The younger generation growing up with the internet and social media gets a lot of its excitement through online responses, the click of ‘like’ buttons and the number of hits. There was a time when posting interesting pictures and pouting for selfies on Facebook and Instagram, were sufficient thrills. But, now online thrill sought by youngsters has reached new dangerous levels.
A number of vulnerable youth are falling prey to sensational and dangerous online games such as The Blue Whale challenge or recording a live suicide on Facebook (to teach a lesson to the ex) or a meaningless game in Tamil Bigg Boss. Clearly, the desire to get the eyeballs, and seek thrills has reached another level.
The shocking death of 14-year-old Mumbai schoolboy Manpreet Singh Sahani, who reportedly took his own life, after being part of a deadly online social media game called The Blue Whale challenge, has raised many questions.
Why are teenagers drawn to such a game which allegedly prompts players into committing suicide? Why are people interested in watching a show which involves a task that could kill the contestant? Who in their right mind would want to shoot their own suicide live on camera on Facebook, just to get even with the ex? It gets bizarre by the day.
Is the human mind becoming increasingly vulnerable to the masochistic seduction of internet dangers or is it that more and more people are embarking on crossing rationale limits to get a thrill in life. It appears that when it comes to entertainment and thrill, people have forgotten to maintain the thin line between life and death. Perhaps the divide between fantasy and reality is fading in the world of internet.
This is also not helped by the fact that insensitivity has increased to such an extent that people forget to help other people in trouble. Instead, they are busy shooting the tragic events, thus giving more importance to sharing the incidence on social media than saving a life.
YouTube is filled with numerous distressing videos showing dreadful accidents, with mutilated bodies, people crying for help, yet the bystanders spend more time in recording the horrific episode instead of helping. People are more concerned with popularising their distressful videos than helping the poor person in need. It has become a strange and dehumanised world.
In India, there are stories after stories of vehicle accidents on India’s dangerous roads being recorded on camera phones by onlookers while the victims bleed to death!
A lawyer has filed a complaint against the makers of Bigg Boss Tamil, and the show host Kamal Haasan, for allegedly driving the contestant Oviya to attempt suicide. The actress suffered emotionally, but the negative publicity helped the show to earn more advertisements, while the voyeuristic public enjoyed the real life drama.
Oviya reportedly tried to commit suicide in the Bigg Boss Tamil house by immersing herself in the pool with her nose closed. One of her fellow participant, Snehan, saw this in the nick of time and saved her. It was a close call.
The Blue Whale Challenge, an online game believed to be originated from Russia, has become a favourite game of teenagers across the world. The game involves 50 tasks where the player needs to perform several dangerous games to clear various levels. The final task allegedly demands people to commit suicide-at least this is what happened in the case of Manpreet.
Psychologists say that teenagers are increasingly becoming insecure and will reach out to anything that promises them attention. Online games and reality shows involving self-destruction, not only derives thrill but, also gives an option to make them feel ‘important’ for a short time.
Handling a heartbreak is never easy, but the new generation seems to be taking the entire phenomenon of dealing with the pain to another level such as recorded s of suicides. Facebook has also become a devastating tool for people suffering heartbreak. Several cases have come to the fore where the broken hearted lover committed suicide on live camera!
In June this year, when Hani Aswani of Ulhasnagar, a Mumbai suburb, broke up with his girlfriend of six years, he decided to hang himself. And, to drive home the message, the 26-year-old live-streamed his last moments to his ex on a video call. A Mumbai student Arjun needed an audience, it seems to talk about heartbreak. He recorded the entire disgusting event to broadcast it on Facebook.
According to a report in The Times Of India, a depressed 24-year-old checked into a hotel and posted a live tutorial on suicide. Then he took a swig of his drink, puffed a cigarette and with a vacant stare into the camera, spoke his last words, “see you on the other side”, then jumped out of a window on the 19th floor.
Clearly, something has gone wrong with society, which is going through a transition from tradition lifestyle to a computer and internet dominated human society. Since the bonding between parent- children and the student-teacher relationship seems to have gone on long leave, it has become impossible for anyone to spot the signs of suicidal behaviour. And since most Indians do not believe in visiting psychologists while suffering from depression, an expert advice to nip such destructive thoughts in the bud remains unfulfilled.
Time has come that, parents, teachers, as well as the youngsters, should remain alert to spot such cases. Deriving thrill while recording death is clearly a sign of mental disturbance. Youngsters indulging in dangerous online games is yet another important fact that parents should be watchful of.
Since the government has become famous for its obsession of banning everything from beef to Pakistani actors, it should also think of banning such irrelevant and dangerous online games. Facebook Inc. can also think of implementing advanced and futuristic software which can detect any recording pertaining to suicide.
YouTube can also put a ban on uploading painfully distressful videos of accidents even if it means foregoing a lot of advertisements.
Despite all these measures, the real change can come only when the teenagers themselves develop the sense and power to say ‘no’ to bizarre challenges and shows. Society needs to start giving more importance to developing their mental strength so much so that it prevents them from taking extreme steps as committing suicide and recording it too.