Bear with me for a second. A Rutgers student committed suicide after he was outed by his roommate and his friend via posting a webcam recording of him making out with another man. Article here.
It’s terrible and horrible that this quiet music-playing student committed suicide after this “prank” but the public reaction to it on the NYTimes blog is almost out of control – they are like a lynch mob for the two students who broadcasted his secret make-out session for the world to see. These kids, while what they did was horrible and ethically questionable, should not be the only ones charged with manslaughter. Rather, every single person in the school should.
The most interesting thing about the article, that one posters noted, is that out of the fifty freshmen on the student’s hall, when asked who knew him, only three raised their hands. This was a troubled kid dealing with heavy depression and there didn’t seem to be anyone close enough to him. Anyone who will commit suicide after being outed – well – that’s definitely a sign that things weren’t all that right with him before his death. I mean, obviously, someone who is closet being forced out of it not to their own will – that has to be a very harrowing experience. But not everyday do people kill themselves after a horrible public humiliation (i.e. Tiger Woods or Elliott Spitzer or possibly the Southern minister who is accused of sleeping with four of his choirboys.) Why weren’t more people friendly with him or at least tried to make an effort? Why didn’t the school have counseling for him before he got to a point where he was ready to kill himself?
The kid who killed himself might as well be Steve Lam – and let’s not forget that DH posted public information about him on an anonymous forum. Stevie has been publically humilated with his photo up there and his Facebook and Myspace accounts and even his work information. Say for instance that Stevie kills himself – would all of a sudden DieHipster be charged with manslaughter?
They have the freedom to tease whomever they want. The NY Times article talked about the freshmen student’s right to privacy – that his privacy was violated when he was put up on the Internet. But come on now – do any of us have any real privacy?
This Internet age isn’t all that new and pioneering – the people behind the computers are the same people who have been around for thousands of years. And a lot of us need to be taught how to be accepting of others that are different. Or at least pretend to create a Western society that actually cares for its people. Without extended family, with parents both working, and without a “village” support system, there are more and more people on anti-depressants and people getting their sense of community thru difficult avenues such as anonymous forums. As we get further and further digital, people need to really look out for each other, having face time and the such, not just post on each other’s facebook page.