Thursday, September 30, 2010

Technology and Open Communication Blamed for Suicide

Virtual Homicide, Virtual Suicide
By Dr. Keith Ablow

Rutgers University student Tyler Clementi, 18, killed himself Sept. 22 after his roommate Dharun Ravi and his roommate’s friend Molly Wei allegedly taped him - secretly - in an erotic, homosexual encounter in his dorm room and then broadcast the video via Skype.

This "stunt" isn’t just a college prank gone bad. It is evidence of the dehumanizing effects that technology is having on young people. I very much doubt that Ravi and Wei are murderers at heart. The "thrill'' of using a Webcam and Skype and Twitter to playact as producers and directors turned their victim (Clementi) into nothing more than another contestant on a mean-spirited, ill-conceived reality show.

That’s what technology does to people, though. Working from behind a camera and sending images into Cyberspace now removes the human face from the actions of many, many people. The hardware and software of Skype and Facebook and Twitter and many, many other Web standards can be a virus that scrambles the code of the empathy on the hard drives of their souls. They literally turn into the purveyors of entertainment who lose sight of where Web life begins and real life ends...
Commentary by walford

Technology didn't cause this to happen. In the past, the perpetrators could have secretly filmed this with still cameras. Prior to that, they simply could have told people what they saw and the result would have been the same. People have had videos made of themselves doing worse things and didn't commit suicide.

Certainly the irresponsible people who posted the video should be prosecuted for privacy invasion and possibly sued for precipitating this situation, but
ultimately the person who killed himself was entirely responsible for his rash decision.

People like Dr. Ablow apparently are not comfortable with the fact that individuals can instantly publish all kinds of things w/o being filtered by Our Betters in the government or media. A healthy discussion on how to cope with this inevitable phenomenon in a free, technologically advancing society is certainly warranted and desirable.

But let us not cast blame upon an open means of communication and information-sharing.

1 comment:

  1. We have a long a history of blaming the medium for the message. Even the expression "The pen is mightier than the sword" credits the medium with the message's impact.

    I commented on something similar: