Social media is a dais for a lot of things. It can help you be famous, you can meet new people, you can probably find ‘the one’, you can learn, you can unlearn, you can be brainwashed, you can be bullied, and in some horrible cases, you can die. Such is a case of the currently spreading Blue Whale challenge, which is specifically guiding people, especially teens towards suicide. Of all the things and content that have been contested for internet censorship, this Blue Whale challenge has got to be on the top of the list. Also Read - No, Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter and Instagram will not stop working in India (Not right now)Also Read - Pakistan blocks Facebook, Twitter and other social media apps until 3 pm
It s absolutely unbelievable that such a horrible thing is actually becoming a fad, but the hard truth is that it is. Also called the suicide game , the Blue Whale challenge, horrifyingly, lists some daily tasks for 50 days, some of which include self mutilation, watching horror movies and waking up at unusual hours, and these tasks get more extreme as days pass. And on the final day, the challenge encourages the player to commit suicide. Also Read - Her Circle content and social media platform launched on the occasion of International Women’s Day
What is the Blue Whale Challenge?
If you actually go through the challenges they list, it is extremely disturbing just to read. Apart from the self harm it asks a teen to perform, it has a weirdly delusional bit where it asks the challenger to draw a blue whale , think that they are a blue whale , or be a blue whale . That itself gives such an unsettling vibe. Can you imagine how a teen behaves and how it affects a teen who is actually following this challenge and trying to be a blue whale ? ALSO READ: Blue Whale is a disturbing game that is pushing teens towards suicide
At this point, one would naturally think why should anyone fall for that? But it has been happening and unfortunately, it seems like it is spreading. Since last three months, this challenge has reportedly affected the lives of over 130 people. Two schoolgirls, Yulia Konstantinova, 15, and Veronika Volkova, 16, fell to their deaths from the roof of an apartment block in industrial Ust-Ilimsk, Russia. One of the victims, Yulia, left a note saying End on her social media page after she posted a picture of a big blue whale.
And the most recent is the case of a young 14-year-old boy from Mumbai, who jumped off a building he resided in. Though not certain, Mumbai Police is speculating the Blue Whale challenge to be the reason behind the teen s suicide. India Today accessed a picture, which was allegedly taken by the boy as part of the challenge, sitting on the terrace parapet. In the photo, the boy’s legs can be seen, and the photo was captioned, “Soon the only thing you would be left with is a picture of me.”
Photo: Saurabh Vaktania, India Today
Why is it spreading?
It is extremely hard to decipher here why should such an appalling fad pick up trend. But my own words somehow answer the question, and that is the fact that it becomes a fad! Fashion, fad and trend spread like wildfire now that we have social media. One person in the US pours a bucket of ice on themselves and the world knows what to do next. By this I don t mean to reduce the issue of mental health, online bullying or even peer pressure that could be drawn from this incidence. However, it is undeniable that a social media trend is capable of making a person do much more than we can anticipate. ALSO READ: Dhinchak Pooja rules the internet right now, and you are to be blamed
Why do I get the strong urge of playing this game?Just want to see how a game can play with me on mental level.Curious.#bluewhalechallenge
— Afreen Khan (@_aafreeen) August 1, 2017
And from this event of Manpreet Singh Sahani s, and the death of many other such teens around the world, I draw two conclusion. First of all, a challenge like the Blue Whale clearly aims to play with a teenager s fragile psychology. But it is so essential for anyone, but not just a teen, using social media to understand how any fad that doesn’t respect human life, that disobeys the law, disrespects a faiths, genders, or choices are a concern. Instead of participating we need to learn to immediately chide it.
However, this again brings us to the argument, where a teen possibly suffering depression, or being bullied may more likely fall prey to such a thing, than the other. While this can not be said for all of them, but when younger, we tend to be more impulsive than ever, and most experimental too. But now with the access to the social media being essentially on the tips of our fingers, there is a responsibility every social media user needs to take up on. If you are going through something, you need to seek help. You can t be falling prey to some idiotic online challenge. You will be disregarding the people around you and your ownself, by being a part of a challenge like that. RELATED: The Bad, The Worse and The Worst of Social Media
The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children says that children should remember not to follow the crowd and not feel pressured into doing anything that makes them feel unsafe. Children can find it difficult to stand up to peer pressure but they must know it s perfectly okay to refuse to take part in crazes that make them feel unsafe or scared. Parents should talk with their children and emphasise that they can make their own choices and discuss ways of how to say no. Reassuring a child that they can still be accepted even if they don t go along with the crowd will help stop them doing something that could hurt them or make them uncomfortable.
What can you do?
And this is exactly where my second conclusion seeps in, which is an extension of the social media responsibility. Not just the person himself, but friends and family have the onus upon them too to report if there is anything of such a degree they even suspect. For instance in Manpreet Singh Sahani s case, the cyber police reportedly found out about the Blue Whale Challenge through a WhatsApp group the teenager and his friends were a part of, where something of the degree was being discussed. Sahani had also hinted it to his friends saying that he wouldn t be going to school from Monday. Then there was the image he shared of him sitting on the terrace parapet. These are enough hints to tell you that a person needs help.
If nothing, Facebook, where most of are online 10 out of 24 hours a day, has a suicide prevention tool, which can be found by simply typing Suicide in the search bar on top and the Facebook Help: Suicide page will show in the drop-down. The page guides one with different help options and provides them with a suicide hotline number, in case of emergency.
For that matter, Instagram offers tools that provide options such as talk to a friend or contact a helpline, provide critical resources for people who may be thinking about self-injury. Users observing threat of suicide or self-injury can contact on emergency services along with other options to reach out to the person. And offline, Indian Express lists a number of suicide helplines in India you could reach out.
Essentially, to what people are calling the Blue Whale challenge right now, we just can not allow something like this to become a fad. We can not be blind to something that can cause a death or be a part of it. Addiction to social media is different, and mindlessly following whatever is a part of it is something absolutely different. The issue of the Blue Whale challenge is much bigger than many of us are comprehending. This is not a trend. Suicide can not be a trend.