Internet “Death Groups” in the Online Culture

Internet “Death Groups” in the Online Culture

Liudmila Vladimirovna Baeva (Astrakhan State University, Russia)
Copyright: © 2020 |Pages: 8
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-9715-5.ch045
OnDemand PDF Download:
No Current Special Offers


The conditions of online culture cause a shift in the following crucial spheres of human life: communication, creativity, leisure, and art. This creates a complex of life-threatening and human safety problems, including the existential. The object of the study is “death groups” (“Blue whale,” “Wake me up at 4.20,” and others) that have become popular in social networks in recent years calling on young people to commit suicide. Within the Eastern European countries, such communities became numerous after 2015, took many lives, and caused a number of lawsuits. This article presents the characteristics of new existential problems in the conditions of e-culture, including those related to virtual escapism and adolescent suicide, through participation in “death groups,” and analyzes the mechanism of how the youth shifts the values of reality and game, life, and death. Hence, the greatest risks leading to escapism, asocial life, suicidal moods, and actions have been allocated.
Chapter Preview


Human existence in the space of online / digital / e-culture and information society is becoming more diverse and attractive. The digital culture used to be limited to only leisure, arts, education, and communication; over the last 20 years, it has become an essential part of the digital economy and business, e-government and online services, without which the entire social system would be malfunctioning now. A present-day person, who lives in the Internet era, would regard any gap in the electronic environment as something undermining the very fundamentals of his/her existence. Philosophic, anthropologic, social, and existential issues of the electronic culture and the digital society have become an object of in-depth research over the last two decades; research activities concerning them are becoming increasingly urgent and topical.

Nowadays the developed countries already face the consequences of virtualization of culture and interpersonal communication. Along with improvement of living standards and significant breakthroughs in medicine, electronics, and robotics, there are new deviations related to deformation of relations between a human and the world, changing attitudes to the virtual environment and communication, and increasing human alienation in the real world. The European countries, the USA, Japan, China and Russia already face the phenomenon of “escape from reality” related to the Internet culture (dependent gamers, hikikomori, etc.). They also face an increasing number of teenage and youth suicides, outbreaks of uncontrolled aggression, withdrawal into a virtual world from the real one, and increased dependence on gadgets and online presence in virtual reality; these issues are now regarded as real threats to existence of the present-day society. Virtual communities promoting murders or suicides have become a real hazard for human life and health.

Leading academic and collegiate centers in different countries of the world have been recently dealing in studying of the influence of informatization on different socio-cultural processes. Thus the issues of the development of electronic culture are the subject matter for the scientists in the University of Milan (А. Ronchi, 2009); McLuhan Institute (Virtual Maastricht McLuhan Institute (VMMI), the Netherlands (K.H. Veltman, 2004); studying ethical and anthropological issues of the information space are the subject matter for the researchers in the International Centre for Innovation in Education (ICIE) Karlsruhe, Germany (R. Capurro, 2006); London School of Economics, department of Media and Communication (Great Britain) (L. Haddon, 2004); Centre for Computing and Social Responsibility (De Montfort University, Great Britain) (S. Rogerson, 1998); Center for the Study of the Information Society of the University of Haifa, Israel (D.R. Raban, 2009); ethical, political and legal aspects of informatization are the subject matter for L. Rocci (2012); B. J. Kallenberg (2001), C.L. Chang (2011) and others.

Issues by J. Baudrillard (1993), P. Virilio (1984), B. Heller (2012), M. Heim, (1993), B., Girard, S. Siochru (2003) and P.C. Rivoltella (2008) focused to influence of e-culture (digital culture) to the human values, lifestyle and worldviews. Professor of Harvard University Floridi L. conducted a study on philosophy of information and ethical issues of using information technology (2013). Professor of the London Open University A. Duff a, considered ethical issues of Internet development and addressed the issues of copyright, digital inequality and violation of the right to private life (2008). F. Schäfer (2009), E. Castronova (2005) studied existential issues and risks of the information society and development of cyberculture. These problems were also raised in our earlier studies related to existential-ethical and anthropological aspects of the electronic and media culture development.

Based on the abovementioned research findings and conclusions, let us study “the death groups” operating in the Internet (“Blue Whale”, “Wake Me Up at 4:20”, etc.), which have been attracting much attention in Russian and international social media since 2015, as they provoked teenagers to commit suicide, as well as “the Columbine communities” that promote copycat crimes at educational institutions.

Our research is based on both existential and axiological approaches, as well as on an empirical data analysis (by reviewing Internet communities and their web sites). Our research determines the risk factors and characterizes “the death groups” and “the Columbine communities” as complex social phenomena of the online culture.

Complete Chapter List

Search this Book: