social media


As you think of others far away, think of yourself (say, “If only I were a candle in the dark”). –Mahmoud Darwish (translated by Mohammed Shaheen)

At the time of writing this article, it has been 40 days since the commencement of Israel’s relentless retaliatory assault on the Palestinian people living in Gaza and the Occupied West Bank. Following the Hamas attack on October 7, 2023, Israel’s offensive has resulted in the tragic deaths of at least 11,000 Palestinian civilians, with over 20,000 sustaining injuries. 42 journalists and media workers have lost their lives, and the war has recorded the highest number of UN aid worker casualties in the history of the organisation. Craig Mokhiber, the former Director of the New York Office of UNHCR, who resigned in protest of the United Nations’ failure to intervene and avert the crisis, has described the unfolding humanitarian catastrophe as “a textbook case of genocide.” Yet, if one were to turn to mainstream media, particularly in the West, one would find a very different picture than this grim reality.

Indeed, the Western reporting of the Israel-Palestine issue has been marred by a series of “erroneous Western assumptions,” as Professor Amir Ali of the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) called them in a commentary piece for the Economic and Political Weekly. From an ahistorical account of the situation as beginning on October 7, 2023, to the labelling of all condemnations of Israel’s actions as antisemitism, along with the ad-nauseum repetition of “Do you condemn Hamas?” Prof. Ali identifies these assumptions as reflective of “the moral and intellectual bankruptcy of the West.” Underneath these apparent fallacies in logic, of course, lie much more deliberate and coercive forces of racism, Islamophobia, and the state-driven race for geopolitical gains.

In light of this active epistemic erasure, many have chosen to turn instead to Palestinian journalists, photographers, and activists, such as Plestia Alaqad, Bisan, Yara Eid, and Ali Jadallah, among others, who have utilised their social media presence to document the harrowing genocide as it unfolds on the ground. “My photos travelled the world, but my feet couldn’t touch my homeland,” reads the Instagram bio of Motaz Azaiza, one such Gaza-based photojournalist, whose photographs have indeed travelled the digital world and exposed the ongoing atrocities of the Israeli state. From highly graphic and excruciating images of dead or injured children to capturing the daily resilience of the Palestinian people, the social media posts of Gazan civilians like Motaz have struck the consciences of millions across the world. Amid active attempts to dehumanise victims of genocide, they have served as an unprecedented tool of personal documentation, humanising the statistics too often reduced to mere death tolls.

The democratisation of information dissemination via social media has brought out the face of a genocide like never before in history. Such is the power of online discourse that many experts have called it “a battle to control the narrative dimensions of conflict and war.” The meddling forces in this narrative battle include disinformation, online propaganda, and censorship by social media platforms. The latter is particularly pertinent in the current context, as numerous activists, journalists, and regular users have accused major platforms of shadowbanning or taking down Palestine-related content. Yet, the sheer magnitude of this online movement is evident in the fact that October saw 15 times more posts on Instagram and TikTok with pro-Palestinian hashtags than pro-Israeli ones, as reported by Humanz, an influencer marketing company founded by former IDF intelligence officers.

On an individual scale, this has translated to what I’d like to term ‘digital-user morality’ for the purposes of this article. Digital-user morality may be understood as a form of individual social responsibility that encourages the socio-politically conscious usage of one’s social media platform, however big or small, to create awareness about issues that matter. Emphasising the complicit nature of silence and ignorance, it calls upon individuals to speak out for what’s right and stand in solidarity with marginalised communities across the world.

The idea here is not to suggest that passive engagement in the form of a single repost or retweet is going to bring about a revolution. Rather, the objective is to harness online support and channel it into tangible forms of dissent and protest movements. With the widespread adoption of the BDS (Boycott, Divest from, and Sanction) movement and people marching in the thousands across the world, it is evident that the line between digital activism and real-world mobilisation is a thin one, and the former has a significant bearing on public sentiment about war.

As we continue to mobilise our voices for Palestine, it is also crucial to be cognizant of the pitfalls of virality and not forget the many ‘silent genocides’ unfolding in other parts of the world right now, such as the Congo and Sudan. Social media is a powerful tool, but it is a tool based on capital, after all. So, when the Palestine issue inevitably dies out its so-called time on social media, just as the Manipur issue did earlier this year and countless other humanitarian crises that seldom see the spotlight, remember not to let your activism be washed away in the transient waves of online attention.

Read Also: What’s Going on in Gaza and Why You Should Care

Image credit: @motaz_azaiza on Instagram

Sanika Singh
[email protected]

It’s natural to admire your favourite celebrity or even a beloved TV show character. However, just this easily this admiration can sometimes cross the line into obsession, where the lives of these public figures begin to dominate our own. At what point does our curiosity blur into invasion?

In the digital era, we often perceive celebrities as intimately connected to us, despite the apparent unattainability of their glamorous lifestyles. We develop parasocial relationships with them to bridge this emotional discomfort, seeking a sense of closeness. This phenomenon has been amplified by the rise of social networking platforms, which have blurred the lines of intimacy. The documentation of celebrities’ lives on these platforms feels remarkably relatable, constructing a facade of authenticity. Through the conversational features prevalent on social media websites, audiences experience a heightened sense of closeness to celebrities, even though these celebrities may not be aware of our existence.

Loneliness holds a significant influence over our engagement with parasocial relationships. It triggers a compelling fascination that draws us deeply into the lives of celebrities. This fascination often begins when we sense a void in our own lives, an emptiness amidst the monotony of our lives. In response, we turn to the lives of celebrities in search of emotional intimacy, hoping to infuse our lives with excitement and connection. Due to this, we inadvertently project our insecurities onto these celebrities, elevating them to a pedestal of flawless perfection. What escapes our notice is that the images of these celebrities are meticulously curated by their extensive PR teams, carefully sculpting a facade that conceals their own complexities and imperfections.

Reality TV extensively capitalise on parasocial relationships, offering viewers a glimpse into the seemingly “intimate” lives of celebrities. This exposure fosters a sense of closeness and approachability, despite the conscious understanding that their lifestyles are vastly different from our own. Over time, this proximity blurs the boundaries of our social realities, leading to an unconscious feeling of ownership over these celebrities. We may start to believe we have ownership in their life decisions. It’s essential to acknowledge that celebrities should not be exempt from ethical standards but also possess the autonomy to lead their lives beyond constant public scrutiny.

The power dynamic in the music industry accentuates this phenomenon. Artists often draw inspiration from their personal experiences, leading audiences to develop a sense of ownership over what an artist chooses to reveal. Speculation about the behind-the-scenes aspects of an artist’s life becomes common, and we tend to construct narratives that satisfy our curiosity. For instance, Taylor Swift’s personal life has been intensely scrutinized by the media over the years, with numerous speculations about her relationships and feuds, despite her choosing to address these topics mainly through her music.

In 2020, when Olivia Rodrigo’s hit song “Driver’s License” was released, there was a surge of speculation surrounding the heartbreak anthem. Many people began to assume that the reference to “the blonde girl” in the song’s lyrics was connected to the love triangle involving Sabrina Carpenter, Joshua Bassett, and Olivia Rodrigo. This connection led to some individuals taking the matter quite personally, with Sabrina Carpenter and Joshua Bassett even facing death threats as a result.

In a more tragic and extreme scenario, Christina Grimmie, a singer who rose to mainstream prominence through her YouTube music covers, fell victim to a fatal shooting during a meet and greet with a self-proclaimed “fan.” These instances represent the dangerous consequences of fans who overstep boundaries, infringing upon the basic rights of celebrities and even harbouring a disturbing sense of ownership over their lives.

However, despite the dangers, parasocial relationships play a pivotal role in the journey of celebrities toward mainstream success. Public relations teams meticulously craft and nurture these connections because such bonds are fundamentally essential for artists and public figures in these industries. Relatability has become a critical expectation for all celebrities; they are anticipated to exhibit a sense of authenticity and connection with their fans. However, striking the right balance is crucial; it cannot appear too manufactured as if they are making an excessive effort to be relatable.

These expectations frequently impose a heavy burden on celebrities, blurring the lines between their personal and public lives. They grapple with the sensation of being accountable to millions of their followers. The paternalistic and controlling nature of this relationship sometimes extends into intrusive territory, leaving celebrities with limited autonomy in their decision-making over their own life.

The complex world of parasocial relationships highlights the evolving nature of our connection with celebrities in the digital age. As we seek intimacy and relatability through these relationships, we must grapple with the boundaries between genuine connection and curated persona. The power dynamics at play underscore the delicate balance between our desire for closeness and the rights of celebrities to their personal lives. In this era of hyperconnectivity and ever-evolving media, perhaps it’s time for us to closely analyze the effects of being chronically online and navigate such challenges through a grounded lens.

Image Credits: iStock


Sri Sidhvi Dindi

[email protected]


From secret crushes to juicy revelations, confession pages provide a platform to express your unfiltered thoughts through anonymous means. However, amidst the lighthearted confessions, the disguise of anonymity that attracts such confessions becomes breeding grounds for cyberbullying. How can we navigate this complex landscape of anonymity and accountability?

Who am I? That’s a secret I’ll never tell. XOXO, Gossip Girl.

There is a notorious appeal as to why Gossip Girl lasted for six seasons. The scandalous lives of Manhattan’s elite were perhaps only relatable to us because they were told from the perspective of an anonymous outsider. Anonymity has given us a sense of security to share our most vulnerable, sometimes vicious, thoughts. The aura of anonymity has amplified through the rise of social media, as people can assume any mysterious identity and speak their minds without facing any repercussions. Confession pages are often a representation of the secrets that travel under the disguise of anonymity.

Confession pages start as a personal way to connect with people in a community. There is a sense of relief that accompanies us when we can share our most personal thoughts anonymously, however embarrassing they may seem. The confessions submitted to these pages inflict a thread of rumours and perpetuate gossip that we all enjoy consuming. These act as platforms for information dissemination in an entirely underground fashion.

Sometimes, the anonymous person will make a lighthearted confession to a crush and take on the role of a “secret admirer”.

…from section f, you are really good by beauty and more by your caring and helping nature. Thanks a lot for all you have done for me. I couldn’t gather the words to say it but I like you.

…I don’t know when I saw him I was just struck, struck with his charisma, the way he flips his hair, I don’t know if I am just romanticising him because of some character but I was just admiring him from a distance. He seemed busy, had a lot of friends, and was constantly talking to someone on call. Is he dating someone?

-@srcc_confession on Instagram

Although embarrassing at times, the anonymity of our confessions makes us more brave in expressing our vulnerabilities. It may seem silly at times; however, this is exactly the type of social currency that allows confession pages to operate successfully. On the other side, receiving such anonymous confessions may be flattering because you feel noticed and admired. However, they may also cross boundaries and reach territories of discomfort. The confessions are published on social media platforms, often popular amongst student communities, and such heightened attention may cause anxiety as we may feel constantly watched. The anonymity of such confessions further causes frustration, as there is no way of truly determining the person behind them.

On the flip side of the coin, such confession pages also provide a platform for people to perpetuate harmful and toxic comments that are hurtful to those on the receiving end.

…she thinks she is very smart and beautiful but actually she isn’t so good! Earlier I used to think she is nice but now I am sure that isn’t too good and she uses people for her use and leaves them when not req. She needs to bring her attitude down.”

-@ramjas_confession_ on Instagram


The problem with confession pages lies entirely here. People send anonymous confessions to secretly express their frustrations and anger towards a situation or people. Such mean-spirited comments are very offensive and perpetuate cyberbullying through these platforms. The tricky situation with confession pages is specifically the anonymity shield of both the creator of the page and the anonymous confessor. Such a hidden identity often makes it difficult to hold them accountable for their actions. This anonymity hinders their ability to effectively address their grievances and take appropriate actions, as they might not know who is making the confessions. Especially in confessions that are directly targeted through the use of names and positions, it can lead to feelings of embarrassment and powerlessness as the situation is beyond their control.

In high school, we had an anonymous confessions page and it was pretty popular because there was a considerable amount of gossip that was posted. But over time, the confessions just became really mean and offensive and some of them were just blatantly homophobic or misogynistic. I remember a friend telling me that she gets anxious whenever there’s a notification from Instagram because she’s scared that she’ll be tagged in the posts or comments or something about her was revealed. Eventually, the page died down because no one was interested anymore but looking back on it, I genuinely feel like some strict action should have been taken by the school authorities because it was basically cyberbullying.

-A pass-out high school student from New York City stated while describing her experience.

There are also serious consequences for running such platforms. In some situations, the confessors take authority over a secret or rumour and further spread it, often inflicting serious harm on others. The lines are very easily blurred as there is absolutely no transparency over the situation to hold anyone accountable. The power dynamics also come into play through the disguise of anonymity. The audience, confessors, and creators of such pages have a role to play in the presence of these platforms.

We, as an audience, engage with such content because we crave the gossip and rumours that are published through these platforms. There is a satisfying factor that accompanies us when we have an insight into what really happens in other people’s lives, however scandalous it may seem. Although we may have an understanding of when boundaries are crossed, the audience is also helpless to an extent because they have no way of holding someone accountable unless they report the page or publicly denounce it.

The accountability factor of the creator is important too. The creators of these platforms have a responsibility to ensure a safe and secure space is maintained where no one feels targeted. However, sometimes their authority over the page is also out of control. The comments, reposting, and sharing all culminate in actions beyond the capacity of the creator. When we remove the identity of the confessors, we also remove the guilt associated with passing our judgements. Therefore, accountability from all three sides diminishes, and no one faces any serious consequences.

While engaging with these platforms can offer an outlet for expression, it’s crucial to remain sceptical of the intentions behind such pages. Not everything presented is the absolute truth and extends beyond the narratives presented in such online discourses. Although we may view such pages as a retreat void where the consequences aren’t always deliberated, we must always remain introspective about our motivations and try our best to culminate in a positive environment.

Featured Image Credits: Keshavi for DU Beat

Read Also: Social Media Doing More Harm Than Good: A Student’s Take

Sri Sidhvi Dindi
[email protected]

Every day, we come across a wide range of content on social media. From news updates to political opinions to personal blogs, content creation acts as a source of income for many. In many cases, this has unfortunately facilitated the development of media that capitalises on polarising social issues and caters to the “majority,” even at the cost of being offensive or discriminatory towards particular groups. Read ahead to find out what fuels social media’s “economy of hate” and the alarming impacts this has on our society.

The use of social media is on the rise in the contemporary digital era. Following the boom in usage, it has now acquired the function of a community space for news updates, political ideas, and the development of online communities of individuals with shared interests. Being a social media celebrity comes with the added benefit of monetization. This content plays a major role in our daily discussions and the formation of personal opinions. With the added advantage of anonymity, this freedom of speech or expression of thoughts can go unchecked and develop a dark side too.

Cyberbullying or cyberharassment is becoming increasingly common among teenagers and adolescents, as well as in nations with fragile democratic structures and diverse social and religious groups. According to the Pew Research Centre, in 2022, at least half of the young people in the United States had experienced bullying at some point in their lives. India has one of the highest rates of cyberbullying. As per a study by McAfee, 85% of children in India have experienced cyberbullying or have perpetrated it themselves. This rate is nearly twice as high as the global average.

Content creators have a significant role in the perpetuation of cyberbullying. Targeting an individual or community for a few likes in order to grow an account is all too common on Instagram and X (previously Twitter). Some people post discriminatory content as a “joke,” while others post it as a social or political viewpoint. In India, social media is one of the most powerful tools used by politicians to propagate political messaging, which often includes ideological propoganda and hatred towards certain communities. Not only this, but social media has been employed to mould public opinion and cover up the true situation in areas such as Kashmir after the abrogation of Article 370, the current conversion of Uttrakhand into “devbhoomi”, ethnic violence in Manipur, and ethnic cleansing of Muslims in various parts of the country in the name of illegal encroachment. There are various social media accounts on X (formerly Twitter) dedicated entirely to spreading such malicious content.

Along with using social media for political purposes, another major issue is the use of social media to propagate disinformation about particular subjects such as reservation, gender discrimination, and the queer community. Multiple individuals on X (previously Twitter) grew their accounts by posting abusive and false information about these issues. Engaging in such posts (even if you disagree with the viewpoint being tweeted) helps such tweets develop reach, making it easier for the user to reach wider audiences who may be uneducated on such issues and gullible to misinformation.

The Centre for Countering Digital Hate strives to halt the dissemination of hate speech and false information online. It is a nonprofit organisation that works to defend internet civil liberties and human rights. The Centre for Countering Digital Hate was recently sued by Elon Musk. According to a report in the Washington Post, X filed a complaint in the U.S. Federal Court for the Northern District of California, alleging that CCDH engaged in a number of unlawful acts in an effort to inappropriately access protected X Corp. data. Here are a few citations from CCDH reports:

Anti-LGBT Hate Content

TW// Queerphobia

According to a report by the Centre for Countering Digital Hate, over 1.7 million tweets and retweets since the start of 2022 mention the LGBTQ+ community via a keyword such as “LGBT”, “gay”, “homosexual” or “trans” alongside slurs including “groomer”, “predator” and “paedophile”. The hateful ‘grooming’ narrative online is driven by a small number of influential accounts with large followings. Now new estimates from the Centre show that just five of these accounts are set to generate up to $6.4 million per year in ad revenues for Twitter.

Anti-Muslim Hate Content

TW// Islamophobia

A study by TRT World revealed that 86% of anti-Muslim content originates in the United States, the United Kingdom, and India. According to the research, such hostile content and disinformation led to violent attacks on Muslims and mosques.

According to a report by CCDH, social media companies, including Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Twitter, and YouTube, failed to act on 89% of posts containing anti-Muslim hatred and Islamophobic content reported to them. CCDH researchers, using platforms’ own reporting tools, reported 530 posts that contain disturbing, bigoted, and dehumanising content that targets Muslim people through racist caricatures, conspiracies, and false claims. These posts were viewed at least 25 million times. Many of the abusive contents were easily identifiable, yet there was still inaction. Instagram, TikTok, and Twitter allow users to use hashtags such as #deathtoislam, #islamiscancer and #raghead. Content spread using the hashtags received at least 1.3 million impressions.

Misogyny and Sexism on Social Media

TW// Misogyny, Sexual Harrasement, and Mentions of Rape

CCDH exposed the most influential and largest incel forum (incel, standing for ‘involunatry celibate,’ a self-assigned social media term for mostly cis-gendered heterosexual men who consider themselves “denied” of sex by women and actively spread misogynistic, sexist, hostile content directed towards women and even men who they consider more sexually accomplished than themselves). This new in-depth study by the CCDH’s Quant Lab shows a 59% increase in mentions of mass attacks, widespread approval of sexual violence against women, with 9 in 10 posters supportive, and support for paedophilia, with the rules explicitly changing in March 2022 to permit the sexualization of ‘pubescent minors’. The ‘Incel Forum’ receives an average of 2.6 million monthly visits and has 17,000 members. Discourse is driven by 406 ‘power users, who produce 74.6% of all posts on the forum, some spending upwards of 10 hours a day on the forum. In some cases, boys as young as 15 are being led down a rabbit hole of hatred and extremism. An analysis of almost 1.2 million posts made over an 18-month period found:

  • A 59% increase in the use of terms and codewords relating to acts of mass violence.
  • Mention of rape every 29 minutes. 9 in 10 (89%) of posters in relevant discussions were supportive of sexual violence against women. The forum’s rules changed to permit the sexualization of “pubescent minors”. 
  • Analysis of discussions of paedophilia on the forum shows that 53% of posters are supportive of sexual violence against children.
  • One in five posts on the forum features misogynistic, racist, antisemitic, or anti-LGBTQ+ language.
  • Mainstream social media platforms like YouTube and Google are enabling pathways to the ‘Incelosphere’.

Casteist Content

From misogyny to queerphobia to caste and race, social issues across the world are being capitalized on under this “economy of hate.” Take, for instance, the Twitter account by the name of “Anuradha Tiwari,” which often posts defamatory and hateful content on reservations. Her whole X and LinkedIn profiles are packed with anti-reservation content. This kind of content fosters young people’s development of hateful opinions and prejudice. A report by The Centre for Internet & Society titled “Online Caste-Hate Speech: Pervasive Discrimination and Humiliation on Social Media” talks about the anti-reservation and casteist content across various social media platforms. Furthermore, it discusses how casteism on campuses is greatly impacted by such online hatred.

In conclusion, the economics of hate create a shadow that undermines our social fabric in the complex network of digital places. Creators are often motivated by financial gain to take advantage of conflicts and controversy by posting systematically discriminatory content online. This exploitation breeds bias, misinformation, and harassment, in addition to eroding empathy. A cycle of hatred is fueled by the pernicious attraction of money because attention-grabbing stories draw attention and increase the wealth of those who spread them. A holistic strategy that includes stronger content regulation, media literacy instruction, and ethical digital citizenship is necessary to combat this destructive influence. We may strive to create a digital environment that is based on respect, understanding, and true connection by eliminating the financial motivations for hatred.

Featured Image Credits: Article-14

Read Also: Decoding Deceptive Deepfake

Dhruv Bhati
[email protected]

The internet age, especially the reign of social media and the increasing prominence of pop-culture has brought with it the infamous ‘labelling culture’ and brought with it bouts of armchair psychologists. While we have willingly accepted and internalized the ‘Instagram trend’ of fixer-culture, it’s imperative now that we stand back and actually think about it. Can your well-meaning 3AM-therapist friend also be harmful to some extent? What’s wrong with armchair psychology? It’s time to deep dive.

Quite often, you have heard your ‘selfish’ roommate being called a ‘narcissist’ or your ‘socially-awkward’ friend being randomly labelled as ‘autistic’ within your friend circle. This is what we call as armchair psychology- jumping to labels and conclusions without understanding a person’s behavioural context or even being qualified enough or licensed to diagnose individuals with mental health labels. And this is going wrong in several ways.

When we talk about ‘armchair psychologists’, it refers to individuals who are not licensed to practice therapy or treat mental-health related issues, or in simple words, aren’t the professionals. This also includes your 3AM-therapist friend, as well. But you might say that your friend only means to give you ‘friendly advice’ but usually it isn’t true. As Gen-Zs inspired by Instagram culture, we often are swallowed by the ‘labelling culture’. Your so-called therapist friend also comes into a loop of inserting labels to your problems- “Stop being a psychopath”, “Don’t be so bipolar about stuff”, “You’re so possessive”, “So hyper-sensitive” or “so obsessive” yada yada yada.

Professional psychotherapists usually do not jump ahead and insert labels to issues. They go through several sessions, slowly analysing patterns and try to resolve individual aspects, rather than attaching labels to your personality. Giving mental health advice without formal training not only may push individuals to internalize those pseudo-labels and associate them to their problems but also may tend to neglect real mental health disorders. Armchair psychology leaves the other person out of the conversation, allowing you to put on your ‘judgy’-goggles and restricting their persona according to your own perspective. Not everybody you dislike is a “psychopath”, when you judge people so soon, it stops them from opening up about their struggles. They tend to internalize the fact that they are probably a ‘psychopath’ and that’s when the cycle of harm begins.

While the Instagram age has opened up more avenues to have open and honest conversations about mental health and but this has also opened doors to an influx of armchair-psychologists. Taking it upon yourself to speculate other people’s mental health can be damaging. Hushed conversations like “Your ex-boyfriend is a total narcissist” or calling out celebrities on twitter, the age of armchair therapists is troublesome nevertheless.

Armchair psychology can even go beyond labelling, it may seem like – diagnosing someone with a mental health condition (“You definitely have borderline personality disorder, all the symptoms are there!”), offering psychological advice (“The only way to get over your triggers is to face them head on”) or making judgement about someone’s personal psychology (“She had a traumatic childhood so she trusts nobody around her”). This pretension of being experts trivialises the heavy weight of being diagnosed with mental health conditions and also propels stereotypes- not everyone who is socially-awkward falls on the autism spectrum and not every selfish person is a narcissist.

Moreover, armchair psychology can even lead to stigmatizing mental-health issues. Associating people’s controversial or abusive behaviour with mental health issues, perpetuates a harmful and inaccurate image of how people with mental issues behave. You tend to pathologize normal behaviour. Sometimes your roommate is just having a bad day and we do not need a diagnosis or a deeper psychological motivation as to why your friend is behaving the way she is.

But this pseudo-psychology, cuts down on ways to get proper treatment. If your loved one is truly struggling with a mental health issue, providing unqualified opinion to them might lead them down the wrong path for their recovery or even hinder them from reaching out towards professional resources or the help they need. On most days, they don’t need their friends to act like experts; they just need encouragement, support and someone who will listen.

While the well-intentioned therapist friend, often takes on the role of a ‘fixer’ with their ‘I can fix all your problems and you’ attitude, it’s time we start calling out this armchair-psychology. If you’re being targeted by an armchair psychologist, try to acknowledge their concerns, set boundaries and call out the harms. It’s absolutely okay to say, “I’m coming to you as a friend. I don’t need you to act like my therapist.” Or if you notice someone targeting someone else, be courageous enough to say,” As friends, our job is to support them, not judge them”.

Often times, we tend to act as armchair psychiatrists ourselves, unconsciously or consciously. Ending on a note of advice for all those therapist friends, if you are concerned about someone’s mental health, reach out and check in with their condition, and instead of passing labels and stereotypes, listen without judgement and connect them to proper resources, so that they can heal the right way.

Even though you might have an overwhelming urge to give advice and fix their issues, sometimes the best thing you can do is show them the right mental health resources, and be the friend they need you to be 🙂

Featured Image Credits: Google Images (IMDb)

Read Also: It’s Not Your Job to Fix Others

Priyanka Mukherjee

[email protected]

Do you also get your daily news from Twitter? Was the last time you opened and actually read a newspaper never? Then this journalism is for you.

“Russia invaded Ukraine”, you said, after getting an afternoon update on your phone. Scrolling, you could see notifications coming in from various news apps and digital platforms. You could feel the urgency behind these; the need to be the first one to cover it, the one that takes on a different angle. 


In the 21st century, when our eyes are glued to our screens and our hands to our phones, traditional forms of journalism have been, slowly but steadily, losing relevance. While many of those in the older generations would still rather read the news fresh off the press, waiting for it at its designated daily time and savouring it like a meal, a majority of the younger audience prefers to consume news in the form of bite-sized snacks— considerably low effort and easy on their time.

Social media journalism has been called the fifth pillar of society, just after the traditional mass media which is considered the fourth pillar. Putting this into perspective, in a country where almost 60% of the population lives in poverty (UNU study), we see that 68% of the total population ends up consuming news through their smartphones (TOI article based on Reuters report). This creates an incessant (and almost crazy) need for journalists to be on their toes all the time— to grab news leads as soon as they come onto the social media space, to update ongoing stories, and to be the “winner” in this race of social media journalism. Going beyond the ambit of honesty and reality, this fast service journalism comes with its own fallacies. With WhatsApp forwards being an up and coming “news house”, it sometimes feels as if rationality gets thrown out a window. Put into this mix the rightly-placed notion of “too many cooks spoil the food”— with anyone and everyone having a platform to voice their opinions, which, more often than not, are partially-informed and poorly analysed hearsay-bearing gossip- news and sources get diluted to their best.

Disinformation is worse than misinformation, Disinformation is purposeful misinformation,” an article from Youth Ki Awaaz

Last year, media houses like Tatva India and Yuvadope ended up publishing false news pieces about communal unrest and post-poll violence in Bengal. Does this mean that a race to be the first justifies such infringement upon the truth? Does it entail that a paucity of time needs to be accompanied by a paucity of integrity?


But nothing is all good or all bad. Social media journalism goes hand-in-hand with citizen journalism, enabling stories from across the world to find a voice free from state control (except in cases when the state has banned the internet itself). It ends up giving a platform to journalism, to step out of the shadows of money and political power, to be a channel of the people, by the people, and for the people, and to sometimes truly be what it is meant to be— the plain and simple truth.


Feature Image: theatlantic.com


Manasvi Kadian

[email protected]

Millennials have started to believe that they do not have enough time for any leisure activity, and they that they need to succumb into the monotony of life. This piece aims to break that myth.

As children, the majority of our time was spent playing some sport, painting, and simply discovering our hobbies. This practice, however, saw a major transition as we grew up, even our diversions changed. Contrary to popular belief, hobbies are supposed to be activities that we make time for, despite our busy schedules and indefinite piles of tasks.

According to many surveys, most people prefer staying at home and watching television rather than stepping outside to discover themselves. Moreover, there is a difference between a past-time and a hobby. In the most generic sense, a hobby is mostly recreational.

Millennials fail to realize the importance of hobbies and continue living their vanilla lives. Every industry is characterized by its dynamic environment, and to soar higher in such conditions, everyone should indulge in creative thinking to stand out.

Hobbies are formed after several rounds of introspection, they are extremely important for self-actualization, and true happiness. Those people who make their passion their professions, have it comparatively easier than those who are still on the path of self-discovery.

Researchers have also discovered, that some time away from work, to indulge in some leisure activity has been linked with increased performances at work and creative activities, leading to higher confidence levels.

With extremely high-stress levels and constant pressure, millennials need an outlet for the same, which seems impossible due to their pre-occupation with technology, and the inability to make time for themselves.

Ishita, a student of Lady Shri Ram College said, “I used to paint every week as a child, but the last time I picked up a paintbrush was over five months ago just to post a story on Instagram.”

The idea that Instagram, Twitter, and other products of modern technology are replacements of hobbies is bizarre. Our fixation on social media is proving to be way more harmful than it was first predicted. Even if someone is actively pursuing their hobbies, they feel the need to post stories on their social media while they paint, bake, or read, which is strange because this trend has recently surfaced, and millennials tend to focus more on posting stories rather than enjoying their hobbies.

Feature image credits- Vaibhav Tekchandani for DU Beat

Suhani Malhotra

[email protected]

With forthcoming breakthroughs of technology, lingers a threat of out doing human synapse of comprehension and consumption of information.

Limitless possibilities afloat of what one can dismiss as impossible only to find out that technology can prove otherwise. 2017 saw a manifestation of ‘deepfakes’ in the West which is an artificial intelligence software which works by mechanising synthetic algorithms to superimpose the voice or face or both of someone else over the subject and make it appear that they said it in real-time. In 2018 comedian Jordan Peele released quite a believable video of former President of the States, Barack Obama saying things as a PSA which was doctored by the comedian himself. The purpose was to mediate the message of the extent to which Deepfake can be deceiving and the ease of creating and sharing them.

Deepfake video of Barack Obama taken from YouTube channel of Good morning America!

This software was initially used in the porn business to generate revenue. Graphics of celebrities and well-known faces were easily accessible from the net thereby making them easy targets for the subject of their content. Lately, this technology is doing rounds in harbouring fake news as it has been seeping into politics.

A day ahead of Delhi elections, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP, Manoj Tiwari’s video of criticizing the Kejriwal led government surfaced in multiple languages on WhatsApp and other social media platforms, aimed at targeting prospective voters. The singer/actor turned politician can be seen speaking in fluent English and Haryanvi making appeals to the Janata to vote for his party when in reality the actual video was him speaking on the affirmation of passing of Citizenship Amendment Bill (now Act) in the house of parliament.

Video of Manoj Tiwari speaking in English and Haryanvi taken from The Vice

The negative repercussions of Deepfake are directly proportional to the ease with which it can be accessed feasibly. Politicians tailor their needs of reaching more target voters than their opponents in more authentic ways possible. People who consumed Manoj Tiwari’s hoaxed video felt more attached to him when he spoke in their language. A major threat with the upcoming of such videos is that denial would become a lot easier for people who can be easily caught in their wrongdoings via citizen journalism. They can immediately call out the video for being falsified. Even worse, anyone can be made to say things which they didn’t and share that video extensively.

In a country like India which is vulnerable to riots, such videos will serve as a very good bait to disturb peace and harmony.

Actual video of Manoj Tiwari taken from The Vice

Prateek Sinha of Alt news- a fact-checking website, in an interview with Vice said,” At this point in time it’s impossible to fact check or verify something that you don’t recognise is doctored.”

It has become a whole lot easier to deceive people especially the ones who are in the oblivion of the technological jargon.

A critical approach in understanding these videos would be an ideal case scenario but in reality, we are a nation which believes in United Nation giveaways of honorifics to Indian festivals and national anthem. How can we decipher the face2face algorithms and others incorporated in making such lies? A New York-based software company is working on detecting Deepfake videos. It would be a relief to say that ills of technology are countered by technology itself, however, it’s imperative that we exercise extreme caution before believing any content. Fact check it while we can and run it through multiple sources before sharing them because separating the act of consuming and sharing of information has the ability to impede the pace of harm that this new technology bores as it’s potential.

Suggestive fact checking websites: altnews.in, indiaspend.com, boomlive.com, www.hoaxslayer.net, mediavigil.com

Feature Image Credits: m.phys

Feature Image Caption: AI enabled technology superimposed actor Nicolas Cage’s face on Tesla’s CEO Elon Musk.

Umaima Khanam

[email protected] 


“The practice of no longer supporting people, especially celebrities, or products that are regarded as unacceptable or problematic,” the repercussions of Cancel Culture in India.

Macquarie Dictionary Named ‘Cancel Culture’ as the Word of the Year 2019. “A term that captures an important aspect of the past year’s Zeitgeist…an attitude which is so pervasive that it now has a name, society’s cancel culture has become, for better or worse, a powerful force,” wrote the Macquarie Dictionary committee in a blog post.

What is ‘cancel culture’ and what does ‘getting cancelled’ really mean? It’s a form of social boycott of someone, most often a celebrity, who would have shared a questionable opinion or has had problematic behaviour that is called out on social media. The idea is to deprive a celebrity of attention or in extreme cases, your money. There’s a hierarchy to transgressions that could get one cancelled. At the bottom of the totem pole is saying something that offends a section of the society to more serious wrongdoings like sexual assault. This, in turn, seems to determine the degrees of being cancelled. However, more often than not, though this fevered dream of cancellation is just that — a dream. In the real world, it rarely has any tangible or long-term effects on the lives of the cancelled.

“They said they would boycott her film. They said they would cut off her head. They said she couldn’t act. Deepika Padukone has spent her career putting ‘them’ in their place”, Raja Sen, a critic and author wrote. Padukone was a victim of name-calling and vile attacks after she visited the campus of Jawaharlal Nehru University to express her solidarity with students who had been grievously injured in violent attacks. Hashtag Boycott Chhapaak trended, and there was social media outrage to boycott the products she endorses. This is a reflection of the erstwhile not talked about side of Cancel Culture, a phenomenon which is not only the copyright of liberal, progressive ‘woke’ people; but a weapon which is wielded by right-wing, fascist trolls alike.

In a post-MeToo India, it’s becoming increasingly challenging as survivors to see predators flourishing in various industries. The term cancel culture is a mere question mark in the face of industries like Bollywood, built on the foundation of predatory behaviour where sexual harassers are more likely to find work than survivors. Such is the case of Utsav Chakraborty, who came back a year after he was cancelled to nullify the accusations targeted at him and proceeded to dox various women under the garb of ‘uncancelling’ himself.

However, all hope is not lost. Female filmmakers such as Zoya Akhtar, Meghna Gulzar, Konkona Sen Sharma and Gauri Shinde, among others, have expressed their solidarity with the movement. In a combined statement shared by Gulzar on Instagram, the filmmakers announced their decision to not work with people guilty of sexual harassment and misconduct. The statement read: “We are here to spread awareness to help create a safe and equal atmosphere for all in the workplace. We have also taken a stand to not work with proven offenders. We urge all our peers in the industry to do the same.”

Personally, Cancel Culture will continue to not work, giving a platform to problematic people if we, as a public that consumes art don’t hold ourselves accountable. It should be a conscious choice of each one of us, to not invest in the art of a person who has previously done something harmful to a particular person or group and has shown no signs of repentance and growth. Because, in the words of comedian Hannah Gadsby, “Pushing for a culture of respect is not the same as cancelling culture.”

Featured Image Credits: Well and Good

Paridhi Puri

[email protected]


At a time when people are becoming more and more dependent on the Internet as a source of information, there is a need to look into from where we’re getting that information, and if it’s something we should be relying on.

Over the past decade, anyone who has had the slightest interaction with the internet and social media platforms has come across memes- a concept that has completely taken over our perception of information, humour and interactions online. Merriam Webster defines memes as an amusing or interesting item (such as a captioned picture or video) or genre of items that is spread widely online especially through social media.

Memes have gone from minor sources of temporary entertainment to a way of humorous expression of facts and opinions. While that may seem like an effective way of relaying information, it more than often is not.

Mike Godwin, in 1990, said that “As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches 1”, a statement that is popularly known as Godwin’s Law today. The intention of this ‘law’ was to counter the comparisons with Nazi Germany, something that he felt was disrespectful to those who’d suffered due to the Holocaust. This example, however, throws light on how memes impact the way we think and how they normalise events and thought processes that maybe shouldn’t be normalised.

Now the question is, how is meme culture problematic when related to serious issues? Firstly, Memes rely on simplification- and at times, an oversimplification. In a situation like that, it becomes hard for the target audience of a meme to understand the true essence of a particular situation or issue that a meme is trying to represent. Issues like conscription, the refugee crisis, etc. cannot be properly portrayed in stills and references from Call of Duty (the video game) or videos of crabs dancing, and that lack of proper understanding rarely leads to large scale political awareness or discourse.

Secondly, there is no responsibility and accountability on the part of the meme creator to provide factually correct information. It is also harder to trace misinformation back to the creator in case of memes than it would be in other cases, such as news reports. In a world where what we see and read on the internet instantly becomes the basis on what we form our opinion, that lack of responsibility is a dangerous issue, because people can be made to think in certain ways without being entirely aware of all the facts. An example of this could be the 2016 US Presidential Election, where a number of people came out and claimed how they ‘memed’ Donald Trump into the office in 2016, with a similar trend being observed with far-right groups in France. This ability to twist public opinion trivialises processes such as elections.

Thirdly, memes often end up being about pulling opponents down and trolling them, rather than talking about issues. An example would be the recent meme war between the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), Congress and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the run-up to the Delhi State Elections. All sides have tried to use memes to reach out to a younger audience, but have focussed only on how the other sides failed to deliver. In that case, problems they should be highlighting have taken a backseat and thus become trivialized.

These issues were seen very recently when the USA killed Qasem Soleimani, an Iranian general, which led to a war-like situation in the middle east for several days. However, the reactions we saw on the internet were not those that promoted dialogue and a proper understanding of the issue, instead, we saw insensitive memes that ignored reality, such as one which explained how to fake mental illnesses to avoid getting drafted in the army. This war would definitely not take place within the boundaries of the United States, and at a time when people’s lives in the Middle East were at stake, making jokes on it is a move that lacks empathy. This instance proves how meme culture makes light of severe issues that could potentially have negative impacts on a very large scale.

Clearly, there’s a need for a more sensitive and empathetic world in order for us to counter and move forward from the problems that we are facing. In order for that to happen, it’s important to change the way we utilise and look at memes.

Feature Image Caption: “The intentional pairing of a man pointing a gun at the viewer with the concept of refugees, combined with the intentionally shocking font and color is nothing less than fear-mongering and manipulation that would have made Joseph Goebbels proud.”

Feature Image Credits: The Daily Utah Chronicles

Khush Vardhan Dembla

[email protected]