Friday, October 1, 2010
I've been thinking about the freshman college student in New Jersey who committed suicide recently after a tape of him with another male student was spread around the internet. It's really easy to forget that our minds can go wild when our secrets are exposed, especially ones with a social stigma attached to them. In addition, it's really seductive to be amongst those in the "know," who first spread such information around, hoping to stick it to someone or a group of someones we don't like.
Tyler Clementi's case is an extreme one, but at some time or another, all of us probably dip our toes in the stream of gossip and/or sensitive information spreading. And when we do, we override memories of our own experiences of being surprised, or even shocked, when something secret came out behind our backs.
I'm not really sure how best we collectively can address tragic cases like Tyler's. The two students involved will probably receive jail time, and there will will probably be a lot of talk about cyber-bullying, homophobia, and the like. Which is fine. But I think it all begins with each of us in our everyday lives, watching our words, checking in on whatever variation of Right Speech our ethical code provides on a regular basis. Because there are many more Tylers out there counting on us to do so.