When 'Social Distancing' takes on a different meaning…

COVID-19 cases are on the rise and a sense of fear and uncertainty lurks in the air. While Governments are calling for complete lock-down of cities, and ‘social distancing’ is becoming the new norm; the isolation proves to have more to offer to humanity than just prevention from an epidemic.

“Distance brings us closer”. Artwork by- Meghna Chakrabarti

On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization declared Novel Coronavirus aka COVID-19 as a pandemic. The news has had a rippling effect across countries and drastic actions ranging from quarantine to complete lockdown of cities have instilled a sense of uncertainty in the minds of many. The fear of being a transmitter of this disease has driven us behind locked doors of our houses and less trusting towards our fellow beings.

‘Social distancing’, a phrase being used frequently by doctors, media and even Governments, has been claimed to be the best chance we have to battle this epidemic. The idea of severing nearly all contact from mankind for days to follow probably seems next to impossible to a lot of us, added with isolating oneself in their homes is believed to be maddening. With headlines blaring words like-“affected”, “deaths” and “COVID-19” day in and day out, it can be deemed natural to feel overwhelmed and hopeless.

With all the chaos across the internet regarding this epidemic, rumors and facts alike, we have kind of muddled up the definition of ‘social distancing’. Yes, We are required to put distance between us physically, but it does not imply distancing ourselves from each other ‘socially’. We have come a long way in our advancements when it comes to communication, giving us Social Media as a platform to stay “connected”. Under present circumstances, social media isn’t playing the part of harboring ‘fake connectivity’, rather it is assuring mankind, time and again, that we are in this together. That we are not “Alone”.

It is true that with the changes we need to administer in our lives in a situation like this, especially self-isolating, could be difficult to adapt to initially. However, looking at the bright side of things, quarantine across the globe is proving to be an eye-opener for the citizens, an opportunity to self-reflect and observe. An opportunity to realize the damage done by humanity and its repercussions. It has allowed us to find new hobbies and kindle new passions that we were unaware of whilst we were running the race of life.

Despite the quarantine at workplaces, schools, and institutions, work keeps going. Many corporations have begun operating on a work from home basis. Schools have shifted their curriculum over online classes and institutions and on-ground services are adapting to methods involving minimum human contact to go about their regular schedule. WHO in collaboration with Global Citizen recently launched its campaign #TogetherAtHome with a series of artists performing online, with ‘no human contact’. This only shows that despite our demographic distances, we have the ability to stand in solidarity to look crisis in the eye.

The various means by which social media is finding its use in connecting people and preserving their mental state of being rings a reassuring bell in our ears, assuring us that our creations can bring about good changes in our community, given we know our limits and respect others’ as well.

So, as the days go by in quarantine, let us all do our part in staying healthy, preaching healthy and staying together.

The article and the cover image are the compositions of aspiring computer engineer Meghna Chakrabarti. Follow her stepping stones at Tumblr and Facebook. The view shared here are her own, and she is excited to hear your opinion . The blog was originally published on her personal Tumblr page on 22nd March,2020. Here, republished with permission.

Pink for girls, blue for boys- color coding the sexes

8th March, 2020 marks 108 years of International Women’s Day. It took a century for women to acquire equal rights as men in the society. A century later, women have the right to vote, education, work and dress themselves as they like. However, as progress has been made in regards to women’s status in society, does the same apply for their appearance?

The argument arises from a seemingly simple choice of color; pink or blue?

During our childhood, I am sure most of us had heard this statement,” pink is for girls and blue is for boys”. Obviously, it did not make sense in our young minds then, so most of us complied without giving it much thought. I was no exception. It was much later that I came to realize that this idea is one of the many stereotypes that segregates the sexes.

It is curious how something as impartial as color became a distinguishing factor between the sexes. But why only pink and blue from the vast color spectrum? Is there some biological theory behind it or is it a norm structured by culture and society?

Digging into history, this color-gender norm came into being only during the 20th century, probably becoming more prominent after World War 2. In fact, girls and boys were dressed in white and that too dresses till the previous century. With the emergence of pastels(pink and blue were widely used), children were adorned in colors other than white. The earliest reference to this color scheme appeared in a June 1918 edition of the Trade publication Earnshaw’s Infant’s Department:

The generally accepted rule is pink for boys and blue for girls. The reason is that pink, being a more decided and stronger color, is more suitable for the boy while blue which is more delicate and dainty, is prettier for the girl.

The idea stuck around for a couple of years, with some contemporary publications also emphasizing that colors should not be decided based on the baby’s gender, but based on eye and hair color.

Pretty smart!

However, over time the clothing manufacturers sought to reject this statement and promoted the idea “pink for girls, blue for boys”. The practice escalated after World war 2, as corporate marketers promoted color-based distinction between boys’ and girls’ clothing. The motivation? It prevents parents from handing down clothes between siblings of different sexes, hence increasing the profits for designers and manufacturers. As an explanation of this divide, manufacturers simply stated that girls liked pink while boys liked blue.

A turning point in the history of gender-color norms came during the Women’s liberation movement of the 1960s and 1970s which emphasized gender neutral clothing. In an upsurge of feminism, the fashion industry went through dramatic changes- from bloomers to bobbed hair to unisex wear to gender-neutral color.

But as we rolled into the 1980s, making money ruled over all existing perspectives at the time and marketing teams managed to flip the paradigm yet again.

Moving into the 21st Century, color preferences take an interesting turn. The youth of the present day provides us with a mixed opinion when asked about their favorite color. A recent study indicates vast majority prefer blue to pink and that pink is actually one of adult world’s least favorite color.

So how did this shift in the spectrum occur? As it turns out, defining gender-specific colors has been a tug of war over the years with the end result being more or less a tie. Both colors( pink and blue) along with their hues are equally favored, regardless of gender.

However, we still tend to associate the color pink with femininity and blue with masculinity in some aspect or the other. Especially, while deciding clothing and types of toys for little ones.

The pink-blue color divide may seem like a trivial distinction between the sexes, but in reality, it paves way for other gender biases and forms the root of gender discrimination. Deciding on what a child should wear or what he or she should play with in order to conform to the so-called societal norms restricts it from exploring and having a mind of its own. Surveys show that children are not born into choosing a gender-specific color or toy, rather they are groomed into making such specific choices.

From wearing corsets in the Victorian era or being at home, women are groomed to look the part of femininity. And it starts from a young, impressionable age when a child is getting to know its surroundings. The quote holds true,” One is not born a woman. One becomes a woman”.

But we shall not exclude the male party from this issue of gender discrimination for they are affected equally. The need to “be a man” as defined by our society puts pressure on the individual. Boys are told to be aggressive, that they cannot shed tears, that they need to indulge themselves into sports that involve physical strength. Basically don’t do anything that is considered to be “girly”( for example- play with dolls, learn dance, etc). Any male indulging themselves in activities that are “girly” are often looked down upon or labeled as “gay”.

 Boys placing themselves on the pink side of the spectrum are assumed to be hinting at their homosexuality with the well-known logic of ” boys who like boys are basically girls.” Nazi concentration camp badges included a pink triangle for gay men, while lesbians were lumped into an ‘asocial elements’ group with a black triangle.

However, in the late 60s, with the rise of the LGBT movement, the balance shifted from the color of shame to that of pride. This brought in a new mindset-” Pink and Blue make purple”. Purple covers everything between red (pink) and blue, and challenges fixed and extreme gender roles. Instead of just two labels-male and female, we have many, as portrayed by the LGBT rainbow flag.

In the end, we shouldn’t associate our sexuality or behavior with the colors we choose. We are free to choose between pink and blue, unguided by society. And this openness comes from a young age, with good parenting. It is crucial for a parent to understand that a child can be whatever it chooses to be. We live in a time where traditional roles are questioned more often than before. A girl can like shades of blue and can love playing with cars and a boy can indulge in cooking and like hues of red or pink. Who knows, that girl grows up to be an F1 racer and that boy becomes a Michelin star chef in the future.

 So, choose any color you like, irrespective of gender, society or culture. For, choice of color doesn’t define who we are, it’s our thoughts and actions that do.

The article and the cover image are the compositions of aspiring computer engineer Meghna Chakrabarti. Follow her stepping stones at Tumblr and Facebook. The view shared here are her own, and she is excited to hear your opinion . The blog was originally published on her personal Tumblr page on 6th May 2019. Here, republished with permission.

What is social media doing to us?

Are we really connected?

Are we really connected? Meghna Chakrabarti

Recently I came across this short animated film on Youtube named ‘Best Friend’. The story revolves around a man named Arthur who lives all by himself and is addicted to a product called ‘Best Friend’.

Arthur does not have friends. He lives in a time far into future where everyone has some sort of a chip implanted in their brains which allows them to see projections of people, customized only for them; people whom they can call ‘friends’.

Fast forward to the ending climax of the movie, Arthur gets into trouble with a vagabond when he tries to recharge his chip. The vagabond, in desperation to have ‘friends,’ rips out the chip from Arthur.

Scary, isn’t it?

The movie highlighted an alarming perspective of the current psychology of the tech-savvy, social media addicted millennials. Although social media has been successful in making the world more connected, it has also established a false sense of connectivity.

Like the chip implanted in Arthur’s brain, social media has emerged as a necessity for every individual. Without its involvement, You are nobody; You are “friendless”!

Obviously, the creators of social networking sites nurture this fear of being alone, to make sure their clients are dependent on them. I often wondered why people posted so many photos of themselves on social media. I feel that social media has made the norm so, that we put up a facade for the world to see, to be somebody we are not, to let people know how amazing a life we lead even if it is not real.


More likes, more followers, more ‘friends’. Not getting enough likes on a post seems maddening enough that it can potentially send a person into depression. I think why social media is so addictive is because we can connect to an individual or a group without making much of an effort and confrontation. That may be a plus point. However, can one really connect to a person and be empathetic by just exchanging a few texts? I think not.

Human beings are social animals, we rely on our senses to experience the world around us. When it comes to connecting with others, these senses help us to kindle intimate connections. Social media can surely connect people who may be far away from each other, but it still lacks the physical sense of being.

I am not negating the positives that social media has to offer. Indeed, without the benefits of the internet, a few years ago, talking to someone far off and conveying our thoughts and opinions on a large platform seemed tedious. Now, the internet stands as a tool for the millennials to connect globally and bring about social awareness on a large scale; something that seemed impossible a decade ago.

However, we need to understand that there is a world outside the virtual one, in which we choose to remain immersed; that we can connect more closely to people when we interact with them face to face. After all, it is an innate human tendency to respond to the warmth of another being, and feel more comfortable in somebody’s company.

We should also embrace our imperfections and celebrate who we are and what we are. So, rather than putting up a facade and being entangled in this virtual cobweb, why not be real for a while?


The article and the cover image are the compositions of aspiring computer engineer Meghna Chakrabarti. Follow her stepping stones at Tumblr and Facebook. The view shared here are her own, and she is excited to hear your opinion on how social media is impacting us. Can a computer engineer help in resolving the conundrum? The blog was originally published on her personal Tumblr page on 22nd December 2018. Here, republished with permission.


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