Each week, Padilla’s Insights + Strategy team stands at the intersection of people, culture and brands to bring you five stories that you can read in five minutes.

1. Dark Academia

Move over Cottagecore, there’s a new aesthetic trend taking over TikTok – Dark Academia. Why should you care? As with just about everything, the pandemic has upended the school year leaving the future of formal education unknown – but born out of this particular uncertainty comes Dark Academia. It entails content that romanticizes a passion for art and knowledge. Examples include stacks of books piled high, a longing for a New England university campus you’ve never seen/visited before, tweed & plaid clothing and libraries. As with most of the trends that became popular during COVID, Dark Academia captures a nostalgia for a life that still has yet to be lived, as students cope with not being able to physically be in school. [Refinery29]

2. Pre-Date Meditations

Hinge and Headspace launched free pre-date meditations to beat dating nerves. Why should you care? In normal times dating is stressful, but dating in 2020 is a whole other ball game. Singles have had to adhere to new COVID/lockdown rules or even just dealing with the added stress of wondering if the person you’re dating is less vigilant than you regarding COVID. That’s why dating app, Hinge has partnered with Headspace to bring you free 5-6 minute meditations to help you get through these pre-date jitters when you need it most – during a pandemic. [Mashable]

3. Early Voting

More than 4 million Americans have already voted, suggesting a record turnout. Why should you care? That’s already 50 times the number of early votes that were cast during the 2016 election. There are many factors to this uptick in early voting, including many states expanding their early and mail-in voting to ensure safe voting procedures for their citizens. The United States Elections Project predicts this early surge will amount to a record turnout of 150 million, representing 65% of eligible voters – the highest we have seen since 1908. Just another reminder that COVID has not left anything untouched – including this election. [Reuters]

4. Small Turkeys

Thanksgiving turkeys will be smaller this year. Why should you care? As large gatherings have been canceled this year, large grocery chains are adapting and purchasing smaller birds, meanwhile farmers are anticipating the demand for smaller birds by harvesting earlier than usual. We’ve seen how the pandemic has affected our Halloween traditions with the CDC releasing specific COVID guidelines, so we knew it was only a matter of time that our favorite feast would be altered, too. [CNN]

5. Drive-Ins x Oscars

Drive-in screenings will now count toward Oscars eligibility. Why should you care? In what would have been an absolute no-go in previous years, the Oscars will now count films that had theatrical releases via a streaming service or a drive-in as qualified contenders. As theaters have struggled with reopening and regaining their popularity from pre-COVID times, the Academy is adjusting its usually stiff rules to accommodate for a Hollywood that just can’t seem to catch a break. [THR]

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