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On 21st Century Relationships: Connectivity at the Cost of Face-to-Face Interactions

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By Tong Niu:

We live in a faceless world. Interviews are conducted virtually, classes are taught online, and conversations are held through short phone calls and 180 character texts. Outside of our immediate circle of friends and family, most of our relationships are built upon virtual interactions. The development of social networks and online worlds has drastically altered 21st century relationships. The impacts of these developments are both beneficial and detrimental.

A major revolution has occurred in the academic setting. Now more than ever, colleges and universities are offering online degrees. The University of Phoenix, the largest online school in the U.S., caters to over 380,000 students, according to the November 20, 2010 article in The Daily Sentinel. The second largest university in the U.S. has over 70,000 online students. Earning accredited degrees online allows you to take courses at a schedule that best fits your lifestyle as well as earn a higher education for work advancement opportunities. Unfortunately, while you are in control of the pace at which you learn, you lose that valuable connection and relationship with fellow students and professors. Learning from home also increases the chances of distractions and disturbances.

An even greater change has overtaken the dating scene. With thousands of online dating sites, it seems easier than ever to find the right partner. Matchmaker.com has approximately 8 million users, employing a comprehensive questionnaire and an optional essay to pair up its members, according to The Free Online Library. While many have found their soulmates on these sites, online dating also has its dangers. Just this June, Venkata Cattamanchi, a 35-year-old, was robbed and murdered by an arranged online date and her three accomplices, according to the Detroit Local News. Sadly, these horror stories are growing more widespread with an increase in the use of social networking and dating sites.

Lastly, there are the virtual relationships in the workplace. In June of 2003, Linden Lab developed and launched a program which allowed users to interact with others in 3D, virtual world. IBM and other companies have begun using this program to set up conferences with partnering groups. To save airfare and travel expenses, employees now meet with each other virtually. The program allows workers to work from home more often. It can also save companies considerable amounts in travel expenses. However, without that face-to-face interaction, workers cannot develop the social skills, like teamwork and good communication techniques, that are so important in the workplace.

The ever expanding online world helps us connect to our friends and family who are far away. Social networks, like Facebook and MySpace, allow users to maintain contact with ex-co-workers and old friends. It provides users with the ability to meet people who are continents away without ever having to leave one’s room. But these tools should not be used without thought to some of the consequences. Virtual world pulls users away from the real world. Social networks, online universities, and even online matchmaking sites are invaluable tools when maintaining long-distance relationships, but they must be used with care. If we are not mindful of the hours we spend on virtual relationships, we can potentially damage those even more important, our real-life relationships.

Image courtesy: http://cultureandcommunication.org/tdm/nmrs/fa2/2010/11/08/online-dating-the-best-39-95-i-ever-spent-draft/

You must be to comment.
  1. sharma

    idea for healthy relation , n promotion of the same

  2. sharma

    hi , hello to all,

    well i m here to say something different, as in todays modernisaion world, the word love is no more , n taking the form of relationhip , a new kind of affair, where guy spend sometime with girl, do fun,left them sometime by making them pregnant, n refuse for marriage , by giving caste, religion, money, n other social /personal/financial relation, n left for other next opportunity , giving whole life pain to one soul, n idea of comparison in new lifepartner, n further with poor consequences/failure /divorce of relation , n making life in state of depression n regret , n with unbearable pain, n similarly with girls , now a days girls re more advanced s per to boys in advanced city /metro city with fastpace lifestyle more influnced with western culture , having a boyfrn is neccessity , n spending sometime, n making intimacy for the time being , n then breaking the relation with by not picking fon, not replying, changing numbers , n other avoiding activities , putting mostly sensitive/emotionla, n in true love guys into the state of depression, n in one of the mos unacceptable condition the SUICIDE, killing theselves , after feeling they cant live without their love , or turning them into criminal, leading to shootout, in girls marriage, cases of vitriolage, rape in state of anger, murder , molestation, n disfigurement of grls,with leaving them not for anyone , by idea , if not for me , not for anyone , so in this way we have seen if anyone turns cunning , consequnces are always bad,

    so lets improve this again , by putting idea, in any relation if there is any intimacy between, girl/boy in relation n any of the partner who uses n exploit others n just fullfill his/her need , they should not allowed to do so, , n they are bound to marry , n it is to be applicable for both , no relation for any other partner , irrespective of political/financial/social/threatening pressure from both sides, under the idea maintain relation /maintain dignity of word relation/love /care n bound to be a gud couple, n to accept each other with negative/positive points, each n everyone should respect, the wonderful creature of nature the LIFE , n accept his policy of LOVE TO BE TOGETHER FOR EACH OTHER ALWAYS FOREVER WITH LOVE/CARE

  3. Shreya Ramachandran

    This is so true. I especially agree with your view that online education has detrimental effects. Part of the learning experience is the classroom dynamic, the nuances of hearing a professor speak, and interaction with classmates. These are the factors which make learning wholesome – otherwise, one could just read from a textbook and learn. It is the human factor that truly completes the experience.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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