Tyler Clementi’s Suicide and Facebook’s Role

The tragic suicide of Tyler Clementi, the Rutgers University student who took his own life after being filmed having sex with a man, has led some to voice concern over young people’s misuse of technology.

Rabbi Andy Bachman, the founder of BrooklynJews, wrote an open letter to young people in the community on his blog. The letter was reposted on the Forward’s Web site.

In his open letter, Bachman begins by reaching out as a rabbi to the young generation of his community be they gay or straight to let them know they were created in the image of God. He then goes on to address the use of technology to invade the privacy of Clementi and lead him to take his own life.

Technology's Limits - After Tyler Clementi's Death, a Rabbi Warns of Technology without Ethics

Technology’s Limits – After Tyler Clementi’s Death, a Rabbi Warns of Technology without Ethics

Bachman writes, “…[Clementi’s] peers, besides reflecting a disgusting prejudice, also worshiped their technology. Young people live in a world of too much access to too much instantaneous entertainment. And with a webcam and a laptop and an Internet connection, college students at Rutgers created their own bizarre “reality TV,” without thinking about the moral and ethical and criminal implications of what they were doing to another human being. A click and a laugh — and now someone with so much potential is dead. And that, plain and simple, is wrong. Technology can save lives but it can also be a tool for evil. So take stock next time you’re ready to click so quickly. Think and feel before you act.”

I teach a weekly high school class about Judaism and technology at a large Reform congregation in Metro Detroit. On the first day of class, we discussed the pros and cons of technology. I asked the teens to describe how new forms of technology can be used for good and how they can be used for evil.

The NY Times reports that the news about Clementi’s suicide came on the same day that Rutgers kicked off a two-year, campuswide project to teach the importance of civility, with special attention to the use and abuse of new technology.

We are still learning how best to use these new technologies, from social networking to video streaming. The ability to broadcast realty television is now possible for millions of people with a camera and an Internet connection. The question is whether our society has the ethics necessary to guide us in the appropriate use of these media. As we see from the case of Tyler Clementi, the misuse of technology can be fatal.

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Posted in Jewish Techs Blog

Jewish Techs: The Jewish Technology Blog

This blog looks at how modern technology affects Jewish life, particularly the impact of the Internet on Jews across the globe. The Internet has made the Jewish community seem smaller. The Jewish Techs blog, written by blogger Rabbi Jason Miller (The Techie Rabbi), explores the places where Jewish culture, education and faith intersect with technology. Of course, like anything, Jews will continue to ask if technology is good or bad for the Jews – the age old question of our people. Good or bad, it is undisputed that technology has changed Jewish life. If you’re Jewish or interested in technology or both… you’ll enjoy the conversation. Thanks for reading the Jewish Techs blog.

The Techie Rabbi – Rabbi Jason Miller

Rabbi Jason Miller, the Techie RabbiJason Miller is NOT your typical rabbi. Known as the Techie Rabbi, he launched Access Computer Technology in 2010 and has grown it into a full-scale technology firm that provides social media marketing consulting and web design in addition to IT support. Ordained at the Jewish Theological Seminary a decade ago, Rabbi Jason has made a name for himself as a popular blogger, social media expert, educator and entrepreneur. Based in Detroit, his congregation includes more than a million people who read his blog and follow him in Cyberspace. He began the Jewish Techs blog in January 2010 as the New York Jewish Week's technology expert.

An entrepreneurial rabbi and an alum of Clal's "Rabbi Without Borders" fellowship, Jason Miller is a rabbi and thought leader whose personal blog has been viewed by millions. The Detroit Free Press called him “the most tech-savvy Jewish leader" and the Huffington Post ranked him among the top Jewish Twitter users in the world. A social media expert, Rabbi Jason is a popular speaker and writer on technology and its effect on the Jewish world. He writes the "Jewish Techs" blog for The Jewish Week and the monthly "Jews in the Digital Age" column for the Detroit Jewish News.

Miller won the 2012 Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award from the West Bloomfield Chamber of Commerce and is one of the winners of a Jewish Influencer award from the National Jewish Outreach Program.