Social Media and Mental Health

The social digital world is a scary place. You are one person amongst a billion of other users on social media at this moment all sharing snaps, funny one liners, thoughts, visions and stories through the click of a button. One click. A second. A snapshot into a persons life. Thats all we really see over social media. A snap shot, sometimes a second of a moment when a picture is taken. A picture taken in a second which gets 105 likes in a few minutes. Their life is amazing, right? Over 100 likes. Wow. They are so cool and live such an interesting life. Why isn’t that me? Why am I at home? Why am I not cool, rich, happy, with loads of friends on this boring Wednesday night at home? My life is dull. I’m so lonely.

Here comes the self hate. Its a snowball effect of self loathing, hate and shame. This is the power and control social media has created in so many of us. Social media can be great for the majority of the time. It’s a great way to meet new people, network and share information to a mass group of people at once. The negative side of it all is that it gives users the opportunity to compare themselves to others and to think less of their own lives. If you’re having a rough day and log on to one of your social media accounts and see the hand picked moments of glory of others, the holidays, the births, the promotions, the shopping trips, of course this will negatively effect your mood and kill your confidence.

In my opinion, the internet and social media has played a big part in the increase of poor mental health, especially in teenagers and young adults. The “fear of missing out” or fomo, plays a big part in the stresses and anxiety of so many young people who are very present on social media. Everything has to be documented and proven online nowadays, and if it isn’t, did it really happen? The pressures of keeping up and maintaining an online presence is a 24/7 job, and its taking over the way we live our lives. Constantly taking selfies, tweeting, snapchatting and checking in to places to prove we are living our best life. How many likes did I get? Did I use the correct hashtag? This will get me loads of retweets, I’ll save that to post at a peak time to get the most attention. Even waking up in the middle of the night to see what’s going on, making sure we haven’t missed some hot gossip or news. I’m guilty of some of these myself. I can’t answer why, but I can definitely tell you I feel very silly for it. It’s affected me so much, seeking attention and validation from people whom I’ve never met. Social media has made me realise, in the last year, just how lonely a place it really is. It’s the worse place to be when having a rough few days. It can make you feel worthless at times by comparison to people. Don’t get me wrong, I love social media, and all it can do, but recently I have been taking time to just step away from it all to ensure I remain in a positive state of mind. It really helps to just take a break sometimes and to remember life isn’t about proving to others how great you are or how fabulous your life is. Go for walks without your phone, go to concerts and leave your phone in your pocket, snapchat without filters and post to Instagram without comparing yourself to others. Enjoy it all without needing the clarification that you are enough.



RANT : Why I drink when wearing a turban

I feel to rant about a certain topic which I have been meaning to speak about for a while and after something which happened last week, I feel now is the time to do it.

Last week my episode of Come Dine with Me aired on one of the channels, and someone managed to track me down on Twitter, and asked me straight up, “you were drinking with your friends, is that allowed as you wear a turban?”

Fair question really, and one of the reasons I chose to do the show was because I feel the Sikh population don’t really get shown on TV and don’t really get a representation in the media, so I was more than happy to answer any questions anyone had regarding my religion and my decisions.

Yes, I do wear a turban, and I do drink and eat meat. Some may say this is hypocritical of me, as I should be religious if wearing a turban, a symbol of the Sikh religion. I have to say I disagree with this. I have never cut my hair, as this is something I was bought up with. It was not a decision I made myself. I was bought up as a Sikh, and didn’t choose my religion and faith myself. This is just how it is in many families. Do I regret it? No, not at all, as growing up with the basic teaching of Sikhism has really taught me how to respect others and treat everyone equally, something I think is the best teaching of Sikhism.

I’ve never said I’m a religious Sikh, and I’ve not committed my life to the religion, as for me, personally, I’m just not ready to make such commitment. Going to the Gurdwara and praying each day just doesn’t feel right in my life at the moment. People see a turban on my head, and automatically think I’m either really religious or will judge them on what they are doing. Wrong. I have two out of the five symbols of Sikhism, the Karah and Kesh, which is a steel bangle and long uncut hair. If I were a committed Sikh, I would have all five of these items and obviously wouldn’t go out drinking or living my usual crazy party lifestyle. I do however, find it hurtful how people judge me for wearing turban, but don’t judge those who haven’t kept their hair. I could lead the same lifestyle as another Sikh guy my age, but get frowned upon more because I wear a turban. It’s ridiculous. Hearing things like “Fudhu Singh” (dickhead Singh) and “Pagh wallah pindah? Hai!” (Drinking with a turban on? God!) really annoys me to be honest. I’m a young guy, enjoy a good time and I’m pretty sure those who go out wearing a Karah (steel bangle) aren’t judged, so why me, just for having another of the five K’s.

I have never stated that I am an over religious person. However, I do have a relationship with God. I’m not saying my relationship with God is a hundred per cent, but my belief and faith is a work in progress and that relationship is between God and me, and has nothing to do with anyone else. I’m on my own path of Sikhism, and feel I can teach myself what is right and wrong through life. Maybe one day I will commit to the religion, but not right now, that is just my decision, no one else’s.


**Many will not like my views, but hey, God made me this way, so go have a word with the guy upstairs**

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Rant : Twitter Etiquette

This article contains explicit language.

I’m definitely not the first to speak up on this issue and I’m pretty sure I won’t be the last – but I felt it was time I spoke a little bit about how much Twitter annoys me with its daily woes and breaches of social conduct, commonly known as #TwitterEtiquette.

There are many things which annoy me about certain people I follow – annoy me to the point where it’s almost daily entertainment of which I can’t unfollow. Kind of like watching a really sad scene in a movie you’ve seen a thousand times – you know it will upset, anger and generally annoy you, but you still want to watch the car crash of emotion that is going to occur.

Note : All breaches of #TwitterEtiquette are probably about some of my friends, if you are easily offended, please read on so you can fix up.


We get it. You have gazillions of followers! We do not need you to repost every mention you receive. No one wants to watch every single conversation you have, seriously, we have better things to look at. It really is like repeating everything someone says to you – you wouldn’t do it in public, so do not do it on Twitter!

BREACH TWO – You follow me, I’ll follow you? No? BITCH.

There is always that plank that thinks they are some sort of Twitter celebrity. You know the type, tweet over 1000 times a day but only follow 29 people with 3000 followers. YOU are that person who goes to the pub every Saturday night, and without fail, you will leave before it’s your turn to buy a round. Eventually you will stop getting that weekly invite. If I interact with you on a regular basis, and you don’t follow back, bitch, believe I will un-follow your cocky tweeting ass.

BREACH THREE – No one cares about you – but you make me feel better about myself.

If you haven’t seen an emotional or depressive tweet every now and then, you really are missing out. I’m guilty for sending them out myself. You know, it’s a bit of release, a load off the mind. It’s fine yo! We all have down days! I’m not here for those dramatic people who constantly moan about family, lack of sleep, friends or love life. HONEY, this is Twitter not Oprah. Sort your life out, and get your shit together! Even though your sad, attention-seeking life makes me feel better about mine, quit it. Another thing that gets on my nerves is posting a picture “OMG – I’m so fat and ugly”- Ummm, bebs, chill out, and stop begging on the attention. I swear, next time I see anyone do this, I will comment back and agree. Serious.

BREACH FOUR – Spam Sandwich anyone?

I could rant on and on about those virus accounts “want to lose 30 pounds in an hour” or “make £2000 by just sitting at home” – they really do my nut in, especially when I could do with losing 30 pounds in an hour whilst sitting earning £2000 – THE DREAM. Anyway, these spammers are another discussion, it’s those who spam and are unaware of it. We get it, you have a YouTube channel, you have a club night to promote or you have a blog you are so desperate for us to all read, like seriously, we get it. It is an unwritten law of Twitter that you get to promote your shit twice in one week. No more! Seriously, calm down.

BREACH FIVE – Who are you speaking to?

You have 5 followers, yet you tweet like you have more fans that Lady GaGa. No one wants to see what you are having for dinner, what you are wearing or what you ordered at Starbucks. Save that random crap for Instagram! Ooh, wait, you have a Starbucks Frap with your name on it?! SERIOUSLY? Hold on let me just count how many fucks I give about this amazing picture….

Zero. Awkward.

BREACH SIX – I want a tweet, not a novel!

On that off occasion, you will have a story or something so fascinating and incredible that you just can’t fit it into 140 characters, so it’s perfectly fine to split it between a few tweets – perfect. What’s not fine is when every single one of your tweets end with “” or “twitlonger” – the WHOLE POINT of Twitter is the restriction. Bypassing this restriction for literally no other reason than that you are unable to shut the fuck up is silly and you may as well just start a blog where you will have unlimited space of the World Wide Web to fill up with your fascinating musings of how you went to Starbucks and they spelt your name wrong on your Iced Coffee.

If I have offended anyone, apologies – but in all seriousness, I myself am guilty of some of these! Let’s all try to fix up, yeah?

#TwitterEtiquette @putasinghonit

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Gay is a genre of music, didn’t you know?

Scrolling through my iPod and Spotify playlists, I’m quite proud of my taste in music, it really does varie. I’m pretty sure it has a wider varirty more than others. Everyone says they are eclectic when asked their favourite type of music, but looking through my list of artists, I’m pretty sure this is what eclectic is. From Westlife to Skunk Anansie and Janis Joplin to Jay Z, my taste really does depend on my mood at the time, and sometimes even the weather, weird I know.

My issue though, is that people seem to think they have a right to judge me by musical taste. Certain people who claim to “love music” and have musical clef tattoos on their wrist (usually surrounded by stars) and act like they have music going through their veins, seem to judge me on the music I enjoy. I’m going to use this space to rant about that.

I’ve always been very much into music. I’m pretty sure this has a lot to do with my upbringing. My Indian born Dad was always playing Punjabi songs in the car and around the house or was watching a Bollywood movie where music played a huge part. I’m also very lucky to have a British born Mother who was very much into Motown and Madonna. We had all the Jackson 5, early Michael Jackson and Madonna vinyl’s at home whilst growing up and they were on constant play. My love for music started at a very young age – I’m pretty sure I knew all the words to Jackson 5 – ABC by the age of six.

With music television at its peak in the 90’s, along with my brother and sister, I would watch channels such as The Box, MTV and VH1. We all had different preferences in music; my brother was more of a Bhangra fan but was also partial to a bit of Jungle and Hip Hop. My sister was more of an RnB and Pop kind of girl, and I was the same. I copied my sister a lot when I was little – odd, I know! We all had our separate videotapes “Ballys Songs” where we would record our favourite music videos as they came on; summer holidays were a hoot in our household. (Intrigued to see if we were the only kids to do this by the way.)

As I grew up, I wasn’t embarrassed about the music I enjoyed. I was often called a girl in school for my love of pop music. It didn’t faze me much; it was music, not like I was donning a frock and calling myself Betty, chill out. Then came high school. I listened to the music I wanted and, again, was ridiculed for it. I was a fan of all music, but I was a bit of an S Club 7 geek. Pretty cool aren’t I? It wasn’t just pop music I listened to though. I listened to Limp Bizkit, Skunk Anansie, Aaliyah, Destinys Child and was still open to new sounds and because of my older siblings, was always listening to what they were blasting in their rooms. It’s because of my brother actually that I know all the words to Juicy by the Notorious B.I.G. However, people at school decided to cling on to the fact that I was listening to a CD compilation of “gay music” as they would call it. Right, so because I’m listening to a bit of chart music that is popular, I’m either girly or gay. Charming! Through high school, I felt the need to hide my music taste in fear of being judged. It was horrible.

This is why I get really annoyed now when people put labels on those who want to be a fan of a certain artist or for those whoe like a certain song. Judging people on the music they like is one of my pet hates. It really drives me mad! I’m really open with my music taste and love that I have been bought up with different sounds and have been privileged to hear music from all genres. When I hear people judging those for liking Justin Bieber or being a fan of one of his songs and saying “OMG what is happening to me?!” it really gets to me. It’s a song, you like it, get over it. When people call me “gay” or say that I’m a “girl” for listening to legends like Tina Turner or Aretha Franklin or say that I’m a “greebo” for listening to Skunk Anansie, then quite frankly, take a seat and listen to your one genre of music which you think makes you cool. I’d rather be a “gay greebo girl” than a rat following the pied pipers one tune.

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Caste vs Sikh

I have always been a Sikh. It’s just the Indian tradition isn’t it? You are born into a religion. No decisions or make your own mind up in our culture, which is fine. I’m not complaining. I’ve always been proud of my religion and the background and history of the religion of Sikhism. Recently though, well, I say recently, but for the last few years, I have grown to lose respect for certain aspects of this so-called religion we are meant to follow. Before you all start complaining at me for badmouthing the religion and being a non-believer, calm down and read on.

As a child I had always been bought up in religion and as a believer that I was Jatt, Sikh. This was my religion. I wasn’t just a Sikh – I was a Jatt Sikh. I didn’t really know what this meant. Being a bit of a “bounty” or a “coconut” as I was called by my family and friends, you know brown on the outside but white on in the inside, I didn’t really know what a Jatt was as it wasn’t really something I’d heard at school or with my circle of friends, I just knew that’s what I was because of my surname.

Later in life, as my circle of friends became more larger and had more of a variety of people, I started learning what all this surname and caste business was all about. “Yo, what’s your surname?” “She’s fit, but nah, she’s a Chamari init” “Of course he won’t! He’s a Ramgharia!” were the types of phrases you would hear coming out of some of the lads in my family or so called circle of friends. I pretended I knew what was going on, but being the bounty I was now known as, I just nodded and laughed along.

Now, not a lot of you reading this will have the foggiest of what I’m on about. Well, basically, in Indian culture, you have a tier of class and living standard. As unfortunate as it sounds, it’s still a pretty big deal in the Indian way of life. You have high castes and low castes – which, caste specialists, as I call them, can tell by the way you look, dress or by your surname. I’m a Jatt. I’ve been told I “look like a Jatt” too, whatever that’s supposed to mean.

I’ve never really thought any different of people. I’ve always been very equal in the way I see people; my family have too. I’ve had white friends, black friends, friends of all religion and caste all through my life, so have my two siblings. I’m very fortunate to have really open-minded Indian parents.

This open-minded lifestyle doesn’t stick with most families though. It’s 2012, and I still hear horror stories of the inequality between castes in the religion of Sikhism. As a Sikh, I was bought up to be equal and have no barriers in the respect I give to people, which is something I believe I have done throughout my life.

So, why is it that I hear the words and phrases “Chammar” or “Jatts Stink” or trending topics on Twitter like “LifeOfAJatt” and “LifeOfAThurkan”? How is it possible, that I see a fully baptised Sikh man, with a Turban and Kirpan going mental over his son wanting to marry a girl who is of different caste? Why is it that we go to the Gurdwara, but only people of one caste should go there, because you know, that’s the rule. What rule? Where does it say in the Guru Granth Sahib that we have to go to separate Gurdwaras because of our caste? I didn’t choose to be Jatt. I was bought up into my caste. I’m a Jatt, which means farmer, but you don’t see me growing potatoes in my back garden and buying a tractor – I do wear a turban though, and I am a Sikh. Therefore, whatever caste you are, whatever religion you are or whether you are black, white, gay, lesbian or don’t even believe in God, as a Sikh, I respect you, and so should other Sikhs.

I’ve had enough of culture and tradition ruining the teachings of Sikhism. I’m fully aware that I am not a “proper” Sikh, I know that. I’m not the poster boy for Sikhism in 2012, but I do think I’m quite religious. I might not go to the Gurdwara every day and I might drink and eat meat, but that does not mean I have turned my back on my religion and faith. I know a lot of baptised Sikhs, some whom I have a lot of respect for, and some I don’t, simply because of their thoughts on the caste system and the way they live.

It’s simple. You are either Sikh, or your caste. You cannot be both.

Sikhism is all about equality, this is why you go to the Gurdwara and eat Langar. It’s not just a free meal for you to enjoy. It’s a symbol of equality and respect of all faiths and backgrounds. We sit on the floor to eat the same meal, at the same level. No one is better than anyone else – so why are these values thrown out of the window the minute we walk out the Langar hall? Tell me that one. It’s ridiculous.

I’m a Sikh. Done.


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