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Mainstream, VOL LV No 38 New Delhi September 9, 2017

Lethal Game

Saturday 9 September 2017, by Samit Kar


The world seems to be riding a Time Machine. Almost every day, people come across surprises and horrors never heard of before. The world has always led to a series of path-breaking events and epochs leading to lapidary social changes. But many of the recent changes are simply unbelievable and no socio-psychological explanation can prove to be worthy to find a plausible answer. The recent spate of incidence of the Blue Whale Game by a large number of students and adolescents repeatedly reminds the spectre what was known as ‘The Black Hole Tragedy’ during the black days of British rule in India.

Where lies the source of incredible attraction to indulge in this game when everybody knows that the ultimate predicament is death? Do the young and adolescents now live in a state of life more harrowing than death? Is the push and pull of the challenges of modernity more ghastly than suicide? There can be now hardly any parent across the world who can live in peace always fearing that his or her ward might be languishing in a perennial psychological hiccup more often than not remaining latent or dormant.

The dreaded Blue Whale Game, that has caused havoc to the life of millions of young population in various parts of the world, was invented by Philip Budekin. Experiencing the tremendous sensation of the game, the Russian Police was able to nab him in May this year. For the time being, it was believed that the menace might be put to a grinding halt. On the contrary, the pull of the Blue Whale Game exacerbated very rapidly causing tremendous panic among the guardians and school authorities. Strong strictures and warnings were issued to make the pupils get afraid of stern actions. But everything proved to have fallen on deaf ears. The problem got aggravated to an alarming level and till now 130 deaths have been reported. In India, Bengal is among the top-ranking States having a yawning number of cases, mostly reported from the suburbs and districts away from Kolkata.

The rising number of suicides and the suicidogenic impulse have proved to be very critical in nature. There is an urgent necessity to examine threadbare why this dangerous game is appearing so attractive to so many young minds.

The fixitation of reasons to find out the causative factors of socio-psychological cases are, no doubt, not easy to accomplish. Some professionals in the field may demand so. But in many cases these are gimmicks to draw more clout and clients. The answer seems to have remained embedded in the modern social bedrock and young minds having dormant loose ends might be the ones who appear to be an easy prey. Family ambience, peer pressure, psychological moorings leading to personal preferences, wayward parental gesture, negative evaluation by relatives, friends, neighbours, etc. about family culture and so on might indeed cast deep scars and gloom in the young minds goading them to turn into veritable delinquents.

The International Labour Organisation (ILO), Geneva had been repeatedly pressing the panic button witnessing the downward curve of employment opportunity in the organised sectors across the world. Thus, more and more families are either caught in severe poverty, debt trap or sudden fall of income due to joblessness, seasonal unemployment and other loss of income causing deep depression in the family. A recent Report of the ILO says the social consequences of unem-ployment across the world will be disastrous. In India, the state of unemployment has been rising very alarmingly and the Union Finance Minister, Arun Jaitley, said on August 31 that the manu-facturing sector of our economy had dipped to a 5.7 per cent growth rate compared to the previous year’s statistics. Recently, the former Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, said there has been hardly any private investment in India in 2017 beyond the government investment to aid several national level development projects.

Across the world, the spectre of joblessness has led to a phase of incessant anxiety and uncertainty. Thus, taking refuge in fantasy and day-dreaming might at least temporarily dull and numb the miseries and strains of life. When reality threatens life, hyper-reality and other-worldly sensuousness justifies another life beyond the real life. Suicide provides the path of liberation towards the entry to the garden of Heaven—the old life getting transformed to a new one. The magnetic pull of the Blue Whale Game emanates from such a socio- psychological consideration.

Of all realities of life the economic reality is perhaps the most important. But it might prove wrong to understand that the economic slump brings disaster in an individual’s life. Boom or slump can cause equal havoc in our life. As slump brings disaster and inhuman hardship, boom can equally cause havoc to our expectation and aspiration leading to an eventual anarchy in our life and temptations. A tempestous mind may prove to be highly unpredictable and at times very dangerous. It can ruin and trample the order of our society. The modern mind due to a number of critical odds appears to be unpredictable and lethal causing unbelievable crimes with uncanny zeal and haste. The world seems to be heading towards a great social catastrophe and the modern mind possesses almost every attribute to be the midwife to this social upheaval.

Jean Baudrillard, a distinguished French post- modernist sociologist, has said that in the modern world there is no distinction between the real and the imaginary. To him the true and the real have ceased to exist. Since there is no longer any truth or reality, signs, that is, logic and rationality, no longer stand for anything. Thus, we live in one ‘gigantic simulation’—‘not real’. This simulation is sometimes used coterminously with hyper- reality. The hyper-real, says Baudrillard, becomes the real and the real becomes the hyper-real. The state of being becomes an illusion and illusion shapes human consciousness. Since consciousness is shaped by a series of images called simulation, the world of virtual replaces the world of real.

The stark meaning of the significance of popularity of the lethal Blue Whale Game may be determined by the fact that the bedrock of modern society has been torn to minutest possible bits and pieces. There is now no existence of society, no collective conscience and no socialisation. Society is a virtual phenomenon and it has turned to be a corpse in reality. The semblance of life is now an enigma and all the straps of social bondage are being disentangled. The modern mind presupposes unbridled freedom leading to a perennial anarchy. The growing popularity of the Blue Whale Game proves in unequivocal terms the demise of society and the conversion of the entire social world into the state of an incredible hyper-reality.

Who could believe till the other day that the destiny of humanity will face the dead-end so early? A U-turn can only be possible should there be more number of caring parents, happy and vibrant families and, above all, very healthy father-mother relationship. The atom of the vast social world is the parivar. It is high time that the parivar is accorded the priority to save the progeny from eventual destruction and project it as the hallmark of modernity.

The author is a sociologist and was a Sociology Faculty in Presidency College, Kolkata.

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