The Swirl: November 21, 2016

Even though the Friendsgiving feasts are out of the way, we hope you've saved some room for the real deal this Thursday. We don't know about you, but there's a lot to be thankful for this year - and it's not just the foods.

And just so ya know… we already feel the food coma coming on, so Swirl will be taking a siesta next week. But to satisfy the craving in the meantime, we've got: the price on friendship, the price of poverty, and hooking Grandma up.


Black Friday (n.) - the day after Thanksgiving, and the first day of traditional Christmas shopping. For some of us, it's a day of waking up at the crack of dawn, struggling to find parking spots, battling threats of black eyes, and literally shopping til you drop. For brands, it's usually an opportunity to tout the best deals and promotions of the year... or more recently, to recognize that spending time with family > shopping.

See our favorites: Old Navy's $100,000 giveaway feat. Amy Schumer and REI's year two of #OptOutside.


There's no doubt that holiday shopping can add up quick - from your kid's teachers and the office white elephant exchange to your best friends and family members. In fact, a study conducted by Gallup reports that last year, people planned to spend an average of $830 on gift giving. So generous. And for the more fiscally responsible of us, it can really help to put a budget in place, even if your besties have champagne taste. Lucky for you, has come up with a fool proof way to put a price on your friends this season. But only if you follow each other on social media. How, you ask? The “careculator” - an online tool that calculates the number of likes and comments they've thrown your way this year and spits out the dollar amount they're worth. Because what better way to define your friendships than by how much they shower you with online PDA? The more loyal the follower, the more expensive the prezzie. Seems logical.


Besides calculating how popular and well-liked you are (because who doesn't truly want to get to the bottom of that),'s calculator leverages humor and gamification to appeal to the genuine consumer need of making a holiday budget. The engaging, Buzzfeed-like tool tallies your friends' social live in real time and lets you share the results, all with the hope of starting a conversation… or at least getting a laugh or two. And the smartest part of all is that it's centric to where people spend a ton of their time (at least two hours a day, in fact): on their social feeds. So, if you start getting a ton of notifications on those beach trip photos back in July, know that it's not just a random back stalk. It's for a bigger chunk of that Christmas budget.


We've all experienced sticker shock before. Like when your Starbucks order somehow turns into a five dollar expense...or more. No shame - we all love peppermint mochas. But paying that much for a cup of coffee is sometimes hard to accept. What most people don't realize is that paying for these splurges is a luxury many people can't afford. Tipping Point Community, a poverty-fighting organization, wanted to help people understand what it's really like to live below the poverty line. How did they do it? Through sticker shock. Last week, they took over a San Francisco grocery store and charged regulars with “Poverty Line Prices.” AKA five times their normal cost. And most people didn't even notice until checkout when their total seemed a bit off. The inflation was a result of some math and comparison between paychecks and average costs of necessities. The less you make, the harder it is to pay for common goods. Mainly because each week, it's taking up a larger percentage of your paycheck. And if you're not sure what that's like, imagine paying $30 for a dozen eggs and $14 for a gallon of milk. Yikes.


You're probably feeling a little bit of shock right now, and that's the point. The effort was an awareness tactic in an area that's suffering from a poverty divide. We couldn't think of a better way to give people a small sense of the reality of living on the poverty line. Once you feel it and experience it, it's hard to get it off your mind. Even if you weren't in the store that day, they've come up with a way for you to understand too. On their site, you can set your income and navigate a digital grocery store to see how prices change for you. Genius. Do it, then go donate.


The holidays are coming up, which means a lot of food and even more family time. Sometimes even spending a few days at Grandma's house. It's all fun and games until you realize that there's no wifi. *Gasp* You start to get data notifications and realize that you might need to cut down on Snapchat time. OMG, what now? Thanks to Comcast Xfinity, you might be in luck this year. Their most recent campaign is targeting Grandma and Grandpa in hopes to get them connected before their grandchildren arrive. Even if they don't know what ‘Snapchant' or Instagram is, at least their family will be happy. The campaign features grandparents reading tweets from their grandchildren complaining about visiting due to the lack of connectivity. And then quickly installing Xfinity before they arrive. Boom.


As much as dependence on technology is criticized, this spot helps people understand how it can bring you closer together. Like Snapchatting with Grandma, Instagramming memories, and cuddling by the fire for a classic Christmas movie. Going off the grid can be nice, but so can enjoying the holidays with a little technology. Sorry Grandma and Grandpa - the digital era is here to stay. And while many think it's hurting relationships, this spot does an excellent job of showing how it can strengthen them. Cheers to Netflix at Granny's.


Something hilarious: when Ikea - and the Internet - trolls Kanye.