They are calm . . . maybe a little too calm was one of the first thoughts that came to mind as I watched the always adept Anderson Cooper interview Jamey Rodemeyer’s family last evening on CNN.
There seemed to be a orchestrated response to Cooper’s questions that lacked the expected and understandable emotions of a family thrust into turmoil as the result of a tragic and perhaps preventable death.
While I do not want to immediately draw comparisons between the Rodemeyer’s seemingly cool and somewhat detached interaction with their interviewer and that of the Albert Camus character in the book The Outsider in which the protagonist (if you could call him that) is criticized for his apparent lack of emotion at the passing of his mother, I just did not get a good vibe.
Maybe they are still in shock I thought. But when Cooper pointed out the contradiction between their statement that Jamey had received tremendous support from the many people with whom he came in contact after he had openly acknowledged his sexual orientation, and the fact that bullying was blamed for his decision to take his life, Mrs. Rodemeyer seemed to fumble about for an answer. I mean, how could she claim that Jamey had such tremendous support from his peers while simultaneously placing the responsibility for his suicide at the feet of purported cyber tormentors? It just doesn’t add up, as one would think that support from friends in the real or physical world versus enduring the verbal barbs from unknown bullies in the virtual realms would carry the day!
Perhaps I will be chastised for a lack of sympathy and empathy for a family who has suffered such a tremendous loss . . . maybe it is even warranted as I truly do hope that I am wrong. But here is the thing, I would be devastated by such a loss and that would come through loud and clear. I mean my heart still aches a little as I watch my young daughter board the morning school bus . . . and yes I still do watch the bus until it turns the corner and drives out of sight even though she has entered her third year of school.
If you think about it within the context of the reports which stated that Jamey had been sending signals on social networking sites that he was struggling, while even his own mother “thought he had grown stronger,” I do not understand the disconnect. How could the now obvious gap between what people thought and what was in reality a young boy in turmoil go undetected?
Even more troubling is why was he even on the Internet being exposed to these virtual miscreants on a site where anonymous posts could be made, when an obvious option would have been to either block them, join another network or just turn the dam thing off! Where were his parents. Allowing Jamey to continue to access a site in which he was exposed to such virulent emotional attacks is tantamount to letting your child put their hand in a wasp nest . . . you can’t be surprised when they get stung.
I want to stress that this is not an attempt to assign blame towards the family, but there are so many aspects of this sad story about which I am trying to understand.
So what is the answer? At this point I do not have any, but I would not be surprised if as the story progresses, there will be one maybe two interesting revelations that will come to light.
In the meantime, here is the link to the Anderson Cooper interview on CNN.