Sunday, May 15, 2022

Online games and the idea of beauty

(Image by Dariusz Sankowski from Pixabay)

The default perception about online games is that they are all bad. No, I won't say that. 

There are many that are good. Those are the ones that challenge you to solve problems and make you think. 

There are some others that improve your general knowledge; or language / mathematical / coordination skills.

They are all fine. 

But what's worrying are the games that play on emotions of children and young adults.

YOU CREATE YOUR OWN STORY

Many of these games are what are called fantasy games in which the player is allowed to create a story by choosing from options that the game presents at regular intervals. Some of them are called 'beauty games', targeted at girls.

I am not going to give examples of such games. Give a web search or go to the play store on your mobile phone. You will find plenty.

These are by no means new. They have been there for decades. 

More and more of them are being created; and the more we get dependent on the internet and phones, the reach and influence of these games too grows.

Many of these games play on the characters' beauty and style; and the story plot involves romance, dating, marriage, and sometimes adult themes and situations.

You as a player can choose things that you think are impressive. Or, you can dress up / glam up a character with the available set of clothes. Or, you can make these characters handsome or beautiful.

Though it is said that you are the protagonist and you can choose how the story develops, it's not exactly so. You don't have a free hand to build a story of your liking. 

Remember these are games, where there are winners and losers depending on your idea of what is beauty. It has to match the standard set by the developers of the games.

That's where the danger lies. 

WHO IS BEAUTIFUL AND WHO IS NOT

The developers of these games have decided who exactly is a handsome man or a beautiful woman; what sort of dress makes them attractive to the opposite gender; what you need to do to win a date; or to get married and lead a happy and successful life.

There is a lot of stereotyping in these games, and that's very harmful. Young boys and girls, by getting hooked on to such games, tend to develop totally falsified ideas of what is beauty, happiness, success, etc.

There is untold emotional damage these games inflict on impressionable minds of boys and girls, and colour their outlook as they grow into adults. 

SOLUTION

There is so much talk about the need for good mental health and well-being. But little is done to check the proliferation of these types of games. 

The only way is to have some sort of parental control. Limit, regulate, supervise children's interactions with games. 

It may not be possible to keep mobile phones away from children, or deny them access to the internet. 

But there is an inbuilt 'parental control' function. All major cyber security products have it. Play stores have it. Make use of it. 

Parents themselves have to be good role models for their children. They need to be careful when they make comments about situations or other people. 

It shouldn't look like they are reinforcing certain stereotypes or they are setting expectations or standards regarding beauty / happiness / success.

There should be a healthy environment at home that will make children feel emotionally secure and comfortable, so that they trust parents more than what they see / hear on the internet or the phone.

I know it is not easy. But parents have to take this important step, for the sake their children and other children.

Monday, May 9, 2022

Post-book blues

The other day I found my friend a bit lost and sort of disoriented. He looked ponderous, and his gaze seemed to be fixed at some faraway object.

I asked him, "What happened? All okay?"

With a smile that conveyed that all is well, he said, "I just finished reading The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins."

I too have read that psychological thriller by the popular British author, who is one of my favourite writers. 

I quickly realised that my friend was going through what's called post-book blues also called book hangover. 

It's a strange feeling that we get when we have completed reading a book, or nowadays after listening to an audiobook.

When I am immersed in a book for many days (I am a slow reader), I get virtually transported to a different world, in the midst of the characters of the story. The book becomes a lot more engaging and unputdownable towards the end.

Finally, when the last page and the back cover have been turned, there is this inevitable feeling of emptiness and loss, that combines with thoughts of various characters and scenes in the book.

It's all the more intense if the book has gripping plots and subplots that wind through many twists and turns.

If the end is tragic, I get a lump in my throat and my eyes well up.

Of course, it's a temporary phase that passes when I get drawn into my daily routine.

There is a similar feeling that comes over after I watch a movie too. It's much more in a movie theatre than at home in front of a television.  

However, there is a difference - films are at the most three hours long, but the association with a book is much longer.

How about you? Do you feel depressed after reading a book, or watching a film?

(Image by Kranich17 from Pixabay)

Saturday, April 30, 2022

Day 26 - Zumba

Video screenshot from Zumba

I haven't gone for it, but I know a few friends who signed up for Zumba classes. They say it's real fun.

Traditional exercises or dance forms can be too formal. Usually, they are bound by a strict pattern of movements, which sort of makes them too regimented.

(Some of the well-known Indian dance forms: Bharatanatyam, Kathakali, Kathak, Kuchipudi, Manipuri, Odissi etc.)

Zumba adds a liberal dose of entertainment to dance and exercise. There is no water-tight regimen and the routines are flexible, customisable to individual needs, and therefore enjoyable, making it very popular.

Zumba is a trademarked fitness programme that originated in southwest Columbia in the 1990s. It was created by dancer and choreographer Beto Perez, by combining elements from four Latin American dance rhythms: salsa, reggaeton, merengue, and cumbia.

In 2001, Zumba Fitness, LLC, was founded; and in 2011 it arrived in India, one of the over 180 countries where it's now taught and practised.

There is music and a lot of high-impact body movements, including jumping and bouncing. If one is keen on moving into advanced forms, it's better to get prior medical advice.

Like any exercise, Zumba is undoubtedly good for health. It burns calories, loosens joints and muscles, and keeps one agile.

Also, like any exercise, overdoing it won't do any good.

Sources:

ZumbaMint; WebMD, Wikipedia

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This post is part of the blogging challenge in April every year, wherein bloggers put up one post a day, from A to Z, every day except Sundays. 

The series concludes with this post.

I'm participating in #BlogchatterA2Z. I am also on A2Z April Challenge.


Friday, April 29, 2022

Day 25 - Yugoslavia

Courtesy: Encyclopaedia Britannica 
(Click on image to enlarge)

Yugoslavia was one of the countries very familiar to Indians once upon a time.

Its Communist ruler Josip Tito was among the leaders, alongside India's Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, who played a key role in the setting up of the Non-Aligned Movement or popularly called NAM.

NAM, established in Yugoslavia's capital Belgrade in 1961, wasn't formally aligned to either the West bloc led by the US or the East bloc led by the once-mighty USSR (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics) or the Soviet Union.

Late 1980s and early 1990s were tumultuous times. 

The biggest event then was the collapse of the USSR, with its impact felt worldwide including in India (the privatisation of Indian economy in 1991).

Yugoslavia -- which comprised six socialist republics: Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, and Slovenia -- was one of the first countries in East Europe to be impacted by the breakup of the USSR.

One by one constituents of Yugoslavia began declaring independence, starting with Slovenia and Croatia in 1991. 

The Yugoslav Wars, which broke out among the republics, resulted in the deaths / massacre / genocide of hundreds of thousands of people. 

Yugoslavia as a country was finally dissolved in 1992. But the ethnic tensions / violence / insurgency has continued.

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This post is part of the blogging challenge in April every year, wherein bloggers put up one post a day, from A to Z, every day except Sundays. 

I'm participating in #BlogchatterA2Z. I am also on A2Z April Challenge.

Thursday, April 28, 2022

Day 24 - X


Many, many years ago, in the office where I once worked, a senior colleague used to get irritated whenever replied, "I don't know", to any question of his.

I used to say so because I really didn't know. If I didn't know what else was I supposed to say?

He used to tell me: "You should know. How can you not know?"

If I were to look at it in a positive manner, probably he used to have very high expectations from me; and he expected me to know a lot of things; an answer to every question of his.   

But the fact is how is it possible for anyone to know everything?

I don't think there is anyone who knows everything. Not even science has answers to everything.

Take Covid. Even the best of the world's virologists and doctors don't have all the answers to the mysterious ways the SARS-CoV-2 (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2) has been behaving. 

No one knows if and when there will be another variant of the virus or how lethal will that be.  

In spite of a suffusion of information (verified and unverified), amplified today by social media, we all live in the midst of a void. The void of the unknown. 

This unknown springs itself upon us out of the blue -- in the form of surprises both pleasant and unpleasant. 

How much ever we base our lives on science and reasoning, there's always the realm of the unknown.

It's this realm that is filled by our beliefs, thoughts, hopes, aspirations, dreams, prejudices, fears, etc.

Our quest is to more. But, the more we know, the more questions we have.

The known is finite; the unknown is infinite.

The journey never ends.

(Image by Flavio Poletti from Pixabay)

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This post is part of the blogging challenge in April every year, wherein bloggers put up one post a day, from A to Z, every day except Sundays. 

I'm participating in #BlogchatterA2Z. I am also on A2Z April Challenge.

Wednesday, April 27, 2022

Day 23 - Wardrobe


In the wardrobe, there are clothes that were bought many months or even years ago, but have never been worn even once!

But the buying spree continues; and the wardrobe is not just always full, but it's always overflowing!

No, this is not the case with me.

Shopping can be addictive. Someone said it's even therapeutic. You feel very good post-shopping.

If someone has bought a garment, it's because s/he liked it, and therefore wanted to wear it. 

But then, why s/he doesn't wear it after buying it? 

I know friends who keep falling into this trap of "clothes-purchase spree". 

One of them said: "At the store, I like it, but when I come home and see it, I don't feel like wearing it."

Perfectly understandable. Likes and dislikes are very transient, often subject to the influence of mood, ambience, peer group, etc.

Many of my such friends, make it a point not to pile up these brand-new, untouched, unused clothes in the wardrobe. They give them away to someone who likes them / wants them.

A good practice worth emulating.

(Image by JamesDeMers from Pixabay)

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This post is part of the blogging challenge in April every year, wherein bloggers put up one post a day, from A to Z, every day except Sundays. 

I'm participating in #BlogchatterA2Z. I am also on A2Z April Challenge.

Tuesday, April 26, 2022

Day 22 - Vaccination


This is something that became extremely popular world over since mid-2020 when a Covid-struck world started thinking about a strong armour to beat the virus. On January 16, 2021, India began its anti-Covid vaccination programme.

It's been controversial too.  But not in India, where there was so much enthusiasm that on the very first day, people complained about technical glitches in the software to manage the programme.

There has been hardly any vaccine hesitancy here. If at all people didn't get jabbed, it was mainly because of complacency or laziness.

Right now, the administration of precaution dose or the booster dose is ongoing. I got mine a few days ago, on Saturday. 

Close to 2 billion doses have been administered in India so far -- first, second and booster put together.

The Union Government's CoWIN dashboard gives all the details.

There have been cases of people developing adverse reactions. But they are just 0.005% of all the people who got immunized.

BETTER BE JABBED THAN BE IN HOSPITAL

It's not that there isn't anyone skeptical of the vaccination, be it of any manufacturer. 

Just yesterday, The Times of India reported quoting experts of the government's own ICMR-National Institute of Virology that both Covishield and Covaxin might be less effective against the latest variant of Omicron for people who haven't already contracted Covid compared to those who had contracted the disease.

But the overwhelming perception seems to be: better get vaccinated (manage the minor fever or body pain, nausea, etc., thereafter, if at all) and be safe rather than contract Covid and get hospitalized.

There is also a feeling that a number of Indians have acquired some amount of herd immunity, thanks to the crowded public places.

INDIA'S NATIONAL IMMUNIZATION PROGRAMME

Getting vaccinated is nothing new for us, since our government has had, for so many decades, a robust vaccination programme even before Covid happened.

A baby is vaccinated against BCG, Hepatitis B, and polio soon after birth.

Then follows, at regular intervals, more doses of vaccines against:

  • polio
     
  • diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus, hepatitis B and haemophilus influenzae type b (pentavalent vaccine)

  • rotavirus

  • measles, mumps and rubella

  • Japanese Encephalitis

  • deficiencies of vitamin A

  • DPT (diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus) booster doses and 

  • tetanus 

All this ends only when the child is 16 years of age.

The only difference between these vaccines and the Covid vaccines is that the latter were developed very recently, at a hectic pace, against a deadline, without probably as many trials as probably they would have required, to fight a disease that we are yet to understand fully.

The way I see it is: it's better to get vaccinated than not.

Image by cromaconceptovisual from Pixabay

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This post is part of the blogging challenge in April every year, wherein bloggers put up one post a day, from A to Z, every day except Sundays. 

I'm participating in #BlogchatterA2Z. I am also on A2Z April Challenge.