Categories
books change childhood chilling History language Movies

SHER LOCKED

by:Akhil

A man, widely known for his extraordinary prowess in the field of forensic science and logical reasoning, and also known to be quite arrogant and selfless, is none other than one of the greatest detectives in the world. Mr. Sherlock Holmes. It breaks my heart to inform you that he is a fictional character. But as I delved into the world of the detective, I found that he was not actually a character from a book, but present to us in the form of the great Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the man who created Mr. Holmes. It is with great ingenuity that this man invented such a masterpiece, and the world will always be grateful to him for this creation.

Mr. Holmes made his first appearance in the novel, A Study in Scarlet, in 1887. He became particularly popular when a series of short stories, including A Scandal in Bohemia, was released in The Strand Magazine in 1891. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle went on to write an entirety of four novels and 56 short stories on Sherlock and his adventures.

Although Sherlock is a man of great mind and skill, his efforts in solving cases would have been shortcoming without the help and support of his close companion, Dr.John H.Watson. Dr.Watson was an assistant surgeon in the British army before he was sent back to England, where he met Sherlock. They had agreed to share lodgings with each other due to financial issues. His intrigue towards the cases that Holmes worked on lead him to many adventures with Holmes and formed a close bond between the two.

It’s not known to many, but Sherlock Holmes was formerly killed off in a battle against his archnemesis, Professor James Moriarty, in “The Final Problem” in 1893. After much protest and pressure from the public, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was forced to resurrect his famous protagonist in another story in 1903. Sherlock Holmes went on to dominate the scene of literature until 1927. From then on, there have been various adaptations of the detective in theatre, television, cinema, books, and even games. The most famous of these was the television series, Sherlock, with Benedict Cumberbatch playing the lead as the detective, and the movie series, Sherlock Holmes, with Robert Downey Jr. starring as Holmes and Jude Law as Watson.

Sherlock Holmes has continued to captivate readers generation after generation, and I believe that he will not stop doing so. I sign off by quoting Dr.John H.Watson, “My god Holmes!! You never do cease to amaze me!”. If you haven’t read any books on Sherlock, I suggest that you take a crack at one and I promise that you won’t be disappointed.

Categories
books change chilling conspiracy Efforts feelings growing up Guide language Lessons life

Pronounsville

by:Tharun

There once lived a people, in a quaint little town. Called by the name Pronounsville, on no map could the place be found. The people couldn’t care less about, because neither was anyone moving in and nor anyone moving out.

Every facility here was common for all, be it the gym, the school, or the newly opened mall. The people of Pronounsville were an interesting lot. “Our is the mechanic, sturdy and tall.”, shouted out Them, spouse to It and chairperson at the Pronounsville Town Hall.

“Nothing in this town is owned, yet nothing is free ”, is the motto every Provillian follows to the T. Everyone looks out for Eachother, partially because Eachother makes Everyone’s heartbeat with glee. “Please do not mistake us for communists!”, peeped out Who, trying a hand at comedy.

But just as every happy story has to come to a close, the people of Pronounsville were leading down a rocky road. Out of nowhere, Us, the gatekeeper of the town heard a knock on the door. “Can I get your name to alert the chairperson?”, asked Us with an unassuming force. “The name is I. That’d do the job I suppose.”

“Pronounsville is a place unknown to most and visited by none”, said a puzzled Them, trying to put together one and one. “We have our own means and sources to get the job done.” We? “Yes of course! It’s not just I who’s come. Along with I are Me and Myself, and we’re here to have some fun.”

“The town’s motto is quite nice and sweet. But if I were, to be honest, this motto has become slightly obsolete.” For the first time ever, the Provillians were outraged and fuming with heat. “Please do not get offended, by all of this nothing personal do we mean. With Me in town, I (and) Myself will spruce things up and get Provillians back on their own two feet!” 

As naive as they come, Provillians entrusted the trio to complete the task. With no one to object and no one to ask, Me, Myself, and I tore the town apart. Now nothing was common and nothing was shared, “mine is mine and yours is yours” was the new motto to chant.

Soon enough Pronounsville fell out of rhyme.

I was oblivious.

Nothing mattered to Me.

There wasn’t anyone but Myself to blame. In the process of playing with Prounsville’s future, I had forgotten the name of the game.

Categories
books journalism language Opinion people review story theory Thoughts Uncategorised

THE GOD OF SMALL THINGS – A REVIEW

by Chitteshwari

I don’t know about you, but when I think of books written by Indian authors, The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy is always the first that comes to mind. After years of putting it off, I finally delved into its world recently.

Published in 1997, it is a contemporary novel that is highly regarded by both, readers and critics alike. Set in the little town of Ayemenem in Kerala in 1969, it revolves around the lives of Ammu, her fraternal twins Rahel and Estha, and the rest of their family. The plot dances gracefully around one specific event in their lives that changes their world forever. 

The first thing you notice about the book is its writing. Roy is an impeccable writer and it shows in every single line. She works her magic so you can visualize every little detail of the surrounding she is describing. Certain phrases are repeated throughout the book and the result is haunting. In one chapter, she describes, over the course of multiple pages, a Kathakali routine performed by two dancers in a temple courtyard. The description is so startlingly vivid that when it ended, I felt as though I had just witnessed the first Kathakali performance of my life. In another scene, she narrates in detail a horrifying incident of police brutality that sent chills down my spine.

The book is not just an ordinary story, but an eye-opener about the severity of the caste system that exists in India. Throughout the book, Roy weaves a strong political commentary into the writing, giving insight into the advent and rise of communism in Kerala. If you venture into this novel thinking it will be a pleasant, comfortable read, you will soon realize that you are highly mistaken. The author does not sugarcoat things. She serves society in its raw form on the platter and yanks away the reader’s rose-tinted glasses. She does not shy away from exploring topics that are considered taboo even today, and the various court cases filed against her for it serve as plenty of proof. To witness a story so honest to itself and its world is quite refreshing, in the same way, that dipping your toes into an icy lake in the middle of the night is.

Arundhati Roy does not create any one-dimensional story or character. She gives almost never-ending depth to every element of the story, which is commendable, considering that this is her debut novel. The minor characters are in no way just props used to further the main storyline (something which many authors and scriptwriters of today could make note of). Even the local temple elephant, Kochu Thumban has his contribution to the way the lives of the protagonists are shaped, just like every minor element in our real-life surroundings affects our growth as human beings. The butterfly effect is something that comes into focus here. However, one (and probably the only) drawback of this book is that there are maybe one too many characters mentioned. Up until the first quarter of the book, this creates some amount of confusion because one tends to misplace their names and identities.

That being said, Roy presents her characters as they are, with all their uneven edges and rough textures. Everyone is reduced to their crude humanity, stripped down to their naked, imperfect morality. She makes the reader jump from hate to love to sympathy, all in the span of a single page. The reader’s heart is almost a puppet in her skilled hands and she masterfully tugs the right strings every single time. She evokes every emotion in the spectrum and in the end, you’re left with a flood of empathy. You’re not going to find any black and white characters on these pages.

The highlight of the book, however, is the sequence and pacing of the narration. The book starts at the end of the story and finishes in the middle. Roy delves not just into the events of a single night, but everything in the past that led up to the present, and the aftermath of the tragedy, over a decade later. Sometimes she describes only a couple of nights over the course of a chapter, whereas in other places, she covers years of the characters’ lives in the span of two pages. Throughout this narration, the reader is never in confusion, all thanks to the brilliance of her craft. She works the reins of storytelling flawlessly and (almost effortlessly) ensures that every change of pace and every switch in the timeline hits exactly as she intends it to.

The God of Small Things is a beautifully complex book, a mirror held to society and humanity. Arundhati Roy ambitiously takes on a lot of elements and gets most of them right. It’s a must-read, both for fans of artful storytelling and for those who look for books with a cause. A sure contemporary classic in the years to come, it completely deserves that spot in every reader’s bookshelf and heart.

Rating: 4/5

Categories
change childhood chilling Day Efforts Family feelings Food Friends growing up Guide Happiness journalism language Lessons life Love Opinion people personal Thoughts

The Stoic overflow

by: Prajjwal

Dinner table conversations at home are often unpleasant. It significantly revolves around how incompetent or inexperienced I am compared to other people of my age. I realized I wasn’t worthy enough to be a boy of my age.

Back in school, I was asked to man up whenever I went to seek help during distressing times. I learned that I should pretend to be fine when I am hurt, deep within.

One day I was shamed for not winning at a competition. I had to digest the fact that defeat was never an option in my life.

There are instances when I preferred to remain silent after listening to triggering statements or derogatory opinions. All credits to my conflict phobia.

Finally, I learned to tune myself with the norms and rules of society so that I could fit in and get some kind of validation for my existence, and this was when stoicism entered like a dreaded monster, extending its bloody hands to cover my mouth and cloud my emotions.

According to Greek philosophy, stoicism refers to the teachings or the ethics designed to lead a happy, virtuous, and wise life. It is regarded as a powerful tool for those in pursuit of perseverance, self-discipline, and master, or in simpler terms, it taught people to be free from any kind of passion, and unmoved by grief or joy. History’s great minds believed in stoicism and sought them out. 

Even though the core idea of stoicism is lucid and relevant, the modern version of it seems hyper-polluted. 

Society’s paradigm is quite a complex subject. As you grow up, you are expected to be the ideal man or woman who is capable of handling responsibilities without any flaws and mold into perfect shapes and sizes to please the people around us. And, this is where the misappropriation begins. You tend to suppress your agonies and hardships without any display of emotions, just so that you can avoid getting called ‘the fussy one’ and when you fail or break down, you silence yourself with phrases like Do not give up, Keep calm and move on when in reality, it just starts to snowball and multiply your miseries. 

The societal norms which define the dichotomy between genders have posed an unspeakable threat to the modern world. At places where patriarchy reigns, you can find a crisis of affection, especially in males. They have no female companionships except for the ones at their home, thereby tricking boys to signal their masculinity. They tend to follow the same rituals for generations unless cooped.

I too am emotionally sterile at times. I constantly worry about the visceral way I cringe when I talk on video calls. I waste my time significantly in “What others might think about me?”, unaware that this very notion has the potential to cripple my existence one day. No wonder, Gen-Z has mistaken the word depression for sadness, failing to realize the existence of a thin line between both. There are days when I feel that I missed a great number of opportunities to express myself, cry, voice out my opinions, vent out my feelings. Maybe I was just afraid of grief, which might make me look weak in front of other people.

It is exhausting to keep up to the expectations of people around us, especially at times when you are grappling with your internal self.  It is worthless to bottle up your emotions and choke yourself with unforeseen consequences. We as humans have the power to express our inner self, vent out our opinions. It has a cathartic effect.

Stoicism is brutal. It is capable of taking a toll on one’s mental health. You may opt for silence, but the echoes inside will remain and thrive, to haunt you forever. 

Categories
change chilling humans journalism language Lessons life Opinion people personal society speculation theory Thoughts Uncategorised World

Conspiracy Theories That We Wished Were True

by:Siddhaarth,Aasika and Aanchal

Conspiracy theories may seem strange, unreasonable, or even peculiar when you read them but one thing’s for sure, they are a hell lot interesting and fun to read about. They pique our curiosity and make us want to know what really happened or what could have happened, and some of us even wish, these theories were true. We wished that the theories such as the existence of the Illuminati, the 9/11 terrorist attacks being an inside job by the US Government, the assumption that we might be living in a simulation and many others, were true. 

As far as secret organizations go, the most well-known is probably the Illuminati. Their rumoured members include nearly every public figure in the world, including Beyonce, Paris Hilton, Barack Obama, Bob Barker, Adolf Hitler, and many more. Their supposedly powerful cabal has been implicated in the Kennedy assassination, 9/11, the death of Whitney Houston, and the Ice Bucket Challenge, and is said to be pulling the strings that make the world go round. 

The Illuminati was founded in Bavaria, Germany, back in 1776, by Adam Weishaupt, an anti-clerical professor who wanted to spread Enlightenment-era ideas, an attempt to shift the pro-monarchy, Catholic Supremacy movement into a rational, scientific, and somewhat more secular movement. They envisioned nothing less than a world revolution that would result in a universal republic. A new world order necessitated the destruction of Christianity and all other forms of religion. It also meant the annihilation of all governments, the new order would bring liberation from all social, moral, and religious restraint and embrace absolute equality and social fraternity. Religious superstition would be replaced with atheism for the masses and a kind of enlightened pantheism for the higher classes. The Illuminati gained momentum in its initial years itself, having about 3000 members, some of whom were both a part of the Freemasons and the Illuminati. 

Once the cult became too large to remain a secret, knowledge of the group got out. After being accused of publishing anti-religious literature, the Bavarian government banned all secret societies, seized their records, and published them. This effectively ended the existence of the group, but this is just what meets the eye. It was believed that the Illuminati continued to survive as an underground organization and kept meeting at secret locations and even planned greater events. Some believed that the Illuminati was behind the French Revolution, even conspired the 9/11 attacks, and had links with JFK’s assassination. 

There are also theories that the Illuminati has been killing celebrities and replacing them with clones to brainwash society. Also, the heavily militarized police forces hint at government involvement in the Illuminati and their goal of establishing a world totalitarian government. There is evidence for these. The first one is that many celebrities have been recorded to behave ‘abnormally’, like staring into space, changing looks, and abnormal behaviour at interviews. Also, the police are more militarized than ever, because heavily militarized police will be required to control the crowds and haul up anyone who tries to defy the idea proposed by the authorities. The number of people in America who believe in the Illuminati, according to research, was a whopping 30 million, which means they’ve got a huge population to believe in their existence and speculated involvement in various activities happening around us

I want this theory to be true, being interested in the supernatural things that happen around us and fairly good evidence of the Illuminati being on their mission to a New World Order makes me believe that these events are intricately planned and makes me connect the strings to something greater than what is suggested otherwise.

One of the darkest moments in modern human history is September 11th, 2001 known as the day when the 9/11 terrorist attack occurred on the World Trade Center towers and the Pentagon. These terrorist attacks were conducted by the Al Qaeda terrorist organization in the form of hijacking of planes.

Now, one of the many conspiracy theories regarding the 9/11 incident is that these attacks were instead planned by the Bush administration that was in power at the time. It is believed that Dick Cheney (the former Vice President of the US) and the top branch of the Bush administration had conspired with Al Qaeda and used Osama Bin Laden as a cover-up to help execute this attack. 

A lot of people might be curious as to why would the United States Government carry out such a dastardly act against its citizens. One possible explanation is that the United States and the Bush administration needed a reason to intervene in/invade the Middle East (Afghanistan and Iraq), but could not do so due to legal reasons and international condemnation.

Hence, after the 9/11 attacks had occurred, a United Nations Security Council meeting was called upon and in this very meeting, the US delegation had referred to the phrase “War on Terror” and the UNSC resolution 1368 was passed. This Resolution stated that any country could invade another country on the grounds of fighting terrorism. Hence, it gave the United States an excuse to invade Afghanistan, Iraq, and later Syria. I believe that this conspiracy theory could be true because all the pieces of the puzzle fit together perfectly in the sense that the attacks and their aftermath were truly in line with the USA’s agenda at the time, giving more credibility to the proposed theory. 

Technological advancement is transpiring at a rapid rate. The evolution of technology is making human life much more sophisticated, enthralling, and elementary. The civilians of this modern era, are coming up with incredibly indispensable inventions and astoundingly alluring game simulations frequently. The periodical amelioration of the current technologies aspires to make the simulations indistinguishable from reality. But what if this tangible world which we believe we are residing in is a convincing simulation by a super-advanced civilization and in reality, we are the creation and not the creators?

While some consider this conspiracy theory to be bonkers and some haven’t given it a sufficient thought to land on an opinion yet, the theory in actuality doesn’t appear insane after Swedish philosopher Nick Bostrom initially claimed that we are living in a simulation and over the years astute scientists ended up garnering evidence to assist his theory. 

Uncertain assumptions like the impossibility to replicate the entire universe as a smooth simulation and to generate infinite power to incessantly run the simulation stimulates the civilians to speculate otherwise. Furthermore, a few other prominent and persuasive presumptions provoke us to contemplate the credibility of this conspiracy theory.

Several people are believed to have witnessed TV coverage of Nelson Mandela’s demise in the 1980s when in actual he passed away in 2013. This is the famous “Mandela effect” and it nudges us to think about the existence of a parallel universe and that the controllers of the simulation are attempting to change the past. 

Another important piece of evidence being the popular double-slit experiment. When electrons are directed towards a copper plate normally, electrons demonstrate wave-live behaviour and when the same experiment is conducted “under observation”, the electrons manifest particle-like behaviour. Hence, this makes us wonder if our simulation is conserving its existing resources and offers certain things only when it knows it is being observed. 

Elon Musk, in a lot of his interviews, has mentioned that he’s a firm believer of Nick Bostrom’s hypothesis. Given the realistic simulation games which were non-existent until 40 years ago and the present photorealistic 3D games with millions playing them simultaneously, the augmenting advancement would automatically lead to the development of more realistic games, making them indifferentiable from concrete reality.

Other compelling shreds of evidence being the ones generated by a group of researchers in the University of Washington which proclaimed that malicious computer code can be embedded in our physical DNA strands and hence hinting that our biological reality could have been a computer code all along. The universe is governed by a set of mathematical laws. Hence, we are again pressured to mull that the simulation is programmed to run with those laws.

I feel this theory would be awesome to be true. Firstly, if it was all a simulation and if the life we are living is utterly bogus then I speculate it is safe to assume that the after-life wouldn’t go hard on us. Secondly, it would be good to know that we aren’t liable for our feckless actions and reckless decisions. Thirdly, the post-human created advanced machinery showcases the magnificence of the humans who modernized the world. 

The assassination of the youngest man elected to the office, the 35th American president, John Fitzgerald Kennedy, often referred to by his initials as JFK induced controversies all around the globe. The unexpected and unfortunate demise of every young president in the world remains a conspiracy and Kennedy’s death was no exception. On November 21, 1963, JFK, the Vice president, and his wife Jacqueline Kennedy embarked on a five-city fundraising trip to Texas. The president was warmly greeted by the audience and the presidential party settled to spend their night at Fort Worth.

The next morning, after delivering a speech at a Fort Worth chamber of commerce breakfast and Dallas’s love airport, he boarded his convertible Lincoln continental Limo with the Texas Governor John Connally and his first lady. The limo was on its way to Trade Mart where JFK was scheduled to address the gathering. Moments after the president’s car crossed the Texas school book depository building, around 12:30 PM, blaring noise of gunshots pervaded the atmosphere as the rigid bullets escaped the rugged rifle of a nefarious assassin.

A bullet pierced the base of Kennedy’s neck and eluded from the back of his throat and a follow-up bullet fired seconds after that, hit JFK right in the back of his head. The doctor’s efforts were in vain and Kennedy was officially declared dead around 1:00 PM on November 22, 1963. The word of the president’s demise propagated and shook the entire nation. From the sixth floor of the Texas school book depository building, bullet cases and an infantry rifle were retrieved, and later the rifle was identified to be Lee Harvey Oswald’s possession.

Oswald’s presence in the building before the firing was witnessed and when he was interrogated by a Dallas policeman, he gunned him down in front of several witnesses and entered the Texas Theater where he was apprehended around 1:50 PM. Officials started to doubt if Kennedy’s assassination was just an initial step by their enemies to destabilize the American government. Finally, when the footage of Kennedy’s assassination was shown in the ‘Good night America’ TV show, its reach went wide.

When the bullet hit JFK, his head jerked backwards, denoting that the shot came from in front of the president’s head. This indicates that it wasn’t from Oswald and establishes that there was a second shooter. Later, the Dictabelt audio recording made by a Dallas policeman revealed that three shots were fired by Oswald and the fourth one by another shooter, confirming the existence of a second shooter. Hence many people suggested that this is the start of something bigger and also speculated the involvement of Dallas right-wingers in this assassination. People truly believe that Kennedy was assassinated by the CIA and Kennedy was also fed up with the actions of the CIA. For example, Kennedy was not pleased to hear about the assassination attempt of the Cuban leader, Fidel Castro. Hence the CIA felt that Kennedy might disband them as an organization and hence people feel that they assassinated him because of this. I wish this theory was true because it appears more plausible and Kennedy deserves a rightful explanation for his assassination. 

However fascinating and intriguing the conspiracy theories are, they pan out as an unanswerable enigma that arouses controversies and keeps the ponderers packed.

Categories
change chilling conspiracy feelings journalism language Lessons life Opinion people personal theory Thoughts

Making Meaning Out Of Madness

by:Harika,Netra and Sakshi

In recent years, conspiracy theories have been running rampant (thanks to WhatsApp university, viral Facebook, and blush-pink Instagram posts). We have all talked or heard about the famous myths surrounding the Holocaust, the CIA’s hand in JFK’s assassination, or 9/11 being an inside job and numerous other theories. We even made conspiracy theories out of fictional stories of cartoons and TV shows be it ‘Scooby Doo’, ‘Stranger Things’ or any other Alfred Hitchcock movie. Time and again, people have proven to love picking up clues, recognizing patterns, figuring out things for themselves, and ultimately enjoying the thrill that conspiracy theories have to offer. But is there more to it? Weaving conspiracy theories into real-life events makes them even more deceptive as they are all strung together in a dramatic and fictional manner. So, in some instances, these theories might make sense. But when you dig deeper, you begin noticing the lack of consistency and fact-based proof. And no, lack of proof shouldn’t be taken as evidence for the conspiracy. That’s the whole point. So what drives people to believe these poxy explanations or theories for such significant events? 

Conspiracy theories often take flight during unsettling times, for instance in a pandemic, after a terrorist attack, or during an election in a politically divided nation. It is natural and understandable to feel angry, frustrated, or saddened by these agonizing situations which lead people to find alternative ways to make sense of the situation. When people feel threatened and out of control, it’s natural to want to feel more control and bring order to the randomness. By cooking up a conspiracy theory, people try to understand the events and alleviate some uncertainty and anxiety. However, there’s more to conspiracy theories that we just need to make sense of.

If such theories are captivating and everyone wants to throw in their two cents, is everyone vulnerable to conspiratorial thinking? Not necessarily. It’s interesting to know that the people who believe in them have certain cognitive styles and personality traits. 

Researchers have found that people who believe in conspiracy theories tend to show characteristics such as eccentricity, narcissism, not being open to new experiences, low trust in others, a stronger need to feel special, a strong belief that the world is a dangerous place, and figuring out meaningful patterns when none exist. In a world where you are always hustling and battling for your position on the top of the rat race, it is logical to feel the want of being special which explains the increased belief of people in such theories. The higher the need to feel special and unique, the more likely a person is to believe in a conspiracy theory.

Just like how you need to plant a seed to grow a tree, you need to plant suspicion to build a conspiracy theory. Human minds seem to be prone to suspicious thoughts and paranoia which is considered to be an important evolutionary advantage. The paranoia that drives individuals to constantly scan the world for danger and suspect the worst of others probably provided a survival edge for humans.

So how do we plant this suspicion? 

There’s a mathematical explanation stating that any large structure will implicitly contain patterns if you pay attention. And here is where illusory pattern perception comes into play. Most of us, consciously or otherwise, have fallen prey to illusory pattern perception at least once in our lives. In my case, I’ve been going to sleep facing my left side for the past few days as I noticed that I tend to wake up earlier if I slept that way. There’s no logical reason behind that, except that, because it worked too often it felt like a pattern. Thus my mind unconsciously believed in this cooked-up theory of going to sleep facing my left side.

Pattern perception is the ability to perceive patterns and form meaningful connections between stimuli in our environment. These patterns can be real or something spun up by our creativity. While most of us seldom make huge decisions based on such patterns, we tend to take that direction in uncertain and desperate situations. In the case of conspiracy theories, conspiracy theorists carefully craft these theories, specifically highlighting these patterns. The more you think about these patterns, the more believable they start to sound and in no time you find yourself leaning further towards a claim that has no logical proof whatsoever. 

(Chuck E cheese conspiracy theory would be a great example if the article isn’t long already)

Pattern perception, despite being evolutionarily advantageous, ends up being a huge setback when unable to differentiate between real and illusory patterns.

But to talk about these particular traits and stimuli that drive people into believing in conspiracy theories, they can be broadly classified into three motives- epistemic, social, and existential.

The epistemic motive categorically deals with seeking causal explanations to something unanswered or uncertain. These explanations serve the need for people to feel safe and secure in their environment, giving them a sense of control. A related property is that they can protect cherished beliefs. The belief that vaccination is harmful or that climate change is a trivial concern falls under this category.

The social motive, on the other hand, is a consequence of our tribe mentality. We may find a social connection with like-minded people by being part of a community of believers. We also tend to identify with ideas held by those we find similar to us or feel obligated to agree with baseless beliefs to maintain a positive self-image in a group.

The existential motive justifies the behavior of folks accepting theories as a compensatory satisfaction when their needs are threatened. This motive is predominant in situations where people feel they have a lack of sociopolitical control or psychological empowerment. For example, in the conspiracy surrounding the 2020 US presidential elections, Trump supporters were overwhelmed when he lost the election. Fearing financial and social vulnerability, they endorsed theories that made them feel more comfortable.

Conspiracy theories are hardly based on facts, rather, they serve the purpose of confirming things we already believe in. Illusory pattern perception is one of the tools used in crafting these theories, in addition, theorists often build gripping narratives centered around you, the protagonist bound to propagating the truth, and the other believers play mentors and guide you through your journey. This storyline is one of the principal methods used by theorists to get you to join communities of believers. When people get too submerged in these stories, existing shreds of evidence become part of the conspiracy theories themselves. 

While the conspiracy theorists are responsible for conceiving an alluring and captive story, the internet promotes them. By prioritizing the most liked and shared posts, baseless theories end up being circulated uncontrollably.

Although it is difficult to keep calm during times of uncertainty, here are a few ways to avoid falling for conspiracy theories. Turn off the news, gadgets, or whatever is making you anxious. Stay away from social media or anything that repeatedly brings up concerning situations. Closely examine evidence and consciously tell yourself to think critically. Sometimes, even changing your perspective can help better your anxiety. Try to look at things more positively and visualize positive outcomes.

Last but not least, take good care of yourself. Remind yourself that your life lies in your hands and you’re the only person with actual control over yourself. 

Categories
change chilling conspiracy journalism language Lessons Opinion people personal speculation theory Thoughts Uncategorised World

Mandela Effect

by:Akhil,Vaishnavi and Keerthana

I absolutely love conspiracy theories and everything to do with them. Sometimes they’re over-the-top crazy theories, and sometimes they actually make sense. But in the end, they are the gateways to imaginative and realistic stories that may be real. 

One of my favourite personal conspiracy theories is about the Mandela effect. 

The Mandela effect is a concept in which people, with no relation to each other, believe that a particular event transpired when it actually never did. 

An easier way of explaining the theory is implying that certain people share a memory of an instance that didn’t occur or occurred differently than how they actually remember it in their minds.     

The Mandela effect gets its name from an event in 2013 following the passing of world-renowned leader Nelson Mandela. During this time, many people believed that Nelson Mandela had already passed away in jail in 1980 despite him living on for another few years. The kick here is that the group of people that believed he was dead from 1980 were unrelated and had never met before. 

How then did all these unrelated people share a similar memory that had never happened? False memories?

Ok, let us assume some of them did have false memories of the event. But most of them went on to vividly describe the memorial service for Nelson Mandela and a speech given by his wife during his funeral. How could these then be false memories when each one of them recounted similar events that never transpired?

My conspiracy theory is that the Mandela effect is real (like literally!) and is not a mere play-of-the-mind. Many speculations (crazy people like me) support my stance, and I’ll be exploring the three most feasible and believable of the lot. 

The most appropriate explanation for the Mandela effect is the existence of alternate realities. To be more specific, parallel universes. The scientific approach to this concept is a wary and tiring path to tread, so I ask you this. 

Do you really believe we are the only planet blessed with life in this universe? Is there not a minute chance that there is one more lifeform out there? Is our universe the only one to exist? When we can imagine such a vast nature for the universe, then why not a parallel one? 

Now that I’ve (hopefully) convinced you that parallel universes exist, let’s explore how it actually works.

Basically, events transpire differently in our parallel universes. Different decisions lead to different outcomes and therefore lead to different realities. Like what if Hitler had actually won? That’s definitely not a reality I want to remember. So, sometimes discrepancies occur when these parallel universes accidentally spill into our reality. What causes these accidental merges? I don’t know. But are you seriously going to tell me that everything that has happened in history till now was supposed to be precisely that way? I don’t believe that. A small change anywhere in the past could cause changes in the future, and it would become so different that it would have to exist separately as an entirely new entity. 

That is why parallel universes, although with no proof of existence, are such a convincing way of explaining the Mandela effect. 

Next in line, we have an all-time favorite that is absolutely bonkers but also believable. Time travel.

The concept of time travel is reasonably straightforward. If someone traveled through time to the past or the future and changed the events of what had occurred or what was supposed to occur, the history of that reality would change. 

This concept actually ties into our previous claim of parallel universes. But here, instead of looking at reality like separate lines of existence, there is only one reality with an uncountable number of branches. Each branch, representing a change in that reality, would eventually grow into its own reality with branches of its own.  

Explained well by movies like Back To The Future and Tenet and novels like A Wrinkle in Time and The Time Machine, time travel caused different events to transpire in a particular reality. These events resulted in the creation of new realities. The interaction between these various realities is what causes the Mandela effect. 

In an iconic scene in the movie Star Wars, the character Darth Vader reveals that he is the father of Luke Skywalker to Luke himself. The original line goes, “No, I am your father.”, whereas most of the fanbase remembers the line as “Luke, I am your father.”. The fanbase swore that the line began with the word Luke, but on rewatching the film are bewildered to find out that that is not the case. They even found merchandise as evidence that supported their view, but it was never proven.  

This is a small but plausible example to prove the Mandela effect through the merging of realities.

Finally, the theory that even I would say is a bit far-fetched is the ideology that we are all living in a real-life simulation. 

Two factors question this theory but don’t disprove it. First, it would mean that everything we do to the smallest detail, like dropping a spoon, is written down and executed like a movie script. This, to me, is highly unlikely. Second, for us to be in a simulation, someone would have had to create everything in our simulation and would be controlling everything. This also seems too complex to imagine as it implies someone is controlling our whole lives. 

But some factors support the theory of a simulation. The number of reports and actual captured footage that show abnormal events like people appearing out of nowhere or objects strangely duplicated could all be ‘glitches’ in the system. These could all be errors that the ‘people’ running the program forgot to correct.  

Our constant development in the type of technology that humankind can create is another factor that proves that we may be able to actually run simulations like our world in the future. So, what if we are a simulation running in the future, being controlled by really advanced beings?

The story of The Matrix explores this unique, abnormal perspective on our reality and does an admirable job of convincing the audience that we are actually living in a simulation. 

Now that I’ve finished ranting about the Mandela effect and trying to convince you that it’s true, I’d like to end this by saying that the Mandela effect, at the end of the day, is a conspiracy theory. It may be true, although it has a higher chance of not being legitimate. But there is also no proof otherwise to state that the Mandela effect is not real. 

There are no hard distinctions between what is real and what is unreal, nor between what is true and what is false. A thing is not necessarily either true or false; it can be either true or false.

Categories
change Efforts Family feelings Friends growing up Guide Happiness humans language Lessons life

A VALLEY IN TIME

by:Chitteshwari

I’ve been thinking about why I am unable to do the things I want to. There is some disconnect in the circuit between the part of my brain that wishes and the part that acts and I’ve spent the last year wanting to fix it. Wanting to fix it, because like I said, to do isn’t possible. My problem keeps me from finding a solution, which is to say, I am the hurdle.

Every month or so, I am struck with a breakthrough about some behaviour pattern, either of mine or others in general. Sometimes the breakthrough is a new problem that I’ve recognized and at other times, it’s an explanation – why it is the way it is. The solution, however – how to try and no longer make it a problem – is a never-ending mystery.

I’ve been told I use a lot of fillers in my speech. Words like “like”, ”um”, ”uh”. Words that apparently have no relevance or hold no meaning. Words I say because there are vacant spaces in time and I want to plug the holes. Words that I wear as a mask, as I try not to make it obvious that I am oblivious to my own train of thought. 

There are also a lot of filler spaces in my day, big chunks of time in between finishing one activity and starting another, spaces that don’t really count as rest or work. They simply exist, adding (again, apparently) no meaning or value to my life. Something usually referred to as a waste of time. Is it true though? Can anything you say or do, not amount to anything? Isn’t every activity that you do or don’t do, propelling you further, nudging you just a little bit harder towards the person you are becoming?

Before starting this piece that you are reading right now, I started (and deleted) more than a few drafts, because no other thought was coherent enough to expand itself to this word count. And despite the little corner in my head that is skeptical of myself, I know that every word I have ever written, even if it was erased almost immediately, has lead up to me writing this sentence here. What I’m trying to say is, there is an understated struggle lying in the underbelly of every single day, and the seconds that go into wading through that river aren’t worthless. I recently watched a video about how these filler words in our speech are not just important but are irreplaceable. While a pause could indicate an abrupt end, your um’s and your like’s let the listener know that there is another word that is on its way. Words that say, “Wait, I’m not done yet.”

Which is to say, every time you spend an hour on your phone in the morning before you get out of bed, it’s an hour that indicates that there is something significant incoming- that you are about to begin the series of events which will start your day. There is a deadly pandemic around us and life feels like it has become static but this is just the filler before the calm (yes, I made my own version of “the silence before the storm”). Something is approaching; something aglow with possibility and hope. 

I know there might be sentences in this piece that don’t add much to its meaning (Whatever I am, I am self-aware). But even after I write the last word and begin my process of editing and proofreading, I know they’ll stay. After months and months of the biggest writer’s block I’ve ever faced, these are the paragraphs that whispered to me that something worthwhile was on its way and that I must wait.

You could consider this another small breakthrough, where I have gained an understanding, a new perspective on an old issue. I mentioned earlier that I never find a solution, only an explanation at most. But when explanations make you realize that your problem isn’t even a problem in the first place, who’s to say that you can’t call them solutions?

Categories
change culture Efforts Environment Government Justice language Lessons life News Opinion personal press social society World

The Black bird of social media

by:Anshuman

Now this is going to be a long one, bear with me. Twitter, one of the most popular social media sites out there, having an enormous user base, has its fair share of problems. It’s often regarded these days as a “toxic” place and such a label isn’t unwarranted in the slightest, in my opinion of course. 

Let’s go right to the root of the problem, it’s character limit. With 280 being the maximum character limit, there isn’t much scope for an actual substantial discussion in the first place. Twitter is at its best when the user base makes use of the character limit to come up with creative jokes, sharing stories or thoughts that may cross their mind, with people responding to it in a fun healthy discourse. The main problem arises when people use the site to address significant and debatable issues because usually the character limit isn’t enough to give it justice or credence, especially when in a discourse with someone else. The ideals behind the original point become muddied when you don’t have enough space to actually explain the nuances of your statements and put it forward in a more precise and detailed manner. Such an issue becomes abhorrent when combined with the major issue that is performative activism and virtue signalling, which Twitter loves to participate in. 

Sharing posts about issues going around in the world isn’t wrong in the slightest, it helps bring attention to them and could actually cause pressure for the concerned authorities to take action and rectify the issues to the best of their capabilities. The problem is when it’s used as a tool to promote themselves. In many instances you see internet celebrities dodging criticism by putting out a tweet speaking vaguely about how they respect and support oppressed communities and see them as equals, literally the bare minimum, to earn praise and virtue points. They don’t care about hopefully bringing attention to the issue at hand. They do it to save face, earn praise for doing the bare minimum, increase their following and earn more clout and internet points. It becomes a selfish desire rather than a selfless act. These people use the plight of oppressed communites such as other races, people of different sexualities, transgender and non binary people, people with disabilities etc. for their own gain and clout by treating them with the barest minimum of respect. These less privileged people’s lives aren’t made for one’s own inspiration story!  They are normal people as well! One isn’t a superhero for treating them as such and shouldn’t be rewarded with undying love and loyalty for doing the bare minimum. You might be wondering that even though one may have scummy ideals, atleast they are doing a good act and inadvertently helping, so why do I care so much. The reason I do ties into the next problem I have which is the “Stan” culture. 

Being a fan of something/someone is completely normal and human. When I talk about Stan culture, I talk about the obsessive fan culture that not only significantly harms the mental health of the person who they are obsessing over, but even themselves. To get too obsessed towards a certain thing is never healthy, especially when the Stan culture is over a person. This leads to the dangerous phenomena of parasocial relationships as well where the fan convinces themself they actually have a relationship with this person who they know nothing about, all they know is the online persona a person has created. This can severely impact the mental health of both parties involved. The major problem with this is that most of the time it’s minors who get involved in such stuff. This leads to predators with a significant fan following having a platform to be able to groom their minor fans thanks to parasocial relationships, preying on them and taking advantage of them in disgusting ways. Stan culture is an obsessive thing that is very prevalent on Twitter, trending everyday in some sort of hashtag. Such fan culture shouldn’t be promoted. By allowing stans of a person to exist, who elevate a person to such a superior status for doing the bare minimum, we strip away the concept of accountability from them. 

On the other end of the spectrum however, is the issue of “cancel” culture. The funniest thing to me about this is that people in fiction love redemption stories, stories where people realize their mistakes and improve on them slowly and gradually to become a better version of themselves. However when it comes to real life, Twitter for some reason forgoes the concept of redemption. Any mistake a person has ever made is held against them throughout their lives, even when they have shown regret for that mistake, apologized for it and have improved themselves and changed their behaviour. It’s good to hold people accountable for bad stuff they might do, but it’s obnoxious to never give them an opportunity to change, to approach them with hate instead of trying to educate them. No one is perfect, all of us have made mistakes we regret in our lifespan. Not everyone should be “cancelled” and have everything taken away from them for a mistake they made in the past, especially when they have shown progress and change. Forgiveness is a trait that’s completely forgotten when it comes to Twitter. 

Another major issue is that dissenting opinions are seen distastefully. It’s like people there want a collective hivemind of thoughts and emotions and any differing opinion must be silenced and banished. People there have a problem of treating their opinions as facts and facts as opinions. Differing views and ideals should be encouraged to force an open dialogue and discussions. People with differing opinions are just blocked. For the record, blocking someone isn’t a sign of weakness or something you should avoid if they are actually troubling you and spamming you. But when you start blocking people with a differing opinion than you, even on harmless topics, you’re just creating an echo chamber for yourself which is detrimental to discussions and debates as a whole. To combat bigotry, there needs to be a dialogue. To reconcile and unite, there needs to be an acceptance of differing thoughts and ideals and finding a common ground should be encouraged. Battling hate with hate is a recipe for disaster. Being mean and rude for no reason shouldn’t be celebrated as a positive trait. Some people would prefer to be praised as a villain rather than be obscure. This is just harmful and detrimental on every front.

To conclude, I do not in any way mean to generalise every user there as having these problems. But there is a big audience which causes these issues. A large part of Twitter has these problems which makes the atmosphere overall “toxic”. This piece is for addressing those parts of Twitter.

Categories
change culture Day Efforts Government journalism Justice language Lessons World

World Press Freedom Day

by:Vrushali

It is World Press Freedom Day and what better country to talk about it than India? Instead of how we usually talk about what Indian journalism is (and the degrading quality), let’s talk about what Indian journalism is allowed to be. India has managed to remain at the 142nd position out of 180 countries in terms of the Press Index by being one of the highest scorers in terms of press abuse. It reflects the degree of freedom that Indian journalists, print media and news channels, and netizens on social media have. This rhetoric compels me to imagine the rank of India if the index accounted for human rights violations and the quality of our journalism. I’d rather refrain from thinking anymore. 

Not that it concerns anyone anymore but let’s talk about the Indian Press and freedom of speech and expression. 

With the insurmountable Covid-19 crisis in India, the Indian government has been widely criticized for its desperate attempts in trying to filter India’s global image. It is more concerned about what the world hears about the Covid-19 outbreak anywhere across the 7 continents than actually looking out for its citizens. Well, people shall come and go, the government remains stable!?

Last week, the Modi government sent notices to take down around 100 “misleading” posts and block the accounts of people who were discussing the second outbreak of the pandemic and the mismanagement from Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. On April 23, at the behest of the Indian government, Twitter acted on the protocol and blocked over 50 tweets from celebrities, MPs, MLAs of opposition parties, journalists, and others criticizing the mishandling of the pandemic by the government. The tweets that were taken down simply mentioned the upsurge in cases and deaths, the shortage of medicines and medical equipment, accompanied by photos of Modi’s election rallies even as the Covid wave became uncontrollable. The posts also mentioned undercounting of cases, images of mass funeral pyres, patients struggling outside hospitals, and basically criticized Mr. Prime Minister. And one cannot deny that all these claims are accurate (speaking from personal experience).

Facebook restored the  #ResignModi hashtag after blocking it for several hours and stated that it was a “slip-up and “not because the Indian government asked to block it.” The error was apparently caused by an algorithm or a human. It is only fair for people to not buy the story. 

While the possibility of such slip-ups cannot be entirely ruled out, the Modi government has a history of shutting down critics. In my opinion, this is truly worrisome. 

The government’s explanation for removing these posts is that it is controlling the spread of misinformation to curb panic while in the eyes of people it seems to be suppression and intimidation.

In the face of failures and criticism, a leader can deal with them in two ways- either by taking down the failure or taking down the criticism. Modi government is adept at doing the latter. Instructing Twitter to remove tweets that are against the government is easier than ensuring oxygen supply throughout the country, right?

Even in the past, the government was seen tightening its grips on social media by clamping down on criticism about the farmers’ protest, the Citizen Amendment Act, the abrogation of Article 370 in Kashmir, and more. Not to forget, the internet was down in Kashmir for several months to contain information which also made ground reporting extremely difficult. It has also threatened social media platforms by stating the IT laws and policies, leaving no options for them.

Although Twitter has given certain clarification, a glance at Twitter’s relationship with the Modi government proves the two are constantly in a tug of war.

In February, Twitter’s officials faced the threat of jail time for not taking down specific tweets and handles related to the farmer’s protest. Several prominent leaders endorsed Koo app—India’s Parler— in protest. Perhaps fearing loss of business, Twitter later restricted the visibility of some hashtags and penalized 500 accounts. Similarly, In 2019, Twitter faced similar threats for objectionable content but the definition of this “objectionable” content….who knows?

Facebook has earlier been accused of pandering to the Modi government, followed by the stepping down of the public policy head Ankhi Das and the allegations of being biased for BJP. Forget Press freedom, do we even have the freedom of speech?

The goal here, I suppose, is to take control of the public narrative, and consequentially, the quality of Indian journalism is dying because it is scared of being advertised as anti-national. 

Indian Press has failed/ is scared to report other observations too.

For instance, in the US, the Biden government set targets, met the targets, and still stated that it is not enough. In India, the message has always been that we have constrained the virus, be it the second wave or be it the shortage of medical equipment, medical and paramedical staff, drugs, hospital beds, oxygen cylinders, or vaccines. Earlier this year, the Indian government spread the message that it had beaten the virus. New cases dropped to 11,000 by mid-February, vaccines were being exported and in March the health minister said India was “in the endgame” of the pandemic. How are you contradicting yourself so audaciously, dear sir?

Opinion-based tweets are being withheld. As a matter of fact, BJP Government’s grip on the mainstream media has always been this tight. Social media was acting like a boon in these times of crisis where individuals and volunteers were putting up their needs and available items for those in need, to access info and express their opinions and concerns which is dead in the mainstream mass media. When it couldn’t get any worse, UP CM Yogi Adityanath went on to say that hospitals are spreading fake info about the unavailability of hospital beds and cylinders and action must be taken against them. In an interview, Home Minister Amit Shah said that we have produced enough medical equipment, completely ignoring the shortages.  It is important to know that Mr. Shah dodged the question of Kumbh Mela and election rallies running in a full-fledged manner despite skyrocketing cases.

What happens when the journalists questioning the central government leaders remind them that they are not only contesting for power in the states but also represent the centre? They are dumbed down or tagged anti-national.

Let me take a moment to put forward my rant about the government here.  Let me exercise my right to speech in the face of dying media and journalism. The central government has had a series of distractions that a normal or rather a sensible government would not have had while they were facing multiple warnings of such a major calamity possibility in the country. From January last year, they were warned about the pandemic coming in, and even by the end of January and mid-February, they were too concerned about Delhi elections and riots. Where Mr. Prime Minister was busy in Namaste Trump rallies welcoming Trump and toppling the Madhya Pradesh government, the government also delayed the lockdowns without preparing for the consequences or impacts on the migrant labourers. Despite this, they had enough time after the first wave but the farmers’ bill proved to be a better distraction instead of preparing for the much expected second wave and improving the healthcare. Holding onto power has always been more important than their primary duty of protecting citizens’ lives. The first mutant was first discovered in October 2020. Britain set up genome sequencing labs in April 2020 while India set up these labs in January 2021 and the funding came in March 2021. This is not a scientifically rational response and we are paying a really cruel price for this. The response seems like an Ostrich’s head in the sand with no respect for science. A majority of statistical models predict that the peak would arrive during mid-May but we cannot even trust the data that is being allegedly underreported by at least 15 times in terms of cases and deaths. Is this the failure of democratic institutions or the populism or knee-jerk reactions?

The Election commission is equally to be blamed for this outbreak. EC is supposed to be neutral but was seen siding with BJP this time. All the parties except BJP pleaded to scrunch the elections in 1 day instead of 7 days and multiple phases and to stop campaigning but it refused to do so.  Even Madras High Court last week remarked that the EC should be “booked for murder” for continuing with the political rallies during the Covid emergency. 

I can still go on if allowed to. But the crux of the matter is that the media has every right to report the facts in the public interest. We need criticism in good faith, opinions, true data, contents of court hearings and to stop dramatizing and politicizing social issues.

It is the fourth pillar of democracy. A morally obligated free-flowing dialogue is what India needs. The media is responsible for formulating and expressing a collective opinion of the public and so restricting it simply means not caring about the public at all.

This world press freedom day, we don’t need anything more than FREEDOM.