Thursday, 30 July 2020

Things Indians need to worry about apart from Corona Virus

Apart from the current Covid-19 epidemic, we need to worry about a lot of things in our country. These issues generally don't receive the worry it deserves:

1. The Privileged Indian Man-

        Our patriarchial society has improved a lot but its still patriarchial. Its a well known thing among women across the world that Indian men are probably the most stubborn, hopeless bunch of males you can ever find. They are sweet but the constant pamper throughout their childhood makes them difficult to adapt to a truly equal society. They wont keep their socks properly, they wont remember where stuff is, wont be able to clean and do common household chores. They largely innocently expect their partner to do so as they have no practice.

The psychological pressure towards females in a patriarchy rooted society is terrible. You will still find discussions around whether females should be "allowed" to "work" after marriage. Even if they do "allow", mother-in-laws do not get excited at their bahu's promotion as much they get excited about she making a really good halwa. Being a ghar jamaai is still a taboo.  Men do not receive any training in cooking unless they are forced to do so to survive alone.

A lot of working women are naturally expected to take care of home and the baby. A woman in remote urban area does not work 9-5. Her day starts at 7, she feeds the child and prepare them for school, makes breakfast, packs lunch for the couple, rushes to office, face casual sexism, unwarranted romantic advances, has to work extra hard to convince her colleagues she is atleast half of what she is really capable of, rushes back to home, check kids homework, prepares dinner, has to serve her body to her husband at night on bed and then finally sleep for like 5 hours. When these women were asked what do their husbands do when they come back from office, "Well, they watch TV", they said. This needs to stop. The unfair expectations need to stop.


What we shouldn't worry about however: The matriarchial "feminists". People who demand women empowerment but desire special treatment. More than required reservations, calling it "free choice" for literally anything women does. 

Note: If a man is cooking food in kitchen, he is not "helping" his wife, he is just cooking food in the kitchen.

Also Note (in reference to free metro rides for all women in Delhi):



We need to fight the sexism together both directed towards males, females and all other genders alike.

2. Still not being comfortable with LGBT-

How many LGBT personalities do you know personally? Are they around you but uncomfortable to say it even after it has become legal? We are still offended by being called as gay in jokes. We are as much homophobic to them in real life as people were 50 years back, just now we love to show off rainbow dps on Facebook without understanding the actual cause but make us have a conversation with a real person and see how panicked and awkard will we sound. Just close your eyes and imagine this, if you find one such person in your class, office , how will you react, how will you converse with them, how will you deal with the situation if they harmlessly flirt with you maybe? How would you approach your friendship? Think about it, its a good start for all of us.

I recently watched an absolutely brilliant movie - Philadelphia. Its a story about a homosexual lawyer working for a firm who gets infected with HIV virus which develops into AIDS. He obviously hides both of the facts from his employers(the movie is from 1993). But soon, the employers come to know about it and fire him out of irrational fear of infection despite him being an excellent lawyer. When he tries to seek legal help from other lawyers, nobody picks his case out of their own fears but a black homophobic lawyer upon seeing him being discriminated in a library gets reminded about racial discrimination he himself faced earlier, decides to help him and eventually overcomes his own homophobia. Its a very beautiful movie about human relationships, our prejudices, our emotions and the tragedy of fate of life.

 What we shouldn't worry about however: Stupid teenagers on Tinder calling themselves bisexuals because it sounds cool and rebellious but are still virgin yet.

Note: 

Also Note:



3. Social Media addiction-

 I wrote an entire article on the subject. According to a research, an average Indian spends about 2.4 hours everyday on social media. Its a hell lot of time. The addictive behavioural patterns of social media usage have crossed crazy levels long back and its increasing generation by generation. The coming generations, I fear will be more impatient, will have more dopamine tolerance levels(need pleasure activities always) and add to the increasing competitive pressure of surviving in the world where "easy" jobs are already being lost to machines. More and more people are suffering from depressive hedonia, it has heavy links to depressions and all other kinds of mental illnesses. We distract ourselves through our phones instead of facing our lives and do what's necessary, aren't we?

Note: Recall this, how many times whenever you were thinking about some challenging situation, you checked your phone? How many times instead of thinking about your real problem, you just postponed it for the moment and scrolled your feed? Probably a plenty times and worst almost always. Another big problem is, reduced ability to interact in real life. Well, online you have your control. You can choose to text later after coming with a clever reply. You can choose not to respond. You do not have to face the other person and deal with well, 

4. Whatsapp Rumors-

  Well, its true that Facebook and Whatsapp have taken many steps to reduce spread of baseless rumors especially inciting violence and rage, but they still popup again and again through obnoxious ways. The nationalist people have their own agenda, Pandeyji is still very much convinced that every Muslim in India is either involved in Jihad or Love Jihad, Modiji was sent from heaven and was only born to one day become PM of India, Statue of Unity has eyes fitted with high range cameras so that we can monitor Pakistan and on and on.

They might seem harmless but look how polarised our current debates have become. Look how the tables turn when anything even remotely related to nation's interests is come to a discussion, it leads to you being a patriot or an anti-nationalist. I am a firm believer that online groups and content play a huge role in this - yes people already have these ugly sentiments inside them but they are largely aggravated on from these "influencers" on Youtube and Whatsapp.
  

Note: I just received a whatsapp forward that Corona Virus can be transferred through internet also so please sanitise your hands before moving onto my other blog posts, I dont want any risks okay?

Also Note: Stop watching videos who pick up on your rage(not necessarily religion) and presents angst and temper as "content". Now.


Thats't it folks, have a nice day!

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Friday, 6 March 2020

ADOBE Interview Experience - Software Quality Engineer

Adobe Systems, Noida had an opening for Software Quality Engineer for their Acrobat team. I was contacted by their HR through Linkedin and booked an interview slot.

Office: Needless to say it was vast, spacious and with tight security. The interview process was back to back technical rounds which were eliminatory. Here are the questions asked during the 5 face to face rounds (as I recall them) -


Data Structures

  • Binary Tree- only basics what is BST
  • Preorder, post order traversal - logic
Reverse problems (I solved using stacks and loops both) -
  • Reverse a string
  • Reverse an array
  • Reverse a Linkedlist
  • Reverse Circular Linked List (after implementing your own complete linked list).
  • Word by word reverse of string (My name is Shivam -> Shivam is name My)
More Data Structures-
  • Implement queue using Stack
  • Implement queue using Array
  • Implement queue using Linked list
  • Detect a loop in a linked list
  • How to remove the detected loop in linked list (for odd and even number of nodes)
Write a program for-

  • Produces output as abbreviation of the first name (or second name if present) with last name as it is.
Anil Kumar Pandey ->Pandey AK
Anil Pandey ->Pandey A
Pandey ->Pandey

  • input array {-2,2,3,4,5,-3,-3}
output - frequency of each integer irrespective of sign
-2 = 2
2 = 2
3 = 3
4 = 1
5 = 1
-3 = 3

(Simply create the frequencyMap of modulus of number)

  • Program to rotate array towards right by any integer input N (an efficient way to do that is via reversal technique).

Algorithms-

  • Discussion about searching algorithms for array. Time complexity for each
Write code for Binary Search
Suppose if array is rotated right towards any integer N, now try to apply binary search to it.
I answered using simply comparing the difference between adjacent elements, whenever the difference becomes negative, we know we have reached the highest number aka the pivot point and then try to apply binary search from there. Interview asked to optimise it further. (We can find the pivot point itself using binary search).
  • Find the first missing number in an array containing elements in sequence
           Example : [1,3,4,5] . missing number is 2
Me: using sum of AP (n*(n+1)/2) and subtracting it with sum of array. The difference will be the missing number.
Interviewer: Now if not just one number is missing, any amount of number can be missing, you have to find the first missing number. I wrote somewhat working code.
Interviewer: Now suppose if the lowest number is not 1, it can start by anything, now find the missing number in the progression

Testing-

  • Test cases for login functionality:
Me: Symbols, alphanumeric, emojis, html, js, sql injection, too long characters, valid but not registered username. Directly loading homepage without login - should redirect to login page, If two tabs are logged in and in any tab user logs out , another tab should automatically log out upon refresh or auto refresh using some cookie based mechanism.
Performance - checking time taken by API
Load - If too many users then checking time

  • Prepare automation design for data driven testing for above login application
  • Prepare automation design for other testing types for above login application
  Me: Selenium, TestNG based framework, Tools like Applitools for visual validation, Jmeter tool for performance

Functionality Case Study-

  Premise 1: There is a web based calculator functionality with client and server architecture

  • Prepare end to end test plan for the above functionality.
Me: ALL negative scenarios for arithmetic operations, single digit numbers, multiple digit numbers, playing with decimals. Check input with both keyboard and mouse -> counter questions:


I : What should be the expected if user enters text from keyboard?
Me: Nothing should be displayed.
I: Suppose you are displaying the input on screen, how will you ensure as a developer if wrong input is entered from keyboard, it should not be displayed on screen?
Me: Basic JS code to detect invalid input and NOT set attribute of value of the corresponding DOM. We can go on to even disallowing the user to interact through keyboard altogether like in banking apps where they only allow virtual keyboard and not keyboard.
I : What advantage does virtual keyboard offer?
Me: To prevent hacker reading sensitive information.
I: What could be the way that hacker can read the info typed in keyboard? Can you imagine how this might be done.
Me: basic idea like a malware can be installed which keep tracks of all keyboard inputs via reading from some stream blah blah
I: Good do you think this hold any value in calculator application?
Me: No, keyboard can be allowed !.. Some more test cases on performance, etc
How to test the above functionality for different platforms?
GET vs POST? As a developer will you use GET with url params or POST request for developing above functionality? What is the advantage of each?

  Premise 2: Whatsapp functionality - Register Screen -> Contacts Screen -> Chat Screen

  • Entire end to end test plan for whatsapp functionality
    Functional Scenarios for Contacts screen - what if two contacts have same number, what if same contact has multiple numbers and one or both of them are on whatsapp, what if contact is not on whatsapp, name in the contact vs name registered in whatsapp by the contact, profile pic, etc
    Chat screen - history, scroll , order of messages, symbols, emojis, images, etc.
  • Basic test plan design structure. UI testing with wireframes, Cross platform testing, Entry criteria, Exit criteria. ALL invalid values - symbols, emojis, html, etc

Premise 3: Acrobat functionality of merging multiple files into one pdf

  • Test Cases
Me: Functional, performance test cases. Virus file, corrupted file, files with images, videos, drawings and any media. Files with content in multiple languages, character sets, files with small and large sizes, two same files, invalid files, files in all MS office versions, etc.


Testing and Automation-

  • If a app crashing on one device and not on another device for a functionality, what could be the reasons?
Me : OS level restrictions, Custom Android implementation provider restrictions, incompatibility, problem with brand, model, memory, ram, network, other apps, storage, etc, Android version, etc

  • In selenium, Way to open a link in new tab and in new window - I answered Actions class with Keyboard shortcuts Ctrl+T, etc. She asked without using keyboard shortcuts.
  • Explain your framework? Few questions related to my framework design-
  • How are you handling test cases for each platform? How they are segregated?
  • How to split test cases evenly and unevenly between available devices?
  • How to ensure a particular test case does not run on same device as it was in previous execution.
Me: After setting threadCount to numberOfdevices etc.. Randomize the initializiation of map of devices getting picked from adb or
Instead trying to randomize devices map, randomize the test cases itself from TestNg and then distribute among fixed map of devices!!


  • Here lot of questions were asked related to the framework I designed. Much deep questions related to test synchronization and how would I handle intermittent failures, device failures, network failures so that test keeps running smoothly and device allocation does not hamper. There was a huge discussion around it for dependent test cases too, like how will you handle this if so and so happened.
  • In api automation, how are you dealing with skipped authentication from UI
  • What is regression, A/B testing, why we call it alpha beta testing, why not beta1 and beta2 testing?
Programming-

  • What all design patterns you know in JAVA. Explain each.
  • In api automation, how are you dealing with skipped authentication from UI
  • Explain all OOPS concepts one by one
  • Explain difference between class and object to someone who does not know anything about programming
  • Ways to achieve overloading - number of arguments, data type of arguments, order of arguments
  • Multiple inheritance in JAVA

Puzzles-

4 to 5 puzzles. All from geeksforgeeks. Do this, MUST for Adobe.

General-

Why switch to Adobe?
Why career in software?
Tell me about yourself - In ALL the 5 rounds ~ ~
Project discussion on image processing
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Saturday, 27 July 2019

Hurt people hurt people

Often at times I have come across people who were absolutely snobbish, rude and intentionally hurtful to me and others. They constantly survive on ego-trip and just don't understand the idea of living together in peace and harmony. They always want to disturb someone or being outright rude. I cannot help but wonder why? What really drives this behaviour for them? Are they really like that naturally or is there something else which shaped them like this? Lets ponder on this today.

I am a believer of the title of this article, Hurt people do hurt people. We have long known all kinds of psychopathic murderers and criminals having gone through abusive childhood. Victims of domestic violence have a skewed perception of love. People having a bad day at office usually act rude at home. It may not be the only reason but we may have some form of an answer here. I will break this into few easy to understand points -

1) They are in pity and are suffering so they make others suffer so that they are not alone in their pity and suffering-
   They feel miserable if they see people having a good time in their lives. I mean they are having it so hard on them, how dare others can have happiness so easily?

2) It acts as a shield to their miserable personality-
     They can't give you love, even if you give them. They can't give you anything fruitful or interesting enough so their rudeness is a shield, they can't let you close as they have nothing valuable to offer so they keep you at bay by being rude - by making sure you don't come close.

3) Inability to act tenderly
      Its not that they could be anything they wanted and they chose to be rude. It's the only thing they can be. This largely again is influenced by how much love they themselves received in life. Emotions are best expressed when you practice exhibiting them all throughout your life. The more you laugh, the better you become at laughing, the more you cry the more deely you cry(and thereby cleansing your heart). Since there was nobody to show love and tenderness to, their hearts have forgotten to show them. They have simply become incapable of showing it. I absolutely love this dialogue from movie: Dear Zindagi.. It perfectly captures what I feel -



We desperately need a happiness revolution on Earth. In this mad race we have forgotten about caring for each other. We have forgotten that loving each other is the single best thing we can have on this life. We have forgotten that all we ever have here is each other. Happy people create a better home. Better homes create a better surroundings and so on. It's contagious. This needs to be a thing. I request all of you to go and spread your smile, you never know what's going on in their lives and your affection and care can change their day and eventually their lives.

See you!

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Sunday, 30 June 2019

Why Spiderman is my favorite superhero

There are only a handful number of people in my life who knows that for a very very long time Spiderman has been my favorite superhero of all. The prime reason for that is just how relatable Peter Parker is. The typical shy nerdy guy who has all of his efforts almost neglected, has girl problems, has money problems, is bullied at school, overburdened with responsibility - All of this and still he is good at heart - very admirable personality. In this post I will catalogue all the things about him which I have noticed in his films which makes him my favorite hero out there.

1) He is highly intelligent-

    In every movie, he is shown as the high school genius, probably the best in his town. At a very young age, he has a knack at science being geeky and does really amazing things -

                                        

As time and again he has revealed that science is his true passion and that it always drives him forward. Apart from that, strategic planning wise, he is really cool too. He does not have an iron armor or impenetrable skin so he has to dodge bullets, heavy attacks from his enemies and always have to think up couple of moves ahead to beat them up. That is probably shown the best in Tom Holland's movies where he uses movie references to beat bad guys up.

In a nutshell, he performs really well at school, has a high IQ and a great passion for science.



2) He is a loser-

  This one is quite obvious. A typical nerdy guy with low social skills, cannot pay his rent, everybody bullies him, makes fun of him and is constantly reminded of that he ain't worth nothing. Frankly speaking it requires an iron heart just to go through life while facing just this but our kickass spiderman faces this and much much more and still inspires a lot of us.



3) Willpower -

     He barely manages to juggle between his already pathetic personal life where he runs late for everything, cant confess to his love of life, - and the superhero life which leaves him exhausted but he still gets up every morning doing basically the same thing over and over. He watches his alter-ego Spiderman being constantly traduced by the very newspaper he works in. He cannot let anybody come close to him because of the danger of what will happen once his identity is revealed despite of wanting to have a life with them. I mean man, he has god level willpower.


4) His relationship with Gwen Stacy-

    Okay, this is a big one. This HUGE story arc is portrayed in the Amazing Spiderman series. Here's the thing. He is really into Gwen but owing to his awkward and introvert nature is unable to talk to her. Through luck though he finally gets to date her but guess what her father is a policeman who hates Spiderman. Add to that, when he finally knows about Peter, he asks him to promise that he will stay away from his daughter because the sheer danger Peter brings with him to his near ones. DESPITE all the struggles he went through to make her his girlfriend, he KEEPS the promise even though Gwen desperately wants to be with him (since she also knows that he is spiderman) and stays away from her.

That really shows his character- of how much caring and ethical he is. But here comes the tragedy, After some time Gwen manages to convince him back to her life only ultimately leading to her father's predictions coming true. She gets kidnapped and gets KILLED in front of Spiderman. This was ultimately Peter's responsibility. Imagine this, first because of him his dear uncle died (killed by the thief Spiderman let go once) and now Gwen dies too because of him. Obviously, he gets shattered and quits being Spiderman. He is emotionally destroyed.

                             

 BUT all it takes is one recorded speech about hope from her for him to come back to business because ultimately he has a responsibility to fullfill. In comics, he was able to fully recover once MJ comes into his life (The comic book MJ is this happy go jolly extroverted girl who secretly knew all along that Peter was Spiderman and was interested in him since even before Peter was with Gwen).

5) He sacrifices his personal life for his duty-

Time and again, Peter faces hard choices whether to go on a date with his love interest or to saving a mob. And he always chooses the latter, every single time. Yes there were times when he was just fed up with his role and wanted a simple life (Far from home) yet ultimately he returned to his job sacrificing all of it. Though at this point, it can be argued that this trait is not unique to Spiderman alone and many other superheroes does that. Take for instance, Batman. He, instead of enjoying pleasures of a billionaire chooses to correct whats wrong in his city. BUT there is one major difference between Batman and Spiderman. It is that Batman is highly obsessive about his role as a caped crusader. He desperately wants  to be Batman and not some complaisant or a player or something. He begs for monitor duty during Christmas vacations in Justice League (animation), he never uses his money much on himself, he risks his life again and again without thinking even for a split second simply because he has made fighting crimes his ultimate life goal(I also relate heavily with this particular trait of Batman. There are things in my life I go all out working towards it without caring about myself. I will talk about them later).

THAT, is not the case with Spiderman however. He is just a teenager. He have his desires, attractions. He wants to enjoy his life, he wants to come in spotlight but he cannot and he chooses that way himself and constantly let go of his personal life for his duty because -

                           
Image result for with great power comes great responsibility
You obviously know the quote here, right?

6) He is just a teenager-

Isnt't it amazing... such maturity, such sense of justice, such willingness to stick to his responsibility when his heart is dangling somewhere else, such genuine care for others, such ability to pick himself despite going through serious tragedies in life - all of this while being just a teenager. That's one of the single best reason why young audiences love him so much and are able to relate with him. Also he gets to fight some really evil villains. Take Green Goblin, Kingpin, Venom. They are pretty dark characters- too much for a teenager.

In fact, it is just ironical that a dull loser guy like Peter Parker gets to embark such twisty roller coaster of a life. It is a triumphant feel that connects with many millenials who are not able to do much in their lives as a representative analogous to, "Ohh well take THAT!" He is not a loser after all, his fucked up life actually adds to his greatness and we are nothing but truly happy that such an average joe like Peter gets to do this-




7) His sense of humor-

  He cracks up really funny jokes many times! Against his introverted weak aura, whenever he is in the Spiderman suit he becomes this self-confident funny cool guy who everyone loves to hang out with. He lets out this side of his personality while wearing the suit which is actually amazing.


So that's the end of it! Things which makes Spiderman someone I truly look upto and admire. As a final give away I have collected some really cool Spiderman wallpapers which I am going to share here - (Guess which one is mine currently :)) Enjoy!

Wallpapers link


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Thursday, 20 June 2019

Philosophers I love- Lao Tzu

You cannot discuss Chinese literature without discussing Lao Tzu. A great philosopher and founder of Taoism, one of the important tradition in eastern spirituality. Believed to be have lived in around 4th century, his words of wisdom are still relatable and applicable, so enjoy his quotes!

Explaining the meaning of love when there was no romantic movies -


He was a spiritual leader after all -


Motivational -


Well that's deep -


Patience -

                              

"Log kya sochenge" -

                                   

True and deep -

                                    

Ready to live?

                                 







Happy Weekend!


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Sunday, 5 May 2019

Yoga can change your life


Millions of people have joined the Yoga revolution since last few years. Hundreds of scientific results have been published all acknowledging the tremendous impact yoga and meditation can have on our life. It has become the new "healthy practice" popular enough to make you feel guilty if you aren't doing it.
Though, good health is just one of the benefits of Yoga, it was developed as a means to achieve something much more - To free ourselves from our compulsive nature of our mind and finally be peace with existence - just as it is and in the process, health improvement is just a fancy byproduct.

The philosophy of meditation is simple. If you realize who you truly are, you will be happy and satisfied because there is nothing more important in life than that. Meaningless desires disappear, ego disappears because you now see yourself as something much more than them. You become more in tune with existence, to the extent that your personality which comprises of ego, perceptions, prejudices, negative mindset just disappears. You become this independent mind free from any conditioning and ever-fresh!

Okay wait, how is that possible? For that lets observe this quote -

The more I am involved in doing something, the more I realize I am not the doer.

Remember the times you were so engrossed in working on a project, that you forgot where are you sitting, whether you ate or not or how much time has passed. You enter in a all-together different zone of single-pointed focus and your mind gets fully engrossed. You may have observed in this state, ideas just flow naturally. You automatically know what to do and  your hands just move in that direction, a lot of EUREKA moments happening without any conscious tail of thoughts as if in a leap. A lot of sportsmen and  artists have experienced this, scientifically this state is called flow or zone. I have talked about this earlier in my blog posts as well for example when I experience this while playing  basketball, coding, etc.

The point though is, people do realize in this hyper conscious state that a LOT of thinking process is actually happening automatically. You have no control over it. Mind creates an illusion that you are the one carrying out all the process but you really are not and we live in this illusion all the time except for those tiny little moments of zone or flow when we actually come to experience the reality. Meditation lets you see just that. You allow yourself to calm down and not interfere with anything what mind is doing. With some practice, you will see all your jumbled up memories, thoughts, fears simply popups up without your permissions and float around. We know this ofcourse by books but after experiencing it live, we finally learn how to control it.

When you realize you are not the one doing most of the things you think you are doing, you are automatically freed from the worry of doing it right. It might come as a setback to the ego but honey you are in this world to do lot more meaningful stuff instead of day-dreaming whole day!

The stress levels increase when we can't accept what is happening and instead desire to make things happen the way we want it. Stress is either worrying about something you can't control of or it is worrying but doing nothing useful as in order to sort that problem. Stress inside body is a safety mechanism to tackle with life and death problems. Imagine you are sitting inside a cave and you hear the voice of a lion. You get afraid, you get stressed, butterflies in your stomach. That's your body signalling to do something about it. So you run. In the present world though, we don't have survival stress very often but body does not know how to react differently to survival stress or emotional stress. It basically lifts up your energy levels preparing you to run. That's why mental capacity becomes decreased and you are unable to concentrate or are easily irritated. That is why it is great to exercise while feeling stressed because it acts as an outlet for the extra energy.

A much bigger problem though is that many people today have become addicted to stress. You don't need to tell them what's wrong. They will see what is there and will automatically find out what's wrong and then stress about it. Yoga/Meditation allows you to observe these mind patterns and to have an ability to control it. Also since you now know you are not the doer again you are freed of most of the stress you feed yourself.

Since meditation improves employee producitivity , corporates are also picking up the trend and actively promoting it. Lot of companies have in house Yoga sessions, instructors and a conducive environment. More and more doctors are recommending Yoga/Meditation for all kinds of diseases. Lot of artists, sports person meditate in order to increase focus. It is also extremely useful for students to beat their exam fear and to increase concentration. 


For full read of all the benefits, kindly go through this amazing compilation.

This life-transforming quality of meditation is not all that mysterious – just imagine how your life would change if you spend 45 minutes a day in the greatest relaxation you have ever known, resting more deeply than sleep, giving your body, nervous system, and brain a chance to tune for action.

So when are you going to start including Yoga in your life?
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Tuesday, 25 December 2018

Social Media addiction

While addiction is more of an exaggerated term, but seeing the current generation's excessive and almost obsessive use of their mobile phones, there is clearly no sign that we should use a word any less severe. Its pretty much clear, the behavior is outright compulsive. You are working on an important project which you need to complete today but every 5 minutes you keep checking your phone. You are learning a new skill and you know you need to be focused on it but your mind again takes you to your phone after some time for you to mindlessly scroll to the facebook or instagram feeds.

Why do we that? What are we gaining from it? Or are we really gaining anything?

research suggests that talking about yourself on social media fires up the same pleasure centers as of eating and sex. Think about it again, these two are the things we most likely go back to again and again, and better the experience of them, the more we want it. So, instead of feeling completely satisfied by it, we only feel a temporary amount of pleasure which gets depleted quickly and then we again need a recharge ;)

While sharing personal stuff about yourself feels good, its not the only thing we do on social media. In fact, the majority of the people actually do the opposite. They mindlessly scroll through the feed, checking in photos of others, stalking someone they like, etc. These activities also fire up pleasure centres in our brain which can be addictive or at least is a major distraction. It also plays on our evolutionary need of interpersonal information.

Come on, lets be honest. We know that we should use our phones less, We know that it is stupid to keep checking our phones for new notifications, We know that mindlessly scrolling through the FB, Insta feed is highly unproductive but still almost all the time, we can't help it. Its become a habit we can't get rid of. What, a brilliant work of technology should be an enabler to mankind for better prosperity has limited us to dungeons of our little gadget with blue screens.

Psychological damage of such an increased use of smart phones is not something we can ignore. It is decreasing our attention span. Smartphones increasingly serve us (mostly) mindless rapid pace content which can constantly be changed/switched to one another at one click without waiting for even a second.
Prolonged habit of such use has resulted in massive reduction of our ability to focus and the attention span. There have been enough research which proves exactly that. Our ability to switch from one task to another maybe increasing because of the increase in number of "distraction apps" but it increasingly harms our brain to lead a focused contempt life.

A much bigger problem is that, it can lead to increased anxiety. Simon Hayek in his talk "Millenials in the workplace" notes that in today's life, everything is easily available. You want something? You can order it online in your convenience and you have an option to get it within 2 days. You need advice? you Google. You want romance? You go to dating apps.  You need food? Why cook when you can order it online with 50% discount!

And it all happens with a click. This ability is picked up by our brain and as brainless our brains truly are, it applies the same habit to other deep meaningful areas like being truly passionate about your work and be successful at it, forming deep touching relation with someone and hence it is unable to bear the fact that all of this doesn't happen with a click. That's why you are delaying all of this. Because you cannot accept the fact that it's gonna require a hell lot of an effort. And whenever we are forced to face this, we feel anxious. We are not used to this.

Mark Fisher in his work, Capitalist Realism uses a phrase - "depressive hedonia" for habitual use of pleasure devices. While depression is normally associated with lack of ability to feel pleasure, depressive hedonia is state where one cannot feel anything apart from pleasure. One needs a quick easy rush of that small dopamine hit and feels really uncomfortable when not provided one. Always.

A lot of youngsters use it to distract from their personal problems. Recall this, how many times whenever you were thinking about some challenging situation, you checked your phone? How many times instead of thinking about your real problem, you just postponed it for the moment and scrolled your feed? Probably a plenty times and worst almost always. Another big problem is, reduced ability to interact in real life. Well, online you have your control. You can choose to text later after coming with a clever reply. You can choose not to respond. You do not have to face the other person and deal with well, emotions. You do ofcourse have a choice over what communication channel to use but real life conversations are far more meaningful, satisfying and are more likely to have pleasant memories. Think about your close friends, you remember the amazing time you spent together or do you remember the texts you shared?

Another problem - Smartphones are not letting us be completely absorbed in the moment. A study showed a shocking percentage of people checking their phones during sex. Thats a whole different meaning we are giving to the term "phone sex". The stat is gullible. We definitely, almost always check our mobile phones during important occasions and events where we are supposed to be completely absorbed in. 

Social media companies are investing heavily on research learning how to keep you (away from what you should really be doing) hooked to their apps, so that they can capture your data and attention to show you ads. They don't want you to actually go out and meet that one special friend but they want you to like photos of them instead. Do you know that studies have shown that people read only about 19 minutes a day on average and most people spend only about 17 minutes in sports or exercise each day? It is unacceptable to see people spending more time on Facebook than they do on exercise and reading for improvement.

Signs of addictive behavior are simple.. Do you check your phone immediately after you wake up? Do you use it to distract your self from your important work you don't want to do right now even if it is important? Do you check for new notifications even when there was no buzz? Do you feel anxiety when its not near you? What should be the used for better access to outside world has actually cut you off from it.

Ways to combat our addiction is first the acceptance of it. "The first step in solving a problem is to recognize there is one". Lets do one thing honestly. Lets be away from our phones for 2 full days (If it looks like daunting to you, you need to do it immediately). You will notice a big good change in your mental state which will include more calmness, more focus and better energy. Just 2 days can bring a good enough change to bring more awareness in our lives on what we are losing out. 

Now, obviously I don't intend to bash social media usage completely. But we need change. For better. And we are starting to see it. For example this restaurant started giving discounts to those who sit without their phones and spend time with their family. The opposite of such an addictive and damaging use of something so commonly available and potentially fruitful though cannot be complete shunning it down. It is, the responsible use of it. We have already seen this in gambling industry where betting sites set an upper limit to the amount you can bet on. This enables the person to enjoy his game as well not being ruined completely. We need similar business strategies for social media usage as well like there are several apps which monitor your smartphone use time. Efforts like this should be spread and rewarded.

So....Are you addicted to your phone? If so, what are you doing about it?
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