My old alma mater was in the news this past week, but not in a way that anyone wants. Tyler Clementi, a Rutgers University student, after having his private encounters unknowingly filmed and subsequently broadcast via various social networks, committed suicide by jumping off the George Washington Bridge in New York.
He used the same technology that was used to humiliate and devastate him, to declare his final act; his final Facebook status simply stated:
jumping off the gw bridge sorry
There are so many sides to this story; privacy issues, improper use of technology, hate crimes, and more. But I felt compelled to chime in on one aspect of this story. To anyone who is holding back important information, because you are fearful of Mom and Dad's reaction, this message is for you, from all parents:
You can tell us anything. No matter how horrible, no matter how much you think it will hurt, no matter what.
Now we parents are certainly not perfect, and the discussion may not be an easy one
We may nag you ask 'how can you do this to us?'
We may show you disappointment.
We may get enraged and say cruel things.
But, we will get over it. And we will continue to love you.
Sometimes when you're just sitting there in front of your laptop, it's easy to forget that all those connections you have are real people, real friends. The word 'friend' has lost some value these days, but remember, a friend wants to help you, and will understand whatever you are going through. And some things are better communicated without a keyboard.
Isolating yourself behind a screen just puts more layers between you and the ultimate solution to your problem.
The university has already taken large steps to address this event, and this is commendable. However it does not get to the crux of this issue; if Tyler felt comfortable telling his family about his feelings, there may have not been the resulting feelings of humiliation and despair that led to his unfortunate decision.
Just tell us. We will understand.