If a tweet falls in the woods…

If a tweet’s sent but there’s no one there to read it, was there ever really a tweet?

What I find myself thinking this week, as more and more bits of news trickle out regarding the suicide of Rutger’s University freshman Tyler Clementi, is this: Whom did Dharun Ravi and Molly Wei intend to watch that video of Clementi in a sexual encounter with another male student? Aren’t they culpable?

No doubt Dharun and Molly knew there were other Rutger’s students who’d be all too interested in what they were streaming from Tyler and Dharun’s dorm room. But what if there weren’t? What if the students who saw it walked down the hall (or across campus–come on, you don’t actually believe they didn’t have an audience?) and pounded on Molly’s door and said, “Hey, that’s not cool! Knock it off!”

What if you and I did that, for that matter? When someone makes a joke about someone being a “fag” or a “ferry?” When someone laughs about something (a shirt, a store, a joke) being so “gay?” Maybe at a bar after work, or on twitter or in a facebook post?

What if the bullies didn’t have an audience?