On Wednesday, Rutgers University disclosed that freshman Tyler Clementi had committed suicide after fellow students surreptiously videotaped his sexual encounter with another man and livestreamed the recording online. Clementi's roommate, Dharun Ravi, and Molly Wei, both 18, have been charged with two counts each of invasion of privacy. While the full story of what happened remains unclear, the case has sparked global outrage — and commentary about the disturbing side of social-media technology. Here's a sampling of first reactions:
"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 play-act as producers and directors turned their victim [Clementi] into nothing more than another contestant on a mean-spirited, ill-conceived reality show." —Dr. Keith Ablow, psychiatry correspondent for Fox News
"Clementi's demise at the prodding of cybercreeps is all the more tragic because in this age of tweets and instant messaging he was an accomplished violinist who spent thousands of hours learning to convey the nuances of feeling in great music. Real space vibrated with altogether actual beauty as his practiced hands fingered the strings...." —Michael Daly, The (NY) Daily News
"Ravi’s twittering isn’t limited to his illegal filming of his roommate’s sexual encounters. He also overshares the usual embarrassing material, including one post he wrote from his iPad on September 17th: 'Sitting here stoned out of my mind with a buddy watching top 100 viral videos. Pandas sneezing is what college is about.' If [Ravi] imposed a painful lack of privacy on his roommate Clementi, at least he also imposed it on himself." —Andy Greenberg, Forbes' "The Firewall" blog
"I would guess that Ravi and Wei’s parents are searching [for answers]. Were there other "jokes" over the years that no one stopped? Was there a tolerance of antigay slurs from time to time? They are anguished, I am sure. Confused, perhaps, at how their children could be so stupid. Or maybe they feel like victims of a wireless world in which every misstep is magnified and cached forever." —Lisa Belkin, The New York Times
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