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It Took Me A Long While To Figure Out The ‘Why’ For Using Social Media

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SCENE 1 (A few years back)- People are sitting at a restaurant, ordering their food, enjoying it, having some conversations with their family or friends, and leaving. This was pre-social media era.

SCENE 2– (A few years later)- People are sitting at a restaurant, they take out their phone, click some pictures, order their food, food arrives, they click again, they engage in conversations, partially with people around them and partly with the phone. This is today, an era where social media has become a basic necessity along with Roti, kapda and makaan (food, clothing and housing)!

Representational image.

Social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Youtube, Twitter are ubiquitous now; they have changed the way the world works. Social media has changed the way the world looks, and undoubtedly it is one of the most revolutionary inventions in the history of humankind.

My first experience with social media was in 2012 when I had created a Facebook account, initially, I was reluctant about getting into this because I didn’t feel any need but then a close friend of mine told me that I could find many girls here to talk to, and for an introvert guy like me this was a good enough reason, and suddenly I felt the need.

Years have passed, I have had my own experiences of using some of these platforms, and the need to have them has changed and evolved. I have also spent a considerable amount of time without any of them( including WhatsApp), and yes, I survived. I experienced, observed, read about it, and it took me a lot of time to fathom what this is all about and how to go about it. I will present a few important takeaways in the below lines without demarcating what is right and what is wrong.

Addiction And Manipulation

This is a no brainer. All of us have heard that social media can be more addictive than alcohol or tobacco. People are working in these companies who are paid to make these apps and websites more compelling and persuasive. From their mission of ‘connecting people’, they have moved to keep you hooked on the screens as long as possible.

In exchange for this small amount of dopamine, they take away a lot of time, energy, sanity, privacy, and they still don’t care. Some might argue that it depends on an individual that how they use a product or a technology but what this argument lacks is the sheer fact that not every product is made with the same intention, for example, nobody gets addicted to using Paytm, they use it when they need it and turn it off, that’s not the case with Facebook or Instagram.

Many former employees of these tech giants and some other experts have voiced their critical opinions on using social platforms and why they think we should do away with online life. I would suggest that you listen to a few of them-Dr. Cal NewportTristan HarrisSean Parker, Chamath Palihapitiya.

Flawed And Superficial Relations

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A common statement people make to defend their usage of social media is that it helps them stay connected with people, and I agree to some extent. It helps to re-establish connections that were lost, feels good to see the whereabouts of our old classmates from school or college, but the catch is we need to redefine what connection means.

What do you do when you get in touch again? Are you interested in knowing about the person, his/her health, personal life, the good, the bad, the ugly, or he/she is just another ‘digital account’ knowingly added to increase the count of likes or comments?

People usually have more than 200 or 500 people added in their friend list, yet they engage in actual conversations with hardly 3 or 4 of them.

They wouldn’t know if anyone of them loses a job, breaks up with their partner or if any untoward incident occurs for that matter because they never actually conversed, but boasting about their own personal life( marriage, vacations, food, promotion,etc.) becomes an important affair. ‘Connected’ has a broader meaning. It involves being aware of the ups and downs and being with the person in tough times, and all these require conversations and real conversations.

Digital Entertainment

Social media, Netflix, Amazon Prime, are great mediums for entertainment, and there is no harm in getting entertained. Still, since we are already aware of the addictiveness of such products, great caution is needed.

If I were to ask 100 random people that how many of them play sports, play musical instruments, read books, write blogs, cook, sketch, paint or do anything healthy and rewarding regularly, I am certain that number isn’t going to be impressive. Now ask them how many of them use Netflix, do binge-watching, how many hours they spend before screen playing games, the results won’t surprise you.

Digital entertainment is fun because we feel good without putting effort and should be done once in a while but making it part and parcel of the daily routine is dangerous and have serious repercussions, heed this.

Social Comparison, Instant Validation

Gone are the days when we used to go out at someplace, roam around, click pictures so that those moments remain intact, now the reason we go out and click is that we want the world to know that we have a life too. This is unhealthy! Seriously, not every moment needs to be captured; not every moment needs to be shared. Some do it out of boredom, and that’s again an ill effect of technology, we have lost the ability to be patient and embrace boredom, people act as if they are in constant need of something.

Know Your ‘Why’

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Recently, I finished a book called Deep Work written by Dr Cal Newport, a computer science professor at Georgetown University, whose Ted x video link is present in the above lines. He talks about why deep work is the need of the hour, what are various ways of inculcating deep work, and why he doesn’t use social media.

He explains the mindset of people who justify their use of a networking tool as “Any Benefits Approach,” which means a person uses a tool/product even if it offers at least one benefit no matter how irrelevant it might be. What this approach ignores are all the negatives that it has. I, too, used to use social media because of XYZ reasons.

Still, I never took a moment to ponder about the actual necessity, and later when I realized that such sites are not adding any value to my life, I decided to go cold turkey. The digital detox phase was delicate, people used to give me a strange look when they would know that this person still thrives on phone calls and SMS, but nothing bothered me, I was doing what was best for me.

So until or unless you don’t have a good reason to use it, a good ‘why’ you can choose to live without it, just take a call, don’t fall prey to peer pressure. Many famous personalities, celebs have no digital presence yet they have a meaningful life.

But wait, have I not created an Instagram account recently? A social media platform that has been tagged the worst for mental health? Yes, I have, and as I said, you need to have a clear ‘why’ for using it. My why is what you are reading right now, this article, frankly speaking, I have never enjoyed social media, I like to keep my personal life restricted to family, and close friends and acquaintances and WhatsApp comes in handy for that.

A few months back, I developed a knack for writing and decided to use writing to share my learnings, perspectives, failures, success(awaiting), good decisions, bad ones, and so I felt the need to have myself on it. As far as my ‘why’ is getting fulfilled, I don’t mind being on social media, my source of happiness and peace is not confined to these tools.

Gradually, I have learnt to get my dopamine from things outside the screens, a lot more to be learned and inculcated in the coming years. The world is changing, and we need to adapt accordingly, technology has its worth that can’t be denied, yet it only eases our lives, basic needs will always be Roti, Kapda and Makaan!

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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, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’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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