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How Can We Use Social Media Cautiously And Wisely, Without Distorting Emotions?

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Does the fear of not having a good photo with that cool graffiti cause you much remorse? Or the photo with that scenic background? Or let’s say, your facial expressions don’t give you that one beautiful photo? Have you ever felt left out when you realise you are not in the clan of netizens who post the possibly best ‘candid’ pictures on their timeline? Pictures with their friends, parents, partners, about their trivial hangovers or probably hashtags like the recent ‘#untilnow‘ on Instagram?

Welcome to the world of virtuality and fantasy, the platform where reality is beautified, masked and presented on your timeline. The Cambridge English dictionary defines social media as websites and computer programmes that allow people to communicate and share information on the internet using a computer or mobile phone.

Delving deeper, we find that the purpose of every social media application may at its face value seem different, but they all encourage the same thing — sharing.

Social media has indeed been the biggest boon of the 21st century, bridging gaps and thousands of miles of distance in a few seconds; it is unimaginable to think of a world without it. It has helped in innumerable ways — connecting one’s loved ones, helping in education, healthcare, maintenance of law and order, business, advertising and reaching out for help, all in a matter of a few seconds.

Communication only makes things better, physically and emotionally. But on the flip side, the very same platform creates frenzy and a sense of detachment for many, especially amongst the youth of today.

With internet services now available to all at considerably cheap rates, the use of social media for the purpose of entertainment and leisure has become rampant. A lot of people, via different applications, now use it as a platform to showcase their lives in the most intricate and crisp manner. Not to say that this is bad, but studies have shown that over the years, there has been a change in the outlook of people towards social media. This is evident from the nature of posts on dominant social media websites.

Delving deeper, we find that the purpose of every social media application may at its face value seem different, but they all encourage the same thing — sharing. Share your life, your thoughts and everything you do, every day, to the masses out there. Well, this is not true for all users, but their count is minuscule as opposed to the rest.

The perils of oversharing cannot be overlooked and this is probably one of the most dangerous things about social media, not just in terms of privacy intrusion by unknown people, but also its social implications. With lots of people becoming impulsive to share everything about themselves, it only makes them more vulnerable, resulting in an infinite loop. Take, for instance, Facebook, Instagram and Tinder to name a few. A lot of people don’t find it uncomfortable to be friends with strangers or being followed by them. Interacting with them through chats with no physical conversation only makes us wonder, are we becoming comfortable with others prying into our private affairs?

The flashy photographs on Instagram are probably the most attractive thing for a youth. The angle and the lighting are packaged with the most beautiful captions, which are usually copied, to create a perfect blend and generate ‘My-My!’ reactions to the most trivial of things. All this at face value is not wrong, but it does affect many on a subconscious level, leading them to do the same and do more of it impulsively, until they feel detached from reality. We are busy making modifications to that reality and capturing the ‘moment’.

The perils of oversharing cannot be overlooked and this is probably one of the most dangerous things about social media, not just in terms of privacy intrusion by unknown people, but also its social implications

The structure of social media is what generates fear. For instance, Snapchat encourages its users to share the most trivial moments of their daily lives, moments with friends to maintain a streak. The number of followers, likes, reactions and comments posts generated on Instagram and Facebook are a cause for anxiety amongst many who aim to achieve the benchmark of being social-savvy. Another element that is peculiar is the way we communicate now. A lot of people are increasingly resorting to communicating only through chats and do not prefer a face-to-face conversation or a call.

Social media platforms such as Tinder have changed the way people now look at relationships. Adhering to the norms followed by netizens, everyone should have, at the very least, the best display picture and their bios must be perfect to catch anyone’s eyes, lest one is swiped left!

Social media has seen a paradigm shift in its usage; from professional to private utility, the landscape says it all. Social media is crucial for propagation of information, but certainly, the way it has wired and programmed the youth to succumb to countless disorders poses the question: are we being too personal online, but not offline?

Have emojis become more expressive than our raw expressions? The importance of having conversations physically and living in the moment is slowly fading away and subconsciously affecting us all. Our patterns of emotions have changed, and so have our definitions of who makes a good friend and who is the most active.

Social media is a facade of distorted emotions, where likes are seen as an acknowledgement, love emojis as being important, and followers as well wishers. So, use social media wisely, cautiously and happily!

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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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