I am unbelievably furious! I have a new book coming out in January, entitled “Surviving Shark Attacks on Land.” It has to do with betrayal and revenge. 18 year old Tyler Clementi didn’t survive his recent shark attack on land. He killed himself by jumping off the George Washington Bridge in New York. He posted a goodbye on his Facebook page just eight minutes before he ended his life.
The media has made a fuss over this story because he was gay. That is not the story. The story is that he was betrayed in the most disgusting and egregious way by his own roommate and the roommate’s girlfriend. They sneaked a camera into the dorm room and secretly taped Tyler Clementi having sex. They callously “shared” (as it’s lovingly called) this tape with the Internet universe on the roommate’s network of “friends” (as they’re lovingly called).
The roommate bragged about his spying in a Twitter post.
The piece of garbage known as his roommate and his piece of garbage of a girlfriend have been arrested for invasion of privacy. They intentionally betrayed the friendship between roommates and intentionally humiliated this young man in public. There ought to be (and there may be) a more serious charge.
For those of you old enough to remember the original movie “M*A*S*H,” an audio version of this humiliation was perpetrated on “Hotlips” Houlihan as a “joke.” She was devastated, and the audience and actors laughed. Mainstreaming cruelty.
One 16 year old junior at Rutgers (the same school) defended the perpetrators: “I’m really shocked.” About what? “I wouldn’t expect Molly to do something like that. Dharan was very friendly, open and social.” And here it comes: “They’re not like that. It was probably a practical joke gone wrong.”
Bull. They are exactly like that. They intended to humiliate Tyler. They intended to have a laugh at his expense. They intended to gain notoriety by having produced this film for all to see for their “entertainment.” They intended to be cruel. They were sharks, attacking by betraying a friend on the Internet.
Could Tyler have survived this attack? Was suicide his only out?
The problem is that if he reported them to the school (whether or not they got in trouble for it), it’s on the Internet, seen and downloaded again and again and again for all eternity.
I know something about this sort of betrayal. Made up, as well as real, photos of me are on the Internet for all eternity also. I know personally the feeling of wanting to die…vanish…evaporate. The pain of that humiliation was extraordinary. Why did I survive and Tyler not? Tyler was just 18 years old and did not have decades of adult life experiences, accomplishments, a network of support or perhaps just pure grit. When someone so vulnerable is betrayed (and the word is betrayed), then life seems totally hopeless. When people you expect to have some kindness use you to further their fun-loving reputation by humiliating you for all time, and you’re only a teenager, you feel you will never be able to show your face or trust anybody again. Everything is magnified, including pain, when you’re a teenager.
Tyler would have survived had he believed he could live through this humiliation and hold up his head again. That he was gay is not the issue. Had he been straight, we’d be having the same conversation. This is not about sexual orientation. This is about the awful inhumanity that is mainstreamed most horrendously via the Internet.
My heart goes out to this boy…I know what he felt, and I wish I had been there to tell him so.