• 18 Aug
    Sanjna Verma

    The hype about anonymity - Sarahah

     

     

     

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    The internet, especially the social media can be blamed for creating everything out of nothing. Such is the hype created around a few websites which provide you with anonymous feedbacks.

    There is an ongoing trend of anonymous feedback applications like sayat.me and sarahah.com which enables people to post feedbacks for others anonymously. People these days are seen sharing the links to their Sayat and Sarahah profiles on Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat so that they could receive anonymous feedbacks about themselves. It has been noticed that people prefer and pay more attention to the qualities posted about them rather than criticism, because who wants people to criticise them anyway, especially from people they don’t even know. The irony here is that even those people who initially claimed that they did not care what other people think of them, that they are confident of themselves and do not seek social validation, end up creating their profiles for the same reasons mentioned above.   

     

    logo of Sarahah

     

    Sarahah, the most trending application in today's date, can be considered as a medium towards gaining social validation by teenagers and young adults. But why were these apps developed in the first place?
    Sarahah was developed by an Arabic engineer Zain al-Abidin Tawfiq. The term 'Sarahah' is an Arabic word which translates to 'frankness' or 'honesty'.  He had initially developed the application for office employees so that they can send messages anonymously to another person regarding their strength and weaknesses. The intention behind the 'anonymity feature' was for individuals to speak what they wish without being hesitant, and also to decrease the chances of an individual holding a grudge against the sender of the message. However, he later decided to expand his business and hence made the application available to all. Tawfiq talked about his intention to provide people with a ‘constructive feedback’ about themselves but ironically, the feedbacks that people receive often lack the 'constructivism' aspect in it.

     

    logo of Sayat.me

     

    The team of both Sarahah and Sayat suggested an honest and positive approach in giving an opinion about others.

    “ Honest feedback helps you find out how your own self-image differs from what others want to see in you. If you’re lucky you may just as well be confirmed that others think you are the person you strive to be.” 

    I  might agree on the possibility of the feedbacks being ‘honest’ but I don’t believe them to be ‘constructive’ at all. Many people have known to receive love confessions including pieces of poetry for the other person about their beauty in the form of 'feedbacks'.  Because of its anonymity feature, there is hardly any chance for the sender being caught. Even though Sarahah provides the user with the option to block such spammers, one cannot help their malicious intent.

    Recently, a nasty experience was recorded by an engineering student in Chennai who was a Sarahah user:

    "All sorts of messages started flooding in, such as, "You're pretty", "I want to meet you', these were really funny posts. It was great until a message showed up asking what my cup size is, and this anonymous person wanted to sleep with me. I was furious."

    An avid blogger brought up the issue of people's obsession with negative comments and how it can bring down one's level of self-esteem. 

    "I knew what I was getting into when I signed up for an account. I knew people wouldn't hold back. After all, how hard is it to say awful things when you're hiding behind internet anonymity? What I didn't expect was my obsession with the negative comments." 

    The writer stated his own experience of using the application. He wrote that initially, he got quite good comments about himself such as 'you work hard and I respect you'. But as he went on using this app, he began to get comments such as 'your presence as a friend is disingenuous'. He actually ended up texting his friends asking whether he was 'a terrible friend'. Even though everyone denied it, he realized that such statements could actually turn out to be disastrous for someone with a low self-esteem.

    After having gone through various anonymous messages which lose their anonymity (as they are posted on social media profiles), this is how people actually use this app:

    1. These sites are another way of gaining attention for both, the sender and the receiver. Just as people post the pictures of the places they have been to, they post the messages on their profile.
    2. The anonymous feedback game has been turned into a ‘guess-who-I-am’ game. 
    3. Not everyone gets feedback about themselves. It depends on whether your friends on social media know you well enough. Through posting those feedbacks, people get to know how much you are liked by others. 

     

    Coming back to the hype this application has created. When people saw others using apps like Facebook or Instagram, they complied and followed it. Similarly, when people saw everyone using the application, they also thought of giving it a try. This is a perfect example of the 'bandwagon effect', a psychological phenomenon wherein people are engaged in something primarily because others are doing it, regardless of what their own beliefs are, which they may ignore or overlook. This has clearly emerged due to social media. As far as the negative use of Sarahah is concerned, it is up to the individual how s/he uses it.

    The way people use Sarahah, there are certain messages which are better conveyed personally, and not through the social media. Such applications further destroy the essence of face to face and honest communications which have already been done by other social media applications. So, let us meet up and say it to them. Let us meet each other and provide 'constructive feedback', for that would give our conversations 'real' meaning through 'real' people.

    Responses 1

    • Ayushi Jolly
      Ayushi Jolly   Sep 03, 2017 01:31 PM

      Hey! You have written a really nice article.

      I agree how things have taken a toll towards social validation lately. It is so disappointing to see how things are going so shallow with realtionships going viral. We see how these websites are bringing in fresh concepts about anonymity and how we can describe others without even revealing our identity.It is wrongful in a way to see how things are going out of control. We,as sensible humans,once have lost the confidence to even speak our feelings to someone. We are afraid of even texting or telling our feelings,if not directly,in person so at least through some media platform to someone and we choose these forums to convey them. To look at things from the other side is even worse. Those who are creating accounts and getting good reviews are fine but what about those who are extremely high on social validation and do not get good or any review. I am afraid what psychological impact will that have.Alos,for those who do not post good memories or posts for others,does that not bring back old,forgotten bad thoughts na dinstances and makes the perosn feel bad? It is really nice to see how you have come up with such a topic.

  • 17 Aug
    Reshma Venugopal

    When emojis misunderstand your emotions

    emoji pillows

     

    Remember the time when emojis looked like a mix of punctuation marks? Something like this - “:-)”.

    I had to space it out because the use of emoji has become such a trend, that as I type this article on Microsoft Word, simple character use automatically turns into an emoticon. What was once a colon, dash, and bracket, now automatically turns into a yellow face, with a smile. Of course, for any tech savvy person, the availability of emoticons (a.k.a emojis) is a blessing in disguise.

    Emojis have long been associated with more fun undertones and Lexis that direct facial expressions and mood. You come to know exactly how a person is feeling through the emojis they use, often found similar to their natural facial expressions, even if you are talking to each other from across the world! All this brought to you by our social media sources and the boom in the texting culture.

    The reliance on texting apps like WhatsApp, iMessage, Twitter, and Facebook, have not only made our lives easier but also allow us to keep in touch more often conveniently, so much, that texting with emoticons has become the base of most relationships. What’s even more astounding is that this 'easy-to-use and handy' facially expressive emojis can also be the reason for various relationship conflicts. Surprising, isn't it?

    However, it won’t be fair if I only bring out the negatives of emojis, for there is some good to them. Let’s first see all the good uses of emojis, and why they are used, in the first place (Selter, 2016).

    1. Emoticons are reacted to in the same way as real life facial expressions:

    Do you want to express your “feelings” to your crush? Do you want to compliment someone on the way they look? Do you want to express your sadness over the death of your friend's pet? Well, emojis have got you covered. The power that the emojis exhibit is that you can express the most difficult feelings through just a touch, and it will be taken in the same light by the receiver as they would if you were physically present with them. Studies show that upon receiving an emoji, the same specific parts of the brain are activated, which make you feel as though someone was physically expressing the emotion.

    1. Emoticons can get you popularity on social media:

    A study conducted by the University of Cambridge presented a strong positive correlation between the use of emojis by an individual and their social power. The study was conducted by looking at a number of followers, retweets and Facebook friends with the use of emoticon use of the participant (Tchokni et al, 2014).

    1. It makes you happier, even in a rough workplace:

    Imagine your boss asking you to pick up coffee for them with just a blunt, straight up use of words and a full stop at the end versus the same message with a smiley face attached at the end of it. You might be a little pissed off about the whole thing regardless, but let’s admit it, a little smiley face can go a long way.

    1. It helps you retain your memory:
      Studies show that text messages with emojis help you remember better. Apart from this, they make you happier. If you go back in time, you will realise that you are likely to remember more texts received with emojis than whose without them.

    Those were some of the good points about the use of emoticons. However, research has shown many instances on how negatively can emojis effect relationships. Most of them were shown to be stemmed from everyone having different interpretations for the emojis used hence leading to miscommunication. 

    • The contrasting interpretations:
      If you are an iPhone user, you’ll very well know that the emoticons on your phone will look different from that of an Android user, or even a Windows user. A study conducted by the GroupLens research lab at the University of Minnesota found that people often misunderstood an emoji sent to them if they were on different operating systems. They found this by asking participants to rate the emoji presented to them between -5 to 5, 5 being strongly positive, 0 being neutral and -5 being strongly negative. (GroupLens, 2017)
      The most mixed answers came from the “flushed face emoji” and the “grinning face with smiling eyes emoji”.

    mixed emojis

     

    Just imagine you sending your significant other the grinning face emoji with closed eyes after she or he sends you a picture of their new outfit. They might interpret it negatively and end up thinking that they look funny when in reality, you might just only be excited.

     

    • Translation issues:

    Just like how every country or region has a different language, emojis also can be found to squeeze themselves in the language sector. Believe me, there are people who only text using emojis and the thing about that is that not something everyone will understand. Coming back to the point, language barriers might occur because everyone uses it differently. If you try to translate something from your native language to a foreign language, then you are likely to confuse yourself and misinterpret what the other person needs to convey. The same thing happens with emojis; your intention of sending an emoji might not be interpreted correctly by the other person hence causing misunderstanding.

    Here's a real-life example. I genuinely thought (and still believe because I am adamant like that), that the eye roll emoji was just a cute emoji to illustrate puppy dog eyes. Turns out, it meant eye roll, and that did not end well with my friends...

    eyeroll emoji

     

    • Overuse of emoji:

    This point pertains more to the overuse of emoji, even in contexts that are not needed. Everyone is different, but there are some people in the world who like to express themselves with words, and others through illustrated emotions. While that is fine, problems may arise when a mix of emojis are put in and at the same time as this causes a mass confusion for the brain since it takes a longer time to process the emoticons and make sense out of them. By the time they actually have figured it out, the time runs out and they end up becoming more agitated because their brain worked twice as hard when they could have just gotten through with it minutes ago. Perhaps this is why your significant other decided to reply a bit late?

     

    All in all, emotions are both a blessing and a curse. As the texting culture has taken over our words so drastically, the sentences get shorter, the emojis become more creative and realistic, and the more we humans fail to display real and true feelings. Many relationships have been sabotaged by these cute yellow faces (mostly a lack of them), and I personally don’t feel it should be anywhere near the cause of a breakup or fight between two individuals. Henceforth, let’s try to be more direct with our words and not let their charm and beauty die.

    Responses 1

    • Sanjna Verma
      Sanjna Verma   Aug 21, 2017 06:38 PM

      Hey. This is an interesting topic as well as an interesting article to read. All the points mentioned in it would be related by everyone, some point or the other. I liked the point wherein you mentioned about how an emoticon can make you happier in a workplace. I agree to it. If I simply message: I will give your notebook tomorrow, would not be able to have as much impact. But a smiley emoticon with it can bring in more assurance about it.

      The point of the meaning of emoticon made me smile. (no offense) Everyone who has recently been using social media will somewhere or the other face such a problem such as laughing with tears emoticon which can be misinterpreted for a crying emoji.

      It is true that social media has made communication a lot easier but misinterpretation of either a text, a reply or an emoji can play a huge part in deteriorating the crediblity if relationships.

      According to me, it is good either to call or meet face-to-face or use applications like WhatsApp for more formal conversations.

  • 17 Aug
    Aparna Kanmani

    Open letter to a friend who lost a loved one

    Consoling a friend

     

    From being my partner in crime to acting like an over protective sister, you have always been by my side. I've known you for several years now and I have always admired the bold and strong woman that you are. You have inspired me to be better in ways I cannot imagine and it is the same strength and optimism that makes me believe that you can take care of yourself too. I believe you have the strength and the potential to cope up with the stress that surrounds you and rise above them with flying colors, just like you always have. Whenever I think of you, I picture a happy and excited soul looking forward to explore every new venture through your journey.

    However, this time, I am not so sure. You are keeping your wings clutched to yourself and dragging your feet to take even a tiny step. The sorrows are slowly pulling you down from your best and making each day harder for you to get through. You are quieter than before trying to tape your shattered pieces together. I just want you to know that it is not easy for me to see you this way, either. Each day I wish for you to have a normal day, where you work with enough motivation, constantly planning your schedules in your head, and cherish every drop of sweat that you shed. I miss you being you.

    I know life is not the same as before, and the changes might be too tough to adjust through. There might be times when you are sitting on your swing with the headphones singing the melody of a soothing flute, but the same joy may not sink in for you. When you have a lip smacking scrumptious meal ready, the empty chair at the dining table might not feel so pleasing. When you leave for work in a hustle and just step back for a moment to wave the usual 'bye', that vacant spot might leave you heavy-hearted. I'm sorry that things are changing and you are having to deal with them all by yourself, but I also know that you are strong enough to get through it. It is too big a deal to simply say, “it's going to be alright”, for I know it will take time. I have faith that time will heal but I hope the healing occurs as soon as possible.

    I understand that times are rough and that nothing can replace what you have lost. I probably don't even know completely how it would exactly feel to step into your shoes. But remember, I love you too much to let go. You know I'm just a call away and I would do anything to make sure that you are fine. I am there, whether or not you need me. Sometimes, solitude can sulk you down, so cry it out if you need to, vent till you cannot anymore but find a way to express what you feel. Bottling the erupting emotions won't last long, sweetie!

    What you need now is more than just a tight hug, more than just a shoulder to cry, more than just an eat out to break the stress and I've always been there for you. But this time, somehow I cannot figure out what can comfort you. If only I could do something to make the day easier and lighter for you, I would. For it hurts to see you bursting out in frustration for things that don't matter, it hurts to know how you have been crying your nights alone under the blanket, and it hurts to learn that you don't find spirit in the life you lead. But I'm not here to watch depression gulp you down. No way!

    I know it is easier said than done, but please, make an effort. Take that small step to bring a smile to yourself. Stop by a beach once in a while on the way to work, take deep breaths in the refreshing morning fogs, walk a mile with your favorite song on loop, talk to the child next door who babbles in an adorable manner, listen to the raindrops trickle down your roof, or feel the warm shower calm your senses to a state of trance. Do anything that will give you some peace of mind, and I hope it calms your chaos. 

    Life is too unpredictable and there is not one thing I can do make your sorrow vanish instantly, for I know it doesn't work that way. The void that you feel cannot be filled with the patches of comfort. I am not saying it's going to be easy, but it is necessary. It is the best you can do for yourself and those around you. While you wait for time to loosen the reins, keep the child in you alive. Look around and let the reality sink into you. Brace yourself and move forward towards the goals that challenge you. You will find a new YOU ahead.

    While countless well-wishers buzz around you passing free advice, I do not want to end up being lost among them. However, I share the common goal, to see you smile from your heart again. I may not be able to stop the downpour, but I will always join you for a walk in the rain.

    Whatever happens, life must go on, for even the one who loved you the most, beyond anything in this world, would have said the same thing.

     

    With love,

    One who can't stand to see you depressed

  • 15 Aug
    Reshma Venugopal

    Why do teens have an obsession over fashion?

    TV shows and Fashion

    If you ever end up going to the mall, maybe to a restaurant, I can bet that you will find at least two-three teenagers with ripped jeans. I am also sure, that your parent probably commented on it, made fun of it, or just got angry about it. You also try your level best to explain to your parents about the concept of ripped jeans. Granted, the only thing you can really say about it is that “It’s cool”. This battle of explaining fashion trends and the concepts behind it will always continue. From ripped jeans to ripped t-shirts (thank you Kanye West), there is always going to be a disagreement between teenagers who are obsessed with keeping up with trends, and the older generation. So, if you are a teenager and often wonder why you unnecessarily buy clothes and other accessories; or if you are an older person who is tired of wondering why teenagers waste their money on these things, then here are some psychological reasons why.

     

    • Social media

     Almost 80% of the teenage population is on either or all of these sites and is using it as a platform to be recognized by the world. Bandura (1977) had pointed out that by mere observation, individuals can learn or imitate value, attitudes, and skills. Which is how teenagers get so obsessed as they want to look a certain way for the world by imitating what is in trend. 

    Social media logos

    • Confidence boost

    While many people struggle in overcoming their shyness, there are others who love to be noticed. Being noticed boosts their confidence level because they feel that the more trendy and good looking they are, more people will notice, and hence make them feel good.

    confidence

     

    • Celebrity influence

    We all want to be someone we are not because we do not see the bad side of a celebrity. We tend to envy them and mostly wish we had their lives. Celebrity influences play a huge role in controlling teen fashion sense. For example, the famous makeup mogul and one of the daughters of the Kardashian-Jenner clan, Kylie Jenner, has been setting trends since she was 17 or 16. Now every teenage girl wants to have her famous lip-kit or her fashion sense of wearing track pants and heels.

    It’s like, “If I wear that outside, people will give me dirty looks, but if Kylie does it, then it is probably super classy and stylish.” That is the general attitude of teenagers when it comes to celebrity influences.

    Kylie Jenner in tracks

     

    • Brands and peer influence

    Studies have shown that obsession over fashion trends increases in high school when everyone is waiting for a chance to feel attractive and desirable. This causes a stiff competition and an unnecessary need to try to keep up with trends.

    If you don’t follow them, then you will not be considered important or worth it. This, in turn, leads to lower self-confidence, low self-esteem, depression, and anxiety. And who wants to be in that boat? At this point, it won’t matter how painful that tattoo would be, or how ridiculous your torn jeans look, you just want to be a part of the cool group and you will end up doing anything for that.

    Moreover, most teens identify themselves through brands. Brands are also chosen based on what their peers are into, which gives them the chance to "Fit in". What teens don’t see with all of this is that they tend to not see the worth in things, and end up spending more than necessary.

    clothing brand names

     

    So how can this obsession become unhealthy?

    Being trendy and fashionable is quite normal and in many ways, it boosts confidence and self-esteem. Thus, we don't discourage 'being trendy'. However, it gets unhealthy when it starts affecting you and your daily life. It gets unhealthy when you wake up in the morning and spend two hours deciding what to wear to school or college. It gets unhealthy when you spend on things which are not necessary for you and you sacrifice your funds for clothes than other important things. Like anything else, there needs to be a limit and here are some ways you can improve yourself or your teenager if they have these issues.

    • Be more aware of how much you need. Maybe keep a log book with all the times you have purchased.Try and keep specific occasions for shopping, instead of buying stuff every time you go out, try to limit yourself. Maybe buy something once in 6 months?
    • Try to buy clothes that never go obsolete. This way you would not need to keep buying things.
    • Try to keep yourself occupied and take part in activities that don’t need all of your attention on your looks. Maybe take part in swimming, or sports, which would require a uniform.
    • Try to donate your old clothes. Because it is worse to hoard your old clothes than it is to keep buying more and more.

     

    There you go everyone, here are some tips for curbing down that fashion obsession. No, there is nothing wrong in trying to stay in the trend and being fashionable, but let’s remember to keep it all in check and under control.

  • 14 Aug
    Shruti Gupta Delhi

    Seven decades of Indian Mentality

    Exactly 70 years ago, when the clock struck 12, the first prime minister of independent India, Jawaharlal Nehru, made the famous speech ‘Tryst with Destiny’.

    tryst with destiny

    In the very famous speech, he spoke of the emergence of India as a new and independent nation. After all the revolts that had taken place for independence, Nehru spoke of India he dreamt of. As an independent nation, he entrusted us with a few responsibilities.

     

    “That future is not one of ease or resting but of incessant striving so that we may fulfill the pledges we have so often taken and the one we shall take today. The service of India means the service of the millions who suffer. It means the ending of poverty and ignorance and disease and inequality of opportunity. The ambition of the greatest man of our generation has been to wipe every tear from every eye. That may be beyond us, but as long as there are tears and suffering, so long our work will not be over.”

     

    It’s been seven decades, but have we been able to do even a little bit of what had been asked of us?

    India is now a developing country, but how forward are we in terms of mental and political scenario, I do not know. Sure, there has been an advancement in technology. In fact, we cannot do without it, and it is precisely due to this tech, that we know that it is not really accessible to all.

    India has changed, both politically and in terms of mentality. Of course, that is true, otherwise, we would have been living under the Congress till today. The fact that there is another political party except for the INC and the BJP clears the state of liberty in the political scenario. We do elect our leaders with all our faith entrusted to them, but fortunately or unfortunately, things don’t go the way we like. We live in a place where we elect our leaders, but the leaders choose otherwise, just as it happened in Bihar. It seems to me that gradually as the elections have been taking place, one party is taking over the whole country. While this might not be true, we cannot deny the fact either. Are we then, deceiving ourselves to be a part of a democratic country?

     governing parties in India

    On this day, I can’t help but think of the times when we struggled the most and when we felt the most helpless. Demonetization is exactly what I am talking about. In the past seven decades of independence, that was the time when I felt vulnerable as a citizen of the country. Though for the better, many of the citizens had their hands tied because who knew what rule could be brought about by the government? Digitization of money and the idea of the cashless economy seems innovative, and a great reform to curb corruption, but the many loopholes that exist in this system including illiteracy, unawareness and the lack of access to technology and the internet, resolve the purpose behind it. 

    We, as the citizens of the country, have the right to elect our leaders. We, the citizens of the country, however, do not have the right to oppose the decisions of our leaders. Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code states homosexuality to be an offense because it is against the order of nature. In a country as diverse as India, not only this is ridiculous but also shameful. It is sick to think that something as natural as love can be against nature. The stigmatization of the term has led people to believe that it is an illness, and homosexuals to believe that they are not worthy of living in the society and hence giving up their lives. Living in the 21st century, this act has led me to believe that no matter how much we advance, we can never really modernize, mostly because of our backward thinking.

    homosexuality in India

    If this prevails, how are we as a nation shaping up to be?

    Peace has been said to be indivisible; so is freedom, so is prosperity now, and so also is disaster in this One World that can no longer be split into isolated fragments.”

    Nehru spoke of peace in the India he had dreamt of. Unfortunately, peace is the last thing that can be witnessed at present-day.

    In a country where humans are killed over religion, even when each religion prohibits killing, I only find religious unrest. In a country where people are tagged and arrested for voicing their opinion, I find political unrest. If ‘intolerant’ is the word we have to use, why is it only synonymised with a negative trail of thoughts? To ensure peace we must be able to listen to what others have to say and understand it before reacting to it violently without a second thought. It won’t be wrong to say that if Gandhi were alive, he would have been extremely disappointed in all of us. Peace, is not merely what we need to impose, it is something because of which we are forever indebted to all the freedom fighters who chose peace as their way of living, and that’s why, we must intend peace, to repay our debt to those because of whom we are residing in an independent nation.

    Seven decades, and I am not entirely convinced with regard to the change in the nation. There is a revolutionary wave coming about, and it seems that positive changes are yet to be made. Until then, however, we must keep doing what we are and try to bring better changes in the society.

    Jai Hind!