Online manipulation influences users to self harm

By Nikkel Mitchell/strong>
Staff Reporter

Beginning in Russia, the Blue Whale challenge is a challenge that teens have participating in that inflicts pain on themselves. According to the Sun, this challenge has led at least 130 teens to suicide, after a number of days of the teens harming themselves because of the challenge. After a period of 50 days, and an outrageous number of harmful tasks, the administrator, or “curator,” instructs the teens to commit suicide. The “curator” tells the participants what to do and when to do it.

According to the Indian Express, these tasks start off as small and seemingly harmless tasks such as listening to a certain genre of music, waking up at the early hours of the morning, and watching horror films. As harmless as that sounds, it quickly escalates into tasks like carving symbols, or words into the participants’ flesh.

Although the challenge has never been confirmed as actually existing, many of the victims’ families have said to have seen, or suspected their family member to have been doing these tasks that have been demanded. Many of the victims have also posted something odd related to the Blue Whale phenomenon, hours leading up to their deaths.

WCHS sophomore, Tyler Laughlin says he spends upon an average of 50 hours a week on his phone, especially social media.

“I feel like social media and today’s media overall really makes us extremely vulnerable to issues like the Blue Whale Challenge,” Laughlin said.
WCHS sophomore, Truly Gordin made the connection between the Blue Whale challenge and the 2016 movie, “Nerve.” “Nerve” is a movie based upon tasks that you have to do that end up resulting in death most of the time.

“It reminds me of that movie ‘Nerve’ where they either watched people do dangerous things, or they perform the dangerous things. They are similar because they both end up with the person doing the dangerous things dying because they wanted to either finish the game, or get more money. They both start out as simple things then slowly escalate into more dangerous and life threatening things,” Gordin said.

Psychological manipulation is a huge issue when it comes to the Blue Whale challenge, and it was even a key issue in the movie “Nerve.” Psychology teacher Natalee Lewis gave her input on the psychological side of these issues.
“Psychological manipulation is when a person tries to influence another’s behavior using tactics that can be deceitful or even abusive,” Lewis said.

One sign to look for if somebody thinks that they’re being psychologically manipulated would be to look for the manipulation of facts, or lying. According to Psychology Today, once they can get somebody to believe a small lie, they will continue to tell them once they have established trust. They may also overwhelm the other with facts, to establish superiority, and to make it known that they think they know more. This manipulator will also almost never let you be right. They may also use humor to pick at your insecurities.

“People who use this type of manipulation will almost make you feel guilty for not doing what they want you to do. Psychology Today wrote an article about signs to look for in a person who you think might be psychologically manipulating and a lot of the signs could also be used to describe a bullying situation,” Lewis said.

There are many ways to avoid this type of situation; one of them would be to just know what you’re joining and who is running the situation. Being aware of an issue would make an individual less likely to be targeted by said issue.

“One of the best ways to avoid this type of manipulation is to make sure that you are knowledgeable about all of the facts related to the situation. A manipulator will try to overwhelm you with information that is favorable to what they want you to do. If you know information ahead of time regarding the scenario, you’ll be able to avoid being persuaded to do something you don’t want to. Also, don’t immediately do what the person wants you to if it’s something you’re not comfortable with. Take your time to make a good, well thought out decision,” Lewis said.

The psychological manipulators that are apart of the Blue Whale challenge start off with small tasks, and work their way up to more high risk tasks, such as standing on the edge of a roof, or even jumping, but they would have to begin small and make sure that the participant is on board and ready to follow their every command.

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