03 April 2017

A HITCHHIKER’S GUIDE TO INTERNSHIP

What you need to know as you step out of your comfort zone!

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The transition point from the naiveté of being a medical student to a fledgling doctor that is the Intern is but the main exams one sits for at the completion of final year of medical school training. And in a matter of one single day post results declaration, you’re declared as a ‘supervised medical practitioner’ by your university and state medical councils in India. Facebook and WhatsApp statuses overflow with the cathartic release of profound exhilaration and relief as we feel we have finally earned the two hallowed letter prefixing our names for eternity – Dr. ABC has arrived folks! Pumped up with idealistic energies and untainted hope for a promising career ahead, we don our new white coats which we have upgraded to professional-looking full-sleeved white coats and sling our Littman stethoscopes proudly around the neck as we report for the first day at work. The excitement is palpable. Everyone has a Cheshire cat grin going from ear to ear as they high-five and compare their respective postings. After a brief pep talk, off we all go to our assigned departments. Internship year has begun!  As Day 1 progresses though, that buoyant energy ebbs away to be replaced by a haunting anxiety of committing blunders as we stumble our way through duty hours and tasks. Uh oh. We know theoretically all about Diabetic Ketoacidosis cause and management so much so that we ace our final year essays. But when you get a call from the Medicine ICU with an urgent plea to come see a patient in DKA who’s gotten agitated and unresponsive, you break out into a cold sweat. Your go-to persons, the postgraduates, are busy with their OP duties and other work. You’re on your own. Completely. So what do you do now? Welcome to reality finally people! You’ve reached the boundary of your comfort zone. Beyond - lies real life.  

Image result for medical intern memeInternship or our House-surgeoncy year in my high patient load tertiary-care medical college hospital in India was an ennobling experience. Like a coin with two sides, it comes as a great privilege and also a burden you have to bear. The privilege? To deal with patients on a first-hand basis, make diagnoses and also manage them, provide care and finally start doing the actual doctoring part. And yes, nothing trumps that entitlement feeling during the first few months of being addressed as ‘doctor’. The burden? Making the right calls regarding what ails the patient, what needs to be done, doing that at the right time and umpteen obligations you are now expected to satisfy. All this can be overwhelming. Been there! So I just decided to give you all a few life hacks I learned from the collective wisdom of seniors, peers and my own limited experiences which you can use during your legendarily grueling Internship year to sail smoothly. Read on;

Life hack #1: Being on time makes you be on top of things and avoid inefficient ‘hand-overs’
The foremost important message! Managing your time well is an art that has to be mastered. For starters, getting up early enough for morning Prerounds gives you plenty of time to study the patients and note their progresses in the charts. If not, by the time Grand Rounds start, you’re a sweaty nervous wreck with notes written haphazardly, incompletely and any question from the profs regarding a patient you’d rushed past out of the left field will leave you cutting a sorry figure in front of the big shots. Another more important consequence – the later you or your colleague report for duty to relieve each other, the worse becomes the ‘hand-over’ of patients from one shift to another. In her hurry to end her shift, she just breezes over the details of her patients to you and you find yourself in a dismal dilemma as to how to deal with the murderous stares of some patients who have already been waiting for a long while, sometimes missing to add a medicine or stop a medicine as the instruction has not reached you. Fatal mistakes that can and should be avoided at the cost of only being on time!

Life hack #2: Dealing with bystanders of adult patients
Image result for difficult patient memeOne of the most difficult parts of internship is not the endless hours you’re on duty but maneuvering your way around bystanders of patients. Now most of the patients themselves are not problematic and in fact obliging to cooperate with you but their overprotective, overbearing spouses or children regard you with skepticism writ on their faces. Some even put forth the fact bluntly and snub, ‘Have you even finished studying? Why doesn’t the senior doctor who was there for rounds come and see my husband?’ It will burst your bubble, trust me, to not to be taken seriously but here the key is to not lose your decorum or temper for that matter and explain to them in a dignified manner that you report directly to the senior doctor they were expecting and that you have been assigned by him/her to see to them. Be polite and gentle but firm. In most cases, they will calm down and let you do your work.

Life hack #3: Dealing with Paediatric patients and their caregivers
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Tricky one this. Most children who get admitted are usually very sick and their caregivers which include parents, grandparents, uncles and aunties have their nerves frayed with anxiety. Any attempt at eliciting a history apart from the first time is met with tremendous irritation. This often happens when we are taking duties from another intern during the beginning of our shift. The parents have just detailed out the entire history to your friend but he couldn’t note down all points as he was called elsewhere and now you have to fill the case sheets. Before accosting them inexorably to run through the details again, try to gather all the information you have at hand, examine the child attentively and affectionately and then introduce yourself to the parents saying you have a few doubts regarding the history and if they would be kind enough to recapitulate it once more. Very unlikely that they wouldn’t.

Life hack #4: Drop that journalist-style note taking while eliciting history! 
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We all develop this habit unconsciously during our early years in the wards. Terrified of missing out on a chunk of information, we all huddle around a ‘cooperative’ patient in the wards, bombard him with questions which he so good-naturedly answers while we do him the injustice of not even making eye-contact with him as our pens furiously scribble through the pages taking down the precious little nuggets of information. And as we evolve into Interns, this habit sticks on. To be honest, at this point, it would look rather unprofessional! Blatantly evident that you are a newbie and this is enough for patients to regard you contemptuously and perhaps even withhold crucial history points from you thinking you are way too junior to reveal that skeleton in their closet to. The result? During rounds, our senior doctor will unearth the skeleton easily and your history-taking skills might get appraised upon. What I try to do is go to each patient, listen to them while they relate their complaints, ask pertinent questions and complete the examination part making a mental note of salient points and then set out on filling the case sheet. This way, your direct eye-contact and manner bolsters an immediate rapport and trust. You can always then revert to them to fill any gaps after writing your case sheet. Another advantage would be testing your memory and attentiveness to reproduce the history you just elicited onto paper. A skill we definitely have to nurture to become good physicians. A note to my dear juniors as well – try to refrain from huddling around in flocks around patients if you can help it.

Life hack #5: Holding the nursing staff in high esteem
Image result for medical intern memeA departing senior shared this precious insight that to hold the nursing staff in high esteem and deeming them with respect can help you a long way. I say it with awe that it turned out to be so right! Right from informing us about a new admission or promptly notifying regarding the deteriorating condition of a patient to sharing their wisdom while we attempt procedures in the Emergency room and the wards for the first time, nurses are treasure troves of practical information next to your doctors whose no-nonsense efficient dealings live by the mantra ‘Give respect, take respect’. It’s an open secret that nurses and staff are notoriously uncooperative to high-handed arrogant interns/residents. We all share a common goal of efficient patient care and are a team. And it’s a humbling thought to be reminded that we are the newest and youngest link in the chain who can only grow by help from seniors.

Life hack #6: Do not disclose too much information!  
As Interns, we start to be directly involved in patient care and we are privy to a lot of sensitive information that come along our way. The fundamental dictum of Doctor-patient confidentiality has to take its roots here. As you step out of the ICU or room for instance after your Prerounds, you will be hounded by inquisitive and imploring bystanders who will beg, beseech and bombard you with questions regarding test results, diagnosis or prognosis of their loved ones inside. While it is downright rude to merely walk away without giving answers (remember that we might as well one day be on the receiving end, tables turned) it is also unethical to reveal too much of information to them – which should be ideally dealt with by the consultant. This tight-spot has no easy way out but with common sense figure out what all information can be safely shared, if possible. Otherwise, shut the heck up coz we novices do not have the experience of specialists regarding the significance of each test result/prognosis and you do not want to be responsible for unnecessarily alarming or reassuring patients’ bystanders.  As the age-old axiom goes, ‘A little knowledge can be dangerous.’

Life hack #7: Brace yourself well for Casualty duties        
Image result for doctor in er cartoonDuring our days, circumstances provided only one Casualty intern on duty for 12 hours. It was perhaps the best and the worst times of the year. One was kept perpetually busy with hordes of patients flooding in from the door, handling their ailments, triaging them and calling the respective departments to refer their patients to. Every waxing and waning wail of the ambulance siren sends a shiver of anticipation and trepidation down your spine as you cast a glance at the already full ER. To handle the ER posting well, you need to have 3 abilities in my opinion – Nerves of steel, bowel of steel and a bladder of steel! To endure the gruesome sight of mangled limbs, broken bones and blood of accident victims and galvanize into prompt action, to keeping in check the alcoholic patient in withdrawal or the schizophrenic patient in delirium until the Psychiatric resident arrives requires you to fortify your nerves and not recoil from the challenge. On certain days, the very idea of it being lunchtime or dinnertime doesn’t even enter your mind as work piles up with you desperately trying to catch up. Getting to take a potty break becomes a luxury as you stay awake with bloodshot eyes. Brace yourselves and don’t complain. For these are the very experiences that will carve out the best in you in the coming years.  Deal with belligerent bystanders in the Casualty in a firm and professional way. In the throes of their anxiety regarding their loved ones you are tending to, they will scream, intimidate and badmouth you to draw out some information but hold your ground. Under no circumstances, allow them to bully you or treat them back discourteously or angrily. This will only go downhill for you, the patient and the hospital.

Life hack #8: Do not take rebukes to become regretful and disillusioned
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Let’s face it. We might screw up colossally at times. Maybe due to ignorance, exhaustion or other reasons. Some departments are invariably easy-going and some, well not so much. The take home point here is to take every censure and criticism positively and not lose heart. Find out where things went wrong and make amends. No one was born perfect in this world. And this is our learning curve – it might be sigmoid for some, steep for some or even plateau out for some. Stop comparing with others. It may not seem rewarding at times in contrast to the work you put in and you will develop disillusionment and disappointments easily. Just remember that there’s light always at the end of the tunnel.


Life hack #9: Figure out what interests you now!
Image result for what's my interest memeYour career is at its threshold of blossoming and now is the perfect time to figure out which specialty you would want to specialize in. Instead of fielding questions regarding your career goals or dismissing them away, give it serious thought. As you work your way through each department, ask yourselves this: Do I see myself working in this specialty in the future? Can I do it? If the answer is in the affirmative, you know what to aim for!




Life hack #10: Don’t live under a rock!
Internship is a state perpetual exhaustion and we are considered as near ascetics by family and friends. We become oblivious to the world revolving around us and have to miss out on several occasions due to tight schedules. While it is imperative to take our work seriously, it is also important to strike a balance with your social life which, in our early-mid twenties takes a turn to be rather active. Be there at your sibling’s/cousin’s wedding to witness the blissful union, be there on your parents’ anniversary, be there to meet up with a friend who is in town after years. These precious moments are rare to come by. It will also serve as a chill out time to save you from a burnout!
Image result for medical intern memeBottomline: Enjoy the Internship year. We get only one shot at it. Work, laugh, share, learn. Embrace the challenges thrown your way and learn from each experience. This is the time to be tested by adversities, petty humiliations and hardships to emerge wiser and stronger. Smooth seas never made a seasoned seaman! And of paramount importance, master the art of communication with patients – your panacea for success. Primum non nocere fellas!

Dr. Sridevi Rajeeve
Alumnus, 2008 Batch
Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church Medical College Hospital, Kolenchery, Kerala, India
Affiliated to Mahatma Gandhi University



P.S: Primum non nocere is one of the cardinal rules in the Hippocratic Oath. Originating in Latin, it translates to ‘First, Do No Harm’

THE ENGLISH LESSON

A poem from my childhood, with which my fascination for the English language started. Read on to know why! 


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The English Lesson

by Richard Krogh       (Published in the 1800s)

We'll begin with box, and the plural is boxes;
But the plural of ox should be oxen, not oxes.
Then one fowl is goose, but two are called geese
Yet the plural of moose should never be meese.
You may find a lone mouse or a whole lot of mice,
But the plural of house is houses, not hice.

If the plural of man is always called men,
When couldn't the plural of pan be called pen?
The cow in the plural may be cows or kine,
But the plural of vow is vows, not vine.
And I speak of a foot, and you show me your feet,
But I give a boot - would a pair be called beet?

If one is a tooth and a whole set are teeth,
Why shouldn't the plural of booth be called beeth?
If the singular is this and plural is these,
Why shouldn't the plural of kiss be nicknamed kese?
Then one may be that, and three may be those,
Yet the plural of hat would never be hose;

We speak of a brother, and also of brethren,
But though we say mother, we never say methren.
The masculine pronouns are he, his and him,
But imagine the feminine she, shis, and shim!
So our English, I think you will all agree,
Is the trickiest language you ever did see.

I take it you already know
Of tough and bough and cough and dough?
Others may stumble, but not you
On hiccough, thorough, slough, and through?
Well done! And now you wish, perhaps
To learn of less familiar traps?

Beware of heard, a dreadful word
That looks like beard and sounds like bird.
And dead; it's said like bed, not bead;
For goodness sake, don't call it deed!
Watch out for meat and great and threat,
(they rhyme with suite and straight and debt)

A moth is not a moth in mother.
Nor both in bother, broth in brother.
And here is not a match for there.
And dear and fear for bear and pear.
And then there's dose and rose and lose --
Just look them up -- and goose and choose.

And cork and work and card and ward,
And font and front and word and sword.
And do and go, then thwart and cart.
Come, come, I've hardly made a start.
A dreadful language? Why, man alive,
I'd learned to talk it when I was five,

And yet to write it, the more I tried,
I hadn't learned it at fifty-five!

31 December 2015

SAMARITANS DO EXIST

Too often we all face a trust deficit when it comes to bus, rickshaw or taxi drivers in the context of lost/stolen valuables. Their ignominious reputation stems from the many larceny cases we’ve all been privy to and it effectively seals the predetermined notion: Say goodbye to your valuables once you lose it in any of these. The following incident completely decimated my prejudice;


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While travelling back from a friend’s wedding at a distant place, my friends dropped me off at a place relatively near my home which required me catching 2 buses for short distances. It was 5.30pm in the evening and the bus was teeming with people returning home after work, sweaty school children returning after tuition class or sports lessons. Not wanting to be late, I got into the first private bus that came my way and squeezed myself into the overly crammed vehicle. After taking the ticket, I managed to count the minutes and got down gladly when my transit bus stop arrived. Rummaging in my handbag for my purse, I found to my utter dismay that my precious commodity was missing. It had to be quite recent for just minutes before I had bought my ticket. To make matters worse, the bus had already long gone leaving me in a post-traumatic state with no immediate recollection of the bus name or colour. I had no money on me as everything was packed into the said purse so I trudged home walking in the wedding finery drawing queer looks both for my glittery attire and for my wan face. Once home, after facing a barrage of reprimands and recommendations, I blocked my 2 ATM cards online and went to the local police station to lodge a complaint. The policeman on duty courteously informed me that he has very little hope of retrieving it as I could not furnish him details of any sort regarding the bus except the route and the time of plying, for private buses are abundant in our city. Everyone around me including the policeman, friends and family absolutely ruled out any remote possibility of getting back the packed purse and lectured on the avarice of bus drivers and conductors in general.


At 8pm that night, my father got an unexpected call from an unknown number. To his utter surprise, the caller asked to identify my father’s nature of relationship with me and whether he knew anything was missing from my side. My father responded that he knew I had lost my purse and the caller thence identified himself as the driver of the bus in which I had lost my purse and asked my father to collect the purse from him the next day morning and we fixed on a time and place.


Arriving at the predesignated spot before the predetermined time, my father and I were on the lookout for a bus described by the magnanimous driver. A white and red bus screeched to a halt at the stop just then and a man in his fifties sitting in the driver seat began scanning the crowd energetically. Rightly guessing this was the bus and the man we were waiting for, we hurried over. The man looked quite intimidating with a bulging belly, beefy face and bloodshot eyes from a distance. As we drew near, he leaned out and handed over the purse to me. Overwhelmed by gratitude, I thanked him profusely and his kind eyes broke into a genuine smile of understanding and said, “I have a daughter of your age. She recently lost her purse and never got it back. I watch her everyday lamenting her badluck and scrambling to get her license and other cards back. I don’t want to see another daughter going through the same.” In the background I heard his conductor whisper to him to ask me for some ‘compensation’ for the trouble he took but the driver silenced him with a cuss and a glower. With another paternal smile and a wave, he revved up the engine and went his way.

As I looked into my purse, I found my entire contents intact – the odd notes amounting to nearly 3000 rupees, my driving license, 2 ATM cards, other membership cards and photos. Wondering how he managed to trace my father’s number, I finally understood that he came across my old college ID card which had my father listed as an Emergency contact.


I felt the prejudices I had so long ago harboured against drivers in general and recently bolstered by the negative anecdotes and opinions of others dissolving away as profound gratitude filled its place. Here was a man who could have easily misused the purse contents who safeguarded it and who painstakingly and intelligently unearthed my father’s number and strove to reunite it with its owner as soon as possible. All I know is that his name is Suresh and that he drives a bus named ‘Baselious’ plying in Kochi city. Let’s not let appearances and blind associations ever generalize the character of an individual. May such of his tribe increase!


2nd ARTICLE IN THE TIMES OF INDIA!

So 2015 gave me a second chance to wield my pen again and be featured in the Onam special cover of The Times of India on 17th August 2015. Thanks to the opportunity meted out by Sherene Joseph at the TOI whose offer I took up eagerly!

Now if you can manage to read the fine print from the image my article that I've posted in this blog, you can figure out that I've heavily referenced from the personal anecdotes my paternal grandfather penned down exclusively for me under the nostalgia section.



In fact, this was I think the last of his writings that ever saw a press. For within a fortnight after I had submitted my entry, my grandfather fell sick with a brief spell of illness that saw him being hospitalized for the first time in his astonishingly healthy and rigorous 86 years.

I remember the doused enthusiasm and blunted happiness with which I received the news that my article was going to be featured and the dull sense of joy when I saw it in print. For the hospitalization of my grandfather which was progressively turning worse as he began to be in intensive care, quite sapped the positive feeling out of Life for a week.

Being a doctor, it was painfully evident that my grandfather was approaching the termination of his commendable journey and so in a flash of inspiration which was undoubtedly from Heaven, I took a clipping of my article and highlighted the paragraph where I paraphrased his contribution to the article. He took it in his hands and smiled a weak smile that reached right up to his eyes that sparkled with pride and joy and at that moment, amidst the chilly cold and beeping machines in the ICU, I knew he was silently blessing me; comforting me and earnestly beseeching me to find closure.

We discharged him at his behest and our request (and obviously against medical advice!) and brought him home the next day. He spent a day in apparent recovery, good health and cheer and at the crack of dawn the very next day, passed along to the void as silently and as painlessly one can ever hope for!

So yes, this article is immensely important to me in more than materialistic ways and has forever the mark of poignant sentimentality attached to it as the last words my writer-grandfather penned for his novice granddaughter.  

08 August 2015

1st NEWSPAPER ARTICLE

When I got a call from my good friend inviting me to try writing about my internship experiences, especially regarding the rural posting experience, it was a loud wake-up gong to the Creative Right Brain, which had unfortunately been lying dormant since final year of medical school life forced the Retentive Left Brain to take over and dominate.

Its been nearly a year since the article I submitted to The Education Times of Times of India group got published - 10.11.2014 to be exact -  got published.
Here is a glimpse of the feature;    


Hopefully this will be the first of many!

Root for me guys. I hope to take hand-in-hand my passion for Medicine and for writing in the near future. Watch this space for more!

15 August 2014

THE SELFIE CRAZE!



Our latest obsession!

I’m sure all you Facebookers, Twitterati and Instagramers would know which newly coined word was declared as the Oxford Word of the Year for 2013 as social media was literally flooded by the news. The word and world of ‘Selfies’ have taken over Gen Y by storm and not even our parents’ and grandparents’ generation are immune to it! Just flip out your phone and take a look at the WhatsApp/Viber profile pictures in your friends’ list. Aren’t a good number of them selfies? Wait. Even you might be sporting a selfie pic in it. You get my point! During the glittering Oscars ceremony in LA, California in early 2014, the host Ellen Degeneres took a star-studded selfie photobombed by many red-carpet celebrities (Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Kevin Spacey..you name it!) and uploaded it which got so swiftly and rapidly re-tweeted across the globe that Twitterverse actually crashed for a few minutes due to heavy online traffic! It just goes to show the dominance this phenomenon has had in our daily lives.



For the uninitiated and unacquainted, a ‘Selfie’ is the Internet slang term for ‘Self-Portrait - a fast self-portrait usually taken at arm’s length (and in front of a mirror with a flash), clicked with a smartphone’s camera and immediately shared in social networks as an instant visual communication of where we are, what we’re doing, who we think we are, and who we think is watching. Selfies have changed aspects of social interaction, body language, body image, self-awareness, privacy, humor, irony and public behavior and sentiment. The advent of digital cameras and the ubiquitous mobile cameras can be considered as the main culprits for the epidemic. When I use the word epidemic, I use it with caution for I am not implicating that it is a disease per se but a certain degree of acquired malady of the mind is at hand here according to many ongoing and published research. In fact, a recent study published by a reputed University in the US created an uproar when it declared that the so-called Selfie Mania is but a different manifestation of Body Dysmorphic Disorder and Narcissism



Its no secret that the fairer sex are the ones obsessed with taking selfies. Not that guys are far behind though! Boys and guys showing flexed biceps, sculpted abs and sweaty gym sessions to sporting flashy rides and expensive gadgets have emerged in contrast to girls who usually click a million pictures of themselves in front of mirrors at the best possible vantage angles. Let’s have a closer look at this craze – the Good, the Bad and the Ugly! 



The Good: Well, for starters, people have turned more image-conscious. We groom ourselves better and tend to seize opportunities to click the best-looking and the most flattering image of ourselves. It’s a self-esteem booster according to some friends who claim that a good selfie pic makes them feel happy about their physical appearance and feel that the lengths they’ve gone to get that look (a new haircut perhaps!) finally paid off when they get that perfect selfie. Also, the appreciation we receive from our friends who ‘like’ and ‘comment’ on the picture stimulates us to take more and more selfies in future albeit with changes in pose, locale and look. A self-propagating self-love!



The Bad: Plenty to say here, I’m afraid. We spend an inordinate amount of time in front of mirrors or sifting through pictures in our phones’ gallery and editing them with a million apps till we are satisfied with the end result – a good looking portrait! Does it end there? Nope. Dissatisfaction often creeps in fuelled by the subconscious mental image of friends who have managed to click a far better selfie than us. Click-View-Edit-Upload. The vicious cycle goes on! A gross waste of productive time and energy for something so trivial! Alarmingly, many teens and adolescents who are less physically endowed than their good-looking friends end up having low self-esteem and depression at not being able to be on par with their peers in terms of looks. A disquieting trend whose tentacles have insinuated their way into our mainstream lives is the way cosmetic products and picture editing apps have started to become indispensable! Almost every beauty product shows an A-lister celebrity endorsing a particular product and clicking a gorgeous selfie (“Be seflie ready!” as one actor croons from the TV) as if the sole reason why they’re looking that delicious ain’t the hours spent in the dressing room but by the single use of that product. And we as faithful consumers lap it all up! *facepalm* Yet another worrisome habit that has spawned is the inopportune moments we seize to take a selfie and shout out to the world that I-was-there-when-it-happened. For example the ‘Funeral selfie’ that never went public – that of US President Barack Obama with British Prime Minister David Cameron  and Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt took a group selfie at Nelson Mandela’s memorial service in 2013; we saw only Roberto Schmidt’s photograph of them doing so and a visibly miffed looking Michelle Obama sitting two seats away turning her face against the indelicate gesture displayed by her husband and other leaders at the funeral of a great man. That act drew a lot of scathing criticism at the irreverence displayed by world’s top leaders and the opportunistic mindset that has taken over us. Another sound example would be the ‘Accident Selfie’ when a person poses in front of an accident scene and clicks a picture of himself in its backdrop. Seriously. WHAT are they trying to tell the world? That they’re so full of themselves and so ‘cool’ that they actually can’t deign to lend a helping hand to those in distress behind them? Ugh. 



The Ugly: The one that irks me the most personally. I like good selfies by people don’t get me wrong but there are just some poses that grates the nerves like anything. The most hated selfies of all according to popular vote is the ‘Pouting selfie’ nicknamed as the ‘Duckface’. Restricted to girls mostly they show selfies of girls making pouty face with their lips and other grotesque postures which they erroneously think are cute and adorable. Sorry to spill the beans kids but no one really wants to see anyone’s lips magnified and focused in a picture as soon as they log into their social networks unless they’re of stalkerish tendencies! The kiss-ready pose has been dubbed as the worst kind of selfies showcasing narcissism and true to human nature that’s the number one trending selfies among girls. Unfortunate! Guys are of no exception. The various sweaty ‘Work-out selfies’ from the gym showing pumped up biceps, the coveted 6-pack abdomen and monstrously large muscles are anything but appealing sometimes! But they just don’t get it, do they? 



Did I just discourage y’all (or myself) from taking selfies ever again? I hope not. Did I succeed in enlightening you to the growing narcissistic tendencies and at times disrespectful gestures involved in being absorbed in taking pictures of oneself? I sure hope so. Mission accomplished! All I’m concerned at this point in time is that our generation does not transform itself into an insensitive and self-absorbed young herd who would go to many lengths to get a picture of ourselves and drown our creativity and energies to accomplish a task so trivial and inconsequential in life when we can be devoting our time to Live! And not just appear to live via frozen pixels to showoff before others!
So until the next wave of change hits our mania-prone technology-reliant generation, signing off on this note with a hope that we all will hitherto not overindulge in a fad that can potentially change our psyche and not for the good. Oh and before you go, update your latest selfie or atleast take one if you haven’t. Might as well jump on the bandwagon. Just take care not to travel too far alone. Over and out!


20 July 2014

I KNOW YOU USE THE ‘F’ WORD!



- An Insight into how your friend’s friend’s friend affects your Psyche, and much more!



Before you leapdive into the conclusions that your fired up Brain is churning forth the moment it saw the phrase ‘F word’, allow me to explain myself.  While I’m not denying that the title was a deliberate wordplay to grab attention (aren’t titles supposed to do that??), it just refers innocuously to Facebook and not the profanity I know you thought at first! And although the title sounds uncannily like the I Know What You Did Last Summer movie-series, it does not in anyway reflect what you’re about to come across in my write-up. If I’ve succeeded in arresting the page-flicking tendency of your fingers long enough to spark an iota of interest, read on...

 I do not intend to write about Facebook or Twitter and weigh their pros and cons. They are a much clichéd discussion topic now gathering rust. I merely would like to analyze what it is that attracts us to social networking sites so much and why Internet is a resource as vital to us as the air we breathe!

So onward to the million-dollar question: Why are we obsessed with Internet and Social Networking? Perhaps the easiest answer that springs to my mind is the oft-heard explanation that ‘Man is a Social Animal’.  True. Human beings are gregarious creatures. We tend to mingle and interact. And what better a platform than social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter and Blogger and Hubs? Here one can add friends and share photos, tweet about what is happening around us, blog about our lives and argue our heads off regarding shared topics of interest. Now if things were this simple, I wouldn’t have bothered writing this piece…

Today, these sites are not merely places where you interact with people in your life (albeit for some, people they’ve never met also!). They are places where you live out your best Alter-Ego. Come on, we’ve all done it! No one ever puts up self-derogatory comments or photos (unless yes, they are pathologically depressed) and always tries to project one’s best facet to the public. (Big reason why one should always be wary of online relationships – whether it be love or friendships!)

So just think – How many times have you hunted your gallery of pictures and let out a frustrated sigh at not being able to find that perfect profile picture? How many times have you logged in minute after minute to check for new status updates or tweets from friends or the celebrities you idolize? Or to see how many ‘like’s and ‘comment’s your photo upload or status or share has garnered? (Hey I’m not judging. Been there, done that!)



The thing is, we’re all starved. Yes, starved for acknowledgement of our existence (stemming from the fear of going unnoticed), for acceptance as someone of worth and for praise. It has been said that Praise nearly equals Power in its aphrodisiac qualities! Except that here, the love it generates and tries to sustain is self-love a.k.a Narcissism. No wonder socialites and icons who used to be in the limelight can rarely thrive outside it! But I digress. Let’s move forward.

Our day-to-day lives are influenced to a very vast degree by online networking, whether you realize it or not! If you want me to exemplify, here goes:
·         Every time you go dress-shopping, you tend to buy branded attire even if it lasers a huge hole in your wallet – why? Because your photos in Facebook may showcase it, that’s why!
·         Before selecting a new mobile or car or home appliance, you mentally go over the popular gadgets that your friends sport – why? Because you want to buy something that equals or rivals theirs so that yours can become the talk of the town, that’s why!
·         You dislike a newly-released movie or book after seeing some downbeat reviews without even giving it your chance – why? Because you tend to value others opinion more than yours, that’s why!
·         You pretend to like a popular chartbuster or a new food fad even though you didn’t like it personally – why? Because your peer group is crazily tweeting about it and you don’t want to be not doing the same, that’s why!
·         You cast your vote for a candidate without bothering to check his/her credentials – why? Because you saw that their fanpage in Facebook or Twitter profile had more likes and followers, that’s why!

It is exactly on this kind of ‘Herd Mentality’ on which that social networks thrive. I’m not opining that it’s bad, neither am I saying its all-good. Just that, the individual assertion of views seems to be lacking in many a circumstance and it is a powerful influence on our perceptions of right and wrong and our opinions! It is innately hardwired in us biologically to mimic others (after all, we’re said to have descended from the Apes right?) And Darwin sure was right about his Survival of the Fittest theory. It is the opinion and the trends set by the ‘fittest’ (i.e. intellectually, socially and financially better placed) individuals that dominate and mould the perceptions of the gullible - who strive mimic them to fit into the Hot & Happening dance floor than remain as a Wallflower of the party of Life!


My dear readers, your well-intentioned writer is not asking you to forego any of the pleasures that social networking can bestow. All I’m asking is for you to stop and think and act rationally. Just because you saw while browsing that some of your friends have got a new BMW from his wife or recently acquired a Samsung Galaxy SIII (does that make him/her more human, like their ad says?) or went to exotic locales for holidaying or got a promotion, it does not mean that your life sucks (excuse the strong language – it is just to drive home the point)!

People tend to showcase only the most witty, joyful and bullet-pointed success versions of their lives. By making conscious or sub-conscious comparisons with their lives (in an apparently greener pasture!) you are making yourself vulnerable to a loss of self-esteem and fear of asserting your individual opinions dreading the contemptuous looks or remarks you might invite from your more highly-placed ‘friends’. Are they then your friends in anyway?

So after all that dire Freudian psychoanalysis of mine (Sigmund Freud, pardon me!), I really hope I’ve not deterred you from the social networking bandwagon! Trust me when I say that Facebook, Twitter, Blogger, YouTube, LinkdIn, MySpace and the like are immense fun and a novel way of keeping in contact like never before! It has enabled me to keep in touch with all my friends right from kindergarten to college, most of my school teachers are there in Facebook, not to mention neighbours and family members who have settled in different continents altogether. Temporal and geographical boundaries blur and only their physical presence is wanting. Even my parents have joined up and revel in meeting up with their spread out family, long-lost classmates and batchmates of their erstwhile college life, plus their current colleagues and students!

My take-home messages? Simple.
·         Cease to compare your life with that of others. Do not judge a book by its cover and a person by their looks or online persona alone.
·         Preserve and nurture your self-esteem. Do not let it pale in comparison to the projected facades of others or their supposed accomplishments.
·         Be honest. Online and offline. It makes life a lot less complicated.
·         ‘Blood is thicker than water’ – Family always comes first, friends only next – whether real or virtual.

Cyberworld is here to stay. We use it to network, for our travel purposes, for research,  business transactions and for entertainment. It is sutured so securely into the fabric of our daily lives that there’s no escaping it. To be a good digital/real-life citizen, the best analogy I can come up with is to urge you to be like the goblin-crafted Sword of Gryffindor (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, remember?) – imbibe only that which strengthens you and be impervious to other detrimental influences! So what are you waiting for? Go log in!!