The Amazon Trail: Viral victimization

  • Tyler Clementi was a freshman at Rutgers University when he jumped off the George Washington Bridge to his death. He took his life after his roommate filmed and webcast his intimate encounter with another man in their dorm room.

I always thought I’d suffered my first few weeks of college. It was horrible. I was completely unprepared, but I survived. Instead of getting on a train and taking Tyler Clementi’s long jump, I got on a train and went to my big brother’s office to announce that I was quitting school.

What was I thinking? What did I expect my brother to do? Was I thinking? No, I was just feeling and what I felt must have been similar to what drove Tyler off his bridge: despair, fear, hopelessness, humiliation, shame, blinding desire, loneliness, desperation. You can’t think when you’re a seething vat of emotions and hormones. You can’t make a good decision. You just want to end the pain.

Like Tyler, I was assigned a straight roommate my first semester. Like Tyler’s roommate, mine lived in a world so extremely foreign to me that we could have been different species. She wanted to become a fashion designer, marry a nice boy, move back to Pennsylvania and raise a family. I wanted to become a writer, fall in love with a thousand girls, move back to New York City and drink like Dylan Thomas.