Category: Social Awareness

    Internet noise

    No Comments

    Did you ever see a trending article or video and thought this is the DEFINITION of Internet Noise? Like: “Oh my God! Why on earth is this ever created!?”.

    The Internet made it easier for anyone to create and publish their content, without a quality check.

    While this made it easier for unestablished creators to find a larger audience, it also resulted in large amounts of low-value, false and misleading content.

    Earning money by providing free content?

    The Youtube videos you see, the apps you use like Facebook, WhatsApp, the website content you read online, take consistent effort and resources to build. If all of the content on the internet is currently available for free, how are the content makers earning money?

    They get ads money by selling out space on their apps or sites. They also save and trade user data and information for money. If a viewer clicks on the ads on their site, they get extra money.

    The more viewers they get, the more their web- traffic increases and the more money they generate.

    Some people identify only business opportunity here- to them, content quality is secondary.

    Let me explain an example of a businessman- Jerry.

    Jerry’s story

    Jerry decides he would make money on the internet, he has a step by step plan.

    1. Deciding the topic of the site: Jerry researches on what current trending topics are. Examples: WhatsApp status sites, Quotes for your Boyfriend, Video game cheat codes, cute cat memes etc., And chooses a topic that would help him ride on the tide.

    Because Jerry has too many sites to maintain, so he spends as less money, time and resources as he can. He will most likely develop these sites for a while and earn money by selling a product or ads.

    He will sell these sites off for higher returns unless the site tips and becomes a brand- earning very good returns.

    With little practice, one can clearly tell the difference between a site that is carefully created and one which is only made to earn money out of it.

    2. Logistical decisions: Jerry establishes his office in a country where he can pay less for the workforce: countries in South Asia or South East Asia like India are preferred.

    Tim Ferris in his book: The Four Hour Work Week also wrote about this concept of hiring consultants from economies with lower currency rates to cut down operational costs.  They hire employees for lower wages.

    Behind the scenes

    These employees (let us call them Joe) are supposed to write:

    • on topics that are given to them by taking results from a Keyword research tool.
    • a minimum of 3 to 5 articles per day.
    • for a specific (read lengthy) word length.

    Because of the impending time constraints, Joe does a google search, collects data from the first 3 or 4 sites, rephrases the sentences here and there and finishes up as quickly as humanly possible. And then, moves onto the next article to repeat the same routine.

    Statistics in 2018 show that the word length of articles which grabbed reader attention ranged from 1000 to 1200 words. So, Joe is expected to write three to five 1000 word articles per day.

    Ever noticed the long, boring introduction filling the first and last few paragraphs of an article with Keywords on a job site? Joe was just trying to reach the 1000 word target, alright?

    Interesting facts!

    1. The administrative strategy is to employ low- cost labour. I used to work as a manager in a similar firm before I resigned. Can you guess the gender of all fifteen Joes who wrote? Female. Jerry believes it is convenient to hire female employees for low paying jobs.

    2. Ever entered a page that had a really interesting title, went in and saw the content was completely different? This technique is called click- bait. They do this to drive traffic.

    3. There are some consultancies that write fake reviews, favorable comments for products etc. Next time you depend on a review to make a decision, think again!

    Internet Noise affects on genuine writers:

    I once saw a Joe writing about an Oprah Winfrey book, on a book review site; which mostly earns its revenue from running ads and from Amazon.

    Joe doesn’t know who Oprah was or what “Super Soul Sundays” is! If you wanted to read about Oprah, don’t you wish the one who wrote the article knew what they are writing about?

    I’m not saying bad content is only created by bad content creators. Sometimes even good content creators stumble.

    But the writers who create their work as an art, read and write, improvise and edit constantly.

    They spend time, energy, effort and money to train themselves to write and to achieve a level of mastery. And sometimes their work is stolen, rephrased and used by Joe.

    Start by realizing your every action has power, especially on the Internet. There are so many Jerrys who won’t mind creating many sites out of mediocre content just to earn money.

    As most of the staff is inexperienced, non- expert and overworked, the content is generally uninspiring, stolen, rephrased, ungrammatical and curated in a hasty way.

    What you can do about it:

    • Next time you enter a low- value site, do yourself a favour and close it immediately. It gives Google and other search engines a clue that the content is not up to the mark.
    • If you continue using sites with poor content for longer durations, you are essentially improving their domain strength and ranking them up. Aka, your next google search for the topic will return you more results from this site instead of better sites with High- Value Content.
    • Simply don’t open content that you don’t want to read.
    Categories: Social Awareness

    On Plastic Pollution and our Beach Cleaning

    pavanisairam background

    Beach Cleaning

    Every Sunday, a bunch of us gather at the beach near our hometown and clean the shore. The best part is that we get to do it alongside enthusiastic children who show up week after week after week.

    When we enter the beach, it looks like a long-lost cousin of trash yards. We set a decent target distance. We start with grit and great energy.

    By the time we reach our target, we get unusually tired, thirsty and happy. And the beach looks untouched and remains so till the next half day or so.

    This isn’t just to keep the little Kakinada beach pretty. When we clean, we make sure that the land closest to the shoreline is wiped off of plastic, thermocol and other wastes.

    What is the point?

    A friend of a friend of mine once bluntly declared: “The beach gets dirty sooner than the time you are taking to clean it. It is a waste of time!” I tried to explain but soon we moved onto the next fun topic.

    So, I did what anyone in my place would do. I came home and started writing this. We have all been schooled enough times about how plastic, pollution and absence of waste management are harming us and to all our future generations.

    Cleaning nearby a waterfront is not nearly the same thing as cleaning your colony or your neighbour’s house. While that is settled, let me now get to the indirect benefits of collective activities to protect the environment.

    Let us understand why certain places are more damaged by the same amount of pollution as compared to others. And how different kinds of pollution have varying degrees of effects on different environments.

    Environmentalists among you probably know this. Let us call this- “Variable Eco-sensitivity”.

    Variable Eco-Sensitivity

    In human terms, it means that if you throw plastic waste on land, it won’t decompose maybe for 100 to 1000 years based on its composition.

    But, throw it into a water body and, it will not only contaminate it and cause the usual harm as on land, in addition to it- it kills aquatic life. Including that cute dolphin, you saw last time.

    Ecological Sensitivity near certain spaces like farmlands, lakes, rivers, ocean fronts and underground water channels is very high.

    I decided to not bore you to death about it here. We all know plastic is bad because some kinds don’t decompose for nearly ten to 1000 years, right? Let’s not get into it.

    Let us test our knowledge about Environmental Science. Please, indulge me and answer a couple of quick questions.

    Question 1: Thick plastic or thin plastic: which is more harmful?

    If you ask your mom, she will say thick plastic is always better. Because she can re-use it. If you negate her and say thin plastic is better because it is thin, then the joke is on you.

    I’m sorry mate. Just because it is thin, it does not decompose faster. In fact, thick plastic takes about 450 years to decompose and it is recyclable. But thin plastic is one-time use and decomposes for about 1000 years.

    Yes, your mom is right. Some of you might be thinking: “So what Pavni? I don’t care. I’m not going to be here for 1000 years to witness how bad the earth is going to get.”

    Then congratulations! Your take-it-easy-policy will keep you stress-free for a while. But plastic won’t let you. It is secretly causing changes to your brain functioning and soon, you could get depressed with this thought.

    No, I’m not saying it- research is. Read on.

    Question 2: Why is burning plastic bad for the environment?

    Well, that was an insult to your intellect. We all know it is bad because it causes air pollution and releases toxic gases, right?

    Fact: Plastic, when heated or exposed to hot temperatures, may release dioxins, furans, Poly Chlorinated Biphenyls and mercury. These contaminants reach an organism by settling on water sources, enter crops by accumulating on land, into our bodies through food, water, skin more than through air pollution.

    These materials bioaccumulate. Which means they enter your body and stay in your fat cells. Babies get these accumulations from placenta if their mother is exposed to these.

    Deformities in new-borns, cancer, reproductive health problems and mental illnesses occur due to this. The brain requires fats to function. If the fats are contaminated by plastic injected toxins, it might result in a range of brain malfunctions.

    The contamination through the air is less compared to other sources. Next time your neighbours or municipality workers quickly burn waste they might actually give you depression or asthma or PCOS, or worse- cancer.

    Food in Plastic

    Don’t sue your municipalities and neighbours just yet. One of the most rampant ways in which plastic contamination is spreading is through your lunch boxes, those water packets and food parcels.

    The heat emitted from the sun in a tropical country like India is enough to activate these toxins. The water and drink bottles in plastic and packets we drink out of are very harmful.

    Every piece of your food is wrapped in it. You maintain high standards to eat clean but wrap your food in toxins. Our temples give hot Pongal as prasad in plastic bowls.

    Note: When that hot biryani comes into contact with the plastic cover it is wrapped in, all these toxins get activated and seep into the Biryani. You eat it and can’t wait for the next time to consume toxic food again.

    This is one of the main reasons why we should really work on not using plastic at all. But we are all busy celebrating marriages with a five hundred thousand foam cups and two million hundred plastic plates!

    Sorry to be blunt. Essentially, you are giving toxic waste, ruining yourself and others.

    Now you are going to get very upset with me. Because not only did I take out any peace you used to get out of the convenience that plastic food wraps gave you, but now I’m saying if you throw them out, it could also be a problem.

    But wait. I’m also saying that it is a problem if your neighbour or the random stranger uses it or burns it. At this point, your wisdom points out that you can’t control how other’s act.

    How to reduce plastic pollution?

    I also know that you are tempted to say: “This is why I give up trying.”

    Every week when we clean the beach, we end up with heaps of waste. But there are no ways to pick the trash and transport it away from the beach. And we are currently working on finding sustainable solutions to this.

    Listen, there have always been and will always be at least two ways in which great changes could be achieved.

    1. Self-awareness
    2. Institutional changes

    Final thoughts:

    You become aware, don’t use plastic, tell your neighbour, ask your temple authorities, participate in beach cleaning, worry about ways to dispose the waste, bring this problem to the notice of local authorities, fail in all those attempts, try again, set up stalls and marches to demonstrate the effects of plastic and other wastes, give lectures to people on street, give presentations in auditoriums, write articles and poems about it, run the risk of looking crazy, write petitions, approach authorities, work towards a change, keep the faith, find better ways to save yourself, your family, your neighbour, the municipality workers, the street dog and maybe all of the earth.

    We live in a democracy. It is hard to make changes, but the system gave a chance to ensure it is not impossible. The government sets up new oncology centres and hospitals. I also want to watch them take preventive steps and take the plastic ban seriously.

    Plastic alternatives are already there. While we can use organic-leaf made or glass and steel alternatives for a while, we can urge the government to make the institutional changes required to replace plastic industries.

    It is such a relief that Science already has solutions to all these problems. But today, these remain in the science laboratories. Let us strive to get them out of there- to the industries and into our houses.