Daily Skimm Weekend: TikTok, Sober October, and Early Voting – theSkimm

Now Trending: TikTok has become a breeding ground for health misinformation. You may have seen videos talking about taking a shot of lemon juice to delay your period. Inserting garlic cloves up your nose to help with congestion. Inhaling hydrogen peroxide to ‘treat’ COVID-19. (To be clear: None of these things work.) But how far is too far? 
Aside from misinformed health tips and tricks, some TikTok trends are causing serious concern. These days, doctors and pharmacists are concerned that their Type 2 diabetes patients may struggle to find Ozempic — an injection that helps regulate blood sugar. That’s in part because TikTok users have been promoting an off-label use of the drug for weight loss. #Ozempic has more than 300 million views, and demand has compounded existing supply chain issues. But the drug comes with risks of serious side effects, including pancreatitis, gallbladder issues, kidney failure, and even cancer. It’s just one example of many viral ‘health’ trends whose popularity has health experts raising the alarm.
Because every day, millions of people are inundated with these kinds of stories on their FYP. Worth noting, a quarter of adult Americans don’t have a primary care doc and roughly 26 million don’t have health insurance. So searching for info online can often seem like the easiest solution. But critics say social media apps aren't designed to prioritize accurate or helpful information: They’re designed to feed users whatever draws the biggest reaction, so people keep engaging. Now, many creators may be cashing in on viral ‘health’ trends by branding themselves as health experts or coaches even if they’re not credentialed. And riding the wave of the algorithm by making outrageous claims to drive views.
While TikTok has put some measures in place to crack down on the misinformation (see: informational banners), users upload new content every day. Meaning, it’s really tough to keep up. So it’s up to you to keep yourself safe — by doing your own vetting. Since, spoiler: Just because someone on TikTok is wearing a lab coat or saying things that sound like science, doesn’t mean it’s legit.
It’s unlikely that social media apps like TikTok will ever be completely free of misinformation. So for now, the golden rule remains the same: When it comes to your physical or mental health, always try to talk to the medical experts.
Here's a look at the reads we’ve saved, texted, and emailed to our friends…
Half the World Has a Clitoris. Why Don’t Doctors Study It?…no, really, they don’t.
Women Can’t Wait Any Longer for Gender Equality…our co-founders and co-CEOs share how paid family leave and financial education can help fix the current reality. 
What Happened to Maya…how unexplainable pain changed a 10-year-old’s life — then revealed cracks in the child welfare system.  
The Promise and Peril of Space Tourism…the industry’s promising to take people to infinity and beyond. But it’s coming at a big cost.
Downtime doesn’t have to mean doing nothing. Here’s one idea for making the most of your weekend.
For some, this month is Sober October. (Think: Dry January, but near the end of year.) So there’s no better time to take stock of your relationship with alcohol and drinking culture in general. That could mean looking at when and why you drink, and how it makes you feel. For some, the answer might result in reducing the drinks they’ll have in a day or week. While for others, it could lead to cutting out booze (and hangovers) completely. Whatever you choose, you’ll be in good company: The early days of COVID-19 led to a rise in drinking— especially among women — although data shows that people are consuming less alcohol overall. So if you’re considering a sober curious lifestyle, here are a few tips to help you take a break from booze:  
Swap a cocktail for a mocktail. ICYMI, nonalcoholic drinks have been getting all the buzz. So bartenders have been paying more attention to their mocktail menus these days — and it shows. Not to mention that there are a growing number of alcohol-free beers and spirits, so you can easily mix up something toast-worthy right at home. 
Have a plan. If there’s a chance you’ll be bombarded with questions (think: ‘Why aren’t you drinking?’ or ‘Are you sure you don’t want a drink?’), it might help to have your response ready. Which can be something short and sweet, like ‘I don’t feel like drinking.’ Because, reminder, you don’t actually owe anyone an explanation.
Evaluate how you feel. Did drinking less lead to better sleep and more energy? Or maybe you felt clearer and calmer? If cutting back worked for you, consider if (and how) you might incorporate it moving forward — particularly with the holidays right around the corner. And if it wasn’t your thing, that’s OK, too. Just try easing back into drinking versus binge drinking as soon as the cal flips to November. 
The 2022 midterms are just over two weeks away (reminder: mark your cal for Nov 8). But Americans aren’t waiting for Election Day to vote. More than 7 million people have reportedly cast their ballot thanks to early voting in over 30 states — including critical states like Michigan and Georgia. In fact, in the Peach State alone, more than 131,000 people turned out for the first day of early voting, setting a new state record for a midterm election. And analysts expect this year’s turnout to be on par with 2018’s, which broke a more than 100-year record. Maybe that’s because the fate of Congress hangs in the balance — along with important issues like reproductive and voting rights. And with some elections expected to be thiis close, every single vote counts. Including yours.
PS: Oct 28 is Vote Early Day. Find out how, when, and where you can vote early.
PPS: Have feelings about the midterm elections? Leave us a voicemail at (929) 266-4381 to share your opinion. And it may be featured in an upcoming episode of "Skimm This."
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