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Social Media Is Not Letting You Find A Life Away From It

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The last few days have not been very good for social media giant Facebook. Firstly, twice within a week, Facebook and its other platforms Instagram and WhatsApp had an outage that was experienced by millions of users around the world. This led to a loss of $7 billion from the net worth of Mark Zuckerberg.

Along with this, if you read the newspaper daily or follow any foreign media broadcaster, you would know that Frances Haugen, a former Facebook employee, came out to the public about an internal research that was done by Facebook. This showed the world how Facebook values its astronomical profit over the well-being of its users. It knows how Instagram is toxic to teenage girls; it makes them hate themselves. It also makes some kids from not-so-well-to-do backgrounds believe that being rich is the only way to happiness; one should be riding in a Porsche, travelling to Europe on vacations and spend your weekends in the Maldives. You know can add yourself to the list of people who have come to believe this.

You should also keep in mind that Facebook has a pretty bad reputation for keeping the privacy and data of users confidential. The famous Cambridge Analytical case is one such case that revealed how Facebook data is used to manipulate voters in a democracy. It is also being alleged that the name, phone number, address, photos and other personal data of around 1.5 billion was seen being sold on Dark Web. So, as we are reading this, someone could be accessing our data, and it is very much possible.

What makes Facebook so dangerous is that it knows possibly everything about us; more than our parents can, and I am not joking. Whenever you scroll through your feed, the Facebook algorithm keeps a track of how much time you spend on each post, which posts you liked, which posts you shared with your friends. If both you and your friend liked the same post, then Facebook registers that it can show similar posts to both of you.

Facebook gathers information about you after passing through various carefully made checklists. It is commonly said that to know a person, look how their home page looks like as it is the place where the algorithm will show you posts from millions of creators on the basis of the checklist it has made for you while you were interacting with the app. On the basis of this, Facebook shows you advertisements that companies pay Facebook for.

This is why when you search for a product on Amazon, after some time, you will see it on your Facebook and Instagram. And if you think after reading, this you can outmaneuver the algorithm, sorry, you can’t. Because the content thrown at you is not some random Facebook employee but a supercomputer with mindboggling computational powers. Facebook capitalises on the most hidden fault lines and creates a divide between communities around the world.

Once, when asked why hateful posts are allowed to exist on Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg said: “It gives equal opportunity for free expression.”  

Is there any way out of it? To answer that, we need to know what China has been doing. And before doing so, I need to make it clear that I don’t support China in its action, but what it did to deal with the social media crisis needs to be done within democratic frameworks.

Recently, China cracked down on its tech giants was big news around the world. Investors lost billions of dollars.

 

The reason was social media addiction as the communist regime came heavily on these companies. The country has restricted the time spent on social media by minors. It has forced companies to monitor the excessive money spent on the game. Also, China doesn’t think influencers and digital marketers are of any worth to the country. The reason for it is the large untapped reserves of rare earth elements including lithium and lanthanides.

In the future, when the current reserves of natural elements in the Earth near their end, China wants to utilise the manpower of China to tap into this untapped reserve and get strategic leverage. The Covid pandemic has shown why medical and economically important sectors like chip-manufacturing units should be protected at all costs. And social media addiction was coming in the way, so they decided to force the companies to stop damaging China’s future asset, their citizens. It is funny how Tik Tok, a Chinese social media product, is being used the least in China itself.

We must control the urge of using social media. There is a digital well-being feature in your phone setting where you can restrict app usage and see how much time you spend daily on an app. I’d also like to mention an interesting competition held in Ahmedabad wherein the Jain community did digital fasting for 21 days. The participants had to give up their phones and laptops, even calculators.

However, if you find this step extreme, you can use the digital well-being feature that is not being promoted with the specifications of the phones.

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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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