Social media mayhem

The yin and yang of social media hold truly contrasting lights and darks.

I traveled back to St. Ambrose for Homecoming this weekend.  It was a blast.  I’m still smiling.

But I missed a piece of news in my revelry.

The homily at church tonight was quite dire.  A student at Rutgers University killed himself after his roommate used a webcam to air a broadcast of an encounter with a male companion.

Harmless practical joke?  Not even close. Tyler Clementi was gay.

He jumped off the George Washington Bridge as a result of the harassment subsequent to the online video.

Clementi’s case, while tragic, is not isolated.  Young people are becoming victims of their own willingness to connect and share information online and in social networks.

As one column put it, the sad events of Rutgers were a result of “a world obsessed by the addictive power of instantaneity.”

A quick Google search of court cases reveals plenty of the rank underside of social networking and online communication.  Corrosive, sometimes anonymous, relentless and divisive.

At the conclusion of mass, the priest read announcements.  Choir meeting, speech next Tuesday, youth group pizza night.

“For more information, check out the Facebo –” he stopped himself.

Irony.

Without realizing it, he’d uncovered the brightest saving grace of social media.  Quick – and many times, meaningful – contact.  Social media are the fastest methods to gather, inform and/or connect large groups of people.

I set my status to inform the SAU community of my return trip.  I can’t directly attribute any specific visits with my friends to the status, but I bet it helped.  They knew I was en route, and they knew to look for me around campus.

If only we could do more connecting and less dividing.

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One Response to Social media mayhem

  1. reedkath says:

    This story broke my heart — the Rutgers student. Man, if only someone could have persuaded him that his life wasn’t over.

    One tiny correction: I don’t think he was filmed having sex. The New York Times story said that he was “making out” with someone. Unless the lingo has changed, I think making out is pretty much intense kissing. It’s no biggy but I thought I should point out this nuance in the name of accuracy.

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