TIME Music

Taylor Swift And Lisa Kudrow Sang ‘Smelly Cat’ Onstage And Everyone’s Head Exploded

Taylor Swift invited Lisa Kudrow onstage and they sang 'Smelly Cat' together, Phoebe's iconic song from 'Friends'

Taylor Swift has invited a bevy of famous friends onstage for her 1989 tour, from Serena Williams to Lorde to Ellen DeGeneres. But Wednesday night in Los Angeles, Tay-tay may have outdone herself: she invited Lisa Kudrow up for a duet of ‘Smelly Cat.’

That’s right, ‘Smelly Cat,’ the iconic coffee shop song written by Kudrow’s character Phoebe in Friends, has now gotten the Taylor Swift treatment. Is this a hint that Swift’s next album will be entirely covers of Phoebe’s other quirky Central Perk hits? A girl can dream.

Read next: The Creepy Alternate Ending for Friends That’s Gone Viral

Listen to the most important stories of the day

TIME Television

The Creepy Alternate Ending for Friends That’s Gone Viral

Caution: If you read this, Friends will never quite be the same for you again

On May 6, 2004, millions of hearts broke as Monica, Chandler, Ross, Rachel, Joey and Phoebe said one final goodbye to the apartment, left their keys on the counter and walked out to get one last coffee at Central Perk in the emotional Friends series finale.

But what if the iconic TV show had ended differently?

A Twitter user called @strnks has a theory. And it’s a far cry from the sad but heartwarming final scene of the 10-season sitcom.

In the alternate ending, there are only five friends. Their names wouldn’t be Monica, Chandler, Joey, Ross and Rachel — those identities, as well as the events of the show itself, are the figments of the imagination of a homeless, meth-addict Phoebe as she stares at them through the window of their favorite coffee shop.

There are several references during the show to Phoebe’s character previously having lived on the streets, and this ending — which has since gone viral fits in quite well with that.

Still, we’re glad @strnks (whose Twitter bio says he is a designer) wasn’t one of the show’s writers.

Here’s the entire alternate ending, which will give you chills.

Read next: Joey and Chandler Didn’t Go to Rachel’s Wedding

Listen to the most important stories of the day

TIME psychology

The Lazy Way to an Awesome Life: 3 Secrets Backed by Research

friends-sitting-riverbank
Getty Images

Eric Barker writes Barking Up the Wrong Tree.

We all want an awesome life. And very often you know what you need to do to improve it… but you don’t do it.

I don’t blame you. Hey, some of that stuff is hard. (I should know. I write about it all the time.)

Isn’t there an easy, passive way where your flaws start correcting themselves, you gain respectable goals and become much, much happier?

Well, at least in theory, there just might be. I called somebody to find out.

Nicholas Christakis, MD, PhD, MPH, is a professor at Yale University and directs the Human Nature Lab there. He is the author (with James Fowler) of Connected: The Surprising Power of Our Social Networks and How They Shape Our Lives.

Here’s his TED talk:

Tons of research (and common sense) shows that the people around you influence your behavior. In fact, they influence it a lot more than you might think and probably more than you’re comfortable with admitting.

But here’s the really crazy part: not only do your friends affect your behavior, so do their friends. And their friends’ friends. Here’s Nicholas:

Across many different kinds of behavior: voting, cooperation, smoking, weight loss and weight gain, happiness, cooperative behavior, public health behaviors, we and others have been able to show that people are very meaningfully affected by the behaviors of other people to whom they’re connected. And here’s the kicker: they are also affected by the behaviors of people to whom they’re not directly connected. When your friend’s friends quit smoking or your friend’s friends friend become nicer and more cooperative, this ripples through the network and affects you. Similarly, when you make a positive change in your life, when you start running for example, or you participate in our democracy and you vote, it ripples outward from you and can affect dozens, hundreds, perhaps even thousands of other people.

So if you spend time with different people, could you become a different person?

Want the laziest way to improve your life? The prescription is simple…

 

1) Hang Around The People You Want To Be

The Longevity Project, which studied over 1000 people from youth to death had this to say:

The groups you associate with often determine the type of person you become. For people who want improved health, association with other healthy people is usually the strongest and most direct path of change.

In Charles Duhigg’s excellent book The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business:

In a 1994 Harvard study that examined people who had radically changed their lives, for instance, researchers found that some people had remade their habits after a personal tragedy… Just as frequently, however, there was no tragedy that preceded people’s transformations. Rather, they changed because they were embedded in social groups that made change easier… When people join groups where change seems possible, the potential for that change to occur becomes more real.

Many researchers I have spoken to, from Duke’s Dan Ariely to Cornell’s Brian Wansink, have emphasized context as the most powerful (and most ignored) catalyst for changing your life.

But what if you’re not even trying to make big changes in your life? What if you just want to be treated well? Turns out altruism and jerk-itude also move through networks. Here’s Nicholas:

We’ve shown that altruistic behavior ripples through networks and so does meanness. Networks will magnify whatever they are seeded with. They will magnify Ebola and fascism and unhappiness and violence, but also they will magnify love and altruism and happiness and information.

And the workplace isn’t much different. Behavior is contagious there, too.

Via The 100 Simple Secrets of Successful People:

Psychologists have observed that bad habits can spread through an office like a contagious disease. Employees tend to mirror the bad behaviors of their co-workers, with factors as diverse as low morale, poor working habits, and theft from the employer all rising based on the negative behavior of peers. – Greene 1999

When I spoke to Stanford GSB professor Bob Sutton, he told me his #1 piece of advice to students was this:

When you take a job take a long look at the people you’re going to be working with — because the odds are you’re going to become like them, they are not going to become like you.

(For more on how to get people to like you, from an FBI behavior expert, click here.)

So the people around you can unconsciously affect your behavior in many ways — positive and negative. Let’s focus on one thing we’re all interested in: happiness. Because this is where it gets really interesting…

 

2) Making Friends = Making Happiness

Would an extra $10,000 dollars a year make you happier? I’ll assume you’re nodding. Research shows 10K only provides a 2% increased chance of happiness.

Meanwhile, being surrounded by happy friends makes you 15% more likely to be happy.

Even if a friend of a friend of a friend becomes happier, that means a 6% chance you will become happier.

So the happiness of people you have never met — and may never meet — is three times as powerful as money.

Via Connected: The Surprising Power of Our Social Networks and How They Shape Our Lives:

An extra $5,000 in 1984 dollars (which corresponds to about $10,000 in 2009 dollars) was associated with only a 2 percent increased chance of a person being happy. So, having happy friends and relatives appears to be a more effective predictor of happiness than earning more money. And the amazing thing is that even people who are three degrees removed from you, whom you may have never met, can have a stronger impact on your personal happiness than a wad of hundreds in your pocket.

A happy friend increases the likelihood of you being happy by 9%. An unhappy friend means a 7% decrease.

You don’t need a degree in accounting to figure out what that means: overall, more friends = more happiness.

Spending time making friends has a higher happiness ROI than time spent making money. So next time you meet up with a happy pal, ask them to bring a friend. Even a lazy person can manage that.

Via Connected: The Surprising Power of Our Social Networks and How They Shape Our Lives:

We found that each happy friend a person has increases that person’s probability of being happy by about 9 percent. Each unhappy friend decreases it by 7 percent. So if you were simply playing the averages, and you didn’t know anything about the emotional state of a new person you just met, you would probably want to be friends with her. She might make you unhappy, but there is a better chance she will make you happy. This helps to explain why past researchers have found an association between happiness and the number of friends and family.

Here’s the really interesting part: you can totally rig the system. It’s the scientific version of karma.

With the effect spanning three degrees, there’s a good chance making a small effort to make friends happier will flow back to you.

Nicholas found that if a friend became happy in the past six months there’s a 45% chance your happiness will increase.

(For more on what you can learn from the happiest people in the world, click here.)

So, lazy bones, are you willing to send a couple emails or texts to dramatically increase your happiness? Here’s how.

 

3) Introduce Friends To Friends

Unsurprisingly, people at the periphery of a network have fewer friends and are more likely to be lonely.

And yes, that loneliness can flow back three degrees to you. (And no, you can’t easily track these people down and kick them out of your network.) Know what you can do? Introduce your friends to each other.

Again, happy friends means a 9% gain, unhappy friend means a 7% loss. All other things being equal, I’ll take those odds in Vegas any day. This strengthens the network, and increases everyone’s chance of staying happy.

Via Connected: The Surprising Power of Our Social Networks and How They Shape Our Lives:

At the periphery, people have fewer friends; this makes them lonely, but this also tends to drive them to cut the few ties that they have left. But before they do, they may infect their friends with the same feeling of loneliness, starting the cycle anew. These reinforcing effects mean that our social fabric can fray at the edges, like a strand of yarn that comes loose from the sleeve of a sweater. If we are concerned about combating the feeling of loneliness in our society, we should aggressively target the people at the periphery with interventions to repair their social networks. By helping them, we can create a protective barrier against loneliness that will keep the whole network from unraveling.

(To learn the 4 most common relationship problems — and how to fix them, click here.)

So a few tiny efforts can yield massive positive change in your life. Let’s round up the details and learn two other fascinating tidbits that can change the way you see the world — and make that world a better place.

 

Sum Up

Here’s what we can learn from Nicholas:

  • Hang out with the people you want to be: Behaviors spread like a virus. Make sure it’s one you want to be infected with.
  • Make more friends. Time spent making friends has a higher happiness ROI than time spent making money.
  • Introduce friends to friends. Friends becoming happy increases your chance of happiness by 45%. Keeping the network happy protects you against unhappiness.

Other research Nicholas did turned up something truly heartwarming: friends are family. Quite literally. Here’s Nicholas:

We looked at the genetic similarity between friends and we found that on a very deep level you resemble your friends genetically. What this means is that, basically, your friends are kin that you choose. What we found in one of our papers was that, roughly speaking, your friends are something like your fourth cousin.

And one last thing: keep in mind that Nicholas’ research also gives you great power. And, as all good Spider-Man fans know, with “great power comes great responsibility.” Here’s Nicholas:

It’s very important for people to understand that when they make a positive change in their lives it doesn’t just affect them. It affects everyone they know and many of the people that those people know and many of the people that those people in turn know. If you make a positive change in your life it actually ripples through the social fabric and comes to benefit many other people. This recognition that we are all connected and that in our connectedness we affect each other’s lives I think is a very fundamental and moving observation of our humanity.

When you make a positive change in your life, it affects the people around you and ripples out to others.

So you can be lazy and see benefits by surrounding yourself with great people — but you can also choose to make strides in your life, even small ones, and contagiously pass those benefits to those you care about.

Making yourself a better person isn’t a gift you only give to yourself. It’s a gift you give to the world.

Spread the happiness virus! Share this with friends (and friends of friends, and friends of… you get it.)

This piece originally appeared on Barking Up the Wrong Tree.

Join over 200,000 readers. Get a free weekly update via email here.

Related posts:

How To Stop Being Lazy And Get More Done – 5 Expert Tips

How To Get People To Like You: 7 Ways From An FBI Behavior Expert

New Harvard Research Reveals A Fun Way To Be More Successful

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME celebrity

This Cleveland Cavaliers Player Has a Friends Tattoo

Does he consider himself more of a Ross, a Chandler or a Joey?

Here are some press conference questions for the Cleveland Cavaliers Kyrie Irving: Were they on a break? Who’s Rachel’s lobster? And the ultimate stumper: What’s Chandler’s job? Irving should have all the answers. After all, the injured player has a Friends tattoo on his arm. Could he be a bigger fan?

Irving’s explanation for the Must See TV body art can be found on his Instagram, where he wrote, “I mean what can I say lol I’m a fan of the show.”

"How many of us have them"🎶🎶 I mean what can I say lol I'm a fan of the show.

A photo posted by Kyrie Irving (@k1irving) on

GQ’s Jack Moore, a self-professed Cavs fan, described the revelation of noticing Irving’s tattoo. “I was delighted to see Kyrie Irving take the podium today to address his season ending injury, but I was distracted while he talked,” Moore wrote. “I couldn’t stop looking at his wrist. I couldn’t get a good look at it though. So I had to pull a CSI and ENHANCE!”

TIME Television

This Man Is Living Life Like He’s a Character on Friends

No one told him life was gonna be this way

Du Xin is doing his best to live in an episode of Friends. His wife’s name is Rachel, his son’s English name is Joey and even as a toddler he can already ask, “How you doing?” in a passable Matt LeBlanc accent. When Du goes to work, he tells i-D, it’s to a Central Perk coffee shop knock-off that he created in Beijing. And when he goes home at night, it’s to an apartment decorated just like Joey and Chandler’s place—complete with VHS copies of Baywatch, a.k.a. the roommates’ favorite TV show.

Du, who prefers to go by the name Gunther, discovered Friends after a bad break-up. He quickly became obsessed with the show and the valuable lessons about life and love that he felt the sitcom was trying to impart upon its audience. He eventually quit his job to open the coffee shop and found a woman who didn’t mind his obsession (probably because he insists on treating her how Chandler treated Monica).

TIME Television

Every Episode of Seinfeld Will Now Be Available On-Demand

Jerry Seinfeld attends the Inaugural Los Angeles Baby Buggy Fatherhood Lunch at Palm Restaurant on Wednesday, March 4, 2015, in Beverly Hills, Calif.
Richard Shotwell—Invision/AP Jerry Seinfeld attends the Inaugural Los Angeles Baby Buggy Fatherhood Lunch at Palm Restaurant on Wednesday, March 4, 2015, in Beverly Hills, Calif.

The show about nothing is coming to Hulu

Digital streaming service Hulu inked a massive $180 million deal with Sony Pictures Televison Thursday for the rights to distribute every episode of Seinfeld via their on-demand platform.

Financial terms have yet to be disclosed, but the Wall Street Journal reports that Hulu outbid Amazon and Yahoo with a price of about $700,000 per episode. The money is to be split between distributor Sony TV, Time Warner’s Castle Rock (the original producer) and Seinfeld investors—including co-creators Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David.

The majority of the revenue will go to Time Warner because they own Castle Rock Entertainment.

Hulu is expected to officially announce the deal Wednesday during an ‘upfront’ presentation to advertisers.

The “show about nothing” has had a prosperous afterlife since it ended after nine seasons in 1998 but this is the first time the entire Seinfeld catalog will be available in the new binge-watching era of online streaming television.

TBS will continue to run re-runs on their cable network.

Last October, Netflix struck a deal to stream every episode of the other NBC sitcom giant Friends, which began on Jan. 1, for $500,000 per episode.

[Wall Street Journal]

TIME Television

A Friends Reboot Isn’t Going to Happen, Says Co-Creator Marta Kauffman

Writer Marta Kauffman attends the Women Who Call the Shots Brunch during the 2014 Los Angeles Film Festival at WP24 by Wolfgang Puck Los Angeles on June 14, 2014 in Los Angeles, California.
Amanda Edwards—WireImage Writer Marta Kauffman attends the Women Who Call the Shots Brunch during the 2014 Los Angeles Film Festival at WP24 by Wolfgang Puck Los Angeles on June 14, 2014 in Los Angeles, California.

Fans of the '90s sitcom are dying a little inside

Friends co-creator Marta Kauffman has no qualms about snuffing out the dreams of ’90s nostalgists hoping to see the gang back together again.

“Nope, never gonna happen,” she told the Wrap when asked if the beloved series would ever see a reboot.

“It’s much better that people want it, than that they get it and don’t like it. The fear is, well, it’ll never be what it was,” she said.

And it was, Kauffman says, a show about a “time in your life when your friends are your family,” and “Once you begin to have a family of your own, that is no longer the case, and your priorities shift. So the show is over.”

But fans don’t have to look far to relive the hijinks of Chandler, Joey, Monica, Phoebe, Ross and Rachel — the entire series is available on-demand via Netflix.

Kauffman meanwhile has a new show premiering May 8 on Netflix called Grace and Frankie.

[The Wrap]

TIME Mental Health/Psychology

5 Types of Friends You Need to Avoid

young-adults-walking-holding-hands
Getty Images

Close relationships that cause stress may lead to faster cognitive decline as you age

With the end of winter (supposedly) here, now’s a good time to spring clean your life. You might be looking forward to re-organizing your closet, opening up your windows to let in some fresh air, and re-committing to those New Year’s resolutions. But have you given any thought to making over your social circle?

While research shows that our friendships are super important for our health and well-being, not all relationships are created equal. “Negative friendships can cause stress, frustration, and even put you in harm’s way if their behavior puts you in situations that could jeopardize you and your loved ones,” says sociologist and friendship coach Jan Yager, PhD, author of When Friendship Hurts ($13, amazon.com).

Investing time and energy into people who don’t pay it back—or who only have toxic contributions to offer—can have a negative effect on both your physical and mental health. In fact, a recent University of College London study found that close relationships that cause stress or worrying may even contribute to faster cognitive decline as you age.

Read more: 17 Ways to Age-Proof Your Brain

On that note, here are five types of friends you may want to sweep out of your life.

The negative Nancy

Moods—both good and bad ones—are contagious: Research has shown this to be true in both real life and online social networks. And while there’s nothing wrong with venting to coworkers or crying to your BFF when you’re feeling low, it’s still important to balance those lows by sharing happy experiences, too.

“When you talk on the phone with your friend, exchange e-mails or text messages, or get together in person, do you feel positive and optimistic—or does a particular friend make you feel bad about yourself, agitated, or even physically ill?” asks Yager. If that friend is going through an especially trying time, it’s normal to feel pulled into the drama. But ask yourself, she says: “Is this an occasional thing, or a chronic pattern that’s making it too difficult for you to handle your emotions or your own life?”

If the latter’s the case, it’s time to seriously consider phasing them out.

Read more: 12 Ways Pets Improve Your Health

The nit-picky neighbor

You live next door to her so you’ve tried, on many occasions, to be nice: You’ve had her over for dinner, carpooled, and encouraged your kids to play together. But if your friendly gestures are mostly returned with complaints about noise or the look of your lawn, her constant demands could be harming your health.

A 2014 Danish study found that frequent arguments and conflicts within a person’s social circle, including neighbors, were associated with an increased risk of death in middle age. Conflict management may help reduce these dangers, the study authors say—so the next time she picks a fight, try sitting down and hashing out your differences (or at least agreeing to ignore each other) once and for all.

Read more: 17 Surprising Reasons You’re Stressed Out

The backstabber

So a friend let you down in some way, but she’s promised to make it up to you. Everyone deserves a second chance, but maybe this isn’t the first time you’ve felt betrayed by her. Where do you draw the line? Personal relationships are complex, so there isn’t a clear-cut way to decide.

Yager says that in her research she’s found that what’s considered a “deal breaker” is different for everyone. “One person said that for her, it was when her former friend was not there for her when her mother died. Another woman didn’t see it as a deal breaker when she walked in on her roommate and found her kissing her boyfriend…but she ended that same friendship years later, over a work-related betrayal.”

Before deciding to immediately cut out a friend who’s done you wrong—or to immediately take them back—sit down and consider all aspect of this breach of trust, including how bad it made you feel, Yager suggests. “Can you [honestly] forgive them? Do they even ask for forgiveness or apologize? Is this a one time thing or a pattern? And what does your gut tell you about this friend, and about the future of your friendship?” These questions can help you decide whether mending the relationship is possible or if it’s time to let the friendship fade out.

Read more: 13 Ways to Beat Stress in 15 Minutes or Less

The chronic canceler

If you spend more time waiting around for this person to show up—or trying to schedule and reschedule plans—than actually hanging out together, you may want to let this friendship run its course.

First, take a careful look at why your friend has such trouble keeping plans; if it’s truly a good excuse, like a new baby or an ongoing health issue, ask if there’s anything you can do to make staying in touch easier. Yager also recommends weighing what you get out of the friendship against what it’s costing you. “If the cost is minimal in terms of occasional aggravation, but the benefits are huge—like the laughs you still share on the phone and the fun nights out at the movies you still have—don’t be so quick to end it.”

On the other hand, if you’ve done all you can and you’re not getting much in return, it’s time to stop wasting your energy. We’re all busy. Constantly being put last by a “friend” can only lead to negative feelings that you don’t need.

Read more: 14 Things Heart Doctors Tell Their Friends

The bad example

She drags you along on her smoking and heavy-drinking nights out. She scoffs at your new healthy eating and exercise plan and shoves the Cheetos in your direction. Whatever this friend’s fault, if you feel yourself getting sucked into bad behavior whenever you spend time together, it’s time to back off.

Research shows that, in addition to bad moods, plenty of other qualities can spread among friends—including loneliness, obesity, and even divorce. Even your dietary choices can be affected by your companions: In one University of Illinois study, people were more likely to order the same foods at a restaurant as their lunch partners.

You may not need to ditch these friends entirely—especially if they also have good qualities you value, or if you know they have the potential to change. But be aware of how their unhealthy habits are rubbing off on you, says Yager. Try talking to these friends about why you can’t be around them when they act a certain way, or avoid situations that enable that side of them.

Read more: 12 Worst Habits For Your Mental Health

This article originally appeared on Health.com.

Read next: 5 Types of Friends That Everyone Has

MONEY millennial

8 Gen X Favorites That Millennials Scorn

Millennials will probably never understand why Gen X, or anyone, was once so enamored of U2, Gap, and these six other things.

Last week the Wall Street Journal reported that — no matter what Run-DMC and the Beastie Boys wore 25 years ago — Adidas is not cool, with sales faring especially poorly among young people. It’s not easy for any generation to accept that the zeitgeist has left it behind. (The Boomers still haven’t.) But with the oldest Gen Xers having reached 50 and the youngest well into their 30s, that conclusion looks unavoidable. Here are eight other things that Gen X loved, but that millennials just don’t seem to care about.

 

  • Saab

    1989 SAAB 900i
    Bob Masters Classic Car Images—Alamy 1989 SAAB 900i

    Oddly shaped, with a pathetic engine and the ignition inexplicably located on the floor: The Financial Times described Swedish automaker Saab as “the anti-brand brand.” Could it be any wonder that Generation X loved them? Saab sales climbed steadily throughout the early 1980s and, after a drop off in 1986, rebounded through much of the 1990s. The car took a star turn in such slacker classics as High Fidelity and Sideways. But as the FT concluded, “the commercial drawback of being an ‘anti-brand brand,’ of course, is that many people drive Saabs precisely because other people don’t.”

    Saab sales hit a wall in first part of the last decade, in part because GM, which acquired the brand in 2000, watered down the car’s distinctive flavor in an effort to expand its appeal. Saab essentially stopped production in 2011. Millennials, lukewarm on cars to start with, don’t seem to notice what they are missing, at least according to AutoGuide.com.

  • Michel Foucault

    French philosopher Michel Foucault
    AFP—Getty Images French philosopher Michel Foucault

    If you went to college in the 1980s or 1990s, chances are you smugly obsessed about (or just as smugly avoided) abstract yet strident discussions of the way language shaped our perception of the world around us. It was kind of like “checking your privilege” through abstruse academic jargon. If “the theory wars” no longer rage, maybe it’s because there is no one left to fight them. In 2010, just 7% of college students majored in the humanities, down about half since the late 1960s. Yale, which graduated 165 English majors in 1991, had just 62 in 2012. So what exactly do college students get overwrought about these days? Apparently, it’s who’s going to get that internship at Facebook.

  • Gap

    1990s UK Gap Magazine Advertisement with Miles Davis
    The Advertising Archives 1990s UK Gap Magazine Advertisement with Miles Davis

    It now seems strange that a mall store known basically for T-shirts, khakis and other basics became a fashion icon. But it just kind of happened. Here is writer Lucinda Rosenfeld’s take in Slate: “It’s hard to overstate the importance of black pants to young women in the early 1990s. Once you found a pair that fit perfectly — and maybe a good square-toe black ankle-boot to match — half the work of assembling a sleek, confidence-building wardrobe was done.” She goes on to explain that, while her favorite pair cost “a week’s salary” back in the day, her second favorite pair, which she wore three days a week, came from Gap. How did Gap — or The Gap as we used to call it — lose its lucrative role as the workhorse of 20-somethings’ closets? Perhaps anti-fashion could only be in fashion for so long. And the company has faced plenty of low-cost competition from chains like H&M and Uniqlo.

  • U2

    U2 Fans
    Daily Mail—Alamy

    How long is any rock band’s shelf life? U2 managed to remain cool longer than most — from at least the early 1980s through the 1990s and into the oughts. They even made Christian rock seem cool. But the jig was finally up last year when Apple’s decision to gift U2’s new album to iTunes users sparked a backlash. One obvious explanation is age — Bono is past 50. Another is the decline of guitar-oriented pop. But don’t overlook changes to the brand of U2’s homeland. Once associated with post-industrial poverty and violence, the Irish Republic traded its troubled but defiant image for computer chip factories and real estate speculation. Maybe U2’s social justice street cred went into the bargain.

  • Cameron Crowe

    SINGLES, Bridget Fonda, Matt Dillon, Kyra Sedgwick, Campbell Scott, 1992.
    Warner Bros—Courtesy Everett Collection SINGLES, Bridget Fonda, Matt Dillon, Kyra Sedgwick, Campbell Scott, 1992.

    The New York Times called Cameron Crowe “something of a cinematic spokesman for the post-baby boom generation” in 1992. At the time Crowe had Fast Times at Ridgemont High and Say Anything already under his belt, and was just getting ready to release Singles. (If you haven’t seen it, let’s just say it’s aged far better than Reality Bites.) The former Rolling Stone writer later hit box office gold with Jerry Maguire and Almost Famous, which deliciously skewered Boomer narcissism from a vantage that’s somehow both younger and less credulous. Since then, however, Crowe has failed to match his ’80s and ’90s success. Elizabethtown, which inspired the mocking “manic pixie dream girl” trope, was widely seen as a disappointment. In 2011, Crowe managed something of come-back with We Bought a Zoo. The film, which earned about $75 million at the box office, was better than the title makes it sound. But it’s hardly going to inspire any garage bands.

  • Sony Walkman

    ca. 1991 Sony Walkman cassette player
    Dorling Kindersley—Corbis ca. 1991 Sony Walkman cassette player

    Just like millennials, Gen Xers put on their headphones on and tuned out the world. There were differences. Unlike today, fancy gadgets were never white but black or silver. (A notable exception was the youthful, yellow “Sports” model that made a cameo appearance in Hot Tub Time Machine.) And there were a lot more buttons, partly because music players came with a radio and partly because in an analogue world, more rather than less signaled connoisseurship. But there were similarities too: Gen X’s technological marvels were also conceived in a far off place whose special culture fostered unique capitalistic virtues that our betters admonished us to learn from and imitate. It just happened to be Japan rather than California.

    Sony managed to transverse the mid-1980s move from cassette tapes to CDs, with the Discman. It wasn’t as if digital music caught the company blind sided. Sony introduced something known as the “memory stick Walkman” in 1999, more than two years before the iPod appeared. But Sony’s reluctance to embrace the MP3 format and its struggles integrating hardware and software proved to be just the opening Apple needed.

  • NBC

    FRIENDS with Jennifer Aniston, David Schwimmer, Courteney Cox Arquette, Matt LeBlanc, Lisa Kudrow and Matthew Perry, (Season 1), 1994-2004.
    Warner Bros—Courtesy Everett Collection FRIENDS with Jennifer Aniston, David Schwimmer, Courteney Cox Arquette, Matt LeBlanc, Lisa Kudrow and Matthew Perry, (Season 1), 1994-2004.

    Young people tend to identify themselves more with music than with television, especially network television. But few would argue that in the 1990s NBC was the envy of its competitors. Jerry Seinfeld is a boomer. But Seinfeld’s quartet of ne’er do-wells, whose humor mostly involved aimless complaining, fit right in with Gen X’s celebrated ambivalence. As for Friends, well, Generation X may now be faintly embarrassed that they watched. But watch they did. The show was a top 10 series for its entire run, averaging 20 million viewers, according to Slate. It’s finale garnered more than 50 million. Since then NBC has had hits — even with millennials — like The Office and 30 Rock. But the rise of cheap-to-produce reality television, new competition from cable channels like HBO, and, of course, the Internet, mean networks just don’t enjoy the same cultural relevance or profits that they used to.

  • Major League Baseball

    Chicago Cubs' Sammy Sosa (L), shares a laugh with St. Louis Cardinals' first baseman Mark McGwire (R), after receiving a walk in the third inning. McGwire stayed at 63 home runs and Sosa stayed at 62 as neither had a home run in the 3-2 Chicago victory.
    Peter Newcomb—AFP/Getty Images Chicago Cubs' Sammy Sosa (L), shares a laugh with St. Louis Cardinals' first baseman Mark McGwire (R), after receiving a walk in the third inning. McGwire stayed at 63 home runs and Sosa stayed at 62 as neither had a home run in the 3-2 Chicago victory.

    The 1990s was a golden age for baseball. Or so it seemed in 1998 when Mark McGwire’s and Sammy Sosa’s race to surpass the home run record riveted fans. The long ball helped (along with a fashion for building new, smaller “bandbox” ball parks) to boost attendance and television ratings, making baseball seem secure in its role as the national past time, even in era of Michael Jordan. Today, the sport is still trying to cope with the fall out of what we now call The Steroids Era. Average attendance, which climbed from about 25,000 following the strike-shortened 1994 season to roughly 30,000 by end of the decade, has been more or less stuck there ever since. This year’s gambit — a clock to speed up the pace of play — is apparently designed to appeal to millennials. But many of them seem more excited about soccer.

TIME Mental Health/Psychology

You Asked: How Many Friends Do I Need?

You Asked: How Many Friends Do I Need?
Illustration by Peter Oumanski for TIME

Maybe just a handful, though quality trumps quantity.

Friends do your health so many favors. They protect your health as much as quitting smoking and a great deal more than exercising, according to a large 2010 review in the journal PLOS One. More research has shown that socially isolated people are more than twice as likely to die from heart disease as those with a solid social circle.

“Strong social relationships support mental health, and that ties into better immune function, reduced stress and less cardiovascular activation,” says Dr. Debra Umberson, a sociologist at the University of Texas, Austin. Umberson says emotional support is just one of a dozen ways friends may safeguard your health and extend your life.

MORE Here’s How Hugs Can Prevent the Flu

Unfortunately, though, many of us don’t have enough of them. According to data from the General Social Survey (GSS), the number of Americans who say they have no close friends has roughly tripled in recent decades. “Zero” is also the most common response when people are asked how many confidants they have, the GSS data show. And adult men seem to be especially bad at keeping and cultivating friendships.

That may seem strange in the era of Facebook, Twitter and boundless digital connectivity. But the “friends” orbiting at the farthest reaches of your digital galaxy aren’t the ones that matter when it comes to your health and happiness.

The vital friendships—the pals you hug and laugh and lament with—are the ones who have the greatest impact on your health and happiness. You need between three and five of them for optimal wellbeing, suggests research from Dr. Robin Dunbar, an evolutionary psychologist at the University of Oxford.

Dunbar’s name comes up a lot when you start digging into the subject of friendship. From his early work studying the brains and social circles of primates, he recognized that the size of a human’s social network might be limited by the size of a certain part of the human brain called the neocortex, a critical site for higher brain functions. After some complicated study, he came up with a figure now known as “Dunbar’s number.”

That number—usually cited as 150, but actually a range between 100 and 200—is the approximate size of a person’s social circle, or the perpetually changing group of friends and family members that you would invite to a large party. While you may have far fewer than 150 of these people in your life, your brain really can’t hold a close connection with more than 150, Dunbar’s research shows. Within that group, he says your closest 15 relationships—including family members or “kin”—seem to be most crucial when it comes to your mental and physical health.

But that’s not to say a brother or sister offers you the same benefits as a close friend, Dunbar says. While your kin are more likely to be there for you when you need help, your good friends tend to fire up your nervous system and trigger the release of feel-good neuropeptides called endorphins. Whether you’re laughing with your pal or feeling him or her touch your shoulder in sympathy, the resulting rush of endorphins seems to “tune” up your immune system, protecting you from disease, Dunbar explains.

So yes, for the sake of your health, you need friends—ideally the really close kind you see face-to-face on a regular basis. But even one very good friend can improve your life in profound ways, says Dr. Mark Vernon, a philosopher, psychotherapist and author of The Meaning of Friendship.

Despite their value in terms of your health and wellbeing, don’t think of them as your personal social doctors. Vernon warns against turning your friends into what he calls “service providers”—that’s not what friendship should be about, he says, even if your pals are good for you.

In the end, Vernon says Ralph Waldo Emerson may have offered the best advice when it comes to making and keeping close pals: “The only way to have a friend is to be one.”

Read next: 5 Types of Friends That Everyone Has

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

Your browser is out of date. Please update your browser at http://update.microsoft.com