Burroughs Adding Machine

Social justice, arts and politics, life in New York City

Cyberbullying and Gay Suicide

Students at Rutgers protest after Clementi's suicide

Roommate issues, gay attitudes, and technology: a recipe for disaster?

The news earlier this week that Tyler Clementi committed suicide is a tragic one. Not only for Clementi’s wrangling with his sexuality, but because the Rutgers’ freshman’s thoughts leading up to his death were so readily accessible to the public: insensitive taunts on Twitter,  questioning of actions on a gay website, and, ultimately, Clementi’s final status update on Facebook.

According to the New York Times, both Clementi and his roommate Dharun Ravi expressed their thoughts about Clementi’s sexuality in various places on the internet:

On Sept. 19, Mr. Ravi messaged his Twitter followers that he had set up a webcam in his room and then watched from Ms. Wei’s room, adding that he saw Mr. Clementi “making out with a dude.”

The postings on the gay chat site last week, reported Wednesday on the Web site Gawker, appear to show Mr. Clementi’s reactions as he read Mr. Ravi’s posts about the camera, and the apparent disdain for his homosexuality.

“And so I feel like it was ‘look at what a fag my roommate is,’ ” he wrote on Sept. 21. “Other people have commented on his profile with things like ‘how did you manage to go back in there?’ and ‘are you ok?’ and the fact that the people he was with saw my making out with a guy as the scandal whereas I mean come on … he was SPYING ON ME … do they see something wrong with this?”

Is cyberbullying the root of this tragedy? Not enough education in respecting diversity? Or a combination of both?

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Filed under: education, gay rights, technology, web 2.0, , , , , , , ,

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Ricco Villanueva Siasoco is a Manhattan-based writer and non-profit manager. More

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