Reading – The Gateway To Our Own Minds

Reading is the art of listening to words. It is listening to words written on paper, a mobile screen, boards, or sounds while speaking. Decoding each word creates its own world to explore and experience. People have different opinions on the topic of reading. Each individual perceives it to be different from one another. For some, it is a gateway to imagination and creativity; for others, it is a form of escapism; for others, it is a means for developing a skill, while for a few, it is a space for introspection and growth. The words on the page come to life as we visualize the characters, settings, and events described by the author.

Here are some stories from strangers about their experience with reading:

“Reading for me is formally for the purpose of education and language,” said one person. Reading is a forced experience in life, where one is forced to read to understand topics and learn. It is a must-do for the purpose of education. but moving forward, the word reading took a different shape of its own in different minds.”

“Reading fantasy gives me a lot to imagine, a lot more to think on, and a lot more to vent my energy on,” said Amit, another colleague, whom I interviewed for this story. Fantasy was the genre that was preferred by most people during the course of interviews.

Picture : TheUNN

The opportunity to think beyond the boundaries of the present world and to imagine a world with magic, chants, and spells has its own unimaginable pleasure for the minds of readers. At a young age, Amit started his reading journey with J.K. Rowling’s ‘Harry Potter,’ which later moved on to Rick Riordan’s ‘Percy Jackson.’

Amit shared about how much of an obsessive reader he was of Harry Potter. The set of books he would never let go of, even in the midst of exams and work.

Rose talked about Leigh Bardugo’s ‘Six of Crows and Sarah J. Mass’s ‘A Court of Thorns and Roses.’ The feeling of transportation to different realms, immersed in rich, vivid imagery ignites the worlds of imagination. This is how she explained reading a book about an unknown world.

Young adult stories, which are later adapted into movies, are the next thing on the list that people prefer. John Green’s ‘The Fault in Our Stars,’ Stephen Chbosky’s ‘The Perks of Being a Wallflower,’ Jennifer Niven’s ‘All the Bright Places,’ and Five Feet Apart’ have topped the list.

When asked as to what they preferred, the movie or the book, most of them picked the movie, while a few chose the book. But the intriguing part of the question was formed when one replied, “I prefer both movies and the book; often I prefer to read the book first, then watch the movie, and later revisit the book again with the revealed images of the characters.”

Sometimes getting a face to imagine and relate the story gives way to incredible fan art.

There are many different reading genres that one can explore and enjoy. A few examples are non-fiction, literary fiction, mystery or thriller, romance, science fiction, historical fiction, young adult, contemporary fiction, horror, biographies, and autobiographies.

To conclude, one can safely say that reading is a form of art that profoundly affects people’s brains, hearts, and souls. It is seen as a skill that many people nurture and celebrate, adding worth and enhancing one’s own life and the one’s world of imagination.

Why Are People Depressed?

Depression is defined by the American Psychological Association as intense melancholy or despair that lasts longer than days. It disrupts daily activities and may result in physical symptoms including discomfort, weight gain or loss, irregular sleeping patterns, or a lack of vitality.

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 264 million people are affected by depression, making it the biggest cause of disorder globally. Psychologists polled for the 2020 APA study claim that more people have come out to ask for professional advice and assistance over the course of the pandemic. Even while being acknowledged by many, this disorder is still stigmatized highly and is often misunderstood for being lazy or inactive in certain activities.

The myths associated with depression are also something to look out for. “It’s unimportant,” “simply snap out of it,” sadness just affects women, “talking or thinking about the same would only make the problem worse,” and “all emotions related with sad circumstances are part of being depressed.” Just as we see there are lot of misconceptions and misleading facts about the same. People need to do a lot of study and understand the topic of concern before labeling something on themselves and each other.

Regardless of age, gender, or social situation, anyone can develop depression. Several aspects, including as heredity, trauma, persistent stress, and drug usage, might also be involved. The symptoms associated with it could be mixed feelings of sadness, hopelessness, worthiness, and the difficulty to perform everyday activities, lose of interest in activities once enjoyed, changes in appetite and sleep pattern, and thoughts in suicide.

The first step towards any healing is to ask for help, and then proceeding towards taking on the treatments, like therapy, medication, and lifestyle changes from exercises, healthy eating habits to stress reduction techniques. It is also advised to seek professional help.

Substance Abuse Affects All Aspects Of Your Life

Marijuana, cocaine, LSD, sedatives, opioids, heroin, and nicotine vaping—the increased use of these substances is seen to be on the rise. A continuous and addictive pattern of using dangerous substances for mood-altering objectives is known as substance abuse. The repeated usage of harmful substances without the prescription or advice of an educated person could eventually show significant health-related failures; the person could fail to meet responsibilities regarding their physical, mental, social, and emotional well-being.

Picture : Exis Recovery

The addiction to alcohol and drug intake could lead the person to develop mental health related issues and later put the individual at risk of suicidal ideations. Some immediate behavioural changes include recklessness, violence, and aggression. Long-term users may exhibit withdrawal from commitments and the public, isolation, depression, deteriorating behavior, weight loss, and decreased appetites. The following are some facts about substance abuse and suicidal ideation:

  • Heavy drinkers are five times more likely to die by suicide than casual social drinkers.
  • 1 in 5 suicides involves someone who was intoxicated at the time.
  • Several suicides involve the use of drugs like marijuana, cocaine, or amphetamines.

According to a few studies, the frontal lobe does not fully develop until a person is in their mid-20s, which explains why young individuals have a propensity for making rash decisions on drug and alcohol intake. Other factors for the development of addiction in young adults could be associated with the curiosity that comes with age, social media toxicity, the need for adventure, experimentation, and peer pressure.

Cocaine, or the coca alkaloid obtained from the plant Erythroxylum coca, commonly known as coke or crack, acts as a neurotransmitter dopamine. It produces a stimulating effect in the human brain, which, as a result, gives out a sense of euphoria and increased energy for the users. The excessive intake of the same could cause hallucinogenic thoughts and effects in the individual. The certain effects of euphoria and a temporary feeling of happiness after the intake of the drug are what lead an individual down the road of addiction.

The first step towards prevention and control in substance abuse-related situations is to identify them. Identify, and look out for one another. Observe and communicate with the individual. The next step is to educate yourself and seek help. A number of organisations are putting in a great effort to support and help individuals struggling with addictions seek out professional and medical help. Creating awareness and providing support could also be used as measures.

Social Media’s Impact On Human Mind

Social media is a curated virtual platform that helps people connect and network with each other across the world. But what kind of influence and pressure do these platforms put on individuals? How does this influence an individual’s mental health?

It is seen that the constant use of social media platforms often leads individuals to experience feelings of inadequacy, dissatisfaction, isolation, and loneliness. These emotions could worsen into states of depression, anxiety, and stress. Anxiety is the mental health concern most associated with social media. The major concerns associated with social media-related anxiety are the feeling of missing out on popular topics, and social interactions, and the negative comments associated with them. The desire for acceptance and validation from peer groups, along with the constant comparison, contributes to the development of anxiety-related concerns.

The heavy use of social media can also impact the cognitive functioning of the human brain. It shortens the attention span and makes the individual less receptive to distractions. It may also influence and shape a person’s behavior and personality based on interactions and usage on these platforms.

A research study published in September by the American Economic Review found a link between the Facebook app and anxiety and depression-related health concerns. The research was supported by survey data collected from college students across campuses in the U.S. The study was useful in demonstrating that the more time a person spends on an online platform, the more unhappy he tends to become.

Celebrities, models, and other personalities have also addressed the public in general to spread awareness about the negative effects of social media. The pop star Selena Gomez has launched an online platform to help and educate people about mental health. “I really, really want people to be understood, seen, and heard. It’s okay to not be okay,” she shared during one of her conversations. Kendal Jenner, during one of her interviews with Vogue for the series Open Minded, shared her experience with social media. “I find that the more I’m looking at the screen, the more detached I feel from my own body or from what’s happening right in front of me.” “My relationship with social media is a bit addictive right now, which I don’t like, and I’m not proud to say that, but I also feel like that’s something that probably most of us can relate to.”

Limiting your personal exposure to social media in a planned manner can be beneficial if it makes you feel more worried. Giving oneself a specific amount of time to spend on social media or allowing oneself a period of time at the end of the day to do so are two other examples that could be used to lessen the effects of social media.

Youth Seek Justice for Students Across the Nation

During the film festival, ‘Aane Matthu Iruve: Story of a Republic Day,’ organized by the Bangalore Film Society in collaboration with Pedestrian Pictures, Rushes Film Club – St Joseph’s University, and Gamana Women’s Collective, a panel discussion was held on the theme, ‘Youth’ on 20th October in the context of the short film ‘A Night of Knowing Nothing.’

The panel discussions revolved around the theme, ‘Current state of students in our country’ in the context of attacks against students at the Jawaharlal Nehru University and Jamia Millia University in New Delhi, and voicing support for students’ rights and the responsibility of the state towards students.

The panel was moderated by Aravind Nair, and panel members consisted of Shalom Gauri, a writer, Ashwini Bodhi, Youth Mentor, Devashree Nath, Filmmaker and Manu.

Panel member, Shalom Gauri said, “The revolution of activism that we saw in 2015, 2016, and the years followed have transformed students and the campuses in the year 2022. For the long term impact of these events, there is a need for long-term perspectives.”

“Activism is something that I found myself protesting on the street for the rights,” Ashwini Bodhi said. “The film ‘A Night of Knowing Nothing’ is a perfect composition of love and art, articulated together with the concept of humanity.”

Filmmaker Devashree Nath shared her experiences with the protest. “The protest began with a spark, but later on, it went totally out of control and left us helpless.” In the context of the protest being held, she raised a question about the impact of protests on one’s family and loved ones, “What about their family, parents, and loved ones back at home? What they are put to suffer should also be considered.”

The event ‘Aane Matthu Iruve: Story Of A Republic,’ which means, “The Elephant and The Ant: Story Of A Republic” Film Festival was organized from 19th-21st of October by the Bangalore Film Society in the capital city of the state of Karnataka.

Protesters Rally for Justice to Bilkis, Justice from Lawlessness

A protest rally was held against the release of the 11 rape convicts in the Bilkis Bano case from life sentence at the Freedom Park, Bengaluru on 27th August, 2022.

The culprits were sentenced to life imprisonment after the Courts found them guilty of gang-raping Bilkis Bano, a young mother at the time, during the communal riots that had killed thousands of innocent people across the Indian state of Gujarat. The 11 men were also held responsible for killing her six-year-old daughter, reportedly “smashing” the girl to the ground, and hacking to death several members of Bano’s family.

The 11 persons convicted in the 2002 Bilkis Bano rape case walked out of the Godhra sub-jail under the Gujarat government’s remission policy. According to reports, senior state officials told news agencies that they were considered for release from life imprisonment as the convicts had completed 14 years in prison, which is the term given for a life sentence.

Similar protests were held across the state of Karnataka with the objective of raising awareness and seeking justice to the victims. Protesters used posters, Placards, and banners stating “Justice for Bilkis,” “Karnataka stands with Bilkis.” The rallyists also raised slogans, such as “Justice from rape: Justice from lawlessness” expressing their condemnation of setting free the convicted rapists and murderers.

A student protester from St Joseph’s University, Bangalore, Riya said, “There’s no gender or caste or religion for rapists or for someone getting raped. Political support being given to these rapists are illegal.”

K S Vimala, a member of the All India Democratic Women’s Association, (AIDWA) expressed her opposition to the government for letting these convicts go free by asking, “Why are the rapists welcomed back as war heroes” Why is the government releasing them from prison?”

The protesters raised their concerns about the safety and well-being of women in society, where rapists are treated as celebrities and declared innocent.

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