Tag Archives: racism

Not yet Westworld: Do social media algorithms determine how we think?

wp-image-1430785659jpg.jpgIt was all quite innocuous, till it was not. Looking up crockpot chicken dinner recipes on YouTube would lead me to a puzzle at the heart of the modern world.

There is a theory doing the rounds that we all live in bubbles of our own making and this is supposedly behind the divisiveness of the present time. In an earlier post, I tried to work out the fundamental problems with the bubble theory. Social media is probably more responsible than we are for the bubbles of our own making. Although, it is true that we live in bubbles we fill with biased opinions and people that second these views, bubble-living isn’t unique to this or any other time period.

Continue reading Not yet Westworld: Do social media algorithms determine how we think?

Losing your free will to your beliefs

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Textbook brain

Old patterns in our working brains could use rewiring from time to time. A decade ago, pop science asked if we were left brained or right brained. Now that question has been tweaked to: is your brain conservative or liberal? Conservative ideas are connected to strong emotions and spring from deep inside the brain from the region of the amygdala. While in liberal brains, parts of the anterior cingulate cortex light up, as these areas are involved in reasoning out conflicted issues. It could be that such partitioning will always be imperfect like everything else in life. We could be conservative about some things and liberal about others.

Often I come across readers and commenters indignant when newer analyses or younger readers find older, beloved works of literature or art to be racist or sexist. The year-end Christmas special of Sherlock Holmes: The Abominable Bride was trying to make up for the original, which had mostly minor submissive female characters dedicated to the male universe of Sherlock Holmes. As a young child, I would curl up with Conan Doyle’s stories with nary a consciousness that my gender was being excluded in some way. With dawning adulthood, I realised my existence had been circumscribed by way of gender, and that I could never be a Holmes or a Watson without upsetting or upending the world in which I lived. My society had chosen for me the limited role of Mrs Hudson.

Continue reading Losing your free will to your beliefs

From the outside looking in

The Indian Republic Day was supposed to be a glorious representation of how a people triumphed. But in the real world, as we sat around staring into our television screens, we were really on the outside looking in at the privileged seated in the galleries having their day. We watched a parade of kitschy floats, the day of the public January 26 appeared to be a facade behind which the oligarchs and powers-that-be gathered to triumphalise. Democracy was supposed to be, at least here in the early half of the 21st century, the triumph of the outsider over the elitist. But that is not how it transpired in our country, a land that was one of the early inventors of elitism in the form of caste, which is euphemism for race. Incidentally, caste is the institution that legitimised racism in India. Continue reading From the outside looking in

White by another name is fair

We like to cover up, both literally and figuratively. Out on the chaotic Indian roads, otherwise emancipated scooter-riding young girls mask their faces, necks and wear elbow-length gloves. They prevaricate, blame pollution for their protective gear. Melanin, however, is the unstated enemy. Girls reach a certain marriageable age and the sun becomes anathema. We have a euphemism for the desire to be white. It is normalised as a striving to be ‘fair’ or light-skinned. Continue reading White by another name is fair