10/15/2010 01:19 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

What Happened in New Jersey: A Tragedy in New Media

I'm a firm believer in the benefits of new media. Look at my most recent blog post, for example. But this is not to say that new media does not have its issues.

Take three young adults in New Jersey and three new media platforms and I think you all know what I mean.

Words on a page, a Dr. Phil episode about bullying, or even a promise from Perez Hilton to end bullying is all a start to help rectify wrongs concerning the tragedy that occurred here, but the tragedy was greater than simply bullying. It exemplified the extreme power of new media.

The act itself, live streamed on the internet, tweeted out for fellow students to watch, followed by a suicide note on Facebook, changed the lives of a network of many individuals forever: a real network, not an online one. In the end, one is gone forever, two are facing criminal charges, family members and friends are painfully affected (a vast understatement to be certain), and a nation is left trying to comprehend the effects of bullying on young adults and rectify its wrongs.

Yet, this tragedy was bigger than simply an act of bullying; this was also a new media disaster -- how within a short period of time, a young man's privacy and apparent fear could not only be broadcast across two new media platforms, but then, once he found out it was, with a simple note and a push of a button, he said goodbye.

In today's world someone's reputation can be changed in a fraction of a second. The sad part here is that in this situation, the young man had nothing to hide. Liberal slant, one might say. My counter-point: I am a proud moderate. And after reading this, if the thought of a liberal slant can even cross your mind, then shame on you.

David Helfenbein has also posted this blog posting on his site,, under his blog, The Bean Blog.