There is a dark side to knowledge society

Evil is having a whale of a time. Parents and teachers are getting the blues. Children are falling victim to the macabre Blue Whale.

Published: 03rd September 2017 04:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 03rd September 2017 09:02 AM   |  A+A-

Evil is having a whale of a time. Parents and teachers are getting the blues. Children are falling victim to the macabre Blue Whale. The Internet game strikes at the heart of what mankind holds the most sacred, its children.

Evil comes into the world with a stealthy tread, wearing many masks to hunt the innocent. Today, it is the dark circuitry of technology, the mother of invention and a modern necessity. Social and personal tech rule our days. Without it, there would be no computers, TVs, ACs, automobiles, refrigerators, microwaves, planes, trains, cell phones—the list is endless.  

The Internet has changed our lives forever, for good and bad. On the side of good, it has enhanced choices in personal entertainment such as multiplexes, cable TV and playstations. On the dark side lurks the Deep Web, particularly exciting for deviants. Investigating agencies are constantly racing against its rapid innovations.

It has sites where pedophiles can watch the worst kind of child pornography without fear of arrest, where videos of real rapes are uploaded, where contract killers are contacted to order a hit. There are suicide sites, which advise lost souls on how to end their life. The Deep Web is where jihad prowls, and where plans to destroy civilisation are laid and executed. And through its tides, the Blue Whale swims like a Moby Dick of death.

In pre-World War western society, ignorance defined evil, sanctioned by religion. Today, it is knowledge. In post-war Europe, Sartre and Camus explored alienation and existentialism as the 20th century’s worst ills. They didn’t have a clue to what was coming.  

Knowledge has become the death next door. Its child now is the software of suicide. The original attribute of childhood was innocence. Alice in Wonderland and Vikram aur Betaal prepared children for dangers ahead, outside the protection of parents and teachers.

Children learned about the future by opening pages, not by logging in. The enchanting Wonderland of Lewis Carroll is an allegory of life with evil kings and queens, and teaching the charming absurdity of existence. The Panchatantra, brought alive by Amar Chitra Katha, was a world of moral legends. The Little Prince taught readers about the innocence of childhood and the true value of friendship.  
Children were once heroes of their own imagination. Now, they are the victims.

Modern tools of technology, closing concertina wire of academic competition and the reduction of relationships are taking a toll on our young. Pastures have shrunk and playgrounds are disappearing, killing the delights of childhood exploration.

Nuclear families exclude the benign advice of grandparents. The rigors of aspirational careers are forcing parents to have little time for their offspring. The pleasure of learning is lost at the play school level itself, where kids are taught to be gladiators, not students. There is nothing more terrible than the loneliness of children. Nevertheless, it is what this age has brought into our homes and lives.  

Hold your children close. Take time off to read them The Chronicles of Narnia. Get DVDs of Tarzan—however lame—to watch, over homemade popcorn and salsa. Be an Ishmael telling them there is a Captain Ahab somewhere waiting to slay the Blue Whale. And make them believe it.

Ravi Shankar

ravi@newindianexpress.com

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