I don't know what to say. Seriously. I've talked with Superman about it. I've talked with LoveAphid about it. I've talked with Charming about it. I still don't know what to say.
What am I talking about? I'm talking about the incident at Rutgers University. If you haven't read about it, you this article at the Christian Science Monitor is pretty good. In brief: two young men share a dorm room...one of the young men, Tyler Clementi, engages in a sexual relationship in his dorm room while, unbeknownst to him, his roommate and a female are in her dorm room remotely videoing the action and uploading it live to the internet. They even tweeted their friends to let them know so they could log in and watch, too. Appalled yet? This initial occurrence happened on the 19th of September and the duo had plans to repeat their little "prank" on the 21st, but had difficulty uploading their video. Roger Clementi killed himself on the 22nd of September, unable to handle the fall-out of his personal actions being broadcast for all to watch.
Many people are focused on the fact that Mr. Clementi was gay. The sexual relations were with another young man. While I agree that complicated things, I think that is missing the bigger point.
To me, the point is that we have created a society in which young adults think it is "cool" or "fun" to do something that was so cruel, so hateful, and so inappropriate. Rutgers is generally ranked in the top 60 of US universities. Not an Ivy League school, but definitely a desirable one. One would assume (erroneously, it appears) that the student body would be relatively intelligent because they had to earn their way onto the campus. Yet, these two freshmen belie that assumption. Truly, it boggles the mind. On what planet would their actions have been a good idea? This one, obviously.
When I hear talk of this being "the problem with social media" and the "anonymity" social media allows, I want to scream! Really? It is social media's fault that we have a generation of young people growing up who think that being cruel and hateful is entertaining? Wrong.
It is the fault of an entire society that has so insulated our children from the actual consequences of their actions that they are simply looking for the next adrenaline rush. They don't stop to think about who might be impacted by their actions because they've never had to bear the responsibility for them. When did the qualities "personal responsibility" and "consequences for your actions" become undesirable? Think I'm wrong? Think again.
Kid got hurt on the playground in 2nd grade? Sue the school! (They shouldn't have those monkey bars on the playground (even though they've been there for years) because kids can get hurt!! What were they thinking?)
Get a bad grade in the classroom? Mom or Dad will call the teacher to berate him/her for failing to give you the A you earned. (Doesn't the teacher understand you have 5 other classes?)
Behave badly in school and get detention? Mom or Dad will swoop in to get that detention removed. (Doesn't the school know that you have important things to do after school and don't have time to be serve your time? Sheesh...how inconsiderate of the administration.)
Someone said you were mean to the kid on your soccer team or Girl Scout troop? So you kicked her in the head with your cleats?...she deserved it after what she said about your outfit. (Mom will explain to the coach/leader that you just felt you weren't being treated fairly and you've been taught to "stick up for yourself and not accept second best".)
School tries to make you turn off your cell phone or iPod in class? Protest!! How can they expect you to turn off your music in class? (Plus, Mom will say that she absolutely has to reach you during the school day, despite the fact that we've all spent years in school without Mom being able to call or text.)
People...it is far bigger than gay-bashing. The fact that Roger Clementi was gay just allowed his classmates Darhun Ravi and Molly Wei to justify their behavior to more people BUT THE STILL WOULD HAVE DONE IT ANYWAY. They were bored and he was easy. They didn't even have the good grace to be sneaky...Mr. Ravi tweeted about it as he was doing it. Oh, and the only reason they didn't broadcast again on the 21st? No, it wasn't a sudden burst of conscience, it was technical difficulties...they tried. Fun times for all, right? Make no mistake. Gay, straight, fat, skinny, black, white...it wouldn't have mattered. These adults were hateful.
I am appalled. I am worried that the conversation is going to focus on social media rather than the real problem. I am worried that the problem is going to focus on homosexuals rather than the real problem. It is not social media. Blogging is social media and yet I've never felt the urge to blog anything inappropriate or hurtful to anyone! My friends are on FB and don't say anything untoward. It was not simply because Mr. Clementi was gay. Gay was just their stated reason, the titillating reason, the cloak under which they hide their true characters. It wasn't the reason for their hateful behavior. These young adults were hateful and cruel because they have been raised that whatever they want to do is fine because they're just so exceptional and that anyone who says otherwise is obviously wrong.
I hope they both go to jail. They earned it.
I hope we're happy. We created them.