When no one can hear you, what are you screaming for?
We can be silent, we can sing
Stay or run away, but we still we burn
A big blue whale can’t break the chain
These innocuous sounding lines are from a song called #Burn, composed by Russian alternative rock band #Lumen. Rumors abound that this very song was behind the name #BlueWhale given to an online game that has been linked to the mysterious death of several teenagers around the world. In fact reports suggest(unconfirmed) that in #Russia alone about 130 young boys and girls who took up the Blue Whale Challenge have tragically ended their lives. Last summer these reports first appeared in the Russian investigative newspaper, Novaya Gazeta.
It was while trying to understand the alarming number of child suicides (for the record about 1500 teenagers all between the age group of 14 to 18-19 commit suicide in Russia every year) all unrelated that #NovayaGazeta inadvertently learnt about this diabolic online game. There had been whispers for long. Several support groups, local communities and journalists had been alleging that on popular social networking sites like #VKontakte (Russia’s very own #Facebook) there existed these closed groups, even murderous cults and pro-suicide groups that were known simply as ‘Groups of Death’
The Blue Whale Challenge requires a participant to perform certain tasks which are assigned to them by administrators (referred to as #Curators) and post pictures/videos to ascertain that these have been completed. Thus begins a conditioning of young, impressionable minds by getting them to watch #Psychedelic videos, depriving them of sleep (thus disorienting their senses) and increasingly cutting them off from the world at large. #SelfHarm in case tasks are not completed is encouraged and slowly the image of a Blue Whale is reinforced on the subconscious.
Why a Blue Whale, you ask? Well it is due to the strange phenomenon of this species tending to swim ashore (called #Beaching) and thereby killing itself. Somewhere the perverse minds behind this game decided that since killing oneself was the final aim (read task) of this game this name was apt. Before long the Blue Whale Challenge spread it’s tentacles all over the world with reports of teenagers killing themselves in similar circumstances (jumping off roofs, stepping in front of trains) pouring in. But when renowned fact checking (and rumor busting) site, #Snopes tried to get to the bottom of this here is what they found. Precious nothing.
Firstly there is no clarity about how kids (now worldwide) are able to get access to these groups. For there surely is no such App that is available to download and play. Some say that you simply update your status with relevant hashtags(like #F57 which is supposedly the group that started all this) and ‘someone’ will get in touch with you themselves. Sure sounds creepy but highly implausible too. In the middle of all this melee one suddenly heard that a 22 year old psychology student in Russia, who confessed that he was indeed the inventor of the Blue Whale Challenge, had been apprehended by authorities. All of this news sounding very murky and incredible.
In the end as we debate whether the #BlueWhaleChallenge actually exists or if it is all mere hoax it sure serves a wake up call. For adults and parents around the world to take notice of the dangers that lurk on the internet. And to ensure that their wards get due love, care and attention. So that they do not spend an unhealthy number of hours with virtual strangers. And have a normal childhood like we did. That is not asking for too much, is it?