As someone who spends a lot of time on the internet, I know a lot of crap about a lot of things that don’t matter. As a student, I know a lot of crap about a lot of things that do matter. I just hope my brain knows the difference.
I had a theory earlier that you eat more when you’re hungry for a long time. This one is sort of a parallel. Introverts elsewhere will know that we have a social tolerance level for every human interaction. It is defined as the amount of time you can spend talking to other people before you need to be alone and ‘recharge’. This tolerance level varies according to the humans you’re interacting with (it’s almost always longer with animals).
This need for recharge doesn’t necessarily come from being antisocial or boredom. You can be having an absolutely fabulous time with your friends and still have enough of it after a couple of hours.
This here is my Totally non-scientific Theory for this Tuesday: Your social tolerance level increases if you’ve been alone for a long time. Your batteries are just fully charged.
I love reading print books. I love smelling them. I love flipping the pages. I love how books that I’ve read a million times sort of lose their binding a little bit and flop open at my favourite pages.
I also love the compactness and versatility of eBooks. I travel a lot, and these make my travel time amazing.
Being alone in India is, I imagine, very different from living alone in the US or the UK. In a country of 1.2 billion people, you’re never really alone. You’re expected to talk to your neighbours, your colleagues, your parents and the family friends that live just three train stops away from you fairly regularly. Privacy comes second to family, and social constructs trump respect for boundaries.
I sound ungrateful. I’m really not. India’s social culture prevents a lot of mental health issues that plague Western societies. It is easier to meet people and make friends in India than anywhere else. On the flip side, this also means that mental health issues go unobserved and undiagnosed for a dangerously long time.
Loneliness is in the mind. It rarely depends on how many people you actually meet. You can be lonely in the middle of a crowd, and socially fulfilled completely alone. What matters most is whether you understand that you need help and whether you can get the help that you need.
I was privileged to be a part of a mental health study recently. As I was researching for the project, I realised that there is hardly any work done on mental health in India. There are no statistics. Young professionals cannot allow themselves to seek help, and students who approach their parents are mostly ridiculed, because people don’t think that mental problems exist.
This year has been assigned to combat depression by the WHO. For my part, I’ll be talking to as many people as I can to remove the stigma of approaching a professional. Being more social and talking to more people does not combat loneliness. Pushing it under the carpet does not cure depression.
The year 2016 has been a year of social and political upheaval. France saw the rise of the hard-hard left, Britain voted to leave the European Union, and the United States of America saw fit to elect an unqualified white man over an overqualified white woman as President. Words such as ‘post-truth’, ‘alternative facts’, ‘protectionism’ and ‘alt-right’ made an impact not only in America but in Brexit and across the world. ‘Politically correct’ is now something to look down upon, and all the rules are out the window.
It is important to remember that global social and political events affect us too. Donald Trump may not be your president, but right-wing parties in your city still see him as an inspiration. Your country may not have left the EU, but it still feels the ripples of separatism. When the most powerful man in the world talks about grabbing pussies with nonchalance, – and gets away with it- do you think it will go unnoticed by perverts in the streets?
2016 has proven that we were mistaken about our society. Elements that seemed to be non-existent had just been hidden from sight. For whatever reason, people prefer to trust their emotions over expert judgment while making national decisions. There are lessons to be learned here and actions that need to be taken.
Indians have the advantage of a less divisive government; more focused on economic development than any social agenda. Yet it is still a right-wing party, and people in positions of relative privilege have a moral obligation to think about- and act for- people without that privilege.
People don’t notice discrimination unless they lose by it. Start looking for it. Be informed; be considerate. Be aggressively nicer, because some battles are fought with non-indulgence. In a world ruled by divisive forces, unity is our only hope – regardless of your political views or lack thereof.
I have been a fan of Pearls Before Swine for my Saturdays for quite some time now. I still remain a fan. However, be prepared and primed for an avalanche of Owlturd for the next few Saturdays, because I’m a new fan.