Just finished reading the in-depth and very disturbing piece in the February 6 New Yorker, The Story of a Suicide by Ian Parker. It provides much background to the suicide of Tyler Clementi, the young Rutgers freshman who jumped off the George Washington Bridge in October of 2010, after his roommate posted images online of a romantic encounter with another man. Of course it reveals much more nuance than Clementi was outed and was the victim of a hate crime. But the most astonishing thing we learn is that the two roommates barely spoke to one another.

Much of their communication and what little knowledge they had of one another came from Twitter, Facebook, and googling. They had already formed judgments about one another before they met because of their online profiles. Both were either too shy or too disinclined to get to know one another in person once school started. As I kept reading, I wanted to scream, Just talk to one another! Stop looking for affirmation from chat rooms and twitter! They shared a room together for six weeks without actually ever having to truly encounter the other. Now one of them is dead and the other in prison.

It concerns me for my daughter’s generation that so much important communication happens via text and screen. Or doesn’t happen at all! When we live so much of our lives in virtual realities, it cuts us off from the creative possibilities that are right in front of us. My heart breaks that Tyler Clementi could think of only one solution to his isolation, anxiety and shame when all of us contend with those same things every day! Please God, help us to find ways to reach one another so more tragedies like this can be prevented.