By Vishnu Anand
Bangalore, May 2 2017: Black Russian is no longer the popular cocktail that’s a heady concoction of carefully chosen spirits. The ‘black’ that is feared to be infesting youngsters in Russia is a heady mixture alright, but of self-harm, and death. Blue Whale is a social media ‘challenge game’ that is feared to have taken the lives of more than 100 youngsters and has its roots in Russia.
In essence, the game revolves around a ‘master’ (the anonymous administrator of a social media group) who orders you to do certain tasks for a period of 50 days. Every day, you are expected to do something bizarre like wake up at 4 a.m., staying aloof and not talking to anyone for an entire day, watching horror movies etc. As the days progress, the tasks become more sinister, like using a knife to draw the pattern of a whale on your forearms with blood. The challenge ultimately culminates with the player having to commit suicide on the 50th day to become the ‘winner’.
While the root of the game appear to emanate from Russia, it is seemingly spreading its tentacles to rest of the civilized world.
Some East European nations like Bulgaria, caught in a Blue Whale panic, have debunked th whole thing. 'Balkan Insight' quotes the Sofia-based Centre for Safe Internet saying there was no concrete evidence for the existence of the game or anything to substantiate the claim that teenagers were playing it in Bulgaria. “‘Blue Whale’ is a creepy manipulation of parents’ fears,” the internet watchdog said in a statement, last week. . The Centre did its check, after a number of websites claimed that the Russian game, was now being played in Bulgaria.
However fears continue to spread: Many schools in the U.K have alerted parents, to monitor their children’s smart phone behaviour. It’s only a matter of time before other countries will be forced to adopt drastic measures to counter the epidemic that Blue Whale is turning out to be. With some of the world's most avid social media fans, India will inevitably be on the spreading fault lines of the sick game.
Of course, one way is to sensitize people against it, and the other is to use technology to prevent the malicious proliferation of the game itself. The latter is slightly different since Blue Whale is more of a social media movement and is difficult to trace.
Pallavi Poojary, Bangalore-based social media evangelist is aghast at the so- called movement. “It is depressing to learn that so many youngsters across the world think it is ‘cool’ to be part of something like this. Social media has so much potential in the world and it is sad to see that it is being leveraged for totally unnecessary and in this case, a fatal result.”
All we can say is, may sense prevail.