Monday February 26, 2018
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Cyber abuse – Are we losing our sensibility on social media?

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By Keshav Chhabra

The recent cyber attack on actor Shruti Seth by Twitteratis is not the first time celebrities have been exposed to cyber abuse. Over the years, death threats have been received, especially by those who have ventured to express their opinion. Though these opinions are different from the mainstream, but sometimes, one wonders at the futility of such attacks. The easy privilege of anonymity with the introduction of social media has been a perfect catalyst for “trolls”; trolls which no more are limited to ridicule and jokes but insensible and vulgar abuse.

Considering the array of such attacks, it might be a bit too easy (and inappropriate) to dismiss these attacks in the name of “politics”. The accusations hurdled are usually baseless; almost no one trying to be polite enough to share the opinion. The tweets directed towards Seth were immensely misogynistic; ironically by those who were empowering females in India by #SelfieWithDaughter.

Cyber bullying

What Steve Ragan calls in his article “an easily exploitable attack surface”, the space has driven many to sign off from this virtual world. Sara Payne, Zelda Williams (Robin Williams’s daughter), Lily James, Stephen Fry, Jennifer Lawrence and many more decided to cut off this series after waves of social media abuse. The “sick jokes” are not easy to handle, are they? So, what could have been an avoidable situation ended up becoming the worst nightmare for someone who was brave enough to express an opinion.

Meghna Pant in her article writes about the fear she faced, after becoming a victim of cyber abuse writes, “It’s hard to describe the kind of fear I began to feel, but it was somewhat like being publicly lynched.” She talks about how the comments were directed on her face, her body. The threats of rape and acid attacks were directed to her, not for what she thinks, but because she is a woman.

A video which rocked the world of cyber bullying titled “My Story: Struggling, bullying, suicide, self harm” depicting the story of a victim Amanda Todd has received more than ten million hits on Youtube. But the story has not changed much. Cyber abuse, which makes no distinction on the basis of gender, does not seem to end in the coming future. According to a report conducted by the state of Missouri in United States of America, around 38 per cent of frequent bully-victims reported suicidal thinking or a suicide attempt during the past one year.

A still from the video.
A still from the video.

Though many come up in the front to report such cases and extend their support to the victims of social abuse, the damage caused cannot be repaired. Apart from our own sensibility towards the issue, future exhibits little hope.

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Not Afraid To Fail, Asserts Deepika Padukone

Deepika said while people suffering from depression were not expected to identify the symptoms and reach out to a psychiatrist, those around them have to understand it

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Deepika Padukone opens up about her mental health and related concerns in an interview. Twitter
Deepika Padukone opens up about her mental health and related concerns in an interview. Twitter
  • Deepika Padukone is undoubtedly one of the biggest superstars of Bollywood
  • She recently revealed that she is not afraid to fail
  • She also opened up more about depression and other mental conditions

Bollywood actress Deepika Padukone said she was not afraid to fail and not afraid to talk about the way she feels.

She believes that success and failure are all part of life and everybody fails at one point in their life. “I am at a stage in my life where I have been through everything.”

Deepika Padukone speaks about not being afraid of failures. Wikimedia Commons
Deepika Padukone speaks about not being afraid of failures. Wikimedia Commons

She was speaking on ‘Making mental wellness a boardroom priority’ at the World Congress on Information Technology and Nasscom India Leadership Forum here on Wednesday.

In a packed hall at ‘global influencer session’ on the last day of the three-day event, Deepika, the founder of The Live Love Laugh Foundation, shared her experiences with depression and gave tips to technologists on how to overcome it.

Also Read: Padmavati and The Modern Time’s Playboys

In a chat with Nasscom Vice-Chairman and Chief Strategy Officer Wipro Rishad Premji, she said that depression is going to be the next big epidemic.

She said it was important that the persons suffering from depression speak about it with his or her near and dear ones and approach a counsellor and psychiatrist.

Deepika Padukone advised all IT companies to have counsellors and psychiatrists to help the employees who may be suffering from depression.

Deepika requested all IT companies to hire psychiatrists. IANS
Deepika requested all IT companies to hire psychiatrists. IANS

She said the employers should also ensure that such employees are not treated differently, noting there is a lot of stigma attached to mental illness and such people don’t speak due to fear of losing their job.

She believes technology can help create awareness on depression but personal touch and feel is important to help the person. “Personal feel and touch, physical proximity, one-on-one is important which technology in some way is taking away from us.”

On whether social media is adding to the problem, Deepika said while it has been a boon in a lot of ways, she believes that everything should be in moderation. She observed that people on social media sometimes present a glorified version of life.

Recalling her fight with depression, the actress said she was not afraid of being judged when she opened up about the problem. “It’s okay to have moments of weakness, okay to break down and okay to cry. It’s okay if you don’t look great all the time,” she said.

Deepika Padukone is taking up many initiatives involving mental health.
Deepika Padukone is taking up many initiatives involving mental health.

Replying to a query from the audience, Deepika said when she was suffering from depression, she used to feel like not getting up from bed and going for work.

“There was no motivation and drive. I was not able to think straight. You feel a burden. You feel clouded and don’t feel like yourself.”

Also read: 7 Bollywood Celebrity Lehenga to Flaunt in the Upcoming Wedding Season

About the many episodes of breaking down, she said one day when her parents were returning to Bengaluru after visiting her, she broke down in front of her mother, who understood the problem and reached out to a counsellor.

“If my mother had not understood the problem, I would not have got the intervention.”

Deepika said while people suffering from depression were not expected to identify the symptoms and reach out to a psychiatrist, those around them have to understand it.

The actress said frequent sessions with counsellors, medication, lifestyle changes, spacing the work, adequate sleep and the right kind of food helped her overcome the problem.

Deepika Padukone also opened up about her struggles with mental illness. Instagram
Deepika Padukone also opened up about her struggles with mental illness. Instagram

She stressed the need for people to come out and speak about mental illness. “You are not alone. One in three or five persons feels depression. It’s going to be next big epidemic to hit our country,” she said.

On the activities of her Foundation, she said it was working to create awareness in Karnataka’s Davangere district. “If I am able to save even one life, I will feel my job is done.” IANS