Tuesday, 10 July 2018

The Youth & Us: Technology

Photo Courtesy: pixabay.com



I remember in primary school we had a mathematics teacher, Mr. Ruma, who whenever he walked in class, everyone would light up and enjoy his lesson to our bones and wish it would never end. 

We also had another teacher, Mr. Musa, who caned anyone who'd cough without his permission (metaphorically). The bell was our saviour in his classes. 

Mr. Ruma got the best performance of our class than any other teacher. And even when one would fail his class, they would feel bad and try their best afterwards. 

We were the same students for both teachers and more so, performed better in Maths of all subjects than any other. This is what leadership is all about.

A leader takes care of the people responsible for the results and Mr. Ruma, he did this for us and thus the results spoke for for itself. He created the right environment for us to succeed and Mr. Musa didn't. The difference, Empathy.

Through empathy, he understood us and knew where to work on so we could succeed. Unfortunately, for millennials (our current generation of youth born from 1982 onwards), elderlies only see their laziness, unfocused attitude, entitlement and can't keep a job qualities, but haven't understood why they exhibit them.

There are four major 'Whys' for this behaviour. And if this is your first time reading this, read on the first 'why' about Failed Parenting Strategies here. The next 'why' is Technology.

There is a chemical in our bodies called Dopamine. This chemical is responsible for the feeling you get after finding something you were looking for or after achieving a goal.  

That elation, that feeling you get after finding your keys, wining a game, crossing something from your to-do list or even tasting something sweet or delicious, that's dopamine.

This chemical is however also released by nicotine in cigarettes, by gambling and the intake of alcohol. It is actually the root cause of addiction for these activities because every time they are consumed, it feels good. 

Furthermore, majority of alcoholics; "walevi conc" discovered the numbing effects of this chemical when they were at their teenage years. 

The reason for this is that when we are young, the only approval we seek for is from our parents -- if they say no it's a no, if yes yallah. But when we get to teenage hood, our approval shifts to the outside world. That's why our dressing, behavior, changes so that we can 'fit in' 

This period is a very stressful one and is meant to teach us how to cope with other people and develop social skills.

So every time there was significant stress in the alcoholics' lives (financial, social, depression), instead of turning to a person for help, they turn to the bottle -- dopamine; makes them feel good.

Now here is where it gets interesting. The same chemical that is released by these drugs, is also released by cellphones and social media. 

We love to hear the sound of our notification exploding when we turn on the data; feels good -- dopamine. We go back to our posts to see how many likes we scored on it; makes us feel worthy -- dopamine. When we are down, we text ten of our friends simultaneously (hi, hey, Heyya, A.a, Alafu...); so that we feel lifted when they respond, guess what -- DOPAMINE. 

And you know what this has in common with alcohol, cigarettes and gambling...it's highly, highly addictive...

We have age and religious restrictions on all of these drugs, but we have none when it comes to cellphones and social media. 

It's the equivalent of opening up a liquor cabinet and telling youth, "Heyya, whenever this adolescence thing stresses you out, try the Vodka it'll dampen your pain." Translation, Not good. 

If you are the kind of person who looks at your phone first thing in the morning before you greet the people sleeping in the same room/house with you, you're addicted. If you walk with your phone in hand when you're moving from room to room in your apartment complex, you're addicted. If you can't stay without your phone in sight around you guess what, you're addicted.

And whilst we're on this topic of phone addiction, imagine you're sitted in a hall with people besides you and I'm standing on stage speaking to you on this. Now imagine I'm holding a phone in my hand whilst I speak to you. Do you at that moment feel as important to me as the phone I'm holding while I speak? 

No you do not. This is the subconscious power of the phone amidst human interaction. And that example is just an artificial environment( stage and audience.) Now how about every time you go out with friends, attend those important meetings with your superiors or have chats with others and you have your phone out beside you...this is why the youth claim they can't form deep meaningful relationships with others.

PS, and turning the phone upside down isn't more polite 😐

You see youth sitted together but everyone of them is glued to their phone screens. You can shout at them for such behavior but it's not just an addiction, it's a chemical addiction (dopamine). It's like shouting at an alcoholic or a smoker and expecting them to change. 

And the results of this addiction is the rise of depression among our youth because of how cellphones and social media has replaced social skills.  Thus youth don't know how to talk to others when stressed. The increasing rates of suicides and the new epidemic universities are dealing with of more youth taking a Leave of Absence due to depression is another issue. 

I personally had to push my graduation to retake a unit I missed due to depression. And these results are the extreme effects. The more likely ones are people skimming through life just, fine... "how's your friends? They're fine... Your job? It's fine..."

There are no deep meaningful relationships between friends, relationships and no fulfillment in life because the youth don't know how to share there problems, with their friends or others when they are stressed with life's demands. 

Friendship has become a relation where you know when your friends are to get something better to do, they'll cancel on you.

Such crucial and even life saving social skills was replaced by the temporary 'good feeling' of dopamine once a teenage year ago and now, it has become hardwired in their systems at the expense of human relation. 

And online support groups aren't the answer because the human touch has no share button. 

Technology when balanced in life, has no issue. But when used with no restriction, leads to addiction. And like every addiction, it wastes resources; your money, your time and ultimately, destroys relationships with others.

It is no wonder one is ready to live with a tiny budget on food but have credit and a connection for social media #red_flag 

So, we have a generation that, not by their own fault, grew up with failed parenting strategies and technology that has resulted to low self esteem and depression from poor social skills. 

For the world to get the most of them, it must understand these two 'Whys' and the other 2 to be expounded on after this in shaa Allah, and only then will it be able to generate a legacy of never before seen leaders of this millennia. 

In the end, it all boils down to Empathy. If you're the kind of guy who dreams to make a difference to the world, try it. I promise, it works. 

Thursday, 5 July 2018

The Youth & Us: Failed Parenting Strategies

Photo Courtesy: pixabay.com
Claimer: This post goes first to the parents and guardians in the audience then to my fellow youth. 

A man once coined a quote saying 'A good leader isn't responsible for the results but rather, responsible for the people who are responsible for the results.'  This is the exact opposite of what we have everywhere today.

I am passionate about this because I believe that good leadership is the answer to the magnitude of problems in our lives. I envision living in a world where such qualities are taught to the youth not in their schools or madrasas, but in their very homes. And I believe that it is their right upon their guardians and parents to teach them these qualities by first learning them and then showing them through actions, and guiding them through their words.

But there is a problem, "the millennial problem" as vividly termed. Millennials are a generation born from about 1982 onwards, inclusive of most of you here 😏, and they are known with a set of qualities they poses.

Elderlies have agreed that millennials are entitled and rebellious, unfocused, lazy, can't keep a job among other grim qualities. Well, it is true, I mean, yeah... But no one has gone further to find out why-- loosing points for Empathy y'all, step into them shoes.

And after discovering that why, they are put into four main categories; failed parenting strategies, technology, impatience and environment. But for convenience, we're only going to go through the first 'why' for this post. 

Failed parenting strategies unfortunately, came by because of the love of parents to their children. Most parents went through hell building their wealth and status and thus didn't want their kids to experience such pain. That's why up to date, it's become very hard to marry; simply because the kids are princesses and princes to their parents.

What built this up is parents telling their kids (ya'ani us) that they are special, can have anything just because they want it and in learning institutions, made sure the teachers give a pass to their kids whilst not laying their hands on them. 

An extension of this is the Participation Medal; medal or price given for coming in last-- detrimental to the child since it affirms how bad they are in that competition.

So when the kids graduate and get in to their first jobs, in an instant, they realize that they are not special, can't get anything just because they want it, get nothing for coming in last and their moms can't get them a promotion. 

So in an instant, their whole self image is shattered and turned on its head. And so we have this whole generation that is growing up with low self esteem.

And the boggling part is that, because they grew up in a Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat world, they are soo good at putting filters on things. Ya'ani they are experts at curating how we see them; so much so that they can tell the elderly what to do and what life is and how to go about it. Now who older than who here?😕

But the reality is, they don't know where they are coming from, where they are going. And even when they are offered a listening ear, it is assumed that they have the courage to walk through that door and open up. But the don't.

Just like someone who is frugal and always uses toothpaste and other things to the last drop, we know that they grew up in hardship and consumed in rations; their environment influenced their behaviour; is the same thing with millennials and social media influence. 

Fact of the matter is that they are just youth who are still discovering their way; not assertive know it all's. It's just that society and environment doesn't allow them to breakdown.

Until the time we understand this and the other three "whys", and listen to them in a way of wanting to understand them, that is when we can build strong leaders who carry the potential to change our world. 

But first, we have to be good leaders to them. We have to empathize. Because even though they are the leaders of tomorrow, we are the leaders of Today. So let us lead.

Fun fact: lead them in such a way that your child doesn't throw tantrums to get what they want 😋






Friday, 4 May 2018

The Holmes Gene


Ok guys so my story was shortlisted and picked to be among the first EVER Analogy series of short stories from the Coast of Kenya by Coastal Writers. It was published awhile ago but I thought to share it with you still. I mean, for a guy with a blog, it's kind of a big deal 💃💃💃💃 ahem...Anyways here's an excerpt of it. Might be good, might not be as good. If it's the former, be sure to download that PDF to complete it 😉 Now, back to business.


"The ocean wavered, transferring its energy through gentle crests which crushed against the coral 
below us. The sound of the crushing waves fused with the cheerful laughter from my friends 
harmoniously. I zoned back in to the energy of my friends as they cheerfully tell stories, sipping away at 
their gahwa beneath the residential storey buildings shading us from the setting sun. The buildings gave 
way to a cemented patio that stood just at the edge of the corals with a railed ending; this made up the 
coffee joint. I loved my gahwa as sweet as they come.
It was our favourite spot in Kibokoni where we'd have coffee after parkour practise runs near 
Fort Jesus every Friday evening. We made considerable progress that week so the coffee and visheti were 
super sweet. We just about filled the joint, whiling away the time with snacks and stories complimented 
with a view of the ocean. The eye-catching English Point Resort gazed at us from the other side of the 
ocean. The stories kept us there even after our cups were dry. They were good stories. 

“Nisave na hiyo kikombe bro,” a lanky, light-skinned guy around my age said, pointing at my 
empty cup. He had sharp cheek bones, brown-framed, thick lens glasses which he kept pushing above his 
nose and messy, black hair. 

I smiled as I handed it to him but he never looked at my face. He put it in the small bucket half-
full of water by his side and begun arranging the other cups to create more space for the rest. As he sorted 
away a few etres beside me in the rather quite packed joint, I glanced at the notifications on my phone and 
realized it was time for Maghreb prayers. I bid my friends goodbye and headed for Baluchi mosque. 
Listening to the imam's beautiful voice leading the prayers was a superb way of ending an equally 
beautiful day 

Approaching the main road, I heard someone calling behind me. Initially I thought that it wasn't 
meant for me but the urgency in the call made me turn around. I turned to see the lanky guy from the 
coffee joint running in slow wide steps as he struggled to hold his oversize pants to his waist while 
pushing his thick glasses back to their place.

“Bro! Ngoja!”

I grabbed my track pockets to see if I had dropped my phone but it was there. He finally got to me 
and bent over to catch his breath for a few seconds. 

“Asalaam aleykum bro!” he said, still panting.

“Waaleykum salaam warahmatullah,” I answered.

“I just wanted to ask if by any chance you practice parkour and free running,” he continued.

“Yeah, ata we're from training just a while ago hapo Fort Jesus,” I said

“Oh maa shaa Allah this is so great!” A wide smile came over his narrow face and he continued, 

“I've been practising a little pia but I never had anyone to practise with.”

“Sucks, right?” I said. “We'll be here for practise tomorrow. Feel free to join us,” I added.

“That would be awesome wallah bro. What time?”

“Usually tunaanza after Asr prayers but you can come earlier nione how good you are then 
tuanzie hapo.”

“How's 3 pm?” he asked.

“Yeah, that'll do great,” I said, feeling like an accomplished athlete.

“Ajeeb bro,” he said gleefully.

“Can I have your number?”

We exchanged our numbers and I gave him my names. He started walking back to the joint and I 
announced, “And what should I save you name as?”

“Twariif!” He yelled back as he back-peddled. I smiled at the thought of being a teacher of my 
favourite sport for the first time. 
The adhan sounded from all over Kibokoni and so I started again for Baluchi. I wanted to make it 
to the first row in salaah and get every rakaah.

         *************

I didn't want to be late for my first lesson so by half past two in the afternoon, I was in the matatu
waiting for the driver and conductor to be satisfied by the scarcity of passengers on a Saturday afternoon. 
It was one of the slowest matatu rides I‟ve ever heard in my life especially since I was determined to 
break my known reputation of coming late to important events. I was so anxious to make sure I don't 
keep my first student waiting. Looking back at it now, I wish I had the time to savour the full tide ocean 
as we crossed the bridge into town.

After multiple stops and waits, we finally arrived at my stop and I started for Fort Jesus on foot. 
What started as a pacing walk turned into a slow jog after I realized it was five minutes to three. On the way there I thought of the beginner moves he might have known already and which moves we'd train that 
day. My first student, I thought, smiling. I caught sight of a homeless man staring at me with a smirk on 
his face. I nodded backed at him as if to tell him that I respect him for all he‟s been through and I 
sympathize with him; even though I couldn't assist with his situation. 

I jogged past the last corner to the park just in time, expecting to see him waiting in anxiously. He 
wasn't there. I put down my string bag and warmed up as I waited for him. Good thing there weren't a lot 
of people on site so the weird stretching had no attraction value at this historical site.

I collapsed on the grass after trying to go for a leg split. What in the world was I thinking, I 
thought silently laughing away the transcending pain. My breath slowly steadied as I marvelled at the 
humongous blue sight of the sky, extending its signature convex nature to the edges of my view, its 
glassy depth emanating from the heights as it settles in still beauty, its majesty so pronounceable yet 
never seeking the attention of anyone or anything. Just existing in its own natural beauty. It was peaceful.

I slide my phone from my pocket and switched my view to its screen,

Nineteen minutes past three.

I opened my contact list as I sat up and selected Twariif's name for a message.

“HEY, WHERE ARE YOU AT? WEAR COMFORTABLE SHOES TO STICK THE 
LANDINGS.”

My gaze fell back at the ocean which never ceased to amaze me in its beauty. Stray thoughts cut 
at my fabric of sanity with questions about who I was, what I meant for people and what my purpose, my 
calling was in this broad world of digital dementia, stereotypes and identity crisis. This was the curse of a 
wondering mind; the unravelling of nothing but the harsh realities that surround every border and will of 
our dreams and the definition of our lives that vary everyday like the combinations one can use to solve 
the Rubin's Cube.

I wasn't ready for that roller coaster today. I put my phone in my string bag and set it aside. Let's 
start flying, I thought.

Parkour is my second love- those single moments when you execute a vault 
perfectly and you feel the air moving alongside the adrenaline coursing through your veins as you float 
for just a fraction of a second in the air as the crows glide around you, clueless in their search for food, 
totally unmoved by your poor attempt at flight. There and then, it is just me and my world… 


Intriguing much? 
Continue this story here by downloading the PDF of this analogy and discover the Holmes in you & more wonderful stories from the Coast 😊

Sunday, 29 April 2018

Humor

Photo Courtesy:drbillsikuala.com.au


Laughing is one the most weirdest thing our bodies can do aside from hiccups and dreaming among others. When you're having a laugh, all your internal organs are convulsing inside of you, pushing out the air from your lungs to your throat to produce the weird variety of laughs we all express. Now to get the full picture of what convulsing means, the dictionary defines it as to suffer violent involuntary contraction of the muscles, producing contortion of the body or limbs. That is what happens to your organs. 

But lucky for us, we have the endorphin hormone. You know how you run like an Olympic athlete when you're being chased by a dog or a cow, or workout so hard it's beautiful, and if you hurt yourself you'll feel it much later when you out of danger.... yeah, endorphins. Their job is to musk the pain in such situations. And one of those situations is laughing. And when they run out, is when you'll hear someone say hysterically, "I laughed so hard it hurt." Think about this the next time you're squeezing air out of your throat. It's fun.

Anyways, so they say thou shall know a man from what thy laugh at. I used to think I was a bad person because often my sense of humor, was when my friends were having frustrated outbursts and such. But I soon came to realize that even though I'd help them however I can, my obsession with authenticity made me smile at those moments. That single build up of tasks and confusion that we occasionally have and the outburst that follows after, right there and then, that's true emotion. At that split moment, you don't care what your face looks like, what you sound like or even whatever is happening around you. it's pure feeling and shear expression.

And this is why I'm attracted to genuine personalities. People who snort when they laugh because it's funny to them and express themselves in pure rawness. Even if it's just a fraction before their composure. There is something about being genuine and projecting it. It's like that feeling you get when you have so much fun you forget about the world outside the circle you and your friends create. It's fulfilling...

This is one of the reasons why I believe that Prophet Muhammad aleyhi salaam was the most awesome man to ever walk this earth. He was the most sensitive individual with a pure natural and uncorrupted soul. He would laugh until his face lit up and anger (only for Allah though) until his face turned ripe red. He would cry in sad situations Infront of everyone as he lived his words of what a blessing tears were... He was natural. And perhaps the most beautiful thing was that his sensitive nature was not for him alone, but also extended to other people as well. 

This quality was so much projected that he would change his tone according to different people and give answers and advices with regard to a person's personality and condition. A phenomenon known by the Arabs as Firasa; something the scholars believe that the highest level can only be attained through the fear and worship of Allah. When different people asked him what would get them to Jannah, he would answer them according to their capabilities; one told to wet his tongue with dhikr and the other advised not to leave swalatul A-dhuha ( one of the optional prayers). 

A good example was about an old swahabah who asked him to pray that he gets wealth. The prophet aleyhi salaam warned he couldn't handle being rich and it would stray him. He insisted. He was granted his wish by Allah and soon after, from being in the first row in Salah, he slide to the last and finally abandoned the mosque while tending to the growing number of animals for grazing. 
Ultimately he refuted giving Zakah (charity) for his wealth and grew arrogant. It became reason for his destruction and loss.

Having a sense of humor means that one is funny intentionally, and that takes intelligence; of knowing your audience and what's considered funny to them. I feel that this ability to gauge is how we should all be interacting with each other. 

Every student in a class learn at different capacities. Sibling sisters and brothers operate at different frequencies of understanding. The biggest mistake our teachers, families, friends and ourselves make is comparing one person to another. Because no two people are the same nor will they ever be. The moment we learn to take each person as their capacities are and indulge with them at their level, is the moment we will become true social beings; true human beings. And funny ones too 😂

So, you a teacher, a parent, a relative, a leader, a brother or a sister? And feel like you want to influence more than just your life? Then all you have to do is learn humour. And use its giggly ways to connect and transform the lives of the guy to your left and that to of the one to the right of you. Besides, what's life without a little bit of swivel in it? 😂😜