Amendment: It was still difficult to fathom what was going on at this point. The story was still relatively fresh, and it still held up in the media as a one-off photo and so on. Because the story was so outrageous, I thought it might be a hoax. I’m still not 100% convinced it itsn’t.
It seems like it’s been a long haul, but we’ve finally got past the video.
Let’s recap. We know much of the history of Amanda Todd. Some of it might not be accurate, but we know for certain – she was no angel. Far from it. We know for certain that the one-off photo – as we are led to believe in the video – is an extreme lie. She was a serial exhibitionist. The physical evidence clearly shows that she was in the habit of going nude online, and the mass of anecdotal evidence is too great to ignore.
This means that one of the core factors of the 2012 video – the innocent flash – is invalid. It’s this that also destroys the credibility of the rest of the story. By not telling the truth about her online behaviour, everything else crumbles. But, even without knowing about the nude appearances, the rest of the video seems to have too many holes in it. There are limits as to how long we can go on assuming that all the people involved are idiots – they are just too stupid. From the central character of Amanda, whose repeated acts of stupidity have to eventually be put down to mental illness, through to the parents’ complete inability to protect their daughter – it’s all too incredible.
So – what are we to believe? At this time, we can easily reach the conclusion that the video is a pack of lies, fabrication and exaggeration. In normal circumstances, it would be easy just to turn the page, move on – it’s sad, but we can’t spare time for every suicide case – there’s one every 40 seconds.
But it is what happens afterwards that makes this case so extraordinary. The conflicting stories from mother’s own mouth; the differing and changing accounts of what happened; the weird responses from the police; the deification of Amanda; the vigilante hunt for the imaginary stalker; the Capper Awards; the flood of hatred from people who knew her, and the flood of love from those who didn’t. It all added up to make a strange legend. And, as you are probably aware, the extremeness of all the discrepancies leads me to believe this: either there is a massive cover-up by parents (mainly them), teachers and social services or it has been entirely fabricated. Let me try to explain:
If we assume that ALL the story is true, and we take the video as it stands, it is clear that there were many, many issues that weren’t addressed, but it came to represent the bullying cause – totally wrong. The physical bullying – the playground fight – was a one-off, and came relatively late into the story. The events surrounding it – the drugs, the drink, the sex, any causes – tended to fade into the background. The stalker issue was seized upon by more hysterical people, but even this wasn’t properly dealt with – like why wasn’t she more protected? The online bullying was highlighted but – again – why wasn’t more done to prevent it? And the woeful attempts to save her when it seemed her life was spiralling out of control hardly got a mention. I believe that the story, as it continued, was an attempt to draw attention away from all the inadequacies of parents, teachers and the police when it came to dealing with all this – to avoid all blame, putting it fairly and squarely on the shoulders of others.
If we DON’T take the story at its face value, then there is a lot more going on. Why was there no shock/horror over her online activities? Why were the BlogTV events never mentioned and – for a long while – denied, covered up, suppressed? Why did the mainstream press never mention it? I think the press rushed in too quickly, and when the truth began to appear they were too scared to deal with it. Why didn’t the story develop around the dangers of online nudity? Why were there no extreme warnings about keeping children away from the worst aspects of the Internet? No warnings against drink, drugs, sex – just bullying. Why did the police suggest that they had dozens of people looking into the story, when the stalker events had happened two years prior to the video, and had never been resolved? Why did the story become so legendary?
My theory is this: the authorities knew that Amanda’s situation was out of control. In December, 2010, when it all really came to a head, they knew there was trouble. They knew about the BlogTV history – it was on the Daily Capper show, and members of the public knew. The 4am raid was an effort to bring it to an end – to get her off the Internet, to tell her off, and to resolve things. It failed miserably. They hoped that lessons were learned, but she was still online three weeks later – possibly up to her old tricks. They hoped she would get off her webcam, control Facebook, close down YouTube. But no. She remained at risk.
As we have seen, things got worse. We assume, given the proclivities of Port Coquitlam youth, that she got, as she says, into drink, drugs and sex. So she remained in danger. What could be done? A change of schools, a change of environment? All failed. She made her own problems. She was a problem magnet. Maybe she should have been taken into care. So she was still at risk. Still on Facebook, still indulging in risky activity, still exposed to hate. She was going downhill fast. Bleach. Overdose. Hospitalisation. But STILL it continued – no efforts by her or parents to stop her actions – the actions that put her in so much danger. And then the final straw. All moves to protect her – to keep her away from the Internet – all failed spectacularly with what, to all intents and purposes, was an eight minute Amanda Todd advertisement, accompanied by the now obligatory video of her singing. It was the straw that broke the camel’s back.
With plenty of previous examples of online madness available – Marjorie Raymond, Megan Meier and, Queen of them all, Jessi Slaughter – any informed person would know that it called for drastic measures – a complete change of identity.
They couldn’t just take her into care. It might have been easy just to put her in some sort of ongoing detention – constantly supervised, and given therapy until she was ready to live a happy life. But there was the massive problem of her history. If she had recovered, the likelihood would be – given the nature of the Internet and her addiction to it – that she would have gone back online and it would start all over again. Even years into the future, the pictures and videos would be there to haunt her, no matter what she did.
So the only answer was to seek to destroy her identity. Straightforward death wouldn’t do it – too much bother to construct an accident or an illness and to go through with a funeral, autopsy or death certificate. But a suicide would do the trick. An excuse not to give away too much detail, and to keep things secret, and to gain publicity – Amanda Todd is no more, an announcement to the world.. A convenient way to turn her into a poster child for a cause.
But they didn’t know it was going to go viral. If they had, they would have made the story watertight, foolproof. No mystery; no holes in the plot; just a sad story. But it exploded. And lie upon lie followed.
Note: my theory as I’ve described it might seem to be outrageously mad. Maybe it is. But the aftermath provides much more of a substantiation of it all – the contradictions, the puzzles, the strange lack of openness and truth-telling. And, again, I ask you to look at the stories of Megan Meier and Jessi Slaughter – both stories that are stranger than fiction.
My next entry will start looking at events after the supposed suicide of October 10th, 2012.
Thank you for staying with the blog.