Bad Things on the Web (or Death and Facebook)

In class, we’ve been doing presentations. It’s been grand, really, because these “presentations” are done in small groups, and are much more like chats, which is great.

My presentation was on a cyber harassment case at Rutgers University. I also used this article, which I mostly only used for emphasis.

Reading the article, I was really taken aback, for several reasons. I wish we knew more about the background of Tyler Clementi, so we knew why exactly he reacted with suicide. No, I’m not one of those “suicide is never the answer!” people, because I can understand that there are some things that someone can’t get over, or through, or even under, and that picking death isn’t actually an easy choice — and actually going through with it, that’s even harder. However, being video taped secretly and having that streamed, well, that’s not exactly on my list of Things That Are Bad Enough To Commit Suicide Over (or, if wouldn’t be if I had a list, but you know what I mean).

So I looked up his background.

While the article makes it seem like he went Oh my God, he taped me, my privacy is gone, I’m going to jump — there was actually more time between Point A and Point B. Not much,  but there was enough time for the roommate to watch him a second time, and for complaints to be made.

However, what interested me most of all wasn’t the why, or the how, but rather, the suicide note.

He left a message on Facebook that said he was going to jump, sorry — and that was it. Several people thought it was a really poor joke — his father was hoping he’d been kidnapped. When they found the body a week later, though, they knew the truth.

Still, it’s interesting, isn’t it, the way our lives and even our deaths are starting to revolve around social networking sites? While this is the first time I’ve heard of Facebook-as-a-place-for-suicide-notes, I admit that it’s not the first time it’s been death related that I’ve seen. More and more, when people die, others leave notes on their Walls, or they Message them. It’s like the online version of a wake — everyone gathering on someone’s Wall and commenting on each others posts. I think it’s kind of creepy, personally. But I guess it saves on gas.

I looked into it, a bit, and found that Facebook allows the family of a deceased person to memorialize or delete profiles. It makes sense — after all, it can’t be pleasant to see your late good friend show up in your Reconnect results. In fact, I would think it’d be a little heartbreaking.

…Looking over what I’ve written, the topic seems to have gotten away from me. I meant to write about the secret taping and sharing of Tyler Clementi in a place where he should have been safe — his dorm room. I meant to write about how his roommate, the guy who taped him, tweeted about it, and how if he’d plead out, he would have gotten 600 hours of community service and some counseling. I meant to write about how a girl in their hall was part of it, and how she ended up with 300 hours of community service and three years of cyber bullying classes. That the laws about cyber bullying/harassment/stalking simply aren’t all that effective — primarily because they aren’t really there, or enforced.

I was asked a question, and though I’ll tell you my answer, feel free to answer as well.

Do you think bullying on the Internet an extension of bullying in real life, or is it a new thing?

Personally, I think it’s a bit of both. Real life and Internet life are one and the same these days. If something outside of the ‘net happens, people bring it to the ‘net — it’s impossible these days to live in only one world, unless you try really, really hard (or are Amish). So, as far as bullying is concerned, of course it’s an extension. It’s just a new place to torment other people, to gossip, to tease.

It’s also a reverse — the bullied can become the bully. This is because, unlike pre-Internet days, it’s really easy to get information about someone onto the web, or to pretend to be someone else. In fact, in a few keystrokes, you could make someone else’s life hell — something that most bullied children daydream about but are unable to do due to size or strength or self confidence issues. It’s a simple matter to get back at someone anonymously as well, something that is harder to do in the physical world.

I would, of course, like to hear (or, you know, read) your opinions on the matter. Which do you think it is? Why?

~Ekhlami

Advertisements

It’s Worse Than That He’s Dead

At the end of the day, family is family, right? And you love your family, and they love you, and death is the saddest thing in the world, because you’re losing someone you love.

Wait, wait — let’s back up. There’s no sense starting in the middle like this. But where is the beginning?

I could tell you all some sob story, about my extended family and how we don’t have the closest of ties. I could tell you how they don’t care much for me or my brother, and I could tell you why. I could provide all sorts of evidence showing their disdain (or at the least, lack of care) for us, from both sides. I could tell you about how we “aren’t really family” — but at the end of the day, there isn’t much point in these tales except to depress people. So this is not that story.

I’m sure you’re wondering, why is it “worse than that he’s dead?” And who, exactly, is “he?”

My family, my immediate family, is made up of my mom, dad, and younger brother (who is about to have a birthday, and this makes me feel old, but that is not this story either). My dad has three siblings: an older brother, an older sister, and a younger sister. He has two currently living, still married, parents: a father and a mother. His older brother has no children, his older sister has three children (two boys and a girl), and his younger sister has one child (a boy). My mom has one living parent, her mother, and four siblings: an older brother, two younger sisters, and a younger brother, each of them with two biological children (all girls, except for her older brother’s first child), and one has a stepson.

None of that is important, really, at the moment — except for the part where my dad has two “currently living” parents. You see, the “he” in question is my dad’s father.

And he’s dying.

This is no surprise, of course — he’s been dying for months. He’s also in his early eighties, so it’s not as though he’s dying terribly young. He’s not even young-ish. So, really, it’s not unexpected.

So why is it “worse than that he’s dead?” Well, the answer to that makes me seem rather cold, but the thing is — that’s not the part I care about. It’s the dying that’s bothering me — primarily because the entire thing is upsetting my own dad, which is perfectly reasonable. But I can’t help, here, so far away from home. All I can do is call every few days and talk about inane things, comparatively, like school, or what I bought from the store today, or the price of fruit here and how I hope I don’t get scurvy.  There are other things going on at home that we talk about, of course — something occurred last Thursday, which was great fun to deal with, let me tell you — but there’s this undercurrent of sadness that I can’t help with, and that makes me feel like a terrible daughter.

The thing is, though, he’s going to die soon. This week, maybe, or the next — most likely sometime this month, judging by the events of this weekend (Sunday, apparently, was a terrible day). And when he dies, the grieving process can start. But now, we’re stuck in limbo, with a half-dead man who is no longer mentally sound, his wife who is cleaning because she has no idea what to do, and their son, my father, who is the one they keep turning to because he’s the most stable of their four children. It’s killing him, having to watch this, having to make decisions regarding his father’s medical needs because neither of his parents can/will make them, and someone has to.

I know that, no matter what, things are going to change. I don’t know how, but it will really hurt my dad when his father dies. I don’t know if this means my family will actually spend time with them for a change (we just do holidays, really), or what, but this is going to break Dad’s heart.

If nothing else, though, I hope Dad remembers that his father is a part of our lives in a rather important way. In 1964, Dad’s father built the house Dad owns now, that my brother wants to buy someday. In that sense, his father will never be gone.