Thursday, September 30, 2010

Time to Stop and Think


The news that an 18 year old college freshman jumped off the George Washington Bridge to his death after his college roommate secretly videotaped his sexual encounter with another man and streamed it live over the internet is just heartbreaking.

By all accounts, Tyler Clementi was an extremely talented musician, devoted friend, beloved son. He was a shy freshman at Rutgers.

And, he was apparently beyond humiliated when he posted on his Facebook page eight minutes before he plunged to his death: "Jumping off the gw bridge sorry."

His roommate and a fellow freshman were arrested and could face up to 5 years in prison for invasion of privacy. No doubt, they will have a life sentence of torment and sorrow.

They probably thought that streaming live video of a gay classmate's intimate encounter was a funny, harmless prank.

But nobody's laughing.

We've all done stupid things and played pranks on our friends. But, in this new age where embarrassing video can go viral across the globe in seconds, the consequences are no joke. And our children need to get that message.

Just as easily as we can all jump online to bully, torment, or publicly humiliate someone else, we can use modern technology to connect, teach tolerance, and spread compassion. In the wake of this beautiful boy's death, I sincerely hope that happens.

A high school classmate said of Tyler Clementi, "When he played his violin, everyone felt something."

When I heard about Tyler Clementi, and how and why his life ended at the age of 18, I felt something.

He's not my son, but he could have been.

The roommate who set up the camera secretly to videotape Tyler is not my son, but he too could have been.

It's time to stop and think. And do better.

Our children's lives depend on it.

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