Conspiracy Theories & Chill

Let’s get illuminaughty

False Flag Theorists

False flag theorists see darker forces behind whatever sinister world events are taking place. They believe events such as gun massacres and terror attacks are staged to make it appear as if some other group designed and carried out the event – in effect planting a false flag at the scene. The “false flag” concept can be virtually applied to just about any world event – the 9/11 attacks, so some believe, weren’t carried out by al-Qaeda but the Bush administration as an excuse for war in the Middle East.

Bilderberg Group

The Bilderberg group is an annual meeting of ‘elite intellectuals’ from across the world to discuss — well, no-one really knows. No minutes are published of the meetings, which take place behind closed doors amid tight security. The group has been accused of everything from plotting the rise and fall of world leaders to trying to form a New World Order, made up of the top figures in banks, corporations and countries.

The Mandela Effect

It is a phenomenon where a group of people collectively misremember a fact or an event. The term was coined by the paranormal enthusiast Fiona Broome. She along with many other people, remember Nelson Mandela dying in prison in the 1980s rather than from illness in 2013. Some of them even claim they remember his funeral being broadcasted on TV, like do you remember the Monopoly Man wearing a monocle? You’re not the only one. However, if you look at him carefully, you’ll realize he’s not wearing a monocle. He never has. While the famous Snow White quote you’ve probably heard others say and repeated yourself is “Mirror, mirror on the wall,” it turns out the correct line is “Magic mirror on the wall” Some people also remember the second part of that quote being “Who is the fairest of them all?” but apparently it’s “Who is the fairest one of all?

Britney Spears Was an Instrument of the Bush Administration

What if Britney Spears’s public meltdown, a series of bizarre events and public outburst— the head shaving incident which ultimately resulted in her receiving a conservatorship and losing custody of her children to ex-hubby Kevin Federline— wasn’t the result of her own personal issues? There are theories that say Britney was being paid by the Bush administration to grab headlines away from the corrupt and incompetent White House. 

BONUS

 The Illuminati is real, lizard people are also real, and the Earth is hollow with a colony of people living inside the middle, just kidding (maybe). But there are way crazier, way more coherent truths out there waiting to be seen.

So for all you conspiracy theory lovers, here are some shows and documentaries you would want to watch-  

  • WORMWOOD
  • THE TRAFFICERS
  • UNDERWORLD, INC.
  • DIRTY MONEY.

Email Etiquettes For Students

Simple rules to send a respectful email that won’t get you on your professor’s bad side. 

Rule 1 – Answer swiftly

 Anyone who sends you an email they’ll want quick responses. The golden rule for email is to reply within 24 hours, and preferably within the same day itself. If your response email is complicated, just send an email confirming receipt and letting them know that you will get back to them. This will ease the senders mind! 

Rule 2 – Use a meaningful subject line

 When filling the subject line, make sure that you mention what the email is for or in regards to. You don’t want it to seem like a randomly generated subject and end up in your professor’s spam folder. It also makes it easier to search for old emails when the subject line is relevant and specific to the content of the email. 

Rule 3 – Read your email before you send it 

Prior to sending your email, be sure that you proofread your message. You shouldn’t write your email as though you are texting your friend. Make sure it’s got full sentences, proper grammar, and real spelling. Look out for potential misunderstandings, the tone, and inappropriate comments. 

Rule 4 – Abbreviations & emoticons 

Be careful using email abbreviations such as BTW (by the way) and LOL (laugh out loud) in formal emails. Even today, some people still don’t know what they mean, so it’s better to drop them. 

Rule 5 – Be concise

 Be succinct and keep your message short and to the point. Your professor is going to have probably hundreds of email messages to wade through each day. Just get to the point and politely, respectfully, ask your request.  If it has to be long, consider including a synopsis at the top of the email. Make sure you are as clear as possible about what it is you need to ask of your professor without writing a novel. 

Rule 6 – Do not write in CAPITALS 

IF YOU WRITE IN CAPITALS IT SEEMS AS IF YOU ARE SHOUTING!! Therefore, try not to send email text in capitals. 

Rule 7 – Use a professional email address

 This marks the message as legitimate and not spam. You should always have an email address that conveys your name so that the professor an idea of who’s sending the message. Never use email addresses, perhaps remnants of your grade-school days, that are not appropriate for use in a formal setting, such as “supergirlrocks@…” or “pizzalover@…”.

Rule 8 – Use professional salutations 

Don’t use laid-back, colloquial expressions like, ‘Hi’ or ‘Yo’. Address your professor directly; don’t just launch straight into a request. Examples: ‘Respected Dr. Kapoor’, ‘Dear, Ms. Gupta’, ‘Dr. Sharma, I hope this email finds you well…’. 

Rule 9 – Be polite

Don’t make demands, don’t accuse, remember to write please and thank you. Close your email with something polite like ‘Thanks’, ‘Thanks for your time’, ‘See you in class Wednesday’, ‘regards’, etc. Then re-type your first name 

Little Things To Help The Planet

It is extremely important that we look after our planet but often as teenagers it can be hard to donate money to support the cause or spend time volunteering, so here are a few things you can do instead.

1. Say no to the straw!

According to Indian pollution control board15,342 tonnes of plastic waste is produced in India every year. A big chunk of it is single use plastic straws, which can’t be recycled! These tiny straws can do a lot of harm to the ocean- it can kill all sorts of wildlife including sea turtles. So why not stop using plastic straws altogether? Some love using straws, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t anything you can do. Instead, switch to glass straws, paper straws or metal straws, here are some affordable options:

1. Reusable Stainless Steel Metal Straws Set (2 Bend & 2 Straight Straws, 1 Cleaning Brush) from Amazon

2. Reusable Stainless Steel Metal Straws (Copper Colour) – Pack of 4 (Straight & Bent) with Brush and Jute Pouch Cutlery from Amazon

3. Premium Biodegradable Paper straws from Amazon

4. Bent Glass Straws, Pack of 6 from Amazon

2. Invest in a tote

Whenever you’re out for grocery shopping, carry a reusable tote with you. Personally, I love a good tote bag, especially the ones you can fold up and tuck away in your shoulder bag. 

Here are some affordable options:

  1. Foldable Shopping Bags for Grocery from Amazon

2. Ikea Compact Size Foldable Reusable Bag from Amazon

3. Reusable mugs!

Every time you go out to the coffee shop and order your cappuccino to go you’re wasting a cup. To avoid this you might want to buy yourself a nice reusable cup. Not only do they reduce waste, but cups with lids are also a better alternative if you drink tea or coffee while you’re on the go. 

Here are some affordable options:

  1. Glass mug with a with Steel Steiner from Amazon

2. Biodegradable Bamboo Fibre Eco Travel Mug from Amazon

3. Silicone Travel Collapsible Coffee Cup By The June Shop

4. Bottle it up 

There is nothing better than a cute reusable water bottle in my opinion. There are so many to choose from and reduce the waste created by using plastic water bottles. 

Here are some affordable options:

1. Stainless Steel Water Bottle from Amazon

2. Glass Transparent Bottles, Set of 2 from Amazon,

3. Copper Water Bottle from Amazon

5. Wrap your gift up in paper

Avoid using things that are packaged  or wrapped in single use plastic. Try to use paper or paper bags instead. And if you can’t do that, look for recyclable packaging. 

Here are some affordable options:

  1. Paper wrappers from Amazon

2. Brown Paper Bags from Amazon

6. Walk more 

Using a car is one of the worst things for the environment. If the distance to be covered can be covered on foot then why not walk to where you want to be? It’s an easy way to exercise and you’re helping our planet too by reducing greenhouse gasses. If you can’t walk there, why not take the public transport? It’s cheaper and saves the planet. 

Unexpected Lessons I Learnt from The Bold Type

I discovered “The Bold Type” after a draining day at school. I had just screwed up an exam and I was in desperate need for an escape. Now, a couple years and four seasons later, “The Bold Type” is still a source of constant comfort. 

Whether it is professional or personal, there are plenty of life lessons that I picked up while watching the show. 

  1. DON’T BE AFRAID TO STAND UP FOR WHAT YOU BELIEVE IN– Kat is one of the most outspoken characters on the web, she like the title is the embodiment of bold. Kat does not shy away from confrontation and believes in taking a firm stand. She is comfortable expressing herself, her opinions and her beliefs no matter what. Her strong stands even cost Kat her dream job , nevertheless she did not shy away from doing the right thing and curved a new path for herself to continue doing what she loves to do even when the conditions aren’t favourable enough.
  2. FAILURE HAPPENS. THINGS DON’T WORK OUT SOMETIMES. MOVE ON– As someone who wants to prefect everything they do, this hits home. Failure is a part of life. Just because you failed at one thing doesn’t mean you’re bad at everything or that you can’t try again. 
  3. HAVING A SUPPORT GROUP IS IMPORTANT – Jane, Kat and Sutton support each other through thick and thin- Every bump in the road, every achievement, every rock bottom, every celebration. Get yourself a friends group that is there for you without any strings attached. Everything is a gazillion times better when you have a support group. Take it from me, 2020 would have been hell if it wasn’t for my girl gang.
  4. IT’S OKAY TO NOT BE SURE ABOUT YOUR CAREER CHOICES– In the course of 4 seasons, Sutton went from a personal assistant to a fashion assistant to an aspiring designer to a stylist. She admits that she is undecided about her career choices but is willing to experiment what she desires to see what suits her best. 
  5. YOU HAVE TO START FROM SQUARE 1– Since the first episode of season 1, the girls knew where they wanted to be, personally and professionally, and they were on the way to achieve it. However in the latter seasons we discover that the they all started from the bottom: Sutton was a temp, Jane started as an intern and Kat worked for someone who was clueless about how to make hits on any social media platform. It was a great reminder that everyone has to start at the bottom.
  6. BE INSPIRED BY STRONG WOMEN– Connecting with such strong female-empowering character leads in The Bold Type is so important for any viewer because it gives an insight into loving what you do, being more understanding, and realising that you don’t have to go through the tough times in life alone. Early on in the show, Kat starts explore her sexuality and discovers what it means to find yourself before giving it all to someone else. Jane is driven by what her heart tells her and she goes through numerous personal ups and downs and still finds a way to keep going. Having strong women around them as helped them overcome the obstacles they faced and to come to terms with what is going on in their lives. 

Being bold can be terrifying but it’s great to have shows like ‘The Bold Type’ inspire us and help us put into perspective how we can be bolder and live our life on our terms.

Upcycling Household Items

Hacks everyone should know

When it comes to upcycling household goods and items, it can involve creative and innovative thinking. Instead of letting item you no longer use pile up, gather dust, occupy unnecessary space or throwing them out in the garbage, which is definitely not recommend, give them new life.

To get your DIY routine warmed up, I’m sharing some ways to upcycle household items that are present in every home which aren’t in use anymore. Use these green hacks and shift your home to a more sustainable and waste free home. 

Hacks to Upcycle Household Items:

Before you toss your over used rubber gloves, that have seen better days, in the bin, cut the fingers off and then cut them further into small rings and use them as elastic rubber bands to keep miscellaneous items in place. 

Only a single sock left? Take the solo sock and turn it into a reusable and washable face mask by cutting the top section off, and then cut two slits in the heel portion for your ears. 

Turn your broken belt or any belt that you no longer style into a rustic shelf in a few easy steps. First, remove the buckle part, then cut your belt in half. Form a loop out of each half of the belt and then nail them into the wall. Then gently slide a piece of sleek board or an old piece of wood between the loops.

Upcycle your household and beauty products like candles in glass containers, glass bottles, old jewellery boxes, containers that you no longer use. First, properly cleaning them out, then use them as decorative storage- story your pins, makeup brushes, pens, use these to store spices in the kitchen or use them to store flowers in the bathroom. 

Do you have too many mason jars laying around? Create your own homemade scented candles- fill the jar with oil, lemon, and add a wick. Or just YouTube the procedure. 

A run in your favourite tights and you can’t wear them anymore? Get yourself nice beachy waves, watch this viral no-heat curls hack using a pair of tights.

Want to go grocery shopping in your shoes but fear them contacting any corona surface? Use on old shower cap to cover the sole. Throw them out before entering back. 

Want to read more such hacks? Check my favourites ones out: 

  1. 22 genius ways to upcycle everyday objects

2. How to Repurpose or Upcycle 38 Common Household Items

3. Reuse Everyday Objects! 10 DIY Home Decor Ideas and More Upcycling Hacks

4. Upcycling Household Items Quick Make

5. 11 Genius Ways To Upcycle Loads Of Household Items!

Benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar

What is apple cider vinegar?  

Apple cider vinegar, also known as ACV is produced during fermentation of apple cider. The sugar present in the apple is fermented by yeast/bacteria which first turns it into alcohol. Further the alcohol is fermented to turn into acetic acid. Apple cider vinegar contains 4-5% of acetic acid, to which many health benefits can be attributed to. Not all apple cider vinegar is created the same, the key is to look for organic, unfiltered, raw apple cider vinegar with “mother” which indicates that it contains probiotics. 

What are the health benefits of apple cider vinegar?

It is almost magical what apple cider vinegar can do for your health.  Let’s start with a list of benefits first and then get into details. 

  1. It can improve digestion
  2. It lowers blood sugar levels
  3. It improves insulin sensitivity
  4. It reduces belly fat
  5. It helps lowers cholesterol
  6. It helps sooth sore throat
  7. It lowers blood pressure and improves heart health
  8. It prevents and decreases the risk of getting cancer and slows down the growth of cancer cells
  9. It helps people to lose weight and increases satiety

Apple cider vinegar is also packed with nutrition. Let’s take a look at its nutritional composition to see what makes apple cider vinegar so special. Apple cider vinegar contains:

  • Magnesium
  • amino acids
  • antioxidants
  • iron
  • manganese
  • phosphorus
  • only three (3) calories per tablespoon

1. Improves Digestion– Drinking apple cider vinegar everyday can help regulate the amount of acid present in your stomach, which will lead to easier digestion. Like any other fermented food, unfiltered apple cider vinegar contains healthy bacteria that helps to keep your digestive system functioning properly. 

2. Lowers blood sugar levels and helps fight Diabetes– Apple cider vinegar has the ability to improve insulin sensitivity and it also helps lower the blood sugar levels. According to a research published by American Diabetes Association, taking two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar before going to bed can reduce fasting blood sugars. 

3. Detoxifies the Liver– Apple cider vinegar increasing energy levels and improves its natural blood filtration processes by flushing the liver.                                                                                                                                                                                                    

4. Helps You Lose Weight– Apple cider vinegar also helps with weight loss as it increases satiety, feeling of being full, which can help prevent cravings.

5. Inhibits the growth of Cancer Cells.  Many studies show that apple cider vinegar has some anti-cancer benefits to it as it is an alkalizing food that restores the acid balance of the body which is important because cancer cells thrive in an acidic environment.

6.) Strengthens the bones – Apple cider vinegar aids in the process of  absorption of calcium, which is essential to building strong bones.

8.) Lowers Cholesterol– Studies show that apple cider vinegar reduces the bad cholesterol- LDL and in turn increases the good cholesterol- HDL due to the natural antioxidants present in it.

How to incorporate apple cider vinegar into your diet?  

The best way to incorporate apple cider vinegar into your diet is to use it for salad dressings or dilute it in water and drink it as a beverage. 1–2 tablespoons (15–30 ml) mixed in a large glass of water and consumed daily.

Refer to this article for detailed consumption patterns for different uses- Apple Cider Vinegar Dosage: How Much Should You Drink per Day?

It’s best to start with small doses of apple cider, avoid taking large amounts because too much of vinegar can cause harmful side effects.

New Media And Reporting Gender Based Violence

Trigger Warning: Mention of Rape and Sexual Assault

New Media has also changed the style of journalism, such as the rise of online journalism, where facts, information, and reports are produced and distributed through the internet. News in the New Media era is enabled to spread more widely and rapidly. News content is now enriched by lots of digital elements such as images, embed videos, comment box. These elements make the information presented becomes more attractive. One of the salient characters of online journalism is its dependency on speed in delivering information. When we talk about the emerging trends in media, we cannot afford to overlook the role of online media in changing the scenario in the context of women’s issues. The content that the online media produces reflects the pattern of value the society. The prevailing attitude of society gets revealed through the way subjects dealing with women are treated by the media (Arpita Sharma, 2012). 

Media has the choice of acting as both, a protagonist and as a perpetrator-it can either reinforce the gender-based discrimination by portraying sensational and stereotypical images of women or it can provide balanced reportage that empowers women and not degrades them while exposing acts of gender-based violence. Rape cases and sexual assault cases are not a recent trend in the society but sensitive reportage and wide coverage by media while also bringing these issues forefront are relatively very new. 

Gender-based violence or GBV is violence that is directed against a person because of their gender. Both women and men experience GBV but the majority of victims are women and girls. GBV and violence against women are terms that are synonymous as it is widely acknowledged that most gender-based violence is inflicted on women and girls, by men. The issue of GBV reaches every corner of the world. The numbers of women and girls affected by this problem are shocking. According to the World Health Organization’s data from 2013, one in every three women has been beaten, compelled into sex or are abused. One in five women is sexually abused as a child, according to a 2014 report.

In coverage of GVB, several stereotypes are often perpetuated by the new media. These include that rape is similar to sex, that the assailant is motivated by female lust, that the assailant is perverted, crazy or a monster, that the woman provokes rape or assault, and that only women are only victims. Scholars have found that these stereotypes and myths are pervasive in media coverage of rape and assault cases. Not only the language and the framing of the headlines but also the visuals used in the articles regarding GVB play an important role in the general perception of these issues.

In Gender-Sensitive Indicators for Media (UNESCO, 2012), under Category B- Gender Portrayal In Media Content, B1.5- Strategic Objective 5 states the indicators for the coverage of gender-based violence. Three of them are-

  1. Use of non-judgmental language, distinguishing between consensual sexual activity and criminal acts, and taking care not to blame the victim/survivor for the crime 

2. Use of the term ‘survivor’ rather than ‘victim’ unless the violence-affected person uses the latter term or has not survived 

3. Use of background information and statistics to present gender-based violence as a societal problem rather than as an individual, personal tragedy 

Terms such as ‘victim’ or ‘survivor’ are often used to describe individuals who undergo these experiences. The term ‘victim’ reiterates feelings of helplessness and lack of female agency, while the term survivor connotes a sense of strength and resilience. However, the affected person should have a say in what to refer them as. The ‘victim’ terminology limits individual self-agency and identity. It is important to note that experiences of violence do not define the individual, but rather are a piece of a larger self-identity. Such labels focus on experiences of violence and presuppose an individual’s inability to change or undergo any personal development to transform their identity into a peaceful, empowered personality. 

Images of sexual violence in the media often depicts women as covering their face, being silenced by looming hands, teary faces, large shadows near the woman, are some of the visual examples. These images not only fuel the stereotypes of women as helpless and weak, but also these images are also extremely triggering for the survivors of sexual assault and rape. 

When media reports women who have been assaulted or raped as nothing but victims, society can disengage and fail to take the issue as a broader societal issue and fail to take responsibility for any individual or group action to change it. It is crucial then for journalists to report on GBV in an informed way and to have a good theoretical understanding of the roots of these gender based violence’s and what needs to change in society. Otherwise, they can do harm by perpetuating patriarchal stereotypes and falsehoods. 

How Is COVID-19 Impacting The Environment?

A BRIEF ON COVID-19:

The coronavirus disease- COVID-19 is a highly transmittable and pathogenic viral infection caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 or SARS-CoV-2, which emerged in Wuhan, China and spread around the world. Analysis revealed that SARS-CoV-2 is phylogenetically related to severe acute respiratory syndrome-like bat viruses, therefore bats could be the possible primary reservoir. The intermediate source of origin and transfer to humans is not known, however, the rapid human to human transfer has been confirmed widely. There is no clinically approved antiviral drug or vaccine available to be used against COVID-19. However, few broad-spectrum antiviral drugs have been evaluated against COVID-19 in clinical trials, resulted in clinical recovery.

ORIGIN:

The first human infections were reported at the end of December 2019 in Wuhan, Hubei province in China when a cluster of 41 pneumonia cases was identified. Deeper analysis showed that it was a novel coronavirus. A third – 66% of the cases – had direct exposure to the Huanan Seafood market. Fish, shellfish, wildlife, snakes, birds and several different types of meat and carcasses were sold at this market. The market was closed immediately, and it has not reopened since. (source: ScienceDirect.com, https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0140673620301835?via%3Dihub)

The strongest speculation of the origin has been that the virus is somehow linked to the market given two thirds of the first batch of people infected had had ties with it. But even this hasn’t been proved yet. Nevertheless, Bats, in particular, have been studied closely because they are considered to be the natural host of coronaviruses.

this is not my image, credit to the artist

EFFECT of covid-19 on the environment:

The objective of this article is to analyse the positive and the negative environmental impact of this abhorrent pandemic, Covid-19.

The Positives-

  • Improved Air Quality: 

The coronavirus has temporarily slashed air pollution levels around the world (source: European Space Agency). Readings from ESA’s Sentinel-5P satellite also show that over the past six weeks, the levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) over cities and industrial clusters in Asia and Europe were markedly lower than in the same period last year. Nitrogen dioxide is produced from car engines, power plants and other industrial processes and is thought to exacerbate respiratory illnesses such as asthma. While not a greenhouse gas itself, the pollutant originates from the same activities and industrial sectors that are responsible for a large share of the world’s carbon emissions and that drive global heating. Take transport, for example, which makes up 23% of global carbon emissions. Driving and aviation are key contributors to emissions from transport, contributing 72% and 11% of the transport sector’s greenhouse gas emissions respectively. (Source: http://www.ipcc.ch)

If we consider the case of Delhi, on 6th April, for the third week Delhi continued to breathe clean. The weekend before this saw the best air quality in the national capital region (NCR) in 2020, with an average AQI of 46. The weekend before that, it was at 159.  There was a remarked improvement in air quality in the NCR, as the harmful PM10 and PM2.5 levels were down by 35-40% in Delhi (source: The Economic Times).

The visible positive impacts whether through improved air quality or reduced greenhouse gas emissions – are but temporary. This is because they come on the back of an economic slowdown and human distress. During the pandemic, these emissions will stay lowered. But what will happen when the safety measures are eventually lifted?  The people will be back to regular.

  • Some Cut Downs on Wastage:

During the coronavirus outbreak, the habits that are coincidentally good for the climate might be travelling less, like cutting down on food waste as we experience shortages due to stockpiling.

  • Rethinking how we use energy:

A benefit of no travel and a lockdown is we will spend some time rethinking how we use energy.

The Negatives-

  • Increase In Use Of Single-Use Plastics:

With as many as 12,82,931 cases recorded in 211 countries ( as of 8 April 2020, 05:30 GMT, Source: WHO), the United Nations’ World Health Organization has recently declared the fast-spreading COVID-19 outbreak as a pandemic. It is natural then that citizens around the globe are hastening to take every possible measure to safeguard their health against the virus. The most widespread of these precautions is the extensive use of surgical face masks.

These masks are mainly made of non-woven fabric such as polypropylene, polystyrene, polycarbonate, polyethylene or polyester. While they keep out bacteria effectively, the masks are plastic-based, liquid-resistant products that have a long afterlife after they are discarded, ending up in landfill or oceans.  

Given that surgical masks are supposed to be worn for no longer than one day, their disposal- along with that of empty hand sanitizer bottles and soiled tissue papers- is leading to a massive trail of clinical waste in the environment.

Take the case of Wuhan, for example. The Chinese city which has been at the epicentre of the pandemic and which is home to over 11 million people, is reported to have generated 200 tons of clinical trash on a single day (24 February 2020), four times the amount the city’s only dedicated facility can incinerate per day. (source: scmp.com)

  • Mountain Of Waste:

With consumers stuck at home, there’s been a surge in the amount of household garbage as people increasingly shop online and order meals to be delivered, which come with a lot of packaging. (source: time.com)

Meanwhile, China is drowning under medical waste produced by hospitals including face masks and single-use tissues. If the waste is not handled properly, the garbage collectors are likely to catch and spread the infection

  • More Hand Wash, More Use Of Water:

Today, the only defence against the pandemic is that we wash our hands frequently — 20 seconds each time. The fact is, clean water remains the most important preventive health measure in the world.

A proper hand wash involves lathering soap and scrubbing hands on both sides for at least 20 seconds, according to WHO guidelines. A 30 to 40 second hand wash would use up around four litres of water if the tap is on, or two litres with the tap closed, while scrubbing with soap. Around 20 to 40 litres of water is used up every day, with the assumption that every person cleans her hands at least 10 times a day, instead of a usual average of five times a day.

A family of five members would thus need 100 to 200 litres of water per day only to wash hands. This would result in the generation of around 200 litres of wastewater per day, a 20 to 25 per cent increase in water demand and generation of wastewater from human settlements. (source: downtoearth.org.in)

It is also important to note that a large numbers of people in India and vast parts of the still emerging world do not have access to water, forget its portability. 

  • Climate Issues Take a Backseat:

Before the coronavirus, momentum seemed to be building behind governments and businesses taking steps to address climate change. As 2020 began, wildfires were destroying vast swaths of Australia; and the climate activist Greta Thunberg had become a household name. But the spread of the coronavirus has thrown an even more urgent crisis at governments and business: how to save the lives of millions of people, prevent health care systems from collapsing, and shore up economies that must now enter something comparable to an induced coma. 

CONCLUSION:

In conclusion, the coronavirus crisis has been having short term positive environmental effects but long term negative effects on the environment. Production has decreased, there’s less pressure on energy resources, less fuel burnt in transportation, fewer carbon emissions, and less air pollution. However, all of this is temporary and in the long term, the environmental impacts of the coronavirus such as water shortage, increase in plastic production and waste and issues relating to correct waste disposable, to name a few, will pose as a greater problem.

Friendship And Physical Distancing

Introverts or extrovert, social interaction is a need for everyone. No one is liking the fact that physical distancing isn’t taking place on their terms.

Self Isolation, physical distancing and ‘Real Friends’

To give you a breakup: Some of my friends aren’t taking self-isolation very well. Some don’t seem to be minding it at all. And then there are those who, on the surface, seem to be taking it well, but in reality are carrying the heavy load of being ‘the strong friend’.

In April, a tweet by the handle @/tiamowry got viral, it read “During this pandemic, you’ll really see who your friends are. Who’s really checking up on you? Making sure you’re okay? Remember that when all this is over?”. It was deleted after the backlash, but the sheer number of likes, retweets and all the ‘yes omg, you’re right’ comments it received made it clear that a lot of us follow the same mentality that the tweet reflected. The mentality, in plain words, is being self-absorbed. Sure, all of us want to receive love and feel loved. We want constant reassurance from our friends and family that care about us.

However, to go ahead and suggest that a friend who is not constantly checking up on you isn’t a ‘real’ friend is parochial. This mentality implies that the pandemic is only affecting you and your mental health. It fails to acknowledge that it is also affecting everyone else, which includes your ‘real’ friends.

The last thing you should do is measure the strength of your friendships based on how often a friend is checking up on you as if they don’t have other things that could be worrying them or occupying their time during a pandemic.

Personally, I’ve been checking in on my friends, talking to them as much as I can. Doing as much listening as sharing. In no way am I doing this expecting everyone else to do the same for me. While saying this, it is also important that I mention the context- I’m in an extremely privileged position than most in this whole situation. For one, I have a roof over my head, three hot meals and not any financial burden to keep me worried about. I am someone who can be described as an ‘overly productive’ person during the pandemic. While on most day I like to be buried in work, but there are also days when everything starts to take a toll on me, on those days, sometimes I’m busy pretending to be strong for people even though I can hardly seem do anything for my own mental health. The other times I prioritise myself, something I learned the hard way.

Who SHOULD YOU CHECK UP ON?

There is no fixed answer to this question. It could be people with emotional/mental disorders, your current friends, old friends, new friends, family or even distant relatives. It is okay to do this as long as it doesn’t cost you your own peace of mind. You can not help anyone if you yourself are struggling. If you are over extending yourself it is okay to not check in with people you regularly check in with. You can keep yourself first without dissolving in guilt.

UNLEARNING

Like I mentioned before, I personally don’t take offence to whether or not a friend drops me a text or randomly video calls me. The pandemic isn’t just about me nor is it just about them. It is something that we are all collectively experiencing combined with our own personal struggles.

Take a quick moment to practice a more open and accommodating mindset.

Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before Graduating School

It’s again the time to apply for colleges while you’re just out of school. This stage in life always involves uncertainty and stress, and in addition COVID-19 has made it even more challenging for students. Here are some things I wish I knew before I got out of school-

It’s okay to not have everything figured out just yet

I’m sure you have heard all types of questions about your future- ranging from which college would you like to get into to what do you want to major in, from what type of career do you want after college to what’s your plan-B. If you know the answer to such questions then, congratulations you’re the lucky one. But It’s okay if you don’t know the answers to these right now. Most people don’t have their entire life figured out at age of 17/18. You’ll get there eventually. Try exploring one question at a time instead of stressing about all of these at once. Small steps, remember?

Don’t be afraid to get out of your comfort zone

This is probably one of the biggest things I had to learn after getting out of school. It’s so important that you learn to step out of your comfort zone while you’re in school. School offers you a very sheltered environment, but college doesn’t. You’ll have to make ways to achieve things you want and even go and extra mile for them. Inculcating this habit will benefit you in the long run. You surely don’t want to miss out on opportunities in college simply because you were afraid to take a risk.

You and your friends might grow apart

I was fortunate enough to experience my school friendships grow even stronger after leaving school. But this wan’t the case with most of the friend groups in my school batch. It is something that happens when you all jet off to different cities, when you meet new people who you connect with better or when you see that people who you were close to in school aren’t making as much effort to communicate as you are, which happens a lot. It’s highly unlikely for your entire friend group to end up in the same university or college after graduation or for them to make the same efforts they were making when you all were meeting each day. Either way, don’t be discouraged if you realise you’re not as close as you were in school.

ask for help

Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Whether it’s your pride or your fear holding you back, try and get over it. You don’t have to force yourself to struggle when you can ask the ones you trust for help. Whether it’s related to academics or your personal struggle adjusting to a new environment, reach out for help. Looking back you will wish you had asked for help when you had the chance to. This will make your life a lot more easier.

PRIORITIzE your health, physical and mental

Learn to prioritize your health and pay attention to what your body needs from you. Pulling all nighters day after day after day will destroy you and your focus. And No, you can’t survive the whole day at college on a diet of lays and coke forever. Don’t skip your meals. Your health is very important.

You don’t have to be the same person you were in high school

College is the perfect time to reinvent yourself. It’s the perfect time to unlearn concepts and opinions that you no longer agree with. It’s the perfect time to to better yourself educating yourself with issues that are revenant around you. University offers you an environment suitable to reinvent yourself, it offers you the space to give educated opinions and to find like minded people who you willingly want to interact with online school where you had to interact with your classmates only. If you were the brainiac that always had a secret passion for art, then join your college’s art club. If in school you were into sports but always appreciated and enjoyed debating, then join the debate club while participate in the sports activities of your choice. You don’t have to stay the same and that’s the beauty of it.

How Can You Avoid Getting Sucked Into Toxic Behaviour Online

A lot of us, without even realising, engage in toxic and unhealthy behaviours online. I’ll shares some tips that I follow for avoiding getting sucked into such behaviours.

RECOGNISING TOXIC BEHAVIOUR ONLINE

People today are always on some form of social media all the time, whether it’s Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, TikTok, Twitter, the list is never ending. Though using social media has its own benefits, I feel as though a lot of people get trapped in unhealthy behaviour patterns online without even knowing, as it isn’t something we talk about often.

step 1: Unfollow the ones you compare yourself to

It is a drastic step, but I really do believe that this helps you to stop comparing yourself to others online. If you compare yourself to people online and if you’ve been doing for a while, then it will be natural for you to compare yourself to the ones that you deem perfect. The best way to stop doing this, is to unfollow such accounts and fill your feed with accounts that are raw and make you feel good and real about yourself. After you have completed this step, you will begin to feel positive about yourself when you scroll your feed.

step 2: Make yourself Realise that it’s just one photo not their whole life

When you post a picture on any social media platform, do you tend to post when you’re having a bad day, or do you post it when you know you look your best? It’s more likely that you post a picture when you feel good about yourself, when you’re enjoying yourself, when you’re having fun and you then post the highlight of your day. When we look a someone’s picture, we automatically assume that you know everything about their lives, and that everything in their life is as perfect at their post. When you realise that every single person tends to post only the bits of the day that they love or enjoy, the sooner you’ll be able to ditch the unhealthy pattern and it will instantly make you feel good and much happierWhen you realise that every single person tends to post only those bits of their day that they love or enjoy, the sooner you’ll be able to ditch this unhealthy pattern and it will instantly make you feel good and much happier about where you are in life.

step 3: Set aside time to scroll

But I seem to have even 5 free minutes to myself I will pick up my phone and scrolled through my social media feed as if it is my daily newspaper. But this is something that I am working on and that something that you should aim to change too. The more you endlessly scroll through your social media feed, be it any platform, the more you will be out of touch with reality. That is why it is important to set aside some time for scrolling. In a long run this would allow you to focus throughout the day on things that you actually need to do as you know whenThat is why it is important to set aside some time for scrolling. In a long run this would allow you to focus throughout the day on things that you actually need to do as you know when you have allotted time to scroll.

Social Media can be a positive and an empowering place, but when/if it starts to have a negative impact on your mental health then something needs to change. Start making these small CHANGES today – you can do it

Taking Care Of Your Mental Health In The Times Of COVID-19

Breathe In. Breathe Out.

Hey, It’s normal to feel stressed, nervous, anxious, drained or worried right now.

COVID-19 has most likely changed every aspect of your life- your family dynamics, your eqaution with your friends, your social life, your schooling, your career, your interests, your habits and even you. As you deal with uncertainity and all the emotions that tag along, it’s crucial that along with your physical health, you take care of your mental health as well. Here are some things that I religiously follow and have worked for me. I hope they work for you as well!

You deserve patience, so be patient with yourself

  • Allow others to help you when you’re struggling. Don’t be shy to ask for help from those you trust and the ones who care about you. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of strength, strength in acknowledging that you need help and that you’re willing to work towards a better self.
  • Remind yourself that “It will pass”. Like any other moment, any other journey, any other hurdle in life, this too shall pass, for better. We can’t control what’s happening around us, and with the lack of control and constant bugging of how uncertain the times are, it’s important to remind ourselves we are doing what we can and that’s enough for today.
  • Self-reflect and see what you feel is important to you right now.

Reach out

  • Call your close friends and share your feelings with each other. As simple as it sounds, it is therapeutic, and will leave you in a better state than before. This will help lift off the weight from your chest.
  • Arrange a video call with friends, seeing their faces is as close to physical proximity as you can get right now.
  • Text a friend you haven’t spoken to in a long time, rekindle with them. Maybe reminiscence the times you spent together, memorable moments that you shared, tell them something that remind you of them, go where the conversation takes you.

Take care of your body

  • Since there is very less to no physical activity. Make an active effort to do any form of exercise that you like: walking, jogging, skipping rope, dancing, Zumba, weights, yoga.
  • Get your quota of fresh air during the day. Inhale as much oxygen as you can.
  • Stick to a sleeping routine. In times that are so uncertain and unstable, having a routine can make you feel in control and calm about your surroundings. If you’re having trouble with sleeping, check my article- What should you do if you’re struggling to sleep in quarantine?
  • Practice deep breathing. Try 4-7-8 breathing if you feel anxious or stressed.

Eat your meals

  • Since most of us have erratic sleep schedules it’s no secret that we’re skipping out on meals. Try and eat three small meals each day.
  • Don’t starve yourself. It’s normal to not want to have full meals sometimes. Choose a trusted snack and rely on it whenever you feel hungry but not enough to have a meal.
  • Stay hydrated. Drink 4-6 cups of water daily to avoid dehydration. Warning signs of dehydration can include dizziness, weakness, low blood pressure, or urine that’s dark in color. (source: Harvard Medical School)

Why it’s okay to not be productive right now

Pandemic or not, your self worth is not proportional to your productivity

Like me, if social media has become your only out to boredom, you may have noticed conversations about the notions of ‘productivity’ rocketing. Whether it is your twitter mate updating you with their daily baking sessions or an Instagram friend showing off the pages and pages of work that they finished, or your family groups bombarding you with motivational posts about how to spend your free time, if you have any. There’s so much pressure right now to make the most of this ‘free’ time. It’s exhausting to even try to keep up. The rhetoric around productivity is so romanticised, glamorised and even glorified. However, every time I come across a reminder to be productive, I find myself thinking whether is it really a practical thing or can being productive everyday be a damaging to oneself?

As a university student doing her under graduation, the increase of workload, since the onset of Coronavirus in India, hasn’t gone unnoticed- being given a task after task, a deadline after deadline took a toll on all students. At the start of lockdown, I had internals, I was constantly pulling all nighters revising for the tests, completing assignments and keeping up with the daily workload of the online lessons. In this sense, it felt like nothing even while being locked up in our homes. There was always something that had to be submitted, something that needed to be revised or something that I needed to start working on. I was trying, as was everyone, but oftentimes, it felt like all the efforts amounted to nothing in the end. The workload didn’t end with the end of the semester, having to take-up internships in the middle of a pandemic caused immeasurable pressure and paranoia. My work plans are disrupted by distractions, I find myself unknowingly overextending and the balance between work & free time has become invisible. Not to mention the stress is unavoidable, and I constantly find myself waking up wishing for the day to end.

Is there anything that can be done?

Last year, if someone told us that we would be trapped inside our homes in a state of quarantine due to a deadly pandemic, we would have laughed it off. So, at the time our worst and unimaginable fears are coming true, being plunged into uncertainty does not mean that we have to function effectively alongside it. And therefore, being productive is no longer as important as it was before.

It is of utmost importance to acknowledge that not everyone is fortunate enough to be able to use this situation to hone their skills, try new hobbies, explore new passions or build something unforgettable. In the midst of rapid unemployment, losing your loved ones, anxiety caused by separation from friends and family, isolation and loneliness, bad mental health is inevitable- and that’s okay. It’s okay not to be okay, it’s okay needing to take time off. It’s okay to listen to your body. Don’t be mad at yourself for not being able to deal with the situation as efficiently as your friend or your parent or your Instagram mutual. Getting out of the bed at a reasonable time is a task enough. Not putting off taking care of yourself and your needs is a task enough. Keeping up with your friends and checking up on them is a task enough. Spending time with your family is a task enough. Doing these tasks is no where near the perfect productive day I imagined – and it won’t be for a long while. I was meant to be getting excited about interning opportunities and travelling more and capturing more. Now when everything has gone south, the task of prioritising yourself is a rebellious act.

How can we change this mindset?

If you’re anything like me, university and work mean that I can not entirely ignore all my responsibilities in favour of self-care. Prioritising what you have to do is a good start to make sure you can do what needs to be done. Practice different methods or working. For me, sitting at my desk for more than 7 hours, staring at the laptop screen is quite overwhelming, mentally exhausting and doesn’t leave me feeling fulfilled. Taking breaks to perhaps watch an episode from a show that I’m currently hooked to or to mindlessly scroll on twitter ensures that I feel the balance.

This unsettling environment can be taxing. Forgive yourself for making mistakes.

3 Things To Do When A Friend Opens Up About Their Mental Health Struggles

All of us want to be there for our friends when they need us. We want to help them and provide the support in the best way we know. Nonetheless, when a friend tells us about their current struggle with their mental health, it can be challenging to decide what to do or what to say. It is valid to be worried about not making the situation worse or upsetting them by saying the wrong thing at the wrong time. Here are 3 things that will help you support your friend in a way that’s healthy for the both of you.

Seamless pattern of a crowd of many different people profile heads. Vector background.

1. Listen to them

We are constantly hearing people talk which may lead us to think that listening is easy. However, the goal is to listen and not just hear, to be a good listener, you must be able to put all your thoughts and judgements to one side. Try not to interrupt them while they are taking or rush them into talking. It’s most ideal to have the conversation with them when you do not have something to do soon since this can add to the pressure which could make you want to rush the conversation and make them feel unheard or worse, abandoned. You should also try to stay calm, process the information as and when you receive it.

2. Ask them what they would like from you

Sometimes people just want to be seen, be heard, or just want to get something off their chest. Other times they simply want advice or maybe reassurance. Asking them what they would like from you will help you to support them in the better way and it will ensure they do not leave feeling unsatisfied or unheard. Try to be as honest, patient and kind as possible when responding to your them. In dealing with such situations, you can be most helpful by asking yourself these three questions: ‘What’s best for my friend?’. ‘What would I want the most from my friend if I was in this situation?’ and ‘How would I want to be treated had I been in the same situation?’

3. Check up on them

If you feel mentally stable enough and are able to, keep asking your friend how they are and how they feel, take the time out to candidly listen to what they have to say, keep repeating this cycle. Mental health problems don’t vanish after one conversation. These problems can also be incredibly isolating. Regualrly checking up on your friend is one step closer to making them feel a little less alone, visible and will also serve as a reminder that you care about them.

It is okay if you can’t always be there for the people you love and care about. We all have our own challenges and struggles. If you do not feel up to it, you should signpost them to others who they can talk to like some other close friend, a trusted family member or a mental health organisation that can professionally help.

What should you do if you’re struggling to sleep in quarantine?

For many of us, quarantine has disrupted our daily routines which have in turn affected our sleep patterns. Sleep is essential for the well being of our mental health, so if like me, you’re too struggling to sleep during this challenging time, I’ve picked out three things that have personally helped me to relax and fall asleep.

Avoid checking the news before sleeping

I’ve noticed that if I watch or read the news before I go to sleep, it leaves me with anxiety, feelings of uncertainty, and even stress which then keeps me awake thinking about what’s to come next. Getting your news updates in the morning is so much easier for me as it gives me the whole day to process what’s happening in the world around me instead of trying to process all the heavy information at night.

Create a routine for yourself

For a person who has not believed in maintaining strict routines, I discovered that creating a routine for yourself can help you by providing a structure and offer feelings of normality, which for me now has taken away a lot of the stress. In the time that is so uncertain and unstable, having a routine can make you feel in control and calm about your surroundings. Try and stick to the same sleep schedule at night so that you can follow your daily routine without any trouble.

have a relaxing bath before sleeping

Taking time out of your schedule to have a relaxing bath or shower can help you fall asleep faster and also improves the overall quality of sleep. The cooling down of your body helps build a strong urge to sleep which can send you into a deeper sleep. This is something that has undoubtedly helped with my sleep struggles over the past month.

acknowledge and accept the change

At this time it is very difficult to not feel anxious about what the future holds and what’s to come. It’s human to feel worried about yourself and the ones you love and care about and it is also normal for there to be a change in the sleeping and eating patterns to feel more comfortable. But if you feel like you’re losing control of things around you, take a deep breath in and remember that this will not last forever.

4 Productive Things To Do During Quarantine

REMINDER: IT’S OKAY TO NOT BE PRODUCTIVE EVERYDAY. YOUR WORTH IS INDEPENDENT OF YOUR PRODUCTIVITY

PART 1

Here are 4 productive things to do during quarantine:

1. Learn to play an instrument

Playing an instrument is a great skill, you could start with an instrument that you have always thought of playing- a guitar, a ukulele, a tabla or an instrument that is fascinating to you. Though it will take some time to get used to the habit of following YouTube tutorials or online lessons, but once you get a hang of it, you’ll realise just how rewarding it is. With so much time on your hands you’ll not be under any pressure to reschedule your day and make time out of you busy schedule, instead you’ll be able to take it at your pace and pay more attention to details. 

Here’s a list of easy to learn instruments: Top 15 musical instruments you can easily learn & play

2. Read more books

There are hundreds of thousands of authors and an even bigger amount of books you could read. Books are an essential item for improving your language as well as your vocabulary. They develop your knowledge – and like instruments, they help sharpen your memory. If you don’t want to shell out money from your pocket and/or are sceptical to order paperbacks online from stores like Amazon or Flipkart, the easier way out is free e-book websites. 

You can try and give EPDF or PDF Drive a shot. 

3. Bake

Baking is incredible and extremely fulfilling: mix a few ingredients, put it in the oven – and bingo! You have a tasty treat for yourself. Baking can also be advantageous for mental health as it is very therapeutic and calming for the brain. Research show that it is a great stress reliever and can leave you feeling happier and more positive.  

Here are some YouTube channels that will make you want to run to you kitchen to get your supplies

  1. Bake With Shivesh
  2. The Terrace Kitchen
  3. Spice Bangla

4. Learn a new language

If you want to level up and attempt a more challenging activity, which will benefit you exceedingly- learn a new language. It is scientifically proven that learning a new language makes you smarter and helps in developing cognitive abilities. Learning a new language help strengthen your listening and multitasking skills. Research also suggests that it helps prevent the onset of Alzheimers. 

There are plenty apps and e-learning wesbites that can help you learn a language. These include: Affordable yet excellent language courses on Udemy and Coursera also offers such free and paid courses by prestigious universities from all over the globe. 

Lets Defeat Insta-Anxiety

The new common question that pops up in everyone’s mind is- How do we move past our anxieties and insecurities so we can grow our personally on social media?

1. Unfollow your celebrities

This can be hard, and it can even take a long time, especially if, like me, you follow hundreds of celebrities alone. It can be hard to break from the habit of constantly checking what your favourite celeb is doing or wearing but for the sake of your mental health you need to make this move.

You can easily find any ground breaking news of your favourite in the on sites like BuzzFeed or Cosmopolitan. 

2. Follow real and actual people

Instead of page 3 celebrities, follow more people who are like you, real people. If you are a writer, follow more writers. If you are a local blogger owner, follow other local bloggers. If you are an illustrator, follow more illustrators. If you just appreciate any form of art, be it singing, dancing, spoken poetry, follow more such artists. You’ll come to realise that everyone has flaws, no one is really perfect. On the upside, you’ll be lifting other talented people up, and they will be lifting you up. All will grow together. 

3. Do your own photoshoot

Take your phone and a tripod if you have one, and just walk around your house. Wander around and see what catches your eye, maybe it’s a well-lit corner in your house that you never noticed before or a tiny window with a sky view. Snap a picture or ten, then move onto the next thing. 

Look for the beauty in yourself and the world around you. Be raw, you don’t always have to filter your photos, you are beautiful as you are. Be as much or as less artistic you want to be while taking pictures. The more photos you take, the better you’ll get at it, don’t give up.

4. Try scheduling your posts

For me, scheduling Instagram posts saves me from a lot of fear. It’s less scary when you aren’t actively thinking about posting something. 

With Facebook’s Creator Studio, you can easily schedule your Instagram posts. For this all you need is a Facebook page and an Instagram page that are connected to each other, that’s it, it is that easy!

No more third-party scheduling apps that don’t even automatically post the images. Now, you can plan everything out in advance, schedule it for whenever you want, sit back and (try to) relax.

How Social Media Affects Your Self Awareness

I recently acquainted myself with a new term called ‘Smiling Depression’. This term is unusually used for people who appear happy on the outside but are in actual fact not happy. Because of social media, this condition has become more prevalent in social media users. 

We all know of Maslow’s hierarchy of our basic needs- self actualisation is one of the needs we have as an individual and we are constantly making efforts to craft this image that is better than the current one. We try so much that this becomes almost obsessive. As humans, we are set up with the basic instincts of self-improvement and we always somehow seem to know how to identify someone who we feel is ahead of us. This creates the an endless loop of ‘smiling depression’. 

Social media is an easy and dreamy out to reality. To create the image of a person who simply wakes up fresh and rejuvenated face, has time for make-up and heads out stylish without even trying to be, but how many of us can testify it as that easy? Very few if any. We all need to realise that regardless of the amount of time we spend creating these social identities online, we are only simple humans. Others are just better at creating and embracing these images and facades on social media.

So next time you are scrolling through your Instagram or Facebook feed, realise these points before you slip into ‘smiling depression’:

  1. You need a time-out from social media, maybe even for the rest of the day. People are not who they are online, their image on social media is highly curated and does not always represent reality. 
  2. Confront the negative thoughts and ask yourself  ‘Where are they coming from?’. Remind yourself we all wear a mask online, no one is as happy as they appear to be on social media. Everyone has problems, even celebrities. 
  3. If social media is your boredom killer where you scroll endlessly the whole day, logout and grab a book or download gaming app or do something that you like and you’re good at. Be more productive in real life and less online.

13 THINGS I WISH I’D KNOWN AT THE AGE OF 13

  1. You don’t need to be peer pressured to do anything you aren’t comfortable with.
  2. Being trendy doesn’t count for much and instead, it is  feeling confident in whatever you wore that mattered.
  3. How important it is to stand up for people you love.
  4. To do what scares you. If you think you wrote a great story, stand up and read it in class! You’ll never know unless you try it.
  5. Don’t ghost. Remember that friend you’ve drifted apart from? Don’t blow her off, instead ask her what’s going on with you two from her perspective. Confrontation is what will get you through Senior School.
  6. Saving Journals. Just look back on how you saw the world at 12, and I bet you’ll have a day full of laughter.
  7. Significant others will always come in time. Right now it might seem like everyone you know is having the time of their lives with their best friend and that your life would improve if a best friend was by your side. But take it from me- Concentrate on good friendships first, if a closer relationship comes out of it, great and even if it doesn’t, then connections that will last won’t make you regret anything.
  8. You’re going to change so much, you might as well accept it now. You might be thinking that who you are now is who you will always be. But the world is ever changing and you’re going to grow for better. So, go with it!
  9. You don’t have to always fit in. Let individuality take the wheel.
  10. Don’t tolerate white lies and don’t tell white lies. The more you get caught up in lies and made-up stories, the more difficult it will be to survive in school. 
  11. Go (slightly) nuts! This is your opportunity in life to be slightly stupid, to be the life of the party. Because it turns out being slightly nuts in board classes isn’t as socially acceptable.
  12. For the love of everything, please stop making a puff. You’ll realise this when you look back at your pictures and cry for 5 days straight. Also hair straight down or pulled back is a hundred times better.
  13. You create the definition of happiness. Not your fake friends. Not your classmates and not even the society.

3 Ways for Students to Make Money Online Without Getting a Job

USE Depop

Similar to eBay, Depop is a platform for those who want to sell their clothing, jewelry, artwork, and anything else under the sun. The app is well known for being populated by vintage lovers and those who want to reduce their carbon footprint by practicing sustainability. The app also includes item recommendations based on your taste, top sellers based on style, and world favourites. Users can decide to follow shops and sellers in order to keep track of the items they are selling.

Starting up on this app is very elementary. The user only needs to connect their Paypal account for transactions and other payments. In addition to payments, many sellers and users on the app also participate in trades where they trade items from either store of similar value. After this step, the only thing left is setting up an account with a profile photo, a biography, and social media links, if that’s what your heart desires. From here, you can post photos of whatever you want to sell and choose the price.

If your item is a clothing item, a jewellery piece, or an accessory of any sort, wearing it in a photo for reference is normally preferred by buyers so they can see how it may fit another individual. Always take as many photos of your product as possible. This usually increases the likelihood that someone will buy it because you show all the angles of the product as well as the flaws it may have. Include a bunch of tags related to your item under the post. These tags are used for when other users search an item through keywords.

Youtube

For creators from all walks of life, Youtube is one of Gen Z’s golden media platforms. From compilations to make up tutorials to daily vlogs to art tutorials to photography tips, the platform is extremely versatile. And this is where you come in. Like the previous idea, take something you like and start a channel on it. If you’re really religious, start a channel on things you have learned or practice. If you love makeup, become a practicing beauty guru. Or maybe even just do daily vlogs and stream your routine in quarantine. The possibilities of Youtube are endless, but that doesn’t always promise you money. Many Youtubers correlate their large incomes from Youtube to brand deals, views and hard work But the message on success in the Youtube space is clear: you need to be patient. Success on Youtube doesn’t just come with the click of the upload button, you need to work for it or do something that is worth remembering. 

SELL YOUR ART

This option is much more universal than you think. Whether you are a skilled artist or not, selling paintings or art on eBay is much more simple than one would expect. If you’re an amateur then start by making a small abstract piece. If you’ve mastered an art form then you have an upper hand, show your art skills, create more art pieces since you have more time on your hand.

Heads- I Stay, Tails- I go

Advice for making taxing decisions about friendships, and not by tossing a coin on google.

Most of us, at some point in our lives, have been in friendship limbo- a weird patch of uncertainty where we don’t know whether to stay in or leave a friendship. There are several catalysts that can lead us to limbo land, and the tricky part is that the only way to get out of it is to make an ultimate decision. Like Marilla Cuthbert choosing whether to keep Anne or not, you may feel torn about the outcomes of two completely contrasting options. Unlike Marilla’s initial quick judgement, I definitely recommend taking just enough time decide what you want to do. 

If you’re unsure about your text move, don’t stress about it. Take the time you need. Are friendship breakups terrible? yes, but so are unhealthy and toxic friendships. Whether your friendship limbo is a result of the ever changing dynamics, circumstances or conflicts, it is worth gaining some perspective on the friendship and checking in with yourself by asking questions like these: 

  1. Does this friendship bring joy to me? 
  2. Does this person make my life better by being in it? 
  3. Is this person treating me with love and respect?

For now, with these three questions in mind, let’s get going.

Should I stay if the circumstances are bad?

Sometimes, the choice to end or continue a friendship only comes down to the current circumstances. Maybe your friend is moving to a different city. Maybe you’re both in the same city but are attending different schools or colleges. Either way, most friendships begin only because the circumstances were favourable. You were both in the same class, shared the same interests, watched the same movie & shows or maybe you were neighbours since childhood. But, circumstances change, it’s life as we know it.

To help you bring clarity to the situation, you can start by referring to the questions above. If this is friendship makes you feel valued and loved, you have your answer. However, there are more things to think about as well, like how much energy and time you’re willing to spend on maintaining a long-distance friendship. Long-distance friendships are no doubt tough, but can also be insanely rewarding. 

Make an effort to call and text them at least once a week. Be understanding during the weeks where you don’t talk to each other. From time zone differences to hectic schedules, remind yourself that you won’t be able to be in contact with each other every day. This can at times seem like a lot, if you’re not cool with putting this much effort into maintaining your friendship, then that is completely alright. Similarly, if the friend hasn’t been particularly a positive person in your life, think about the new circumstances as a sign to let go of the friendship. 

We’re growing apart, but should I stay?

When you realize that things just aren’t the same. There, again, can be several catalysts behind this realization: the negative comments that they passed and later laughed them off but you can’t stop thinking about, an unsatisfying meetup or stumbling upon something they said before that now deeply hurts you. The important part here is that you can’t get this new information out of your head, you can’t undercut the blatant incompatibility and are now left to decide which move to make next. Do you give the friendship a shot and try to save it, or do you let it slip away? How do you know that this isn’t just a phase? 

Growing apart is distressing, perplexing and often destabilizing, which can often cause resentment and anger. However, feelings like these are negative, we want to avoid holding onto them and instead, advocate open and honest conversations with the friend. If, after referring to the above questions, you conclude that your friendship with your friend is worth recovering and working upon, here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Growth is usually a good thing, people changing usually means they’re growing into the person they want, like or are supposed to be.
  • This could just be a phase. Often in long friendships, there are periods you don’t talk for days and days, even weeks, because your personalities were, point-blank, totally incompatible and contrasting. But only temporarily. 
  • Before you make the decision to cut off a close friend, consider openly communicating with them. Call them and say, “Hey, I feel like we’re not on the same page right now. This friendship matters a lot to me and I want to maintain it, even if that means it’s going to be different.”

When I think about changing relationships, I think about this quote that I found on tumblr- “People change and forget to tell each other.” Just like you’re not trying to hurt anyone when you change, no one else is intentionally trying to hurt you when they change. We have to let the people we love and care about do what’s best for them, and sometimes, that means letting them do their own thing while we do ours!

Living through a pandemic during the social media age

Wuhan Novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV), woman and man in suit with blue medical face mask. Concept of coronavirus quarantine

In the face of the coronavirus, social media is a great way for individuals and communities to stay connected even while physically separated. With the advent of social media in the 21st century, not only are we learning the latest news updates, but we’re also using platforms like Facebook and Twitter to provide personal and business updates. For businesses, this means leveraging social media to support employees and customers like never before. For the government, it means doing its best to efficiently share factual and up-to-date information.

Taking a look at how individuals, businesses, and government agencies have been sharing information and interacting with others on social media in the past few weeks, here are two important roles that social platforms are playing during the COVID-19 outbreak:

An influence on public response to the outbreak

Billions of people are free to publicly share their opinions on COVID-19 across various social platforms. In the past few weeks, we’ve seen individuals, organizations, and businesses use social media to spread awareness of COVID-19, as well as the public actions that can be taken. 

Here are a few of the most distinct ways social media has influenced the public since the virus reached epidemic and pandemic levels:

Social distancing and home quarantine are trending

Until a few weeks ago, many of us hadn’t even heard of “social distancing,” which refers to staying at least 6 feet away from others to help prevent the spread of infection. Now, social media users, from friends and family to celebrities and governments, are regularly calling for social distancing.

Boasting and shaming panic buying 

Many people have been excessively purchasing household goods, sanitization products, and food in fear that necessities will no longer be accessible — just like they do when there is a hurricane or some other natural disaster. This over-purchasing has become so commonplace that social media users have coined a phrase to describe it: panic buying. 

On social, panic buying is being discussed in two distinct ways: 1) people are posting about their own panic buying, showing images of carts filled with toilet paper, water bottles, and frozen meals; and 2) people are posting pictures of empty shelves or other people’s carts as a way to shame supposed panic buyers.

A source of information as well as misinformation

Never have we had more realtime information available at our fingertips in the face of a worldwide event. Such information can help keep us safe, providing us with a better understanding of what is occurring and how it might impact us and those we love. Yet, social media can also spread falsehoods, including miracle preventative measures, false claims about the implementation of martial law, conspiracy theories, and more. 

Finding trusted sources of information regarding COVID-19 is extremely important.

Social media companies are working to combat misinformation on coronavirus

At a time where many of us are grappling for as much information as we can get our hands on, the public is especially susceptible to false and sometimes hazardous claims, which are then passed on to others.

untrustworthy sources on social media

The best rule of thumb for making sure information is accurate is to check original sources and make sure that (a) those sources are indeed trustworthy, and (b) the information was relayed accurately. Just because someone claims to have learned something from a reliable source doesn’t mean they’re relaying that information accurately. 

If you’re the one presenting information, whether on behalf of a business or your personal account, it’s your responsibility to cite and fact-check your own sources. Be wary of using verbiage that is alarmist or absolute. There are still so many unknowns about the virus, and nobody is sure what the coming weeks and months hold. It’s always best to be cognisant of this and avoid unnecessary bold statements.

Women in Indian Society

Through mythology and religious texts

Patriarchy is a social system in which the role of male as the primary authority is central. It refers to a system where men have authority over women, children and property. As an institution of male rule and privilege, patriarchy is dependent on female subordination. Historically, it has manifested itself in the social, legal, political, and economic institutions of different cultures. Literally meaning ‘rule of fathers’(Ferguson, 1048), the term ‘patriarchy’ was initially used to refer to autocratic rule by the male head of a family. However, in modem times, it more generally refers to social system in which power is primarily held by adult men. 

Majority of religions have contributed their bit to perpetuate patriarchal norms. With such beliefs instilled into cultural mindset, women scarcely stand a chance of gaining strength in this male-dominated world. Patriarchy is also manifest in family traditions and gets reinforced through practices such as women adopting the surname of their husbands and children too carrying their father’s last name. 

There is considerable ambiguity about the status of women in Indian society. Some sacred texts accord them an exalted status by stating that gods live where women are worshipped. In her various manifestations as Mother Goddess, namely Durga, Kali, Chandi, woman is believed to represent power or Shakti, and evoke both fear and reverence. She can protect and at the same time can also wreak vengeance. If pleased, she can fulfil every wish, but when annoyed, she can unleash unimaginable terror. Male gods at times find themselves helpless before her and cannot dare to intervene especially when she has decided to act as power incarnate. Most of her attributes are believed to be embedded in every woman. However, there is yet another profile of woman established by religious writings and folklore wherein she is believed to be fickle and fragile. She is represented as sensuous, tempting, given to falsehood, folly, greed, impurity, and also thoughtless action. She is also regarded as the root of all evil. It is because of her supposedly inconsistent character that she has to be kept under strict control. Being fragile, she needs protection at all stages of her life, for instance, in childhood by her father, in youth by her husband, and in old age, after the husband’s death, by her sons. As evident, these two images are contradictory. 

The patrilineal Hindu society expects a woman to have certain virtues, chastity being one of them. Before marriage, a woman is not allowed to think of any man in sexual terms. Secondly, she has to be a devout wife—the notion of Pati-Parmeshwar or ‘husband as God’ reigning supreme in the popular mindset. Women observe several fasts to ensure that they get the same husband life after life. Such fasts also include prayers for the long life of the husband, so that the wife does not have to undergo the ‘sufferings’ of widowhood. The infertility of a woman is considered a curse as in patrilineal groups she is expected to produce a son to continue the patriarchal lineage. 

Rammohan Roy stands out as the figure who took a firm stand against the practice of Sati. Sati was the custom through which a woman was condemned and pressurised by society to sacrifice her life by dying alongside her husband on his funeral pyre. Lata Mani in her book ‘Contentious Traditions- The Debate on Sati in Colonial India’, highlights that sati was not about whether the Vedic scriptures prescribed such self-immolation nor was it about the individual women’s wishes and desires. Rather, it was a part of the traditional behaviour that Indian women had internalised within themselves. Many of them saw it as an essential part of the ‘·’duty” expected from them as a good wife – to sacrifice her life in order that her husband could gain ultimate salvation. 

According to Hindu mythology, the Manusmriti is the word of Brahma, and it is classified as the most authoritative statement on Dharma. Manusmriti is considered as the divine code of conduct. Laws of Manu insist that since women by their very nature are disloyal they should be made dependent on men. The husband should be constantly worshipped as a God, which symbolized that man is a lord, master, owner, or provider and women were the subordinates. It legitimizes that a woman should never be made independent, as a daughter she should be under the surveillance of her father, as a wife of her husband and as a widow of her son (Chakravarti, 2006). While defending Manusmiriti, apologists often quote the verse: “yatr naryasto pojyantay, ramantay tatr devta”  that is “where women are provided place of honor, gods are pleased and reside there in that household”, but they deliberately forget the verses that are full of prejudice and hatred against women. 

These texts justify a woman’s inferior status in society. Each of these verses shows how the Brahmanical ideology reduces the character of a woman to the number of sexual partners she has, and her purpose as child-bearers. The obsession with knowing the lineage of offspring, virginity and the narrow definition of character led to the imposition of restrictions on women and artificially stunted their status. And much of this continues till today.

We celebrate Dussehra to mark the victory of ‘Good over Evil’, Navratri in the honour of nine Goddesses, Durga’s victory over the buffalo demon and worshiping Lakshmi on Diwali, we are decked up in festivities and celebrations. But do we really celebrate them? To find the answer to that question, you need to look no further than mythology and religious scriptures. It’s a clear indicator of what the fabric of society, its structure and norms would be like.  

The implementation of patriarchal norms and values depend to a great extent on the strength and weakness of control mechanisms. For instance, articulation of patriarchal values and the prescription of norms through religious texts command natural observance. At times, family honour is protected by wife-beating. It is all too visible in the lower classes, but also persists in upper strata of society. Even after six decades of independence, one frequently reads of bride burning and dowry deaths. Other forms of violence are: heaping indignities on the wife and her relations by the in-laws, making her do physical work beyond her capacity, failing to provide her adequate nutrition, and even torturing her mentally on several pretexts. Even highly educated and well-placed women are amenable to such maltreatment. 

The Changing Landscape of Education During COVID-19

illustration by Sara Gironi Carnevale

Learn about the impact on children due to COVID-19 that has forced the schools to adapt with online education.

Imparting online education to children amid the COVID-19 crises has emerged as the go-to solution for schools looking to resume the classes amid the need to continue social distancing till a vaccine for the pandemic is found. Conducting online classes is helping education institutions across the world to beat the coronavirus lockdown and push ahead with the academic calendar. 

However, this trend has raised numerous concerns among the educational experts, at the United Nations Children’s Emergency Funds (UNICEF) and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO). While some of them have expressed alarm about the potential dangers of internet exposure for young kids, others say they are scared that this digital shift may alienate the economically disadvantaged students who lack access to the technology needed to attend the digitally conducted classes. 

The internet exposure puts children at high risk of online sexual exploitation and grooming, as predators look to exploit the coronavirus pandemic. Online grooming is a worrying product of the internet and social media age, in which predatory adults builds online relationships with gullible children and trick or pressure them into sexual behaviour. 

Moreover, under the shadow of COVID-19, millions of children’s lives have temporarily shrunk to just their homes and screens of devices. It is high time we should adapt ourselves with the current situation and help our children to navigate this new reality. 

According to a report issued by the UNESCO, ‘Half of the total number of learners, about 826 million students kept out of the classroom by the pandemic, don’t have access to a household computer or a smartphone device. While 43 percent have no internet at home when the online based distance education is being opted by the schools and educational institutions to ensure continuity of academic year for students in different countries of the world.’ 

Challenges of Online Education 

There are many challenges when it comes to imparting the online education: 

Students who reside in small towns and villages struggle to get a good internet connection speed and mostly are unable to attend the online classes. This will especially prove disadvantage during the exam time as half the students will fail for sure because they will not to connect due to bad internet connection. 

Many of the students don’t have the devices, smartphones and laptops or money to keep the internet connection while also paying the school fees. These are the real challenges which hinder the process of the online learning. 

Not just students, some school teachers and educators are also struggling to get a hang of the technology. The school wants them to make PowerPoint Presentations (PPTs), record the video lectures, and take online classes through different apps and online platforms, but they aren’t instructed clearly as to how this should be done. This is more common among adults of 60 years and above who find the online medium to impart education quite challenging due to lack of hands-on experience with the latest technology.

The lack of real-world interaction among the students and teachers is another challenging factor that could have a negative impact on their relationships compared to regular classes. 

A New Reality

 As the security concerns of the video conferencing apps such as Zoom emerged in the early days of lockdown with regards to conducting online lessons, meetings and private appointments, most schools have started searching for alternatives to keep the academic year 2020-21 going and not suffer much with disruption owing to coronavirus pandemic. 

The COVID-19 has spawned up an unprecedented dependence on technology that keep up the operations running across different sectors and its potential long-term impact on the economy and lives of people across the world. Studies are been conducted on the increasing dependency on the gadgets among the children and adults to monitor its impact on mental health. 

Now it is more vital to provide child protection services to ensure they remain open and active throughout the pandemic, by ensuring that the devices they use have the latest software updates and antivirus programs for precautions against cyber attacks and threats. 

Additionally, UNESCO has advised the use of television and radio broadcasts as an alternative to reduce the already existing inequalities among students seeking to continue their education with the online classes.

Three Ways To Prevent Virtual Communication Fatigue While Successfully Working From Home

During the coronavirus-led lockdown, the concept of ‘workplace burnout’ has taken an all-new meaning, with employees having to deal with virtual communication fatigue. 

While working from home has been a sought-after perk for some employees, we have entered a new reality of frequent online meetings and an inability to disconnect from the job, which has created a new stressor, known as communication fatigue. With the coronavirus pandemic, companies across the globe opted for the work from home model to ensure the safety of their employees, and to follow the social distancing guidelines. 

As time went by, several organisations realised the benefits that work-from-home provides both for businesses as well as their employees. Many large organisations such as Facebook are considering permanent work from home policy for their employees. Twitter has already implemented work-from-home measures during the lockdown and declared it a success. 

In this context, the concept of ‘workplace burnout’ has taken an all-new meaning, with employees having to deal with virtual communication fatigue. Today, with the array of communication and conferencing platforms available, employees are continuously connected virtually with their colleagues, seniors, clients and more. 

This communication overload is resulting in employees feeling drained at the end of the day with virtual communication fatigue being one of the most talked-about topics today. With this perspective in mind, below are four ways to identify and prevent virtual communication fatigue: 

  1. Virtual time off 

As the work-from-home trend continues, many people within the workforce are noticing the blurred lines between work and home since they both are part of the same space today. It can be tempting for employees to schedule back-to-back meetings to get through the day quicker, but doing so can cause signs of fatigue to appear earlier than expected. While most of us take the support of caffeine to look and sound fresh, it can only do so much when up against consistent virtual meetings. To combat virtual communication fatigue that comes with a busy virtual meeting schedule, the cure is as simple as scheduling breaks during the day. Taking breaks at regular intervals will help you to recharge before the next call appointment and allow for extra planning so the next interaction goes as effortlessly as the last one. And your break doesn’t have to involve sitting at your home workstation. An effective break should include moving around to get your blood flowing and introduce a change of scenery. Talk to your family members, quickly whip up a salad or just take a power nap. 

  • Set a deadline and create an itinerary for every video call 

We’ve all been there before: one co-worker begins the meeting by asking how everyone is doing, what’s their current favourite thing to do and before you know it, half an hour is gone by without any discussion of the true topic at hand. As much as everyone loves to hear all about each other’s lockdown life; too much talk can cause meetings to go longer than planned. To prevent this, create an itinerary ahead of time. By scheduling minutes and other talking points, your meetings will run effortlessly while also limiting everyone’s virtual time to prevent communication fatigue. 

  • Block your front camera view 

One of the biggest contributors to video call fatigue is keeping the self-view feature open during meetings – no matter how wonderful your look turned out. As humans, we’re not used to staring at ourselves constantly. Regardless of how you feel about your quarantine look, self-view induces a feeling of anxiety; worried about how we look, sound, or what’s going on with the lighting and background. To prevent any sort of communication fatigue from view yourself, simply turn off the camera feature whenever you’re not presenting or not expected to talk. If you’re worried about how you’ll look on camera, open up your camera app before a meeting to make any last-minute adjustments, test the lighting, or make a quick location change. If closing the self-view isn’t possible on the platform you’re using, you can block it off by taping a piece of paper.

Coronavirus: How fashion and lifestyle influencers are rethinking their content strategy

Amidst the lockdown to curb coronavirus, fashion and lifestyle influencers are trying to creatively reform their content strategies to stay relevant.

The lockdown has had a range of implications, and all of us are trying to make through in the best way possible. It has altered how we go about our work and personal lives. Following suit, fashion and lifestyle influencers can be seen creatively reforming their content strategies.

These are people who give us a piece of the enviable, designer lives set behind perfect lighting and breathtaking locations. But, fashion and lifestyle content meets a slight amount of inconvenience when there is a nationwide lockdown.

Fashion and lifestyle influencers are now social distancing at home, dressing up for no one but themselves, spending their time not in exotic locations, but on their couches. This has pushed many of them to restructure their content during work from home. 

Fresh, alternate mediums for videography

Fashion influencers are deprived of professional photographers. Hence, fashion content is currently experiencing the epitome of creativity as far as content creation goes. One can see many of them brushing up their skills, trying to master video techniques. They can be seen making the most of their smartphones. Many influencers are now exploring non-conventional resources like Skype, Facetime, etc. This not only helps you to create Instagram-worthy content by themselves, but it also helps to create relatable content. How? Such content displayed in the format of everyday applications uses images in the content, which thus helps them to reach out to a bigger audience.

New genres of content

As technology and skill affect the glamour and finesse of fashion and lifestyle content, the lockdown has also reformed their content typology. Many influencer accounts can be seen creating relatable content at home. Since you cannot travel to exotic locations, or for that matter even the local cafe, during the lockdown, it might be a good idea to engage with your audience beyond your professional conduct. They are opening up online, bringing forward their informal side while they share their talents, hobbies, recipes etc.

Influencers are also extending their online presence to TikTok, which is now a growing trend. These are just a few of the ways to help your followers know the real you, which will again help you garner their trust and engage better with them.

Use your platform responsibly

It is refreshing to see how many lifestyle influencers are creating sensitive and responsible content that is helping people get through this time. As an influencer, you have a following, and the power of influencing them. Hence, there are a number of ways you can respond to this pandemic. Go all out by sharing the latest news and local resources that could help those affected harshly by the lockdown, or try to share the troubles and stress of your audience with a bit of humour.

A few examples can be light-hearted humour about having to stay at home, informative content to stay safe, etc. Many popular lifestyle bloggers can be seen occasionally opening up about stay-at-home struggles that all of us are facing while we try to stay safe.

Branded content with a twist

With the tsunami of sponsored, branded content, social media was flooded with similar-looking content, especially in the fashion content industry. But now each influencer is coming up with raw and creative ways to respond to branded content – live sessions, new video formats, and innovative photoshoots.

With the lockdown affecting the whole of the industry, many brands are now open to innovative, raw, and personal ways of content creation. Even the Vogue magazine had a work from home edition! Use your creative cells and create meaningful and fun branded content with whatever you have at hand.

Once the lockdown relaxes, maybe the raw and honest elements from influencer content will also go away. But, they are currently going deeper than they usually would, to engage with their followers. This might bring a shift towards betterment in influencer marketing trends, making it more curated and engaging.

The New Watchdog

Mainstream media to new media- how has the shift affected political reporting

Politics is undoubtedly a game for supremacy solely played in the name of the people for evoking national interest. Fred Fedler was right then he said “journalism is built on reporting government”. The idea of ‘the watchdog’ means that the journalist, as an independent observer without any vested interest in any side of the controversy, can inform the public about what is going on, particularly if the government is corrupt or even incompetent. However, the political journalists do not play this role flawlessly. 

There is a paucity of good political reporting in India- reporting with an insight, reporting that captures in action the trouper of the political field, reporting that exposes the petty politics and the never ending hypocrisies of political parties and the conspiracies of those in power.

The grave situation that the Indian democracy is in, is that it is they who guide and shape the destiny of some 135 crore people. Lacking ideas, bereft of intelligence and character, they exploit religion and caste to stay in power. 

Most political commentators and reporters on traditional medias like mainstream news channels and newspapers have glorified politicians and never truthfully presented their failures as much as their achievements. Programmes of political parties are rarely critically evaluated by reporters of most traditional media and their flaws are never commented upon so that the people are carried away by their rhetoric or patriotic postures. The Inadequate political coverage, not judged by the quantity of the news brought in or reported but by the quality of it, brings down the credibility of the traditional media. 

The mediatization of the political news necessitates that media content is governed by media logic rather than political logic, and can be indicated by media interventionism where the journalists are in control of news making. (Esser, 2008, Strömbäck and Dimitrova, 2011, Zeh and Hopmann, 2013). 

The way we use social media today impacts what we read and how we read or listen to news. Consider politics for that matter- Political parties bank on news channels, such as ZEE News or NDTV to get their updates on how the election campaign is going. Unbeknownst to many, both of these news outlets are on opposite sides of the political spectrum. If you tune into Zee News, you will get a completely different view of any candidate than you would on NDTV and viseversa. This type of controlling what people read and hear causes a lot of misinterpretation. This is where political reporting in new media comes into, where you not just read what the journalist has to say but also what others think about it and more importantly why they think the way they do. Unlike the traditional media, you don’t hear one side of the story, on new media platforms you can view multitude versions of the same story. With the advent of political reporting via social media and news portals, journalists who act like the watchdogs are now backed up, not only by their organisation, but also by their viewers, readers and followers who make an informed choice. 

At the same time, the new media has initiated trends time and again. exposed how the traditional political reporters undercut the ideal aims of a free democratic press. The watchdog role is now played by the new media which had previously only been performed by trained political journalists who even under the worst of circumstances focused on uncovering the facts surrounding serious political wrongdoings.

5 Ways to Stay Fit During Quarantine

Now that you are spending less or no time outside your homes, it’s more important than ever to prioritize your physical health. Staying active can boost your mood and even reduce stress. How can you stay on top of fitness game without going to your local gym, doing weights and following your fitness instructors? Online challenges and videos, home fitness apps, creative at home swaps and the use of the safe outdoors, if available, can help.

Here are some ways to stay active while also staying home: 

Switch up your running/walking routines

Whether you’re a runner, jogger or a walker, try and keep your routine fun by setting a schedule and small goals. If you’re a walker, map out a different route of your house for each week of exercise or just stay in one place. If you’re a runner and have access to a terrace or a garden, select a goal such as run a 4 KM and set up a training schedule to achieve your goals, and with time you can increase up a notch and challenge yourself.

Check out this 1 Mile walk at home- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=njeZ29umqVE

Try a bodyweight workout

You don’t have to grab weights to achieve a good workout. You can still feel the burn if you do a low impact cardio, bodyweight strength or a high intensity interval training circuit. 

Check out this 30-minute body weight workout from Greatist- https://greatist.com/fitness/no-gym-bodyweight-workout-infographic#1

Try a fitness challenge on YouTube

Want to build core strength? Tone your abs? Tone your arms? Find a fitness challenge on YouTube that targets the zone you want to work on. You’ll be surprised by how much stronger you can become in a week or more.

Check out these videos out

7 day workout challenge by Carly Rowena: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ixZnsKTErE
6 minute arm workout by The Uma Show: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qpLA1tPwjXA

20 Min Total Core Workout (Equipment Free Ab Workout): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-b2lNLq3EaA

Try a Fitness Website

Active.com offers 30-day fitness challenges including push-up challenges, ab challenges and more.

Greatist offers many detailed work out blogs- from workout plans for beginners to expert routines. For a start, check these out- 

https://greatist.com/health/back-workouts-at-home

https://greatist.com/health/calisthenics

https://greatist.com/fitness/chest-workout-at-home

Follow along with a studio

Many studios offer video easy to follow tutorials, try Zumba tutorials for high energy workouts or go with cardio dance workouts. You can also try free tutorials with simple, at-home equipment swaps like bags of flour or books instead of weights. Although these workouts will be different than the gym sessions that you’re used to, it’s an interesting way to break a sweat and re-connect with your own body.

Check out Keaira LaShae’s  dance workouts-

10 Minute Cardio Dance Abs Workout: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XTH5saFBDqA

Cardio Fitness Party Workout: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fhUP6FQj3t4

Check out the link to read more on at-home equipment swaps-

8 Household Items That Double as Workout Equipment for Your Makeshift Home Gym: https://www.realsimple.com/health/fitness-exercise/fitness-equipment-alternatives-home

Knock knock. Who’s there? Democracy. Democracy who?

Democracy in layman terms is the government of the people, by the people and for the people. Media is being considered as the fourth pillar of democratic society after executive, legislature, and judiciary. One of the crowning glories of the democratic system is the freedom of expression and the space that is provided to views from different sections of the society. The last few years witnessed an enhanced interface between the media and the common man, thanks to social media

The role of Social Networking Sites in Indian politics has risen tremendously in recent years. Different Indian political parties have their websites and some of them also use other social mediums to interact with people. With every party having its website and leaders being active on different media it makes the citizens feel that they are within their reach. It feels like the leaders are a touch away. Mr. Shashi Tharoor of Congress Party was one of the first politicians to start tweeting and has a separate fan base for his tweets now. Through social media, politicians now constantly display their message through endless campaigns, see direct responses to their actions via Facebook or Twitter, and connect with the public. One of the most recent example is Bharatiya Janata Party’s ‘Main Bhi Chowkidar’ campaign with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other BJP leaders, where an auto-generated response was sent to all those who tweeted to the PM, giving the illusion that they were contributing to something large.

It is important to note that political engagement through social media is not limited to adults, but young potential voters increasingly use social media for online political participation. Especially younger people are using social networking platforms such as Twitter to develop an individualised form of activism that they connect to most. Unlike Mainstream media where narratives are indirectly controlled, influenced and favoured by the business houses and political parties that are funding the channel, Social media is comparatively a less regulated space.

Ravish Kumar on his Prime Time show on NDTV urged everyone to stop watching television back in March 2019. Why would someone who earns his living through mainstream television media tell you to do that? This shows how grave the situation was and still is. Public issues have disappeared from the channels, when Indian states were reeling under floods, the channels were still flooded by anti- Pakistan narratives, tukde-tukde gang narratives and the never-ending glorification of the honourable PM. Is TRP more important than highlighting important issues? Is selling news more important than upholding the fourth pillar? If we see the current media scenario then the answer to the latter question seems too easy.

Wouldn’t you agree if I said that the watchdog, or in other words the press and the media have a significant influence on society? Then is it fair to have corporate houses and political parties with vested interests invest in the media?

India News is owned by Karthikeya Sharma, son of a Congress leader. News 24 is controlled by Rajeev Shukla, a Congress leader and his wife Anuradha Prasad who is the sister of BJP leader, Ravi Shankar Prasad. Times Group is owned by Bennet & Coleman. The Italian, Robertio Mindo who has a share in the group is a close relative of Sonia Gandhi. CNN- News 18 is owned by Mukesh Ambani. Republic TV is owned by ARG Outlier Media Pvt Ltd and one of its biggest investors is Rajeev Chandrasekhar, a BJP leader- These are just a few examples out of the many news channels.

Editors are pulled up for putting their opinion, journalists are asked to toe the line, and media houses align themselves with different political ideologies and the interests of the owners and sponsors. Is it really possible to have a free and a fair media with this direct hold?

‘Freedom of the press is not just important to democracy, it is democracy.’

Walter Cronkite

India is the world’s largest democracy, and the media mustn’t be controlled by any political party, big corporate houses or any other sector. The Press and the media is the voice of the voiceless and should promote the rights of not just the majority but also the minority; it is the duty of the press of any country to ensure that the government is functioning properly and no section of the society is left behind.

Sources-

  1. Role of media in Indian democracy https://shodhganga.inflibnet.ac.in/bitstream/10603/203650/11/11_chapter5.pdf
  2. https://www.thenewsminute.com/article/critic-inside-ravish-kumar-speaks-tnm-state-indian-journalism-109378
  3. Participatory Politics: New Media and Youth Political Action- University of Chicago
  4. Who owns your media?- https://www.newslaundry.com/2014/02/05/who-owns-your-media-4https://cablequest.org/index.php/news/channels-owned-by-polticians

TRYST WITH YOUR BRAIN

Strategies to help you stop spiralling this quarantine season

The COVID-19 pandemic can stressful and incredibly frightening for some people. It may involve fear and anxiety about the disease which can be overwhelming and cause strong emotions in both children and adults. This is why it is crucial to take care of your mental health now more than ever. 

The following four solutions can be enacted in different ways, depending on your surroundings. 

METHOD ONE: Writing

Writing about the problems you are facing is a good start to getting through them. Start maintaining a journal or if you’re more electronically inclined even a new note on your phone would do. When you’re faced with a problem, write how it makes you feel, its ideal outcome, even if that counts as the worst-case scenario, and then write the possible solutions.

Don’t worry about maintaining grammar. When sentences start pouring out of you, your brain works to solve whatever’s going on. Later you might want to read it over and see if any possible solutions jump out at you; or don’t, if this act of writing was enough to make you feel better about the situation. 

PLAN OF ACTION:

When you’re alone: You might find it helpful to write a letter about everything you are feeling about the situation addressed to the person who caused it. If the problem is caused by a situation or circumstance rather than a person, address it to your feelings, the Universe, some higher power you believe in or even to yourself. The11 simple act of writing can lend you an immense amount of clarity and/or relief.

With your family around: Since everyone’s at home and on their phones, all the time, pulling yours out and pretending to send a text won’t draw any extra attention. Breathe and vent in your notes. Nobody will be the wiser.

METHOD TWO: Making Art 

Maybe after you start writing you immediately start self-editing and judging your own feelings. You might even be worried that if you put your feelings down on paper, someone could find and read them, and you will have to suffer the consequences. Instead, how about you grab magazines, crayons, paints, brushes, a sketchbook, or whatever medium you want to go for, and start making something tangible? Art offers a safer means of expression for people concerned with invasions of privacy by parents or relatives.

 PLAN OF ACTION:

When you’re alone: Go for it! Get every craft supply you own out of that cupboard and make a giant mess. You could start a long-term project that you can get back to whenever you’re not feeling great. You don’t have to be Van Gogh to benefit from this. The mere act of scribbling all over a piece of newspaper and going letting loose will make you feel a little better.

When you feel unsure of yourself, temporarily refocus your attention on making something that helps you resurface, like picking up a pen and scrawling aimless loops on a piece of paper. Your version doesn’t have to revolve around drawing or painting: Try paper-maché or do origami. 

With your family around: Acknowledging where you are and what you’re doing can quickly recenter you if you start to panic or dissociate. Draw the street you live in; the person at the table next to you; the contents of your fridge. Focusing largely on the details of what’s physically real can take you away from intangible feelings and can bring you back into yourself. If your family is artsy too, try craft tutorials or paint some old jeans- anything that distracting enough and gets your creative juices moving.

METHOD THREE: Talk It Out

Sometimes spiralling makes you want to shut every thought you’ve ever had away in a safe, never to be seen or heard from again. Sometimes when you’re already doubting your judgment, sharing your thoughts with someone, even a trusted friend, can feel icky. But if you’re capable of surpassing those feelings, even temporarily, sharing your thoughts and experiences with someone you trust— whether that’s your someone in your girl gang, parent, sibling or a twitter pal—can result in having fresh set of themes to help you work on what’s bothering you.

If your problems involve experiencing violence at home or you’ve been abused or assaulted, the legally mandated 

lockdown can present unprecedented challenges that are unfamiliar territory. If you are experiencing abuse, reaching out to the ones you trust is crucial. 

PLAN OF ACTION:

When you’re alone: Just start talking out loud. Try and suspend your feelings- with just enough practice, you can become your companion this way. This act of speaking your problems instead of bottling them can give you some cognitive distance from the issues bothering you. When you spill what’s on your mind in a space where no one around is there to hear you, it can lead to major realizations. 

With your family around: The only thing harder than opening up is figuring out who you can trust. If I have a family member whom I love dearly but who makes sure to tell me everyone else’s gossip, maybe they aren’t quite the right confidante when you’re already feeling unstable. The kind of confidante you’re looking for here is someone who will sit and listen, then ask the right questions-what have you tried so far? what do you need? how can I help?

If you aren’t up for face-to-face contact with a family member nor a call to your trusted friend, but you still want to talk to someone about facing any mental health issue due to the ongoing lockdown, call one of the many helplines designed to support people experiencing unpleasant feelings. The government has launched a crisis hotline which can be reached at 08046110007

METHOD FOUR: Exercise

If you need a temporary distraction to process your thoughts and feelings but an art project and poetry just isn’t doing it for you, try going for a long walk on your terrace, flailing around your bedroom wildly to ‘Starboy’, giving Pilates a shot or even practicing headstands until your hair permanently stands on end? 

Physical activity will reduce stress and fatigue and eventually help you to feel more alert. It doesn’t matter what kind of exercise you do- it’s all about moving your body in ways that feel great and work for you. It doesn’t have to be a giant commitment. Just set small goals.

PLAN OF ACTION:

When you’re alone: This is a good time to experiment and find out what kind of physical activity works best for you. You could follow stress-reducing yoga videos, a zillion of which can be found on YouTube, If you’re feeling something which is more high-energy, the internet is filled with amazing dance tutorials available as well. Working out with your confidante over video call can also be an effective alternative, you’ll both get to blow off some steam and clear your heads, which is a great place to be in if you want to ask for advice or even spill your guts.

With your family around: Pick an activity that the family likes, yoga or hula hooping- the family favourites or any other and get going! High-energy activities like planks, push-ups, squats can be difficult, but rewarding, and doing it with another person makes it into a fun challenge

Union health ministry toll-free helpline for mental health issues: 08046110007