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When Facebook Turns Green with Envy…

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By Shivangi Singh:

A wise person has rightfully remarked, “In communication lie the seeds of a great civilization.” Human-Beings are social creatures and communication is the key to their survival. One characteristic that makes men stand out is that we live in societies, as a group of individuals sharing and exchanging our thoughts, beliefs and ideas. We are there for each other in our times of direst needs, in our darkest hours, in our joyful moments and in doing so we share our entire lives with each other. The medium might change but the basic need of communication remains the same. Earlier it used to be face-to-face communication, the chapter turned to letters and then came the revolutionary inventions of telephone and telegraphs and then, the world moved towards internet for good and the latest addition to this club is the very popular social networking websites. Facebook is the single most popular social networking website in the world today. Little did Mark Zuckerberg know that later on, the need will no longer be that of communication, instead his brain-child would become a medium of sheer show-off and that of gaining unnecessary ego boosts!

Your neighbor goes to Paris and forgets to tell you about it- How do you come to know? The answer in almost all cases will be Facebook, the same medium through which the anorexic teenagers today know about the favorite hang-out places of the most popular girl in school, or the middle-aged women know of the spiciest gossip doing rounds and even the career-oriented youth keep a tab on their peer-group and their achievements through Facebook. From your hair-stylist to your favorite teacher, from your work space’s official page to your pet shop- everyone and everything is on Facebook. It comes as no surprise then that the Facebook friend-lists grow exponentially with every passing day. A double-digit friend list is just so 2009!

Having a minimum of 1000 friends is the new cut-off for “coolness”. The first thing that a person thinks about after clicking pictures of them having good times with their loved ones is how many ‘Like’s would it get on Facebook? For higher the number of ‘Like’s and better the quality of the comments, greener would be the hue of envy for their fiercest competitor. This phenomenon makes one think, where is this constant submission to the lower realms of human behavior in the form of petty competition and silly jealousies taking our race? Isn’t a technology-based communication medium supposed to facilitate phenomenal closeness and unprecedented bonding amongst people? Why then is such a medium reduced to being just another way for people to fight with one another and constantly compare themselves with others?

Competition can make or break a person. When it’s healthy, it works as a positive catalyst and brings out the best in people. When competition takes the shape of peer-pressure it gets particularly edgy. The youth is lured by rebellious acts. This could be in the form of a fiery comment, a ground-breaking success achieved after sacrificing a lot or even an eye-catching profile picture on Facebook. Today, when everything a young person does is because “all my friends are doing it”, the rat-race to get most number of ‘Like’s and most favorable comments on their photographs can not be ruled out, but this becomes an issue of serious concern when the means turn dirty. Pictures in revealing clothing have become a trend amongst girls just to get temporary attention. The predators await such opportunities to commit hideous crimes and sadly, the outcome is unfortunate. People don’t only compete on Facebook for the highest number of friends, ‘Like’s or comments, but also sometimes just for the sheer pleasure of inviting envy. Catchy status updates, personal achievements, skills and abilities, supposedly “superior” choice of music and cinema, procurement of a pricey assets or even a costly foreign trip, all are flaunted relentlessly on this social networking website for the sole purpose of making other people jealous. What’s more surprising is that the show-off is not limited to material possessions but spawns over to personal relationships as well. Facebook has become a medium for one to boast about one’s partners, kids, best-friends and any other successful relationship which they may be having in their life. There used to be a time when one’s relationships were strictly “personal information”. The same people who flaunt it then go and claim their right to privacy!

As a disgusting add-on to attention-seeking behavior, Facebook users have now started putting-up self-belittling status updates like- “Terribly sad 🙁”. Even a broken arm is flaunted these days! It’s simply tragic that all the compromise on self-respect is done just in order to get 15 minutes of fame on some random website.

In the mad follow-up of a distorted notion of popularity, the things that the youth of this country ends up doing become a sad fact. A communication medium is supposed to bring people together and not break them apart. As we grow near on the World Wide Web and draw further apart in real life, we need to ask ourselves what can be done to bridge the gap. Today, there are more people on Facebook than there were on this planet 200 years ago. What has changed is not just the numbers but the attitude. Those handful people 200 years ago were more united even in the face of inter-racial wars and in the absence of any invention that could make communication easier, than the people in our times filled with notions of international peace and ease of 24*7 global connectivity.

When we look down upon one another as competitors rather than collaborators for the planet’s development, we invite deep feelings of misunderstanding and mistrust which kills the “attitude of gratitude” and promotes unhealthy competition. The old adage can help change perspective: “When we point out someone, there are always three fingers pointing back at us”. If one feels the need to show-off, psychologically, it indicates that the person has been deeply hurt in some form and is desperately trying to make a comeback and “Desperate times, Desperate measures” isn’t always a sure-shot for success. Sometimes actions have repercussions. Sooner or later people would realize the immaturity of “Facebook flaunting” and only then would “Facebook envy” come to rest.

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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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