The Truman Show!

A short review on how ‘Trumanized’ the world has become

I recently watched ‘The Truman Show’ movie after a long time. Even though it has been more than 2 decades since this movie was released, but after seeing this movie, I can relate the world resembles much like ‘The Truman Show’ more than ever!

This movie was way ahead of its times! I am simply enamoured by the depth this movie has. This movie depicts the life of reality show which happens to portray reality in an abstract manner. Because, unlike the usual daily soaps or reality shows, this movie actually shows the real world itself. Because, I find not much difference between the world we live in today, and that of the world presented to Truman in his name show! Today, we are surrounded by hundreds of gadgets and devices on which our life is dependent on. Everything is tracked, and surveillance has become the oxygen of this world. Just like the intricate network of 5000 cameras captured every minute details of Truman, so does all the ‘Internet of Things’ does for us. The information we Google, the friends we make on Facebook, the messages we send on WhatsApp, the pictures we like on Instagram, the videos we watch on YouTube, the mail we send on Gmail, the apps we downloaded from AppStore, the online shopping we make on Amazon, the places we travel to on Google Maps, the restaurants we visit on Yelp, the jobs we apply for on LinkedIn, the hotels we stay in, the people we date on Dating Apps, the car we drive, the books we read, or the credit card we use for purchases…OMG, doesn’t it sound like ‘The Truman Show’?

And the worst part is that we have become used to all this. We have indirectly accepted all this by our own consent. As Christof rightly said in this movie,

We accept the reality of the world with which we are presented. It’s as simple as that.

Christof, the creator of ‘The Truman Show’

Today, we accept the world presented by news media, entertainment movies, TV shows, podcasts, talk shows, internet and social media as being the real one. It is like we have become a part of crowd psychology. The way of eating, shopping, dating, travelling all being inadvertently influenced and standardised. Monopoly is the real rule book these days. If all the information networks decided to make a villain out of some person, then there is no way the world can oppose it. That person is bound to get victimised. And ironically, all the media pride themselves on free speech, freedom and liberal values. In reality, it is their imposition of information and opinions on the world which thwarts the freedom of all the people. But unfortunately, we all have become like ‘Truman Burbank’. We simply don’t even know that we are stuck up in a world of ‘sea-haven island’ owned by tech billionaires, media moguls, oil barons and business conglomerates which have turned this world into a studio to make us accept the reality as they want us to see.

Image result for truman show studio from space
Image Credits

And this show did one marvelous thing. It predicted the future of the world. After its release in 1998 ( the same year when Google started), most of the today’s giant social media( FB, Insta, Twitter, YT, WhatsApp) and government surveillance program( PRISM), all happened in the last 22 years. Even the Iraq invasion was imposed by the Bush administration under the false pretext of Iraq having WMD. And you know, the world accepted it. Because we all were ‘Trumanized’. Had it not been the audacious whistleblowers like Ed Snowden, Julian Assange, Chelsea Manning, we would not even have realized about such clandestine programs. Had it not been Chris Wylie, then Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica scandal would never have become known. All this has been beautifully depicted in the TV show “The Social Dilemma” in which Tristan Harris sheds light on the dark reality behind the glittering social media world. All these people refused to accept the world as it was presented to them. After all this is the basis of scientific mindset isn’t it? We owe our progress of the world to the curiosity, scientific mindset and the brave men and women who refused to be a part of this show, and who rather challenged the existing stereotype.

So, finally, as said in the movie by Christof, ‘If he was absolutely determined to discover the truth, there’s no way we could prevent him“. Similarly, we have the freedom to choose our own opinions, our ideas and our thoughts. We have the right to accept and reject what is bombarded at us by the world. There is no need for everything to be standardized or even labeled under some ideology. This world is diverse, and beautiful. Even we humans come in all forms of color, race, languages, tradition, culture and behavior. We don’t need to embrace what the media tells us always. We don’t need to eat a particular burger or a soft drink just because the marketing team desperately tries to convince us. We don’t need to buy a tech gadget just because the media tells its a cool thing! We don’t need to embrace the life of Page 3 models and actors, assuming it be charming. We can and must maintain the freedom to live as per our conscience. Ofcourse, it isn’t that easy to sail upstream. But as said, if we are absolutely determined to not become like Truman, then no technology, no media propaganda, or surveillance can stop us from living a free life. We can live a life which does not allow our opinions to be influenced by what trends in social media. Just like Truman stepped out of his studio exit, so can we exit all the hatred, wrong bias, narrow opinions from our mind.

The law of karma..

The word, ‘Karma’ means a person’s actions in this life, and even in the previous life. I am not quite a believer of the existence of the impact of previous life, even though there is a lot of literature which tries to explain it. But I being a pragmatist and realist, often limit myself to this life itself when it comes to karma. Actually, even though this word is used quite a lot in Hinduism and Buddhism, but recently it has been wide spread in the western countries as well. Many people from corporate world, media & music industry, writers try to use this word, and explain their point of view.

This law of karma is actually the equivalent to the English idiom ‘As you sow, so you reap’. And we all have read this in school. It even relates to the golden rule, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” In plain English, you should treat others the same way as you would like others to treat you. Simple, isnt it? But the question is do we really follow this?

The law of karma is very much universal. I mean no one can simply escape it. Because the evidence backing it is enormous. We all must have experienced this law even in small things, like when we hurt someone, we don’t realize it at that time. But we grasp it immediately when someone else hurts us in the same way. If we cheat in exams, we get caught and suffer the consequence. If we eat wrong food, we fall sick. If we spend too much money in shopping, or even bad vices like drinking, we soon run out of our savings. This law is very much practical.

Even if someone tries to run away from the effects of that karma, they simply cannot. We can see many famous examples in history, and day to day life as well. Some of the Nazis who had committed horrendous atrocities on innocent jews tried to run away from getting jailed or hanged to South America, but years later, many of them like Adolf Eichmann did get caught and were later hanged. Many serial killers, terrorists, rapists who commit horrible acts end up being killed or caught someday or the later. Osama Bin Laden, Pablo Escobar, Ted Bundy all got caught & killed. Even those who committed frauds like Jordan Belfort, Bernie Madoff, Vijay Mallya, Nirav Modi, Ketan Parekh, Harshad Mehta all got either caught or exposed sooner or later. Karma circles and hits back!

But then I wonder why people still forget this, and act as if they will never get punished for their actions. This is something of a moral question, for which there is no easy answer. But I do think there are two reasons for this. Well, first is the uncertain time delay between action and result. Just like a mango tree does not give mangoes immediately after the sapling is planted, similarly it takes time for the action to fructify. It could be years, or even decades. Meanwhile, the person who committed those acts mistakenly gets convinced that his/her actions won’t hit back, or as if they are immune to it. This usually happens when power corrupts. Somehow, those people who are extremely rich, famous and powerful, start believing that they are above the law.

But even though they might tweak the social laws, but they cannot change the effect of nature’s law of karma. And this is best seen in the recent example of Donald Trump, who had vehemently denied the existence of coronavirus, and profusely refused to wear or endorse wearing masks in public places. But then after few months, he got the virus, and the faith in this law of karma or cosmic justice being done was revitalized. Even his defeat in 2020 election is a proof of his actions for years, for which he had assumed that he would never get suffered. But as we know, even he could not escape the law of karma.

But the second reason I wonder is the bizare uncertainity in nature’s justice. We often see good people getting suffered for no mistakes of their own, and bad people getting away from their outcomes. As mentioned before, the bad people do get suffered, someday or the other, and that cannot be denied. Just, that it takes a lot of time, sometimes. But I have no answer or even any reason for why good and innocent people get suffered. We see innocent girls and women getting raped, people suffering from racism or caste discrimination, Jews had to suffer from anti-semitism and in concentration camps, India and many countries had to suffer from British and other European brutal coloniazation, innocent people dying in civil wars in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, people getting repressed in dictatorial regimes like N.Korea, people dying from earthquakes, tsunami, forest fires, riots, floods, draughts, famines, and even innocent people dying due to cancer, and now, covid-19! I wonder what was the fault of these people?

Religious preachers point to their karma in previous life. But for a practical mind, it does not convince. After all, who has really seen if we really had a previous life? Were we humans or some other animal creature? And why would it take so much time, almost a new birth, just to suffer the consequences of previous life’s mistakes? Why not just make it suffer in that life itself? Why to drag it till next life? I mean these are weird questions, which might not have any relevant answers. Those who have, might not convince us. This is the similar to the classic clash between free-will vs deterministic life! Sometimes, I relate this to astrology, or numerology, which fraudulently claims about people’s future or even a particular number as a good sign! For those fake and corrupt astrologers, I wonder if they themselves know what their future is going to be? I am pretty sure, most of them would not have a damn idea!

I think the quest for answers for the above questions will remain for quite sometime. But the good thing is we humans have come a long way in understanding this world, and nature as well. Not long before, we were trepidated by events like tsunami, cyclones and earthquakes. Our ancestors blamed it on other humans for doing immoral acts and because of which nature had taught us a lesson. Even a pious man like Gandhi, had blamed the Bihar earthquake in 1934 as a ‘divine chastisement for the great sin’ people there had committed against the untouchables. Seeing this absurd belief in superstition, the Nobel Laureate in Literature, Ravindranath Tagore, could not resist himself in responding to Gandhi with a letter of reprimand against this absurd belief.

So, today, atleast we have come a long way with all the modern technology and advancement in sciences. We atleast do not blame floods or forest fires for the sins committed by few men and women. I wish sciences get advanced even further to throw some light on this karmic aspect of life, which involves questions asked before. Maybe, a better understanding of life, will enable us to get the wisdom to know why some people suffer more than others? Is it their karma, or fate, or something beyond our present human cognizance.

© Abhishek Karadkar and abhiknotes.com, 2021. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Abhishek Karadkar and abhiknotes.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Copyright © 2021 AbhikNotes – Powered by WordPress.com

Understanding the ‘TRUMPian’ mindset!

Finally, the day of Jan 20th arrived, which marked a new beginning in American history. Not because of Joe Biden (the oldest President) or Kamala Harris ( the first female vice-president), but because that day was the last day of Donald Trump in acting President. I am sure many Americans must have felt relieved and even happy ( not those 48 million who voted for him) with his departure. His chaotic presidency certainly led to wide scale polarization in the States. Whatever he did was right or wrong, good or bad for America is something historians and political pundits will keep analyzing for the rest of their lives. Hence, I won’t delve into that further, as this is a part of history now, and certainly, those 4 years almost felt like a decade for many of us. Hence, it is better to stay away from choppy waters!

Well, having said that, then what is this post about? I am writing this post to try to understand what made Trump the person he is today. I have always been curious to know about his life, and the experiences he has had which must have moulded him to become what he resembles under his brand ‘Trump’. This is not about how he became president, or why did Americans accept him as their President. Neither would I like to delve into the causes of his winning and losing. Rather, I am writing this post to shed some more light on the ‘Trumpian’ mindset.

The Dictionary.com defines Trumpian as an adjective form for President Donald Trump. The term is especially used by critics to characterize his language, conduct, and policies. To understand the psychology of Trump, I read his biography book, watched Netflix TV show Trump: An American Dream, watched a few documentaries about Trump and read/watched several articles/youtube videos about him. Ofcourse, to clarify, I am not trained as a researcher or even a psychologist to make a statement about his personality. But out of sheer curiosity and with an intention to know this dark side of human personality, I tried to read and know as much as possible about him.

And, based on this, I did get to some facts or events which must have played a definitive role in Trump’s life which shaped him the way the world saw him especially for the last 4 years. Starting from his childhood, Trump was born with a silver spoon. His father was a real estate developer in New York city, and was a millionaire. His father was not only a very smart real estate businessman, but also very ruthless and cunning when it came to profits and competition. He tried to instill this attitude in his sons. Trump had an elder brother, who eventually committed suicide later in life. So, this background of having a strict father, being raised up in New York city and seeing elder brother commit suicide are the key elements which influenced Trump’s later life.

Because, Trump grew up in an environment where competition was considered the only form of survival. It’s almost like the hardest form of survival of the fittest. And this was natural because, living in New York city during the 1960’s and 70’s was not a cakewalk. Those days were some of the tough days when everyone flocked into new york for a better life, and hence, the competition for survival and to grow rich in life was harsh. In such a scenario, the Trump’s were millionaires, and so naturally, they had a natural instinct to protect their wealth, and hence, do whatever that is possible to not only stay in the competition but also come out as the best. Another important aspect of New York city life is the diversity that city imbibes, just like Mumbai. People belonging to different ethnicities and religions lived and worked in the same city. It was not uncommon to see Jews dominating the banking, particularly Wall Street and even to large extent the real estate business in the city. While Italians owned the mafia ( though this does not mean all Italians were a part of it). Irish Americans filled a large chunk of the working class population, while the elite WASP’s( White Anglo Saxon Protestants) formed the cream of banking, education, law firms and business conglomerates. And the rest of the others like Afro-Americans, Spanish-Americans, or even Indians and Chinese were mostly considered as aliens living out of the city.

Now, one of the most important things is that Trump’s belonged to neither of them. Because they had a German ancestry ( original name as Drumpf), and hence the mood at that time was anti-German due to WW2 and Nazi concentration camps which had happened, So, they had not only anglicized their name to Trump, but also lied to everyone that they had a Swedish ancestry, just to avoid the hatred from fellow jews. But the fact that they were kind of a minority in the city dominated by other groups, made them conscious of their survival. And hence, Donald Trump became aware of this and hence, did everything to maintain their richness, which was rather rare in the city. The real estate business consisted of several jewish businesses, and due to their competitive nature, it was rather inevitable for him to even scale further on becoming more competitive in order to survive. Ofcourse, this does not imply that the environment made him competitive. It did play a minor role, but the fact that Trump always feared losing whatever he had, and hence, this fear and insecurity made him become aggressive.

Also, he never got accepted by the city elites, because of many reasons. Firstly, the Trump’s did not belong to any dominant groups like the Jews or WASP’s. Second, Donald Trump was not very educated or sophisticated either. His father was not much educated, but had worked hard to become a millionaire which was respected by the then 1940’s society. But Donald Trump grew up in a millionaire family. At that time in the 1950’s and 60’s, the students were expected to study and go to Ivy league schools. But Donald was not a very bright student, and due to his rebellious attitude, his father sent him to a military prep school to instill in him some sense of discipline. He did graduate and only learnt too well to be disciplined. He later transferred to Univ of Penn, but never got mingled or accepted into the student life. He was more like a loner, and hence never had any good friends. He envied those who went to Ivy league and hence, this later made him despise the eliteness of Ivy leaguers or even higher education. And that’s why we see, his supporters are rarely highly educated people, but those who are just high school pass outs or even borderline illiterates. Because Trump has never been comfortable around those who are more educated or smarter than him. That’s why he despised scientists like Anthony Fauci, who were trying to give him advice on how to tackle the covid pandemic. But his hatred for educated men and women, steamed out because Trump knew he was not smart and could never get accepted into the highly educated circles. But at the same time, he understood, the only way he can beat others is by becoming more rich and famous. And hence, he shifted his attention to family construction business, which was like a cash cow for the family.

Donald Trump’s decision to enter the family business was not just motivated by his desire to beat his peers who were already studying in the Ivy league, or by the New York city environment. But it was also motivated by his father’s wish to launch him into the business, after seeing the elder Trump ( Donald Trump’s elder brother) fail miserably at the family business. His brother did not like business, and hence, the onus to carry on the family business came on Donald. But the crux of this story was not only Donald Trump wanted to become rich and successful in business, but also wanted to get into his father’s good books. Why? Because Donald Trump had seen how his brother had failed to live upto to his father’s expectations, and hence, had been insulted and eventually compelled to move out of Trump’s house. He later became a drunkard, out of regret and depression, and finally committed suicide. This event must have shackled Donald. Because he then not only had the responsibility to keep the business intact in that cut throat New York city competition, but also had to prove his worth to make his father proud. He feared that if he did not succeed, then he would also eventually die being a drunkard like his brother. That’s why Donald Trump became a teetotaler, and also became more aggressive, ruthless, greedy, cunning and selfish.

For him, the only way to survive and grow is to beat the competitors. And that’s why his mantra became ‘the end justifies the means’. He would use all sorts of methods, good and bad, nice and dirty, all ways to climb up the ladder. He made the notorious lawyer, Roy Cohn who used to work for the five Mafia families in New York as his personal lawyer. He corrupted the mayors of New York, filed cases against them if they did not follow his orders, requested for tax breaks etc to grow his business. But the most important and daring act Trump performed is to enter Manhattan. Why? Because his father had constructed projects in other boroughs of New York city, but never dared to enter the elite Manhattan. He had become a millionaire inspite of not having any construction projects in Manhattan, and he was happy and satisfied with it. But for Donald Trump, who always wanted to prove to his father, and also beat his peers, he dreamed big. He wanted to enter Manhattan and build the Trump tower. Because entering Manhattan will enable him to become a billionaire, which his father had not achieved in life. It would also make him get the respect from the Jews or WASP’s which he desperately craved for. It was a risky gamble, but it worked out at the end. Had he failed, it would have been the end of the Trump empire. But Trump got lucky and he excelled.

He not only successfully constructed his hotel in Manhattan, but also later built his iconic Trump Tower. And then he never looked back. But even though he became a billionaire, he still never got the respect and admiration from his other business colleagues or peers. For them, he was the guy who got a headstart from his father to get launched into the business. Also he had corrupted the new york officials and hence, become rich by unfair means. Ofcourse, Trump was not alone. At that time, most of the new york businesses were known for their selfishness and greedy nature. But Trump went much further.

He not only entered the Casino market, but went on a spree of buying golf courses, hotels, yachts, airlines, and even writing books. And then eventually it backfired. He lost a big chunk of it, & became bankrupt. At that crucial time, no one supported him but only his father. Donald Trump filed for bankruptcy not one, not two but whopping four times. And his father poured in his millions to bail him out. Well, what lesson did he learn? Trump learnt it quite a bad way that he was not good at running family owned construction business. Yes, this may shock us because the world knows he has been a billionaire for a long time. But in reality, as many have speculated over his real net worth ( which sparked the controversy due to his denial to make the tax-returns public), the fact is that Trump after the fiasco of becoming bankrupt four times, he switched over to reality business. Yes, and that’s where he earned his millions. It is his entertainment shows like ‘The Apprentice’, speeches, talk shows, books, beauty pageants which garnered him the attention and fame, which led to the rise of brand ‘Trump’. That’s why we see for the last few years, even though his company still manages construction projects, but they only lend their brand name and earn royalty. And going further, it is interesting that Trump even used his presidency to earn money, He did by selling stuff like flags, coffee mugs, shirts, banners etc all with Trump name, thus earning the royalty paid by his foolish loyal supporters. He even made the US government pay the Americans taxpayers money for his stay in Mar-A-Lago, owned by none other than Trump himself!

Anyways, the point is that Trump realized early in life that he is not smart or intelligent, and later in life, that he is not good at his family business as well. So, then what was he good at? And the answer is attention seeking. Yes, he used his display of flamboyant wealth, his personality, his charisma to get the attention he needed, desperately, so that he could earn his millions. Else, there was no way he could have maintained his wealth. That’s why, he talked rubbish, hated the media which ridiculed him, acted like a buffoon, criticized women who disliked him, and made his marriages and family affairs like a prime TV show. He created a brand out of nothing but narcissism, bombasting attitude, pompous, chaos and flamboyant lifestyle. With his books, like ‘The Art of the Deal’ and ‘The Art of Comeback’, he tried to portray being one of the most successful businessmen ever born on the planet. And unfortunately, Americans who could not become rich like him became his loyal followers.

The worst part is that his supporters often came from humble backgrounds, especially from mid-western, northern rust belt and southern USA. And these regions are usually known as being part of the bible belt, with pro-guns attitude, farmers or working class, traditional or cultured, and staying away from California, New York and Florida, due to their belief of atheist or sinful people living in Hollywood, Silicon Valley, Wall street and Palm beach, Miami. But the irony is that Trump, to whom these people supported to win the presidency, has always been a part of that sinful Hollywood, New York and Florida lifestyle. People like Trump as rightly said by,

“I’ve dealt with guys like Donald Trump my whole life, who would look down on us because we didn’t have a lot of money or your parents didn’t go to college. Guys who think they’re better than you. Guys who inherit everything they’ve ever gotten in their life and squander it.”

Joe Biden

have always looked down upon these people. But just to prove to Barack Obama ( who had apparently mocked Donald to run for the president, after Trump had falsely accused Obama of being born outside the USA) that he can win, and thereby hit back the insult, he ran for president. Ofcourse, he had the added advantage that running for presidency will get him the attention and fame, and thereby dollars. That’s why he always told he will run for president since the late 1980’s, but never took it seriously, only until his BIG Ego got hurt in 2011 by Obama and other democrats, and that’s when he took it pretty seriously. Why people supported him is altogether a different ballgame, and it will probably take a book to elaborate on that. But the fact that he had marketed his brand and gained the support for all these years since early 1990’s business failure, came handy for Trump. And then what happened on Nov 8th, 2016 is history.

Finally, in this pursuit to understand the Trumpian psychology, the book by Mary Trump, his niece, is exceptionally helpful. Even though I haven’t read the book, but based on reviews and articles, Donald Trump is not only a narcissist but also suffers from anti-social and dependent personality disorder. This answers why Trump is so greedy for being the center of attention. His lack of trust in anyone is due to his antisocial personality disorder which resulted due to his isolation from New York business circles. Trump saw his brother die of suicide, and this made him fearful of his own death, if he fails. And this fear led to him becoming greedy and selfish. He became devoid of morals and principles. For him, nothing is good if it doesnt let him win. That’s why, he believed that the election was being stolen, because people like Trump cannot accept defeat. For them, accepting defeat is equivalent to committing suicide. And that’s why we see why Trump remained in denial of his defeat, and never conceded in person to Joe Biden. 

People like Trump suffer from lack of empathy and love for others, and that’s why when thousands of Americans were dying due to Covid-19, or even were thrown out of the USA for being just immigrants, he did not care. Because his heart does not have any soft corner, and is just as hard as rock. His dependent personality disorder makes him dependent on his family only, and that’s why we saw why his closest advisors had been his beloved daughter, and son-in-law only. His reckless attitude, his utter lack of concern for laws, and value system made him fire several people in his own cabinet. Even though he showed that he cared for his supporters, or even for the military, but in reality, all he cared for was his popularity. Because, he very well knew that he would get the unwavering support from these poor people who had never seen the likes of wealth and fame that he had achieved. In other words, he used them for making his brand stronger. But unfortunately, after 4 years, it seems that not only has the brand become weaker, but also it has been labeled as a symbol of racism, narcissism and ultra-right wing conservatism.

So, before concluding this post, my main purpose to write on this topic is to understand what conditions make people like Trump live on this planet. And by knowing this, the good side of humanity will make sure never ever such mentally sick, narcissist, and morally depraved people ever come to power in any part of the world again in future. Else, the world knows what happened in the USA after 2016.

© Abhishek Karadkar and abhiknotes.com, 2021. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Abhishek Karadkar and abhiknotes.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.Copyright © 2021 AbhikNotes – Powered by WordPress.com

Don’t be a football of other people’s opinions

We often tend to sway away by other people’s opinions like a pendulum. But does it really help us? This article highlights wisdom of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, J K Rowling, Steve Jobs and Robert Frost about this.

This is one of the 5 Sutras taught in the Art of Living Happiness program founded by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. I find this principle or sutra to be so relevant in our life. We tend to sway away with people’s opinions, just like a pendulum does. Our life goals, our priorities, our career, our interest, even our food, life partner or clothing is enormously influenced by what people will say or think. Say in a party, or event, if 10 people praise us, and only 1 criticizes us, then we will surely remember only 1 person in our entire life. So much is our personal life dependent on public perceptions.

But if we take a step back, become calm and contemplate on this fact, that does it really matter what people think about us? Does people’s opinions really matter in our life? Should we allow others comments or thinking to affect our thinking and opinions? I think most of us will answer a big “NO”.

This is because everyone changes in life. And so does our opinions and views. Nothing is permanent in life, neither is human life itself eternal. We never know what’s going to happen in the next moment. Similarly, people’s opinions about others are also influenced by their own experiences they have had before. For someone who struggled with poverty during childhood, will most probably become a money saver, or passionate for getting rich in later life. But on the other side, someone who has lived an affluent life, might not care for the comforts he/she have had received, without any efforts. They might not even realize it, how fortunate they are. But we see many of them getting depressed or even obsessed in life due to comments from some friend in a party, or even jealous for not having the desired health, or beauty, or even skin color. Our wishes, our opinions, our views are all a product of the experiences we have had in our life.

One thing I find funny is how much delight the society has in giving their free opinions and comments to others, even when they aren’t asked for. As J K Rowling said in her famous Harvard commencement speech “..but the world is quite eager to give you a set of criteria if you let it”. It is true indeed that the world is more than happy to opine or interfere in other people’s affairs. And we often see that the society never stops in this pursuit. If someone hasn’t achieved a goal like for ex: good job or education degree, then people will keep asking or reminding him/her. Later, when the goal is achieved, the society immediately moves on to assign a new goal which might be job, or getting married. Then after marriage, the next goal is having kids, and so on and on and on. Its simply never stops!

What really happens in this process, is we get entangled due to other people’s expectations, or opinions. We lose our peace of mind. We lose our confidence in our own ability, and we start living a life based on what other want us to live. As Steve Jobs rightly said in his Stanford commencement address Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. “ We get trapped by dogma and which at the end, makes us regret our lost time to work on what we truly loved to do. We regret for the lost opportunities which might have altered the life track differently. Due to other people’s opinions, we take the crowded or easy path, and not the path which is less traveled, which Robert Frost beautifully expressed. We ultimately feel consequences of “The Road Not Taken…”

I shall be telling this with a sigh

Somewhere ages and ages hence:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.
Robert Frost

Hence, lets just allow other people to express what ever they want. But let not allow them to enter our mind, or cloud our conscience. We somehow know deep somewhere down in our heart, what we like, what we want in life. Our gut instincts, our mind, our heart is more powerful to face all the external bombardments which occur in the form of people’s unwanted opinions. Lets just put a filter on our mind which will allow only the good, relevant and positive ideas to enter the mind, and flush out all the negative thoughts, fake news, gossips, people’s expectations etc.

Just like hand washing is necessary to stay safe from Coronavirus, we need a mind washing in the form of meditation, wisdom, reading good books, listening good music to keep the mind away from the virus of other people’s opinions, judgements and expectations.

The impact of social media on student life

This was my first opinion column published in Technician, student newspaper of North Carolina State University in 2015. I have added the link below. http://www.technicianonline.com/opinion/article_d1142b70-5a92-11e5-86b4-cb7c98a6e45f.html

Today’s world is a global village. Everyone is connected to one another in this vast network generated by the Internet. As said by Marshall McLuhan, a philosopher of communication theory, “The new electronic independence re-creates the world in the image of a global village.” This electronic independence is inherently dependent upon the Internet. It illuminates the lives of thousands of people by spreading knowledge internationally, thereby making us global citizens. 

In the past, the communicating and free sharing of thoughts among people were restricted by long distance, nationality and/or religion. But now, even these barriers cannot stop the flow of information and knowledge. The new world of social networking allows free sharing of thoughts. Online social networks are created by websites such as Facebook, which has emerged as a giant in this social world. So how do these networks affect our education? How do they influence the lives of students?

Humans are social animals. We always like to remain in some group or another, and we prefer to follow what this group does. All of our traditions and cultures are the product of this group-oriented facet of human nature. A well-known American psychologist, Abraham Maslow, stated in his “Theory of Motivation” that the social need of human beings is the third most important requirement after our physical and safety needs — the third tier in his hierarchy of needs. Even our self-esteem comes after this social dependence. This is the main reason billions of people use social networking to stay connected, make friends and satisfy their social needs. 

As of 2020 the world’s largest social networking company, Facebook, has 2.6 billion active users, and the number of users is increasing every year. One of the most interesting things to look at is the increasing number of student users on such social networking sites. As per the survey conducted by Pew Research Center, 72 percent of high school and 78 percent of college students spend time on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. These numbers indicate how much the student community is involved in this virtual world of social networking. 

Actually, many reasons exist that explain why students love to spend time socializing. Firstly, social networks provide them the freedom to do whatever they want — to upload what they want and talk to whom they want. They like to make new friends and comment on the lives of different people. Students can create other online identities that the real world does not allow. The freedom it gives them to act just by sitting in front of a computer enthralls them, and they then demand for more freedom.

Never before has it been so easy for young minds to create a digital image of their actions through such a spontaneous medium. 

But this has a darker side that has gained the attention of many parents, and even of many eminent psychologists, all over the world. One of the biggest problems is the identity crisis this social networking produces. As said by Professor S. Shyam Sunder, a renowned researcher at Penn State, “The types of actions users take and the kinds of information they are adding to their profiles are a reflection of their identities.” 

Many psychologists are worried about the identity crisis that our present generation may face today. The lives of people, especially students, are largely influenced by what is posted by other people on their profiles. The habits that students learn are decided more by what their friends do and less by the teachings of parents or professors. 

Our students have become prone to frequent fluctuations in mood and self-control. If one of a student’s friends posted about his or her present relationship with someone, then other friends are pressed to do the same thing. Actions that attract more public attention hold more value, even despite some of them being immoral or illegal. We even see that many students are worried about their looks, and so they always try to upload nicer pictures than their friends. A recent survey has stated that whenever someone uploads a profile picture, it immediately affects the moods of friends. It often produces stress, anxiety or fear about their identities as people. Consistently thinking in this way can sometimes lead to depression. 

The most important things in a student’s life are studying, learning good habits and gaining knowledge to become a person with moral character. But today, as we see in various studies, this optimal learning process is seriously jeopardized by students becoming entrapped by the ploys of social networking. Students neglect their studies by spending time on social networking sites rather than studying or interacting with people in person. Active and frequent participating in social networking can negatively affect their grades or hamper their journeys to their future careers. 

Getting too much involved in social media can lead to an addiction that inculcates bad habits. Students prefer to chat with friends for hours, and this leads to a waste of time that could have been used for studying, playing or learning new skills. It is often said that a long-term friendship or relationship is developed when people meet each other, spend time and share their experiences. But this virtual way of communicating with each other does not lead to a natural, friendly experience and hence cannot produce a healthy relationship with those friends. Also, these relationships tend to terminate easily due to a lack of personal contact. 

The system generates a competition to make as many new friends as possible and the so-called “social quotient” of a person is decided by how many friends they have and not on how good natured and congenial the person really is. Often, students who are not old enough to accurately analyze the world “like” or comment on social or political issues, and this leads sometimes to serious controversies. 

Picture credits: https://www.teacherboards.co.uk/community/the-effects-of-social-media-in-student-teens/

Considering all of the above pros and cons, it is necessary to develop certain regulations over the use of such social networking sites, especially for high school and college students. But still, students should get the choice to spend time socializing in an effective way. It should not hamper their school or college performance, and it should be kept in mind that social networking sites create virtual worlds that drastically differ from reality. Students should develop the cognitive and intuitive ability to analyze how much time they want to spend on social media. It is left up to the students to decide what really matters in their life and how much of this virtual life translates into their real life.