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Suicide in Virtual Reality Hell

By   Follow Me on Twitter     Message Patricia A. Smith       (Page 1 of 2 pages)     Permalink

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I can't begin to imagine what Tyler Clementi's parents are feeling right now.

"It was a prank," seems hardly like acceptable words that the parents of a beloved son want to hear as a reasonable explanation or form of apology. It's neither a strong nor logical defense for the choices two Rutgers students made when they allegedly thought nothing of filming Tyler's private sexual encounter and then disseminating the footage on the Internet.

Dharun Ravi and Molly Wei will have to think about and live with their poor decisions for the rest of their lives.

Are they responsible for Clementi's death?

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That decision is not mine to make.

Did their words/deeds/actions push Clementi over the edge?

Probably so.

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Bullying, harassment, vicious attacks, racism, bigotry, invasion of privacy and continuous, hate-filled language that gets hurled like Molotov cocktails are seemingly the latest rage these days and we've got all the technology to bring virtual pile-ups directly to our computer screens and mobile devices.

Don't leave home without them.

This tragic suicide is no more the footnote to the pain that led up to his death than claiming "it was a prank" qualifies to fit under an umbrella policy that justifies repeatedly inflicting pain and emotional damage on another human being. Especially, just because you can.

Are those two students personally responsible for the unnecessary death of Tyler Clementi?


We all are.

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In our reptilian brains, we know that death is part of life even if our egos try to convince us that we will somehow be the exception to this rule. Show me one person who got out of life alive. That we can now be killed or run off by waging wars with words that are tweeted, emailed or delivered in blogs and comments is what we are failing to consider and take responsibility for.

Words can kill quietly.

By virtue of the virtual world, we have all been guilty of attaching real emotions or pinning labels on people we have never known or met. We do it with complete strangers from behind our computers without thinking twice about the recipients of our homegrown opinions, accusations, name-calling, general snark and heightened viciousness.

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Patricia A. Smith is a writer and artist (and sometimes both at the same time). A former columnist, restaurant critic and cruise line executive, Smith has lived in London, Greece, Denmark, Hungary, Egypt, Costa Rica and France. She returned (more...)

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