By this time, Tyler Clementi is perhaps more popular than he'd ever been in life. From his pictures, he seems so quiet, even shy as he smiles. However, what breaks my heart each time I see this story aired is that he was so taken for granted while he breathed. Not by the family that now mourns him. But by us, the ones who reward genius with scorn.
Tyler's death shines a spotlight on several issues. Sexual identity. The freedom of privacy. The reminder of pranks gone too far. Yes, we've all visited these places in our youth, stepping out on the stage of adulthood somewhat intact.
Today, however, it's very different. It used to be that a college prank of this type went no further than the dorm. Yet with our technological progress, students have the capability to embarrass their associates to multitudes never before dreamed. We as adults have failed these young people. For all our pushing them to get an education, there is never a class on how to be a compassionate human being.
I believe that our current way of life causes people to implode. It makes us cruel to each other. It causes so much unnecessary turmoil. There are some who will say I'm projecting onto Tyler. I don' think so. Because when I heard this story, all I could think was how he must have felt, knowing his private life was laid bare before so many: Exposed. I wondered how many other bullies had picked on him, this young man who could awe audiences with his violin.
I did not know Tyler. I am sorry that his family now has to go on without him. Yet I feel too many of us refuse to take responsibility for creating a culture where such a thing is even possible in the first place.
You see, I've no doubt we will continue the same cadence tomorrow. We'll snicker to our friends as we laugh at other people's misery. We'll pretend that they'll get over it. And if they don't, that's their problem. They should man up, right? Grow a pair. Stop being sensitive.
So in response, we create these impenetrable facades society demands. We keep going, even when it's killing us inside.
You know something? It's just not that hard to be a decent person. What kills me, absolutely kills me, are all the ones who could have stopped this. And didn't. Frankly, I'm tired of the silence. We only hear from people when they're scrambling in the aftermath, trying to smother the flames. But not a damn word when the gas leak is stinking up our backyards prior to the match being struck.
Tyler, you are missed by strangers who never knew you. We mourn and shed tears for you. But it is not enough to bring you back. And that's the biggest tragedy of all.