Thursday, September 30, 2010
Reading the story of Rutgers student Tyler Clementi, and the apparent suicide off the George Washington Bridge, because he was outed on the Internet, has really hit home. A young man of 18 tender years, with exceptional musical talents and on the verge of a new hope-filled college career before him, is snuffed out.
It gives me pause.
First, that others would violate one's sense of privacy and so carelessly destroy a life in the process.
Second, that one would feel that his life is not worth living because others now know something very private about himself.
Third, that for some, the culture, society, expectations, standards, or whatever are such that despite all the good efforts out there, there is still no apparent support structure for such individuals.
I grieve for the Tylers out there. I grieve for their families. I grieve that we still live in a society where it is some kind of recreation to play with other's lives and feel we have an entitlement or right to expose someone literally to the view of the world. And I grieve that we live where so many of us, me included, would feel desolate and destroyed in the process - to the point that death is a better option than living...
I find myself identifying with Tyler. Some of you know me personally. I have revealed many (maybe too many) personal details about myself - in an effort to keep my blog honest, true and real, even to a fault - to allow you to get to know the "real" me. I've allowed you to peep through the curtains and follow me around and even get inside me and know my inner-most thoughts and feelings - such that if you really wanted to find me, you most easily could. And finding me, where I live, where I work, what I do, where I go to church, you could follow, stalk, and out me.
And maybe you'd think it would be good for me if I were more honest, and more out there, and more public in who I really am. Maybe I may be deserving such exposure, as no one should be allowed to say and do things under the cloak of anonymity. It's all for the best in forcing authenticity on all, no?
In the campaign for helping gay teens in particular to know that "it gets better" is very appropriate and worthwhile. Though I'm not a teen, in many ways, I am a teen in the coming-out timetable. In some ways, the campaign is very helpful in seeing the hope over the despair, putting face to life being worth living in an "out" and "authentic" way. In another sense, it's like that image of hope can never be my reality, and thus, hopelessness triumphs, despair wins.
In Tyler's situation, I can reason that that bridge, (or my thoughts have contemplated the hotel balcony, or mountain cliff) sure looks like a compelling alternative.
No one has that right! And particularly not for a joke or a source of recreation. We each should allow everyone their privacy, and allow self-determination.
I ache for Tyler. I weep for Tyler. In a real sense, we are Tyler.