Tag Archives: lateral view

A Lateral View on Social Media

#new blog post #about time #internet

Facebook. Twitter. Google+. Tumblr. The most popular social networking sites today. Platforms for you to interact with your friends and let them know what’s going on with your life. Scroll down your feed and you’ll see people posting aboard their new endeavors such as going to the gym, posting selfies to show off a new hairstyle or T-shirt or simply to bask in attention. Relationship troubles, a vacation or success is broadcast  for the all your friends to see. We enjoy giving them advice or complimenting them. But why? Humans are social animals. This is true, but to what extent?

In school we are taught that humans wouldn’t survive without social interactions with other people. This is true, but we don’t need to interact as much as we do. Solitary confinement or being marooned can drive most people crazy, but that’s because they can go months without meeting someone else. We meet people everyday outside of social media and that is enough to satisfy our brain and prevent us from going insane. There are some people who prefer not to draw attention to themselves while others will post anything that will grab attention in a desperate plea. Social Networking sites aid those people in their goal by simultaneously broadcasting whatever they want to say to all their friends at once. Those interested in that post will like,share or comment their views, which may spark arguments and thus draw more attention. The only reason we post most of the stuff we do is to draw attention to ourselves. Unless it’s something big like getting married or graduating, which would draw attention anyway. You may say that there are some important things that need to be shared with some people but if it’s not important enough that it can’t be told to them directly then it’s not worth telling.

Social Networking sites also feature ‘freemium’ games which gets people addicted to them and after a while demands payment to continue playing. Think about it: What goes through your mind when you open your preferred social networking site? Is it: I wonder what’s going on with xxxx and his sister yyy? Or is it ‘I wonder how my crops are doing’,’I’m sad and depressed! Let me share to the world unneccessary  details about my life in an over exaggerated manner?’ Do you do it out of boredom? Curiosity? The answer of course varies from person to person. You can also follow people you want and stay up to date with current affairs, but you can also do the same with various news sites. So why do you stay hooked? You go there when you’re sad, you go there when you’re happy, you go there when you are confused or lost or in need of help or a self esteem boost. Support from friends is guaranteed to be received from social media sites, and you can meet and interact with people you’ve never met before who share the same views as you.

In the end, is that it? Is is solely the feeling of constant companionship and support that keeps you coming back for more? Is it the feeling of relaxing and finding out what’s been going on in your best friend’s life? Or is it just the euphoria of constantly being in touch with the people you love? I wonder how many of us actually know the answer to this question.


Social Media provides moral support and can lift you up when you’re down










—————————————————————————————————————————–Hey! Check out the amazing talk given by one of my close friends on Being a Polymath (Don’t worry, it has nothing to do with math.) in Goa for The Goa Project. You can watch it on YouTube here.

Thank You for your attention, and have a nice day!

A Lateral View on Genetically Modified Crops

I recently had to write an essay on Genetically Modified Crops for my Biology project, which took up most of my weekend. This got me into thinking further on the subject.

Genetically modified crops, or GM crops, are very simply put crops with foreign genes inserted into them. The most popular GM crop is Bt cotton, which is grown in India, and is the only mass-produced GM crop in the country.  GM crops have been the subjects of controversy from the word get go – but what exactly are people debating about? Some people are debating GM crops as a product itself; saying that they can be injurious to our health, kill pollinating agents and lead to super bugs and super weeds. But other people are protesting the role of multinational corporations like Monsanto. So how many of these allegations are true?

GM crops are known to produce highly evolved species of pests and weeds. This is due to evolutionary pressure being put on that species as crops like Bt cotton are made to kill bollworms, which eat cotton leaves. Now there have been reports of bollworms eating the GM cotton and surviving, along with reports of weeds not dying with herbicides. In Andhra Pradesh Bt cotton yield decreased because of bollworms eating Bt cotton, and the farmers were forced to buy an improved variety of the seed, which was more expensive and is said to have no effect on the bollworms in some regions. GM crops are also known to kill pollinating agents such as bees and butterflies. That is what one group of people says.

The other group has no problem with GM crops; they just have problems with Monsanto. Monsanto is a huge multinational corporation and the leading producer of GM crops in the world; exporting it’s products throughout the globe except most of Europe. It mainly exports corn, soybean, cotton, wheat, canola, sorghum and sugar cane seeds, each with it’s own modification or ‘version’. Monsanto drew attention (the bad kind) when it patented a gene for a GM crop. This had never been done before and people didn’t like it. The patent meant that if you buy the GM seeds, you can’t harvest the seeds, and if you do, you will be prosecuted. Monsanto has sued more than a 100 farmers for doing this, alleging breach of contract and infringement. Most farmers couldn’t afford the costs of a prolonged legal battle with a giant like Monsanto and went bankrupt. The others couldn’t even afford to pay a lawyer to take Monsanto to court. Monsanto also sued a farmer who harvested the seeds of a GM crop unknowingly after the seeds blew in from another farm. Bottomline, all the farmers who raised a voice against Monsanto, perished into oblivion, enraging this group who are now protesting against the MNC.

People also think that GM seeds are too expensive. That is true. While regular cotton seeds cost Rs. 50-60/KG, Bt seeds cost Rs.3,000-4,000/KG. And since Bt cotton stopped working, Monsanto released a new seed with two Bt genes instead of one, and some people think this is a marketing strategy and does nothing different. The high price of GM seeds combined with the fact that GM crops are now fast replacing organic crops, encourages farmers to harvest the GM seeds – against Monsanto policies – and risk getting sued.

On the plus side, GM crops have bigger yield and less use of herbicides and pesticides. Crops like Bt cotton kills the bollworm so that the farmers don’t have to spray pesticides on their crops. GM crops have better flavor and some GM crops contain extra nutrients like Golden Rice containing extra Vitamin A. Also crops can be cold tolerant or drought tolerant so that it can be grown in places that the normal seed cannot be grown. GM crops are also disease resistant, and some GM crops are herbicide resistant – this leads to less herbicide sprayed on the crops and thus damage to the environment is reduced. Although these benefits don’t look very important they however are. GM crops can grow in a variety of climates, which means that more food can be produced in areas where food is scarce. Golden rice can help in Vitamin A deficiency. Crop yield is increased because farmers don’t have to worry about weeds, pests or diseases. This can have major implications as GM crops become more and more mainstream, cheaper ways to produce them can be invented and this could end world hunger. But corporations like Monsanto who patent the gene for pure profit stop this from happening. If other people could research the gene, GM crops could be much more advanced. If Monsanto changes its policies, it would be beneficial for the entire world.

So, which group are you a part of?


A Lateral View on Video Games

Gaming has become a popular activity among adults and children alike. If you are like me, you will be reading every article you can find on the game that you’re itching to get your hands on, and feel conflicted because you want the day it releases to come faster, but at the same time you don’t want your exams to come faster. *Sigh!!* Talk about first world problems.

Video games are fun, but they do come with their downsides. First off, they can ruin your eyes. Who doesn’t know that? Some people think that it’s the games that ruin your eyesight. It is actually the screen itself, whether you’re playing video games or not, and gadgets like the Oculus Rift  don’t affect your eyes at all. Although it’s meant for video games, it can be used for military practice, education etc. And some of the most popular channels on YouTube are related to gaming. But you can play too many games, for too much time. If you play video games while you are supposed to be doing something else, the results can be disastrous. Excess of video games can take a toll on your work and social life. If you have a project due, you will procrastinate and put it off for later just so that you can play a few more hours! This can get serious and your career and social life can take a huge hit.

But, on the other hand, video games are fun, engaging, and they improve hand-eye co-ordination, team work, reduce depression and improve your decision making skills. First person shooters are said to increase aggression in kids, but several studies have been done in this regard and the consensus is that the aggression shown in violent video games are not transferred to all the kids playing them, and is dependent on the home environment and the overall nature of the child. Games like Minecraft also help build resource management skills. Games also help increase the eyes’ agility, as long it is not exposed to the screen for a long period of time. The video game industry is in it’s prime and joining a game developing company such as EA or Ubisoft as a game tester or game designer is a  viable career option. In 2012 the video game industry was worth $67 billion, and is expected to rise to $82 billion by 2017.  Video games are also used to cure many mental illnesses and cataracts. Video games provide the player with a surreal experience that can’t be found in real life, and although this is the cause for most addictions, if they are balanced with other things, they can be fun and engaging.