Recently I came across a news article which appeared to me as somewhat sinister. According to it, a 14- year old teenage girl jumped off a high rise, as part of an internet game named “The Blue Whale Challenge”. I shrugged it off and immediately dismissed the article thinking that it was just a case of a chronically depressed and mentally unstable kid taking her life and blaming the cause on some silly online game.
After a few days, a torrent of related posts populated my Facebook page wherein a number of teenagers from across the world were dead; or about to die when the authorities or vigilant neighbors rescued them, all because of the Blue Whale Challenge.
Is this some kind of a sick joke?
I started digging into the cases of deaths associated with this so-called Blue Whale Challenge. My mild interest turned into an intense morbid curiosity and culminated in a stunned horror.
How can a silly internet game manipulate the minds of people the world over, and make them do grotesque tasks!? Can a person really be manipulated into committing suicide, no matter how mentally strong he is? Does this so-called “Blue Whale Challenge” give him enough courage to resort to anything to end his life? How exactly are they able to do it on such a large scale?
Can an anonymous person(the creator of the game) manipulate the minds of so many people without any physical contact, just by sitting in the comfort of his home?
There are endless questions like these, the answers to which are yet to be known.
This internet game cannot be obtained in the Google playstore. But it is available on social media platforms such as Facebook and Whatsapp where a closed community of limited loony people circulate the link. The strange thing about this game is that the game chooses the player, and not the other way round. The curator/administrator establishes contact with each individual through suicide groups and takes all his personal details including photographs and email address. The player is given a set of 50 tasks.
The first few tasks are seemingly innocent such as:
- Waking up at 4.20 AM
- Playing a game where you need to rescue a whale and deliver it safely to its mother whale
- Watching psychedelic and horror movies at midnight
- Going to your nearest railroad
- Listening to certain kinds of music which the curator sends you
Later, the challenges become scarier. They include:
- Going to the graveyard/cemetery at midnight
- Carving ‘f40’ and ‘f57’ with a razor on your arm
- Uploading your naked photo
- Standing on the edge of a building
- Spilling hot oil on your hand
- Drawing a picture of a blue whale on your hand with a blade and sending a snapshot of it
At the end of all these tasks, the player becomes fearless and gets habituated to obeying commands.
The game eventually culminates in suicide. The 50th task maybe something like:
- Jumping off a high rise
- Hanging yourself
- Lying down on the railroad track just before the arrival of a train
Most of the victims falling prey to this game are teenagers/mentally unstable people. The reasons for this being so are:
- Teenage is the age when your mind can be easily molded, where you don’t question/reason properly, the morality of certain things.
- When the teens are introverts and don’t share a healthy bond with their parents/siblings, they find solace in the virtual world and fall prey to manipulative people.
- The mind is always a monkey and even the strongest of people, especially the younger ones love risky adventures without thinking about the consequences. He/she might ultimately get so caught up with clearing all the challenges that they lose control over their mind and start becoming docile/malleable.
- It is easier to sway the mind of a person who is on the brink of sanity.
Are Machines manipulating us?
There’s another popular location-based augmented reality game named “PokemonGo” which took the world by a storm. In this, the player moves about in his surroundings in a bid to find virtual creatures. There are high chances of meeting with an accident/getting injured especially when the player is so engrossed in his phone. This game blends reality with virtual/fantasy elements. This makes it all the more difficult for people who have a hard time distinguishing between what is real and what is virtual.
All these cases are self-explanatory in the sense that, though technology can make man’s life easier, it can be misused, the consequences of which can be irreversible and disastrous.
Life is precious. Teenage is the age when you can effectively tap your potential and channelize your energies in positive ways. Don’t get sucked into the vicious vortex of virtual reality !!
Image Credits: Google Images