way. Eventually, I'll have 100,000 words, but what my system will be that for an hour every morning I will sit in front of my computer screen, and I will type. It doesn't matter what that looks like. I'm not going to evaluate the number of words. I'm not gonna set some benchmarks, some artificial number or benchmark that I should reach. What I'm gonna do is just say here's my system, an hour a day in front of the screen, will do what I can, bam. And the thing is every time you set a system and you stick to it, you're achieving something. Instead of a goal that you're failing essentially for long periods of time until you reach the goal, you're succeeding every day, as long as you adhere to your system, and you end up getting to the same place, but that framing is so much more effective. It gives you the kind of positive feedback you seek. And a system is kind of geared towards psychological well-being. This is the thing I need to do to feel good about the way I'm moving through the world towards whatever end state I'm looking for. Goals don't do that. They just set signposts that you're supposed to look at from afar and move towards. Systems are a much more useful way of engaging with the world towards certain ends and certain outcomes.
SYLVIA TARA: You have to kind of build these self-control muscles, these habits, if you will, make it part of your lifestyle, so that it's automatic. It's not a big effort for you anymore. And so, you can start small. Start with small things. Make them a habit, and then build up to bigger things. There's also something called temptation bundling. And so, we can pair a want activity with a should activity. No one really wants to do a should activity all the time. It is a muscle, and even willpower, you have to give it a little bit of a break. And so, when people do a should activity all the time, they get fatigued, and they show healthcare workers, they're supposed to wash their hands all day, and they start doing it less at the end of the day. And so, when they give them longer breaks in between their shift, they find that they'll continue to do it. They'll wash their hands through to the end of the day. And so, it's important to take the breaks, engineer in a break into this long-term regimen that you have.
DUHIGG: Once a habit exists, you can't just quelch it. You can't, you can't pretend it's not there. You have to accommodate this need in your life. And so, the answer is to give yourself five minutes every hour. In fact, you can set an alarm at the end of every hour. Give yourself five minutes to surf the web, because if you allow yourself five minutes every hour, it won't explode into 45 minutes, because you've been trying to suppress it.
RUBIN: It's very important to know what a treat is. A treat is not a reward. It's not something that you get because you earned it. You don't have to justify it. A treat is something that you get because you want it, and treats may sound like kind of a selfish, self-indulgent strategy to use. But treats are very important, because the fact is treats help us get self-command. They energize us. They make us feel comforted and cared for. And when we are like that, then we can ask more of ourselves in other ways. So when we give more to ourselves, we can ask more from ourselves, and you often hear people when justifying a bad habit with like, "I need it, I've earned it, I deserve it." So, and a lot of times people go for unhealthy treats, because they feel like they need to recharge their battery. And so, they use an unhealthy treat. But if you load yourself with healthy treats, if you have a large lot of items to choose from—and it's not as easy to come up with a long list of healthy treats as you think—then you're gonna be able to recharge your battery. And there are some treats that are often unhealthy: food treats, technology treats, and shopping treats. A lot of times, these can become unhealthy treats very quickly. So if you use them, you have to be very mindful and use them judiciously and know that they're not gonna spiral out of control for you. One question is whether you're better off trying to do one habit at a time if you're trying to make change, or whether you do many all at once, and like many things with habit formation, there's just no magic answer. There's no one-size-fits-all solution. Some people do better when they start small, when they keep it very simple, and they gain the habit of the habit. They get a feeling of accomplishment, and it's very manageable and realistic, 'cause it's something very small, and it's just one thing. But on the other hand, there are some people who love to go big, that love big transformations, and big challenges. And so, something to do is to think about yourself, and think, well, when have I succeeded in the past, or what appeals more to my nature, and to think about what works for you, because there really isn't one perfect way to change a habit, or to change a bunch of habits.
- Habits, both good and bad, are pre-made decisions that make up around 40 percent of our day and require no real conscious thought. In order to regain control, resist environmental temptations, and reduce your bad habits, it helps to understand the three parts of a habit loop: the cue (or trigger), the behavior itself, and the reward.
- Gretchen Rubin, Dan Ariely, Charles Duhigg, Adam Alter, and others explain how you can successfully hack your habits by shifting away from goal-based achievement markers to system-based processes; learning the difference between rewards and treats; and thinking less about immediate gains and more about long-term benefits.
- Regardless of what some people might try to sell you, there is no "magic answer" when it comes to changing habits, says Rubin. You have to find what works best for you.
- Why Do People Perform Ritual? Harvard Historian Michael Puett ... ›
- Use Behavioral Economics to Trick Yourself into Breaking Bad Habits ›
- To Break Bad Habits, You Must Create New Ones - Big Think ›
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How would the ability to genetically customize children change society? Sci-fi author Eugene Clark explores the future on our horizon in Volume I of the "Genetic Pressure" series.
- A new sci-fi book series called "Genetic Pressure" explores the scientific and moral implications of a world with a burgeoning designer baby industry.
- It's currently illegal to implant genetically edited human embryos in most nations, but designer babies may someday become widespread.
- While gene-editing technology could help humans eliminate genetic diseases, some in the scientific community fear it may also usher in a new era of eugenics.
Tribalism and discrimination<p>One question the "Genetic Pressure" series explores: What would tribalism and discrimination look like in a world with designer babies? As designer babies grow up, they could be noticeably different from other people, potentially being smarter, more attractive and healthier. This could breed resentment between the groups—as it does in the series.</p><p>"[Designer babies] slowly find that 'everyone else,' and even their own parents, becomes less and less tolerable," author Eugene Clark told Big Think. "Meanwhile, everyone else slowly feels threatened by the designer babies."</p><p>For example, one character in the series who was born a designer baby faces discrimination and harassment from "normal people"—they call her "soulless" and say she was "made in a factory," a "consumer product." </p><p>Would such divisions emerge in the real world? The answer may depend on who's able to afford designer baby services. If it's only the ultra-wealthy, then it's easy to imagine how being a designer baby could be seen by society as a kind of hyper-privilege, which designer babies would have to reckon with. </p><p>Even if people from all socioeconomic backgrounds can someday afford designer babies, people born designer babies may struggle with tough existential questions: Can they ever take full credit for things they achieve, or were they born with an unfair advantage? To what extent should they spend their lives helping the less fortunate? </p>
Sexuality dilemmas<p>Sexuality presents another set of thorny questions. If a designer baby industry someday allows people to optimize humans for attractiveness, designer babies could grow up to find themselves surrounded by ultra-attractive people. That may not sound like a big problem.</p><p>But consider that, if designer babies someday become the standard way to have children, there'd necessarily be a years-long gap in which only some people are having designer babies. Meanwhile, the rest of society would be having children the old-fashioned way. So, in terms of attractiveness, society could see increasingly apparent disparities in physical appearances between the two groups. "Normal people" could begin to seem increasingly ugly.</p><p>But ultra-attractive people who were born designer babies could face problems, too. One could be the loss of body image. </p><p>When designer babies grow up in the "Genetic Pressure" series, men look like all the other men, and women look like all the other women. This homogeneity of physical appearance occurs because parents of designer babies start following trends, all choosing similar traits for their children: tall, athletic build, olive skin, etc. </p><p>Sure, facial traits remain relatively unique, but everyone's more or less equally attractive. And this causes strange changes to sexual preferences.</p><p>"In a society of sexual equals, they start looking for other differentiators," he said, noting that violet-colored eyes become a rare trait that genetically engineered humans find especially attractive in the series.</p><p>But what about sexual relationships between genetically engineered humans and "normal" people? In the "Genetic Pressure" series, many "normal" people want to have kids with (or at least have sex with) genetically engineered humans. But a minority of engineered humans oppose breeding with "normal" people, and this leads to an ideology that considers engineered humans to be racially supreme. </p>
Regulating designer babies<p>On a policy level, there are many open questions about how governments might legislate a world with designer babies. But it's not totally new territory, considering the West's dark history of eugenics experiments.</p><p>In the 20th century, the U.S. conducted multiple eugenics programs, including immigration restrictions based on genetic inferiority and forced sterilizations. In 1927, for example, the Supreme Court ruled that forcibly sterilizing the mentally handicapped didn't violate the Constitution. Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendall Holmes wrote, "… three generations of imbeciles are enough." </p><p>After the Holocaust, eugenics programs became increasingly taboo and regulated in the U.S. (though some states continued forced sterilizations <a href="https://www.uvm.edu/~lkaelber/eugenics/" target="_blank">into the 1970s</a>). In recent years, some policymakers and scientists have expressed concerns about how gene-editing technologies could reanimate the eugenics nightmares of the 20th century. </p><p>Currently, the U.S. doesn't explicitly ban human germline genetic editing on the federal level, but a combination of laws effectively render it <a href="https://academic.oup.com/jlb/advance-article/doi/10.1093/jlb/lsaa006/5841599#204481018" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">illegal to implant a genetically modified embryo</a>. Part of the reason is that scientists still aren't sure of the unintended consequences of new gene-editing technologies. </p><p>But there are also concerns that these technologies could usher in a new era of eugenics. After all, the function of a designer baby industry, like the one in the "Genetic Pressure" series, wouldn't necessarily be limited to eliminating genetic diseases; it could also work to increase the occurrence of "desirable" traits. </p><p>If the industry did that, it'd effectively signal that the <em>opposites of those traits are undesirable. </em>As the International Bioethics Committee <a href="https://academic.oup.com/jlb/advance-article/doi/10.1093/jlb/lsaa006/5841599#204481018" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">wrote</a>, this would "jeopardize the inherent and therefore equal dignity of all human beings and renew eugenics, disguised as the fulfillment of the wish for a better, improved life."</p><p><em>"Genetic Pressure Volume I: Baby Steps"</em><em> by Eugene Clark is <a href="http://bigth.ink/38VhJn3" target="_blank">available now.</a></em></p>
A unique exoplanet without clouds or haze was found by astrophysicists from Harvard and Smithsonian.
- Astronomers from Harvard and Smithsonian find a very rare "hot Jupiter" exoplanet without clouds or haze.
- Such planets were formed differently from others and offer unique research opportunities.
- Only one other such exoplanet was found previously.
Munazza Alam – a graduate student at the Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian.
Credit: Jackie Faherty
Jupiter's Colorful Cloud Bands Studied by Spacecraft<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="8a72dfe5b407b584cf867852c36211dc"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/GzUzCesfVuw?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span>
Scientists discover burrows of giant predator worms that lived on the seafloor 20 million years ago.
- Scientists in Taiwan find the lair of giant predator worms that inhabited the seafloor 20 million years ago.
- The worm is possibly related to the modern bobbit worm (Eunice aphroditois).
- The creatures can reach several meters in length and famously ambush their pray.
A three-dimensional model of the feeding behavior of Bobbit worms and the proposed formation of Pennichnus formosae.
Credit: Scientific Reports
Beware the Bobbit Worm!<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="1f9918e77851242c91382369581d3aac"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/_As1pHhyDHY?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span>
A leading British space scientist thinks there is life under the ice sheets of Europa.
- A British scientist named Professor Monica Grady recently came out in support of extraterrestrial life on Europa.
- Europa, the sixth largest moon in the solar system, may have favorable conditions for life under its miles of ice.
- The moon is one of Jupiter's 79.
Neil deGrasse Tyson wants to go ice fishing on Europa<div class="rm-shortcode" data-media_id="GLGsRX7e" data-player_id="FvQKszTI" data-rm-shortcode-id="f4790eb8f0515e036b24c4195299df28"> <div id="botr_GLGsRX7e_FvQKszTI_div" class="jwplayer-media" data-jwplayer-video-src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/GLGsRX7e-FvQKszTI.js"> <img src="https://cdn.jwplayer.com/thumbs/GLGsRX7e-1920.jpg" class="jwplayer-media-preview" /> </div> <script src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/GLGsRX7e-FvQKszTI.js"></script> </div>
Water Vapor Above Europa’s Surface Deteced for First Time<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="9c4abc8473e1b89170cc8941beeb1f2d"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/WQ-E1lnSOzc?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span>
The idea behind the law was simple: make it more difficult for online sex traffickers to find victims.
- SESTA (Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act) and FOSTA (Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act) started as two separate bills that were both created with a singular goal: curb online sex trafficking. They were signed into law by former President Trump in 2018.
- The implementation of this law in America has left an international impact, as websites attempt to protect themselves from liability by closing down the sections of their sites that sex workers use to arrange safe meetings with clientele.
- While supporters of this bill have framed FOSTA-SESTA as a vital tool that could prevent sex trafficking and allow sex trafficking survivors to sue those websites for facilitating their victimization, many other people are strictly against the bill and hope it will be reversed.
What is FOSTA-SESTA?<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="723125b44601d565a7c671c7523b6452"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/WBaqDjPCH8k?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p>SESTA (Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act) and FOSTA (Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act) were signed into law by former President Trump in 2018. There was some argument that this law may be unconstitutional as it could potentially violate the <a href="https://constitution.congress.gov/constitution/amendment-1/" target="_blank">first amendment</a>. A criminal defense lawyer explains this law in-depth in <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RoWx2hYg5uo&t=38s" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">this video</a>. </p><p><strong>What did FOSTA-SESTA aim to accomplish?</strong></p><p>The idea behind the law was simple: make it more difficult for online sex traffickers to find victims. FOSTA-SESTA started as two separate bills that were both created with a singular goal: curb online sex trafficking. Targeting websites like Backpage and Craigslist, where sex workers would often arrange meetings with their clientele, FOSTA-SESTA aimed to stop the illegal sex-trafficking activity being conducted online. While the aim of FOSTA-SESTA was to keep people safer, these laws have garnered international speculation and have become quite controversial. </p><p><a href="https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20180321006214/en/National-Anti-Trafficking-Coalition-Celebrates-Survivors-Senate-Passes" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">According to BusinessWire</a>, many people are in support of this bill, including the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and World Without Exploitation (WorldWE). </p><p>"With the growth of the Internet, human trafficking that once happened mainly on street corners has largely shifted online. According to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, 73 percent of the 10,000 child sex trafficking reports it receives from the public each year involve ads on the website Backpage.com."</p><p>As soon as this bill was <a href="https://www.pivotlegal.org/sesta_fosta_censoring_sex_workers_from_websites_sets_a_dangerous_precedent" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">signed into law</a>, websites where sex workers often vetted and arranged meetings with their clients could now be held liable for the actions of the millions of people that used their sites. This meant websites could be prosecuted if they engaged in "the promotion or facilitation of prostitution" or "facilitate traffickers in advertising the sale of unlawful sex acts with sex trafficking victims." </p><p><strong>The bill's effects were felt around the world — from Canadians being unhappy with the impact of this American bill to U.K. politicians considering the implementation of similar laws in the future.</strong> </p><p>Heather Jarvis, the program coordinator of the Safe Harbour Outreach Project (SHOP), which supports sex workers in the St. John's area, <a href="https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/newfoundland-labrador/heather-jarvis-website-shutdown-1.4667018" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">explained to CBC in an interview</a> that the American bill is impacting everyone, everywhere: "When laws impact the internet — the internet is often borderless — it often expands across different countries. So although these are laws in the United States, what we've seen is they've been shutting down websites in Canada and other countries as well."</p><p>Jarvis suggests in her interview that instead of doing what they aimed to do with the bill and improving the safety of victims of sex trafficking or sexual exploitation, the website shutdowns are actually making sex workers less safe. </p><p>While <a href="https://gizmodo.com/the-uk-wants-its-own-version-of-fosta-sesta-that-could-1827420794" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">one U.K. publication</a> refers to FOSTA-SESTA as "well-intentioned but ultimately deeply-flawed laws," it also mentions that politicians in the United Kingdom are hoping to pursue similar laws in the near future. </p>
Has FOSTA-SESTA done more harm than good?<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNTUxMzY5Ny9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY2ODUyNDc4OX0.dSEEzcflJJUTnUCFmuwmPAIA0f754eW7rN8x6L7fcCc/img.jpg?width=1245&coordinates=-68%2C595%2C-68%2C595&height=700" id="69d99" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="734759fa254b5a33777536e0b4d7b511" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="sex worker looking online for a job" data-width="1245" data-height="700" />
Is this really going to help, or is this bill simply pushing sex work and sex-related content further into the dark?
Credit: Евгений Вершинин on Adobe Stock<p>While <a href="https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20180321006214/en/National-Anti-Trafficking-Coalition-Celebrates-Survivors-Senate-Passes" target="_blank">supporters of this bill</a> have framed FOSTA-SESTA as a vital tool that could prevent sex trafficking and allow sex trafficking survivors to sue those websites for facilitating their victimization, many other people are strictly against the bill and hope it will be reversed.</p><p><strong>One of the biggest problems many people have with this bill is that it forces sex workers into an even more dangerous situation, which is quite the opposite of what the bill had intended to do.</strong> </p><p>According to <a href="https://www.theglobeandmail.com/canada/article-anti-trafficking-activists-cheer-but-sex-workers-bemoan-shutdown-of/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Globe and Mail</a>, there has been an upswing in pimps sending sex workers messages that promise work - which puts sex workers on the losing end of a skewed power-dynamic, when before they could attempt to safely arrange their own meetings online. </p><p><strong>How dangerous was online sex work before FOSTA-SESTA? </strong></p><p><a href="https://www.beyond-the-gaze.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/BtGbriefingsummaryoverview.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">The University of Leicester Department of Criminology</a> conducted an online survey that focused on the relative safety of internet-based sex work compared with outdoor sex work. According to the results, 91.6 percent of participants had not experienced a burglary in the past 5 years, 84.4 percent had not experienced physical assault in the same period, and only 5 percent had experienced physical assault in the last 12 months. </p><p><a href="https://www.pivotlegal.org/sesta_fosta_censoring_sex_workers_from_websites_sets_a_dangerous_precedent" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">PivotLegal</a> expresses concerns about this: "It is resoundingly clear, both from personal testimony and data, that attacking online sex work is an assault on the health and safety of people in the real world. In a darkly ironic twist, SESTA/FOSTA, legislation aimed at protecting victims of and preventing human trafficking for the purposes of sexual exploitation, will do the exact opposite."</p><p><strong>Websites are also being hypervigilant (and censoring more content than needed) because they can't possibly police every single user's activity on their platform.</strong> </p><p>Passing this bill meant any website (not just the ones that are commonly used by sex traffickers) could be held liable for their user's posts. Naturally, this saw a general "tightening of the belt" when it came to what was allowed on various platforms. In late 2018, shortly after the FOSTA-SESTA bill was passed, companies like Facebook slowly began to alter their terms and conditions to protect themselves. </p><p>Facebook notably added sections that express prohibited certain sexual content and messages:</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;"><em>"Content that includes an implicit invitation for sexual intercourse, which can be described as naming a sexual act and other suggestive elements including (but not limited to):</em></p><p style="margin-left: 20px;"><em>– vague suggestive statements such as: 'looking forward to an enjoyable evening'</em></p><p style="margin-left: 20px;"><em>– sexual use of language […]</em></p><p style="margin-left: 20px;"><em>– content (self-made, digital or existing) that possibly portrays explicit sexual acts or a suggestively positioned person/suggestively positioned persons."<br><br> </em></p><p>Additionally, sections like this were also added, prohibiting things that could allude to sexual activity: </p><p style="margin-left: 20px;"><em>"Content in which other acts committed by adults are requested or offered, such as:</em></p><p style="margin-left: 20px;"><em>– commercial pornography</em></p><p style="margin-left: 20px;"><em>– partners that share fetishes or sexual interests"</em></p><p>Facebook wasn't the only website to crack down on their policies — the Craigslist classifieds section being removed and Reddit banned quite a large number of sex-worker related subreddits. </p><p><strong>Is FOSTA-SESTA really helpful?</strong> </p><p>This is the question many people are facing with the FOSTA-SESTA acts being passed just a few years ago. Is this really going to help, or is this bill simply pushing sex work and sex-related content further into the dark? Opinions seem to be split down the middle on this — what do you think?</p>