The tragic story of Tyler Clementi will most likely be filed under “gay bullying” for now. But I think in the longer run it will turn out to have a broader impact. One thing we can say for sure – there hasn’t been a better example of how sad and pathetic our American culture has become. We have reached the lowest depths of responsibility and accountability.
I think back to growing up as a teenager in the 1970s. My peers and I were only a few years separated from our hippie-dippie, pot-smoking older siblings and neighbors. Somehow we didn’t engage in their culture, but instead walked a careful path around it. Trust me, the 70s offered very little teenage stimulation from a cultural point of view, but anything seemed better than the 60s vibe. If the acronym “WTF ?” had existed back then, I’m sure we’d have used it. Because that’s what we were sure thinking.
I think now of the 12, 13, and 14-year-olds, watching this spectacle of online bullying. Is it possible that they are thinking “WTF ? ” ? Are they thinking thoughts like:
- What kind of shit is this?
- Who treats people like this?
- Who exploits people for no reason at all?
- Who exposes their own animal behavior for the world to see?
- What kind of person doesn’t think there is accountability for actions like these?
- Why aren’t the two perps sentenced to swing from the GWB, alive, in perpetuity?
In the marketing world, we are constantly fed articles and blog posts and studies assuring us that society, culture, and behavior move in one direction only – always growing at an exponential rate. We will all be on Facebook some day. We will all shop with smartphones. We will never read another broadsheet newspaper after 2013. And kids will live 100% digitally.
But maybe now they won’t.
So that, hopefully, there won’t be any more tragedies like that suffered by Tyler Clementi.