It's just sad. Deeply sad. To know a person can have such self-hatred that he or she determines death is the only escape from the inner and outer torment.
As your news alerts may have sounded, the former Rutgers University student who was accused of spying on his gay roommate via webcam has been found guilty of invasion of privacy. Dharun Ravi faced much harsher charges -- and a relatively secure plea deal he denied -- after his roommate, Tyler Clementi, found out about the spying then killed himself by jumping off the George Washington Bridge.
The story has likely been diluted by such wide media coverage. This in-depth look from the New Yorker gives more context to Ravi and to Clementi. (Fair warning, the piece is littered with curse words).
Bullies aren't much clever or unique, and their teasing topics -- gay, fat, ugly, poor -- have likely not changed in generations. Their techniques, however, have. Clementi was teased, viciously and publicly thanks to social media. He killed himself in shame. Who's to blame?
The New Yorker piece gives a glimpse into the lives of two young people. One can seem a typical wannabe who fills his void of self-worth by making sure others feel worse than he does. He also seems spurred by the company he keeps. The other, Clementi, seems a long-tortured soul, the kind of kid who never quite found out who he was so he could learn to love who he was.
That's the crux of it all, in my opinion. You couldn't pay me enough money to go back to being 16, 17, 18, when I loathed my very existence because I wasn't so many of the things I saw in others. It takes years to recognize and latch on to parts of your being that are admirable and good. There's no shortcut.
I'd venture to say neither Ravi or Clementi had made it to that point, and they reacted to their insecurities in different ways. It's all sad. Deeply sad.
How do we get across to our young people that their feelings are not unique? Their sexual orientation is not unique. Their weight is not unique. Their background is not unique. And dang, there's so much more life beyond the politics of high school and even college.
The aptly-named "It Gets Better" project is one avenue. I wish I could find every tortured teenager, gay or straight or bisexual or transsexual or asexual, and shake them and scream, "It gets better."
I can't, of course, find every teenager and all but assault them. But maybe you know a young person who could use some encouragement today. Let them know they are loved wholly as they are and that someday they'll feel that love, too.
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