Friday, October 1, 2010

Tyler Clementi, and the "Little Secrets" We Spread About Each Other

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.


Kyle said...

I saw this story, it was very tragic to say the least.

I'm not sure if you saw the story that broke today about a 13 year old boy in Texas who committed suicide because of bullying he received at school.

"Asher Brown killed himself last Thursday.

His mother, Amy Truong, said her son recently realized that he was gay. She said that, along with his religion, made him a target for bullies at Hamilton Junior High.

"They would insult him because he was Buddhist, and they would call him ‘booty boy’ and try to link the two together between Buddhism and homosexuality," Truong said."

Of course bullying is nothing new, and near is picking a kid out of a crowd for intimidation based on differences they see such as being gay or a different religion. Kids can be so cruel, though in the New Jersey case, the people who posted the video were anything by children.

Nathan said...

Richard posted another one on Facebook this morning. It makes me wonder if we just know about these quicker via the internet, or if there are actually more suicides. I honestly don't know.

Anonymous said...

Quote "watching our words".

Decades ago at the office I was reviewing the local "Daily Report" of legal filings when I noted a lady in the office was filing for divorce. I mentioned it to her in front of others. She had not let it be known. She came to my room, crying, and confronted me for revealing the information. I stammered that it was public information. My regret for that incident still jumps up in my mind. That was just a dumb blunder. Imagine living with a purposeful act that led to a tragedy!