Monday, March 19, 2012

Cyberbullying Reaches the Courts

I've never shied away from tackling controversial subjects in my novels.  I want readers to be entertained by my work, but I also want them to close the pages and perhaps start a conversation prompted by one of my characters or the scenarios in which they find themselves.

In my latest release, Pabby's Score, I bring the phenomenon of Internet dating into my focus.  However, there is another type of interaction through social media that is much more negative in its intentions and the entire country was talking about it thanks to a New Jersey courtroom this past week.  I'm referring to the epidemic of cyberbullying.

Former Rutgers University student Dharun Ravi was found guilty of invasion of privacy and bias intimidation, as well as multiple other offenses, after he spying on his roommate using a webcam and witnessed the student having sex with another man.  The roommate, Tyler Clementi, took his own life by jumping off the George Washington Bridge in New York City, after he discovered that his sex life was now the source of amusement for Ravi and his friends.

Ravi now faces up to ten years in prison and possible deportation to his native India.  His sentence will be determined in May.

I am sure that most of you have heard about this case and probably have your own opinions about it.  Was the spying and subsequent "tweeting" just the act of an immature college student, as Ravi's attorney argued, or malicious and criminal behavior, as was determined by the jury?  How does this case reflect a larger issue about the impact that technology is having on this young generation to interact with others appropriately?

James Ross
Author of Lifetime Loser, Finish Line, Tuey's Course, Opur's Blade, and Pabby's Score
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Gerry Wendel said...

It's a shame that people use social media to be malicious, however, the sad possibility exists. Even more horrible that lives are lost because of it. Perhaps this sad tale will make people pay more attention and think before they behave so unkindly to others.

P.S. The GWB is also in New Jersey!

Kimberly Gauthier, Dog Nutrition Blogger for Keep the Tail Wagging said...

I saw this yesterday and have mixed feelings. The news report says that the kid who took his life wasn't aware that he'd been spied on (not sure if I misunderstood that part) and it was really tragic to learn that the roommate emailed or texted an apology to the victim not knowing that he was on his way to the George WA Bridge.

On one hand, it's just kids being stupid and childish. But when technology is added, the reach just compounds the damage done. Plus it's difficult to escape.

So very sad.

CLC said...

It is interesting what someone will do in social media that they would not do person-to-person. I'm not sure the answer is as obvious as seeming anonymity, but I know it kept me in business for a number of years as an external consultant, when someone vented in an e-mail and hit send only to set off World War III in an office. It seems to point at a level of immaturity that our culture exudes.