Real Life can be a Downer
The Consequences of Bullying
In every life there is sadness eventually. No one escapes unscathed. Some of us are more resilient, but those that are not feel fewer options, no relief and little hope. Such was the case of Tyler Clementi, the 18 year old Rutgers University freshman who took his life this September 21, 2010.
Tyler's future looked bright. He was an accomplished violinist scheduled to play with the Rutger's Symphony days after he took his life. His name remained on the schedule as part of his memorial. His family loved him dearly.
Whether he was gay or not, Tyler suffered the consequences of bias at the hands of his roommate, Ravi Dharum and accomplice, Molly Wei. Charges following an investigation may be filed against the two for their deliberate, premeditated invasion of privacy that left Tyler desperate and alone with the discovery he had been betrayed, his privacy violated, forever in cyberspace.The roommate had secretly webcammed a video streaming live on the Internet of Tyler's intimate encounter with a man. Tyler had asked for privacy in the room until midnight. Ravi agreed and set the stage for his monstrous invasion.
For every action there is a reaction
Tyler's web journal of the events that took place leading to his final decision began with his options. After finding Ravi's tweet about the video of the his private encounter, Tyler debated and finally decided after deliberation to report the incident to his residential advisor just days before his suicide. He hesitated to file the report after logging onto a gay website, explaining the incident and asking for advice, saying "don't wanna tell someone and end up with nothing happening and just have him get pissed at me". Tyler, confirmed the roommates actions by asking for privacy the next day in a text to Ravi around 7 p.m., got permission from Ravi and when he examined the room, found the web cam on and pointed at Tyler's bed. Panic setting in, Tyler unplugged the video cam and the computer and began a frantic search for further cameras. Ravi had already sent another post inviting those interested to contact him online.
Seventeen hours later, Tyler Clementi, left his wallet, cell phone and laptop on the George Washington Bridge, and leapt from the bridge into the Hudson River after leaving his final message, "Jumping off the GW bridge. Sorry." His body was recovered September 23..
Anderson Cooper interviews Dr. Phil on Rutgers Suicide
A student comments
Death in DIgital Land
Tyler Clementi is not alone in his decision to terminate his life due to the unbearable light of digital land. The digital forums available to everyone with a computer has resulted in many teenage suicides. Covert activity possible today is only limited by imagination. The possibilities are myriad and once accomplished cannot be taken back. Information remains alive and well in Cyberspace forever, long after the deaths of it's victims. No apologies, criminal charges, jail time or monetary compensation can squelch the damage done.
It has been reported that Rutgers, ironically, had chosen the day the Tyler Clementi story broke, to implement a "Civility Campaign" related particularly toward the dangers of online technology, cases exactly like the one that just transpired on their very campus. Reports are coming out now that 1/3 of the homosexual population, including students and faculty, have considered leaving universities due to the negative experiences they are regularly subjected to. Unfortunately, the situations created by bais and hate are, in many instances, discovered too late. The victim has either left, one way or another, or become so damaged they are unable to live fully. In the case of Tyler Clementi, loved by family and friends, proclaimed a gifted, accomplished musician by teachers, was not enough to give him any hope for the future. Cyberspace held forever the private, intimate choices he held too compromising to rise above.
St. Louis, my hometown, has suffered loss through this growing problem. Megan Meier, 13 years old, was ecstatic that her parents allowed her to open a MySpace account. Megan had been bullied most of her school years. Here was a chance to make friends online. A young, 16 year old boy became an online beau who told her how lucky he was to have found her. One day, in this brief relationship, he became abusive online telling her she was ugly and the world would be better off without her. Her mom, aggravated that Megan did not immediately get offline and with emotions running high, Megan accused her mom of not being on her side. Megan, crying, ran upstairs to her bedroom. Quiet too long, Megan's mom, Tina, went upstairs and found her only daughter hanging in her closet. Tina's scream brought the father upstairs where they cut the rope hanging Megan. Megan died the following day. In a bizarre twist, it was discovered that Megan's Internet beau wasn't a teenage boy at all, but rather, a troubled, middle-aged woman who lived in the neighborhood. Ultimately, the Meier's family, their grief palpable and unable to cope and continue their lives together, have divorced. Another family has died.
Megan Meier Suicide
The Trial - Megan Meier's Case
Reaching for help
Where do you begin to overcome intolerance, prejudice and hate? It is difficult to consider as it is so pervasive, so ingrained, and reaches across a broad spectrum. of diversified groups. It appears the laws preventing bias and hate have not been effective. By the time it is addressed and proven, it is too late. The victims have suffered too long, struggling to prevail in daily life, seeing little hope of escaping their persecution. Where do you go and live authentically when hate won't allow it?
Schools today are aware of these issues and are trying to implement programs and education on the effects of intolerance. Laws superficially address issues, but legal recourse remains subject to lengthy proceedings and laws that do not carry adequate deterrents in the form of punishment.
The victims themselves, are often confused. Teenagers in particular are a work in progress. Often, they are in a state of flux regarding sexuality, peer pressure, the ongoing conflict between differences in generations and the issues everyone battles growing up. It is a volatile time of life involving important choices and decisions. Insecurity is often cloaked in shame, making the disclosure difficult and the act of reaching out for help then impossible. Because the issues are so personal, often questions just don't come. No one can help if they aren't aware of the problem.
It appears now that Tyler was trying to reach out in contacting a gay Internet site with questions. He didn't come away from that encounter with the help he needed. Qualified help may have given him hope to hang in there beyond the acute situation. The crisis he felt alone in, his state of mind trying to sort through his desperate last hours makes for many questions, soul searching and regrets. Intervention in this degree of crisis is beyond me. Hopefully, there will be much discussion, with concrete ideas and programs designed to reach those that are searching for answers to some of life's toughest decisions.