In an ultra-IT and digitalised era, childhood has become almost inexistent, and adolescence a stage at the limit between danger and the uncertainty of future life as an adult.
And in Romania, childhood and adolescence mean sombre truths for most youth: poverty, illiteracy, infant mortality (Romania tops the European rankings for infant mortality), abandonment at birth, family, social and school violence, lack of outlook for a decent life as a youngster and an adult, a school environment that is hostile or indifferent to the natural needs of this period in one’s life, isolation from their own families because of the estrangement that parents create for their own children, consciously or not, being too caught-up in the devastating vortex of the marathon of survival, most of the time forgetting them in some kindergarten or school, with their grandparents, a babysitter or simply in front of a PC or phone, which becomes for the child the only real, available universe and the only way of communicating with the world.
These are but some of the realities of childhood and adolescence in Romania and of the real, not imaginary or virtual, dangers that every child faces in our country.
And if, as an adult, this virtual hyper-universe has become a world filled with all kinds of challenges and pressures, outside of which we don’t really know how to be and do something of what our daily life entails, for a child this world of infinite possibilities, apparently tangible and extraordinarily fascinating, becomes, most of the time, the source that modifies and processes the subconscious and the mental of that human cub in the most unfortunate and grave manners.
In recent weeks, the Romanian press was on red alert, trumpeting the emergence of a new internet scourge which apparently targets children and teenagers – the Blue Whale.
The apocalyptic Whale, a game invented and spread by a mind whose coordinates are definitely in the field of psychiatry or the straitjacket and monitoring for high-risk, real or imaginary, has as the end goal the suicidal act the young person must resort to in order to prove his/her virtue as an elite player.
Based on preliminary information published by the Romanian press, the game allegedly has already claimed victims among youngsters. Although, after a careful review of the cases of suicide among youngsters, the press has concluded, at least in recent days, that, after all, Romanian youngsters do not commit suicide because of the Blue Whale or other more or less oceanic and imaginary animals but rather because of factors that are far more tangible and human than one might think.
However, what aren’t adults – or at least some of them – willing to do? Those whose essential preoccupation is politics, including at the cost of the lives of children that they should (theoretically, only theoretically!) protect from dangers with or without a human face.
What politicians are not doing for Romanian children is more than obvious and clear.
Politicians are not building better schools and a more efficient education system more accessible for all children.
Politicians are not building a healthcare system that would protect children and ensure for them an environment for at least normal if not exceptional birth, growth and development.
Politicians are not even creating jobs and decent salaries for the parents, so that they could stay home, in the country, by their children’s side, offering the latter a decent life and a future that would surpass the conditions of the families they were born in.
Politicians are not drafting laws to protect the children’s interests, rights and living conditions.
What are politicians doing?
Politicians do what they know best! Political propaganda and electoral circus. Including or especially in places in which politics has no place being, not even in name. That is what morality and the law say, issues that seem to be completely irrelevant and after all indifferent to our politicians. Not to mention the presence – albeit extremely feminine, painted, hair-dressed and playful – of some of these politicians.
Gabriela Vranceanu Firea is one of the politicians – mayor of the capital city and much clamoured and rather self-clamoured mother – who thought, in terms as politically maternal as possible, to ride the wave created by the lethal Blue Whale and to wash up, whale and all, in one of the Bucharest schools, accompanied by dances, songs, little games and applauses, to explain to children how to keep away from the Blue Whale.
Madam politician Firea, along with another madam politician, Carmen Dan, who by chance is also the minister who should deal with ensuring the enforcement and observance of the law and protection of citizens on Romania’s territory (so of the country’s children too, or especially them), dressed up like the good fairies of politics, wearing cool t-shirts and jeans, and went out hunting imaginary blue killer whales in an act of supreme care and magisterial embarrassment.
And here’s how a press topic, a serious error for which there should be severe penalties in my opinion, precisely because of the position and importance that the press has in the life of every person and especially of the educational and informative role that the press should have for a country’s young population, politics has once again managed to transform the cause of a potential danger into a real one, through an unstoppable cannibalistic impulse of using any opportunity, irrespective how sinister and hypothetical, to create moments and sketches in the electoral campaign portfolio of a party and of some characters who do not know how to nor are they interested in legally, morally, commonsensically and decently differentiate the political office from the public office and the duties of the political party office from those of the public office.
In reality, the media campaign and the campaign that the Bucharest Mayor and the Interior Mayor started against the dangerous and in the end inexistent Blue Whale managed only to distract public opinion from the real problems that Romanian youngsters face.
I could even say that this campaign has managed to draw attention, in an entirely dangerous way, to a phenomenon that, in fact, is and remains the fruit of a rich imagination, not to call it pathological imagination. A phenomenon that, up until politicians took charge and conferred it with false importance and weight, had remained an absurd rumour and warning for yet another absurdity created in virtual reality, with a high risk for youngsters. However, the political touch automatically transformed it into a real danger. Because, as we well know and have already grown accustomed to find out ourselves, everything politics touches eventually becomes a danger or withers away and dies.
And, as the real specialists know, when you have a problem you shouldn’t propagate it without a thorough prior verification, thus sparking interest and curiosity where none existed before. But you try to contain it instead. To make this easier to understand for madam Firea and madam Dan, when you win the elections and promise the stars in the sky, you don’t simply talk, sing and dance, compulsively waving around a governance platform that lacks any real economic and financial grounds, nor do you limit that platform to huge Easter eggs thrown throughout the city and sinister men wearing rabbit costumes and marching through the capital’s streets, terrorising children with grotesque appearances.
And since we’re talking about governance platforms and public offices won through democratic vote, I’d like to ask what are these two ladies’ competencies to treat an issue the likes of the one raised by the Blue Whale? Other than being the members and darlings of a ruling party!
Moreover, I’d propose that the same diligent and careful members of the ruling party – that has a solid parliamentary majority and high aspirations for the presidential office – should pair up and address other problems too, such as:
Ms Firea and Mr Daea should engage in an awareness campaign for the way in which potholes can be used to boost urban agricultural productivity. Especially the section that concerns raising sheep and the tradition of moving from one party to the next.
Mr Dragnea and the Bucharest Mayor should engage in an awareness campaign for the need to use the toothbrush at least twice a day. Gargling being mandatory at the end of each use.
Ms Firea and Mr Tariceanu should engage in an awareness campaign for the importance of families and the issue of revising the legislation that limits the number of times a person can (re)marry.
Ms Vasilescu and Ms Firea should engage in an awareness campaign for the ideal, limitless salary in a parallel universe of divine miracles that would transform Bucharest, overnight, into an exemplary European capital.
And the entire PSD should engage in repeated and lengthy information sessions about the danger that lying and thieving entail.
Meanwhile, the danger for our children, here, now, in Romania, is called the Red Whale.
A veritable killer whale which roams the waters in which we all swim.
And the game levels and the levels of suicidal and lethal risk are multiplied and replicated every 24 hours, exponentially boosting the degree of danger for all generations of children, teenagers and adults in this country.