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Understand the difference

Of late, there has been stringent scrutiny of the potential negative impacts of social and digital media on users’ wellbeing. Regardless, the positive aspects of digital technology outweigh its negative aspects; what prods a curious mind is that there are seldom any serious inquiries into the impact of giant conglomerates contaminating our food, drinking water and breathing air with explicit impunity.

Let’s begin with food and beverages that directly impact our health. With all the glossy advertisements, packaging and resonating it with sports, fast and processed food and fizzy drinks easily manage to circumvent the negative criticism of their role in engendering an unhealthy global society. Thanks to their generous media presence worldwide, very little mention of their harm, especially on children, makes it to the media. This is despite the fact that these giant corporations effectively sell unhealthy living, ravage the environment and plunder precious natural resources.

A 2019 study by the US Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME)found that poor diet is responsible for more deaths globally than tobacco consumption. WHO studies say tobacco kills more than eight million people per year. While government regulators are keen to restrict children and teenagers’ access to tobacco, fast food and sweetened beverages are commonly accessible to minors, and they are addictive for some, just contributing to triggering dopamine and serotonin.

Regarding the physical and mental health of teenagers, it is mindboggling how the ill effects of addictive video games for teenagers are easily overlooked by the majority, including parents. Game developers have stretched far to keep their young users hooked for longer hours. Apart from the physical harms caused by extended immobility and screen exposure, these competitive games leave long-lasting psychological effects on young impressionable minds. The games are so manipulated that players cannot progress significantly without spending good amounts of money on special add-ons. Those who fail to spend for their virtual ‘victory’ end up with anxiety and depression which in the worst case scenarios lead to self-harm and suicide. China is amongst the few first to acknowledge the reality and bring in some form of regulation to cater to this menace.

Can we assume that children, teenagers and adults who eat and live healthy and make moderate use of technology would be healthy both physically and mentally? Unfortunately, that is not the case. The greedy commercialism and insatiable profiteering of capitalist markets have poisoned large parts of the only planet that is known to sustain life and are slowly making it inhabitable for humans, wild and marine life, so is it a bona fide proposal to find a new economic system?

The constant drainage of harmful chemical waste into water sources and constant expansion of landfill sites are making life cede space to pollutants both on land and in the sea. Carbon emissions from factories, cars and machines are constantly eroding the Ozone, our planet’s body armour against a constant barrage of hazardous ultraviolent, infrared radiations from the Sun. These harmful rays can damage eyesight, cause a range of skin diseases and cancer in humans. Talking about radiations, the radiofrequency (RF) waves from cell phone towers have not been proven to be absolutely safe. Most expert organisations agree that more research is needed to help clarify this, especially for any possible long-term effects.

On the other hand, water bottling industries are not only drying precious water sources but generating thousands of tons of plastic waste to pollute the face of the Earth. Since plastics don’t decompose so easily, they will be here; even hundreds of years after their consumers have gone. Worse, they break into micro-plastics and end up in our food as well as kill precious marine life on a massive scale. Often, dead sharks and whales are washed ashore with tons of plastic waste inside their bellies. If we really put some thought into it, this is no less than a murder, which has grave implications for the balance of nature and food cycle. However, most of us are too busy in the real life ‘Squid Game’ with our eyes fixed on the glass piggy bank full of cash.

If one comes to think of it, the capitalistic society’s survival revolves around the seven sins whether it comes in the shape of pride, greed, lust, envy, gluttony, wrath, and sloth. Although industries are governed by laws and statutes that make them responsible towards people and environmental sustainability. Yet there is little or no action from the regulators and governments that are supposed to protect the people and environment besides maintaining the natural order of things. Perhaps, it is because some of the global conglomerates are stronger than governments and states and have the capacity to dictate their terms or it can simply be put as a tragedy of the commons.

The US arms industry is so powerful that when well-meaning citizens and rights groups called for nationwide disarmament following an upsurge in school shootings, the lobby was able to overshadow the public discourse with its own manufactured narrative of ‘Good guys with guns’. This led to effectively selling more guns and hence racking in more profits. Other businesses also manage to buy their way or negotiate to keep business as usual.

We have to be clear in our thought process, these corporates are meant to make profits and help run this economic system, and they are not tantamount to charitable organisations, some of the corporates do have huge social responsible programmes for various regions, as they believe in investing in the communities they operate in.

It will continue as it is unless every one of us is aware of our rights and choices that include access to clean water, healthy eating, unadulterated medicine, breathable air and plastic free oceans and safety of life. We can push the governments to implement regulations that look after public health and safety and protect the environment, and they are important as well but implementation and understanding the world system is also critical in achieving our wellbeing goals as humans and not being treated just as a commodity We have to push if plan to leave healthier and greener Earth for our coming generations, let’s not make this world into another planet’s hell.


Q Y Azher, "Understand the difference," The News. 2021-11-21.
Keywords: Health sciences , Mental health , Healthy society , Physical health , Healthcare , Diseases , Food , United States , IHME , RF