Needed Summation

The thing I like best about the New Yorker (besides the illustrations) is that it consistently summarizes national events in a careful, thought-provoking way. Newspapers just don’t fill a need anymore — breaking news coverage has been offered by television and the internet for the past decades. TV doesn’t work because it’s one-sided; the Internet often lacks patience and perspective.

For me, The New Yorker is an ideal compromise. It often predicts big stories, offering an in-depth analysis of events that other news outlets can’t afford (in time or dollars) to provide. (Like this week’s detailing of Britain’s dire financial situation.) The New Yorker can afford to put its reporters in far away places long term, giving readers a nuanced view of life in Afghanistan, Iran, Washington D.C., etc.

All this is to say that Margaret Talbot’s piece in this week’s Talk of the Town, “Pride and Prejudice,” is not so much an up-to-the-minute perspective on the suicide of 18 year old Rutgers student Tyler Clementi, but a welcomed summary that connects the dots and puts the tragic event into a larger context. As a society, we are becoming more and more accepting of gays and lesbians — but as we make strides toward equality, the hatred of an outspoken minority becomes ever more voracious.

Ms. Talbot addresses the other major issue in this story: the abhorrent invasion of Clementi’s privacy and, as Talbot coins it, a “culture of exposure.”

Clementi lived in a world where filming your roommate in his most intimate moments and broadcasting the results without his knowledge represents a difference in degree, if not in kind, from a lot of online behavior.

She continues:

Young people discovering their identity and their desires need a zone of privacy where they can be who they are, perhaps in the company of another human being, without feeling that somebody else might be tweeting it, filming it, or blogging about it, or that maybe they themselves ought to be—there’s such a thing as violating your own privacy, too. The unobserved life is so totally worth living. ♦

Read the whole article here.