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Social Media Is A ‘Virtual World’: Can We Curb The Toxicity It Spreads?

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What do you think about Social Media has become a toxic place?

Social Media (like Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, Instagram, etc.) was initially created to spread positivity, love, and smile. Facebook, as Mr Zuckerberg himself, explains, serves as a platform to pitch your idea in front of the world, to grab the opportunity, to speak up for the right or to share your experience, to collect your memories, and so on. Like Facebook, every other social media platform also has a purpose.

The founders of different social media platforms had never expected that their innovation would be misused unimaginably as people now have begun spreading rumours on WhatsApp, fake news on Facebook, using Instagram for show-off, and criticizing through Twitter. The users have begun using these platforms for wrong intentions, the opposite of what they were supposed to be used as. Well, we need some examples to convulse the seriousness of this matter.

On June 14, when Sushant Singh Rajput died by suicide (or probably murdered), the whole internet was flooded with the game of blame, mainly to Bollywood mafia; while local people and fans were holding Karan Johar and star kids responsible for the actor’s death, big actor’s and actresses like Amitabh Bachchan, Shahrukh Khan, Vivek Oberoi, Kriti Sanon, Deepika Padukone, etc., expressed their grief on their respective social media platforms.

Representational image.

Many persons from Bollywood were criticized and badly trolled. One among them was Nupur Sanon, Kriti Sanon’s sister, who has appeared in the song Filhall alongside Akshay Kumar. When Sushant died, she posted nothing regarding his death while everyone was following this ritual. Most of the users afterwards questioned her silence on the matter. The next day she came up with a post, in which she wrote, “Let me grieve in peace”. Yet, the trolling continued.

Seeing this, Kriti Sanon stood in her defence and attached a post on her Twitter handle and Instagram account about the obsession with social media platforms. In her note, she wisely stated that if one person is in shock but is not coming on social media to advertise it, it is said to be trickling fake tears of a crocodile. One who is indeed showing fake grief but comes on social media with a post regarding how bad they are feeling in the event of someone’s death is considered to be in real distress.

This is how hypocrisy on social media works. Kriti was undoubtedly a 110% right. Mr Rajput’s sudden death developed such formidable fire that it is still burning with the same ferocity. Hence, users are even criticizing many. Consequently, they have already started ensuring Sadak 2 will flop by disliking its trailer, creating another history of the most disliked trailer; and the next film they are planning to flop is Khaali Peeli, in which Ishaan Khattar and Ananya Pandey are starring, both of whom are considered the products of nepotism.

In another instance, we observed hatred spreading through just one post. While some may not be aware of the man, Hindustani Bhau is a former contestant in Bigg Boss and now a public figure who is known to show his ‘patriotism’ by exposing ‘traitors’ (who are renowned persons) by abusing them sitting in his car. One such day, he abused Shahrukh Khan and asked his fans and those whoever listening to him, to get Mr Khan’s upcoming film flopped, only because he didn’t speak up for Sushant Singh.

Hindustani Bhau also claimed him to be a traitor. Now, let’s calculate his patriotism. The fight of Sushant Singh Rajput has caused protection for outsiders and bridged appreciation for them. Shahrukh Khan is the world’s biggest outsider who is ruling the entire Bollywood without any godfather. As people talked about insiders having eaten outsiders’ jobs, how did they forget that SRK is also an outsider who paved his way into Bollywood with a lot of struggle and hard work?

Mr Bhau was clearly in the wrong here and abused him. The SRKians (a term used to show fanbase of Shahrukh Khan) reported Hindustani Bhai’s Instagram account in big numbers, after which his account got suspended. It was a tight slap. Shahrukh Khan did not stand in SSR’s support because he knew how filthy the society, that he lives in, is. That’s the main reason why Sushant himself decided to keep it secret. Here, those people who assure you to help in your hard time become the main reason for your problem themselves. 

I can’t remember the date; however, some days ago, Aamir Khan was spotted with the first lady of Turkey (yes, it is the same country that has always opposed India) as he went in her country to shoot his next film. After some images of him with the first lady went viral, people unthinkably tagged Aamir an anti-national. This incident shook me all over. I mean, what’s wrong if Aamir is having a meeting with the first lady of Turkey?

It does not matter even if they never loved India. Aamir was there for his purpose, not there with any political purpose, then why so much hatred against him? He can’t go there to fund terrorism that “I invite you Turkey to implant a bomb in the overpopulated region of Mumbai and make it Syria!” Could you imagine him planning so? No, you can’t, neither can anyone else. He is a decent man who went there because he was invited. That’s it. There’s no problem with it. But how our social media users reacted on this matter exposed that there is a lot more to focus on our mindset.

In recent days, a post on In recent days, a post on Facebook containing fake propaganda was circulated all through, which caused immense damage in the city of Bengaluru. Just a single post, and that too illogical. containing fake propaganda was circulated all through, which caused immense damage in the city of Bengaluru. Just a single post, and that too illogical.

By all these examples, I am just trying to clarify that social media is a virtual world. It can be a good platform if you use it for a good purpose. But exploiting it to spread hatred, negativity, and badness is not an appropriate thing. 

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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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