Day 17 – continued – reason for this blog

Note: skip Day 17 if you are only interested in the story.

In the first part of Day 17, I said there would be insights, but there weren’t many. Maybe I said enough. And I tried to explain why I won’t leave the story and it’s protagonists alone, and maybe failed. In short, most of this, as I have previously stated is a lot to do with ‘I’ve started so I’ll finish’ (does that have any meaning outside of the UK?). I just want to work towards a conclusion. If people are interested, that’s a nice by-product. If anyone thinks, at the end of it all, that it was even 1% worthwhile, I would be happy.

It’s not done to, in some way, say ‘look at me, I’m right’ (that’s in response to feedback, by the way). All the way along, I’ve tried to encourage debate and discussion. It’s hard to cover every way of looking at the story, and if I were to try and provide every possible explanation, it would never end. Some of the chronology is flawed, but that’s mainly down to the amount of conflicting evidence, not me trying to bend the story to fit. When one side of the evidence seems to show that she was mainly in Port Coquitlam and Maple Ridge, but other, less reliable sources, imply that this isn’t true, it’s difficult to draw proper conclusions. And once one is aware of the extent of the lying about the one-off photo, it’s difficult to know where to look for the truth. But I’m doing my best.

I need to clear one thing out of the way. I was accused of lying. I have been accused of  lying many times, and many times I have proved myself to be telling the truth, much to people’s chagrin. But I was, to a certain extent, hoisted by my own petard.

I have a theory. I have kidded people on that this is true. For my amusement and out of boredom, mostly. My theory – and it’s not too lunatic, given the circumstances (look at the stories of Megan Meier and Shannon Matthews for stories that are bizarre, yet true) is this: Amanda Todd is not dead, she’s under supervision and receiving therapy either to be released when she can cope, or when she can be trusted with a new identity. I will explain later. This is a theory. I will stick with it. Is it a lie? Well, no, not now. It is a theory. A speculation. Until proven otherwise, it is just a theory. That, I think, is my only real naughtiness in the story. If I have got certain things wrong, then those aren’t lies, they are mistakes. And I think I have made it clear in instances when I am not sure. I am not consciously telling lies. I seek only to get to the truth. It might be true she’s alive. It might not. We’ll see.

OK – on with today’s quest. To try and explain more about the purpose of this blog. Where do I start? There are so many reasons. So – in no particular order, let’s begin.

Firstly, this story undermines the case for mental illness and its treatment. Without doubt, the Amanda Todd story is as much about mental illness as it is about bullying. Forget the media hysteria about whether she was ‘murdered’ through the actions of bullies or a stalker – most of that is overblown nonsense which we will get to later. Underpinning the whole story is the spectre of mental illness and its effects.

We live in a society that is afraid to talk about some of its problems – particularly about mental illness. We can relatively easily say ‘I have cancer’ or ‘I have a disability’. It’s not always that easy, but today’s society is much, much better than it was. We have, to a certain extent, overcome the shame of ‘I have AIDS’, but there’s still a long way to go. But there are still problems about saying ‘I am mentally ill’ or admitting that one of our friends or family is ‘mentally ill’. A few celebrities do it, and more people are becoming less reticent. But in general, it’s still something that is seen as shameful.

I believe this story should have said a lot more about mental illness. Amanda clearly showed all the signs of it from an early age. We know that she had learning difficulties, and was exposed to ridicule for it. Depending on how you view her online activities, there were early signs of destructive behaviour patterns, of looking for attention in all the wrong places, or even of dangerous narcissism. Even if you take this out of the equation, there were huge danger signals that Amanda was in trouble. I’m no expert, but surely this looks like bipolar behaviour. At what point do you steer way from seeing it as just typical teenage activity, and begin to see it as something more than that?

Amanda turned to drugs and alcohol. Yet more signs of mental anguish that seem to have gone ignored – if not ignored, then badly managed. This is a sign of addictive behaviour, surely? And she just would not keep away from danger. However, even if we take all of it out of the equation, we still come to the bleach drinking episode. At this point, it was mentioned that she had PTSD. A bit over the top, maybe, but we can see how serious it was.

I’m veering off a bit again. The point I am trying to make is that mental illness seems to get always brushed to one side. It is important to note that the Jessica Laney case implied online bullying, and only later mentioned that she had been mentally ill; the film ‘Bully’ never mentioned the history of mental health; and the incredibly tragic events of Sandy Hook became more of a story about guns than of the mental health concerns of Adam Lanza. It’s simply not good enough.

Next? This story has been appropriated by the media to suit their own ends, and it has been misused. The media reporting of the event has been absolutely appalling and I will come to that in detail later.

As usual, there was indecent haste to be first with the news. Huge amounts of speculation and errors were reported. The ridiculous stories from the completely misinformed ‘Anonymous’ people became seen as fact. Their preposterous stories are still being given credibility – all because the media opted for sensationalism over the truth. And there has not been any effort by the media to ever apologise or seek to correct their mistakes. No difficult questions were ever asked. When it became obvious that there was more than one picture involved, the mainstream press ignored it, leaving it to the more salacious elements of Internet publishing to deal with.

The media had a brilliant opportunity to do good. With all the resources they have, they could have dealt with this story in depth. They could have investigated the BlogTV phenomenon properly; they could have properly exposed the burgeoning use of webcams by young girls; they could have highlighted the poor response from the RCMP and social services; and much more. But no – they went down the bullying route, sucked it dry of all available publicity and now, essentially, they’ve moved on, without hardly a mention of all the other problems.

Next? Perhaps a more personal thing. This story became, to some, yet another convenient stick with which to beat my gender – males. OK – so I am ashamed of what men do sometimes. But to use this story as an example of misogyny is wrong – completely so.

Google “Naomi Wolf Amanda Todd” for the full article. Here’s a quote:

‘In seventh grade, Todd had logged onto a webcam site where she met a 30-year-old man who cajoled her into showing him her breasts. When she sought to withdraw from the man’s persistent attentions, he contacted her via Facebook. He threatened to send the topless photos of her to “everyone” if she did not “put on a show”.’

It’s complete fabrication. There is no 30-year-old man. Never has been, never will be. It’s nonsense. And really – by now we know there was no cajoling. But she sees it as the truth. But it will have gone into some people’s brains as evidence to support what appalling specimens men are. The ‘lurking pedophile’ hysteria. Maybe we should know by now – it’s all the fault of men.

Articles have said it was the boy’s fault: he ‘used her low self-esteem to convince Todd to have sex with him, then pitted his girlfriend against her in a brutal confrontation that lead to Todd’s initial suicide attempt’ Really?

The articles repeatedly mention the ‘man’ involved. Not ‘kid’, ‘child’ or ‘adolescent’, but always ‘man’, and this is wrong. My research shows this: it is almost certain that the mythical online predator was aged from 14 to 17. The vast majority of BlogTV users are teens. There are a few online older people, but these are a minority (the worst offenders are looking elsewhere, believe you me). Even if the mythical stalker is who the zealots think he is, then he was 15-17 throughout this story – hardly a ‘man’, and definitely not thirty.

Google “Amanda Todd misogyny” to see how this has all become twisted. And note how the fact that it was GIRLS who attacked Amanda has either been ignored or (God knows how) been twisted to say it was the boy who instigated it.

I can, as near as it is possible to do so, guarantee you that all the people involved in this story are, or were, minors. Just trust me on this.

So – it should have been a story that highlighted mental illness, the media are appalling, the feminists use it to attack men. All things I want to deal with.

What next? Well, I’ve mentioned suicide ideation already, and how this story almost encouraged suicide. And I got rather bogged down with my views of how bad parenting should have been highlighted.

I’ll whizz through other points I want to make in this blog:

I’m angry that so many people, including me, fell for the story. There are now even more worrying ‘suicide notes’ – some fake, some real – all over Facebook and YouTube. It’s becoming a trend. Facebook and others should be more socially responsible – banning R.I.P. pages or limiting them to one, administered by family members, and banning suicide note videos, perhaps.

I’m angry that no-one has used the story as a huge warning against stripping online. The hard story – in which Amanda, as with hundreds of other girls, found great pleasure in going online to flash – has been overlooked.

I’m angry about the vigilante activity surrounding this. No criticism of the ‘Kill Whoever it is’ brigade, and the nutcase predator hunters.

I’m angry to think that parents are having, possibly, to deal with kids who have set Amanda Todd up as the perfect role model. Sure – as an anti-bullying figure – but not as a suicidal self-harmer. Some kids are placed in a dilemma here. They are encountering things – flashing, suicide, drugs, promiscuity – that they don’t know how to cope with – and words about their idol – whore, slut – that they don’t understand. How many kids will have found their way to BlogTV through this? How many kids will cut for attention, then make a video, just like their idol? Hopefully, I’m underestimating the ability of kids to make decent decisions. But it’s all a potential hazard. That’s why, in other countries, there are so many guidelines in place to stop this happening. Just maybe not in Canada.

And so on. Will I succeed in achieving anything? Will anyone go home and stop their child from going on BlogTV because of what I write here? Will any parent think about spending proper time with their kids, and monitoring their Internet activities? Will anything I write here benefit anyone at all? A large part of me says no, but hey: ‘I’ve started so I’ll finish’.

I’ve just briefly re-read this, and maybe I should correct myself. There HAVE been mentions in the media of all the things I’ve stated here. However, some of the articles have been wrong, or mixed in misleading data – mostly to say that Amanda’s photo was a one-off, or that the predator is some old guy. Other articles have been maybe too slight or too specific. One of my aims is to bring everything involved under one roof – this blog – and to sort out fact from fiction.

Thank you for your attention. Please – leave a comment!

8 thoughts on “Day 17 – continued – reason for this blog

  1. I will start by thanking you for your honesty. You didn’t go as far as I had hoped but I really do understand why. Your perception of the ‘truth’ often worries me though.

    I’m also a man who is often shamed by other men. As men we can mistakenly think that ALL woman rate us as low as the vermin that are rapists & child molesters. They don’t.

    Amanda shouldn’t have gone on BlogTV & flashed, stripped etc but the guys watching were worse. ( if Amanda isn’t innocent at 13/14 then they certainly arent) Kody might have been set up but he was hardly innocent? Personally this story goes way past this anyway.

    This story is sad is so many levels, I think I’ve gone through a lot of them. From personal experience to media bullshit & pages that seem to worship & hate her….its easy to get confused.

    I previously believed the worst in you (you don’t do yourself any favours) but all my bad theories didn’t add up. I’m sorry you had bad experiences, I really am, but that has to effect your perception in matters that are similar to what you went through. If it helps it wasn’t til this blog that I realised how much I related to this story ….I sensed it but my story ain’t all that bad….it just happens to be important to me. That’s what this story does….it seems effects everyone.

    Anyway I’ve lost my real point (if I had one) & feeling tired so thanks for your blog & I’m glad you have admitted mischief in the whole Amanda is still alive theory. I never bought it plus its a tiny bit insensitive. That would be the whole ‘pain in the ass’ thing 🙂

    • Colin – thanks for taking the time to comment. Believe me, it is appreciated.
      I’m not sure what you mean in your first paragraph. How far had you hoped I would go? In what direction?
      As regards perception of the truth, I’m not sure about that either. On a philosophical level, what is ‘truth’? Well, that’s one for a million blog pages. I’m trying to establish facts. From them, we can, at least, try to draw conclusions. Given the facts, each person can make up their own version of the truth. For me, I just tend to take a very cynical view. At the beginning of this blog, I had to choose between a ‘scientific’ approach or my own personal view. The scientific approach necessitates expert knowledge of child psychology and other things – knowledge that I, to a certain extent, do not have. So I can only, really, make it just a personal opinion, and make an effort to support my opinion as much as I can. Also, I wanted to make this blog readable – scientific jargon might put people off.
      Regarding the Kody story, it’s complicated. As you know, I think the ‘stalker’ story is false. I will explain that later. I believe that a person (or persons) did contact her, but not in the ‘pedophile predator’ way as described in the media. If you are familiar with the Capper story, you will see that it is all a peculiar game – with awards handed out for ‘Attention Whore of the Year’ and for ‘Blackmailer of the Year’ – a game that Amanda entered into (she spoke to the Capper people) and she got burned.
      How can I put it? It’s like becoming a drug addict, then being surprised that your dealer knocks on your door asking for money owed. Does that make sense?
      As far as innocence goes – if we assume it’s Kody, he was 15-16, possibly even 14 at the beginning of all this. For some reason, Amanda – not far off the same age group – has had the excuse of being young put forward to claim her innocence, but when it comes to the bullies and Kody, they are all evil, should be locked up, punished – no forgiveness there. It is typical of this story. Anti-bullying, then death threats to anyone who disagrees!
      But remember. We are battling against human nature here. Girls are going online flashing. They are enjoying it. It’s a thrill. It’s not some sordid activity – some Hogarthian Gin Lane picture. Some of these girls come from respectable backgrounds. They like the attention. So, correspondingly, it is inevitable that boys/men will look at it. It’s what they do, for God’s sake. It’s programmed in – hard-wired. If it’s made into a game – like it was for the Cappers – kids will join in. So I will use this excuse: hundreds of women came online and said that what Amanda was doing was no big deal because – according to them – ‘every’ girl flashes at some point. Therefore she was innocent. So I say – loads of boys go online looking at nudie pics, so it’s also no big deal.
      I will examine this in much more detail in the blog.
      I will stick to my ‘the whole thing is faked’ for a while. A touch insensitive? Allowing your daughter’s pictures to be so on display; using your daughter to self-promote; turning her into a brand; keeping alive her memory, when you know she’s still getting attacked – that’s insensitive!
      Anyway – thanks for the comment. I will destroy the Kody myth very soon – he is as innocent as Amanda!

  2. Anyone who isn’t willing to at least entertain this discussion, even if they are too lazy too participate, is in my opinion both a part of the problem and afraid of truth. The points you’ve raised and the questions you’re asking should be in the minds of everyone who’s taken an interest in the story of Amanda’s suicide. I’m so glad you’ve mentioned mental illness and its treatment here. It’s such an important part of this story and something that is too often swept under the carpet. It’s disappointing her mother didn’t push this issue as she has with bullying. (Perhaps there are selfish reasons for that.) The media? Well what more could we expect of them. A pack of vultures driven seemingly only by the pursuit of advertizing dollars. What a pathetic job they’ve done for everyone in this case. (Except maybe her mother.) The feminists who are blaming men for Amanda’s fate? Well I’m not even going to bother with criticizing that accusation. To blame men for young girls voluntarily posting naked pictures and videos of themselves online is not going to achieve anything other than avert attention from the real issues and is indulging in the same lazy generalizations criticized at the core of most feminist discourse. Unless of course, you still believe the claim that there was one picture and one man who ultimately drove Amanda to her death. I can say that, although I too believed the initial reports regarding that theory, this blog has convinced me otherwise. Thank you PhilipJRose for having the guts to challenge popular opinion and particularly for taking the time to gather and present the evidence which you have provided here for those of us who seek the truth. I want to say one more thing or rather ask a question and I’m not afraid to admit that I feel a little sheepish about it as I imagine there will be many people who are disgusted by the implication and will unleash their anger upon me for suggesting such a thing. Do you think Carol Todd’s behavior since Amanda’s death could be motivated by the desire to protect her reputation as a teacher and therefore her career. Could she be being that pragmatic?

    • Scream! I filled in an hour’s worth of comment then lost it by computer error, so I’ve had to start again! So…..
      Thanks for the comment. I only wish more people would contribute – it would give me some idea of what people see as important.
      The mental illness and behavioural problems have been brushed aside. In my dreams, I wish that someone would help me deal with this in more detail – I am too much of a layman to do it justice, though I will try. Here’s a thought – can anyone out there suggest any books or articles that I could use to put in this blog to provide assistance?
      brelephant – some of what you have written in this comment will have people blowing a gasket! Girls voluntarily flashing? The media vultures? Men aren’t at the root of all problems? Them’s fightin’ words!
      But I should be more serious. I’ll attempt an answer to your question (split over other comments to avoid losing it all again)

  3. Carol Todd’s behaviour. A big, big question. One could say that only Carol Todd knows what is motivating her, and we will never fully know the truth. She could write an article about it, but how would we ever know if it was the truth?
    But we need to deal with things that can be observed.
    I think she is basically covering up a load of the history in a desperate attempt to protect herself. If the story is true (?) then she is going through the ultimate guilt trip, the ultimate perceived failure. How to respond? Admit some blame, and suffer, or rationalise everything to avoid all possible blame?
    In counselling and cross-examination techniques, questions are asked over and over again. If the same answer is given, the person (except in extreme circumstances) can be seen as telling the truth. Mrs Todd’s responses are riddled with inconsistencies: Amanda had friends, she was friendless; she was outgoing, she was socially anxious; she was supervised, she was given free rein.
    We see oddness. One of her first concerns was that she was not invited to an anti-bullying debate. A strange priority.
    And her behaviour is not in keeping with the behaviour of other mom’s in similar situations.
    There are many things to be investigated. I put a lot into the comment that was lost, but maybe here isn’t the right place. I will write at greater length in the blog.
    But I’ll try to briefly answer your questions: looking at it closely, I think Mrs Todd’s motivations have been influenced by her 15 minutes of fame. I think she might still be in some sort of shock – when she comes down from it, it might be damaging. I think that Mrs Todd rode the wave of fame in a bad way. I have an odd view that she might have contributed to Amanda’s lust for superstardom (she refers to herself as being like the mother of a rockstar) and she, in a way, is also a fame-seeker. Even worse, I think that Mrs Todd thinks (or thought) that the Amanda bandwagon would go on forever and that it was a path to fame and even a career as a full-time anti-bullying spokesperson. The idea that she might have to go back to reality as a ‘normal’ person is frightening her. She’s not gone back to work yet. She is not back in real life. It will hit hard.
    Today, she is speaking to a bunch of kids. I find it sad that she doesn’t realise that 99.9% of them will know ALL the details about her daughter, and that most of them will be bored with the story – 4 months is 4 centuries in today’s world. I think she has become deluded. I think she is motivated by selfishness.

    • Briefly, defending Mrs Todd’s actions. People will see her as some sort of protective mom, desperately trying to keep her daughter’s memory alive in a good way, and striving to maintain the glorification of her daughter. They will see her as a great anti-bullying crusader, a strong woman. They will overlook the dreadful inadequacies of the past and she will become a hero. And maybe she is. But she’s failing. Stand back from the story and it’s plain to see – the attempt to keep Amanda’s memory alive is succeeding, but not in a good way. The lies and deceit have clouded the issue. The impetus is dwindling. I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again – if Mrs Todd stops being so self-centred, she will see that her daughter needs to rest in peace. She died to avoid the hatred, but it keeps coming. And it’s almost more prevalent. And for the Amanda supporters – fighting over a grave has never been a good thing. The more you protest innocence, the more the haters fight back. The more you build her up, the more people try to tear her down. Leave it. Let her rest.

  4. Actually, Philip, the following story did try to point out the dangers lurking online after they got past the intrigue surrounding the possible apprehension of Kody. See here:

    http://www.vancouversun.com/news/Freedom+comes+cost/7429473/story.html

    In fact, a few of my friends are mentioned in the story. I was still disappointed that this was pretty much the limit of the Sun’s involvement, and the reporters involved finally decided to drop any further research on one particular individual because I couldn’t furnish the culprit’s name. face/palm

    • Roy – you are adding a lot to this. Thank you. I will try to give as much attention to replying as I can. I think you will appreciate that the involvement with all this can be draining and depressing. But I hope that it is of some value.
      I see you are on Day 19. I’ve lost track of most of what I have said, so I’m not sure how far there is to go. BTW – my view that it was perhaps faked up for some reason is 99% in the rubbish bin. Most of that view came from the fact that I simply couldn’t believe or understand how a kid could become so entangled in this web. But I now have a feeling that the denouement of the story was much more simple and basic – and much more understandable.
      Again – I would love it if you could actually contribute to a post or two on this blog. It needs an extra point of view. Thanks for taking the time to comment and read.

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