First things first. If you are reading this blog as an attempt to describe the Amanda Todd story and its aftermath, you can probably skip this day. To a certain extent, I am prevaricating, as my next topic will most likely be the horrendous Kody Maxson involvement, and how this turned into the worst type of journalistic vigilante activity I have ever seen.
But today, responding to feedback, I will seek to explain my own personal motives behind my actions, and what I – perhaps only for me – want to achieve. It might just end up as a jumble, in which case I would like – again – to ask for something. Please comment. If I have made errors, or if I have not made things clear, or if I have become boring, please let me know. If I have covered some things to briefly, or not at all, then please comment. Or if there is something that either you wish to add or you wish me to add, please contribute. Debate and discussion is important.
As usual, I come to this blog without any real plan or structure, so you may have to excuse the non-linearity and possible over-conversational tone. So let’s begin.
In the Internet world – as we have plainly seen – people tend to believe anything that’s put in front of them. Amazingly, there is also a corresponding tendency to ignore any contrary factual evidence. In the Amanda Todd story, people instantly believed that she was this innocent who had been tricked. No questions, and no thought involved. When the pictures appeared, and more history was shown, many people did cotton on – realised they had been misled, and put the story behind them. But the die-hards refused – and some still do refuse – to believe that their original concept was flawed. But we’ve seen enough of that – I’ve just mentioned it to show why I don’t say much about myself.
About myself, I could easily tell another pack of lies. I could do a convincing job quite easily. A true anecdote from all this: on Facebook, I put my home town as Trumpton. A fictional town from a show for children. At least one person was firmly convinced that I lived in ‘a market town set in the heart of rural England, within a short bus-ride of Camberwick Green’.
So I could easily make up a fictional persona to back up this blog. But here’s a little information. You can take it or leave it. I don’t really care – in many ways it’s irrelevant.
I have a certain amount of personal life experience regarding this story. I could go into huge detail, all of it true and not exaggerated, but it is likely that many people would refuse to believe it. At least one of you reading my blog knows some of the story, and perhaps another. Even now, I’m tempted to relate at least one story that might pluck at the old heart-strings, but I won’t. Firstly, it’s not necessary, but secondly my story, though quite tragic and sad, pales into insignificance when compared to the daily tragedies of others. And it is that element that has annoyed me somewhat about the Amanda Todd story – compared to what other kids suffer, hers was an easy life.
Don’t get me wrong. We can assume that Amanda suffered. Her life wasn’t easy. Mental illness and depression are severe problems. I am reminded here of the Eva Rausing case – in many ways, she had everything that could be desired, yet she ended up dead under a pile of rubbish. But maybe we should try to put Amanda’s case into perspective. A suicide occurs once every 40 seconds – and many of them are under far worse circumstances. What we need to look at far more closely in this story is WHY Amanda – in a civilised G8 country – seemed to be so unsupported. But, as usual, I’m wandering off-topic.
So – let me try to explain. I can empathise in this situation. People have bandied this word ’empathy’ about, without having the faintest clue what it really entails. Is it possible to partially empathise? Maybe. I don’t think so. In my opinion, the only people who can empathise are those who have gone through similar, perhaps identical, experiences. And even then, it is impossible and ridiculous to ever say about another person that ‘I know what it must have been like’. Every person’s feelings and situations are unique. We can have a guess – a very close estimate – about how they feel, but we can never know fully. I will just say – I can empathise on a higher level than most. And it is from my empathy that my anger comes – it’s not so much what happened to Amanda in what I believe to be a semi-fictionalised account of her life, it’s the woeful lack of help she received in dealing with her demons and in protecting her. I will expand on this later.
Another word used often is ‘sympathy’ and maybe it is sympathy that I lack, on many levels. Not that I don’t want to be sympathetic – it was how I felt when I first encountered the story – it’s just that I find it hard for so many reasons.
I’m afraid that a certain amount of sympathy went out of the window as soon as I realised the amount of lies that were being told. One can go on and on making excuses for people, but there is a limit. If one believes that Amanda, for want of a better phrase, was a ‘lost child’, sympathy is easy (one steers one’s anger towards other people, as I will do in the rest of this post). But, as I have come to do, if one believes that Amanda was, perhaps, a compulsive liar, she loses my sympathy.
Many people have, cruelly and harshly, said that she deserved it, but that’s wrong. Everyone deserves love, understanding and compassion. I will use the Anders Breivik case: many people hate him; many people (going by experience) would have lynched him, or wanted him executed. But the Norwegian authorities – they should be very proud – treated him in a proper, civilised fashion. No-one deserves harsh treatment. To say anything else is one of the reasons why the world is so full of hate. (Pardon me, while I get down from my soapbox).
Amanda didn’t deserve harsh treatment. She deserved a lot more than that, but it seemed never to arrive. But – how can I put this? – she made a rod for her own back. At the age of twelve, we could make excuses. Thirteen? Perhaps. But beyond that, it’s difficult. BlogTV sent out a message – ‘You’re banned’ – but she continued. Facebook – the source of most of her trouble – she stayed with it. In the face of such unrelenting self-destructive behaviour, one has to have one’s sympathy switched to maximum.
But let’s assume that Amanda IS the ‘lost child’, the sad victim of an evil world, absolved of all blame. Personally, and this is just my opinion, I could also use a valid excuse that she suffered from narcissism so much that it was a clinical, mental condition. Here’s a link. Thanks to Wikipedia.
People have asked why I, to put it mildly, appear to have no sympathy for the mother. People have told me, in no uncertain terms, that I should back off. I have sort of explained things earlier, but perhaps I should go into more detail.
Unequivocally, I find the mother’s role in all this to be questionable. I find it staggering that a woman – supposedly intelligent – seems to have stood by and either just let it all snowball out of control, or, even if she did try, let herself fail so miserably in protecting her daughter. There were many occasions when she could have stepped in – right from the beginning when the police arrived, through her daughter’s drinking and drug abuse, the fight, all the way through to preventing her from, yet again, advertising herself online with her YouTube channel. Over and over again, she could have acted, and over and over again I’ve made excuses, but I cannot forgive the quote:
“At the end of her video, Amanda held up a card that read: “I have nobody, I need someone.”
Carol says she didn’t understand why Amanda wrote that, but she never asked.”
This is, I’ve just noticed, the fourth time I’ve used this quote. It’s because I find it so – what’s the word – disgraceful?
But why not just leave her alone, to grieve in peace? I would do, if she was prepared to tell the truth, and to stop her self-aggrandising.
But I have to explain myself more.
This is one view of Mrs Todd: she was perhaps some sort of ‘Everymom’ even, in some people’s opinion, some sort of ‘Supermom’. Really, words fail me. If this is 21st Century motherhood at it’s best, God help us.
Now – a bit of a rant. Here is my view: people idolise people with whom they find some sort of affinity, or with whom they would like to find some sort of affinity. All the hopeless mothers out there – the ones whose kids have gone off the rails through neglect and stupidity – are racked with guilt and self-blame. They now have their idol, their patron saint – they are not alone. They can say ‘It’s not just me. It’s not my fault’. But let me tell you this – just because there’s a lot of failed mothers, it doesn’t make it right. Just as there are a lot of kids out there flashing on webcam – it doesn’t make it acceptable.
Mrs Todd’s campaigning and her presence in the media has been seen as laudable. She’s defending her daughter, she’s working valiantly for a cause. She’s a saint.
Utter codswallop. If you look closely at what she has said and done after the event, many things become clear.
Firstly, we see a ‘me, me, me’ attention-seeking attitude. She has used her daughter as publicity for herself. This is evident in her blog. Devoid of self-criticism, full of self-praise. If she does allow herself a degree of self-criticism, it is always followed by a self-cleansing ‘but what could I do?’ plea. Your kid gets drunk. ‘But what could I do?’ Your vulnerable kid is out on the town at all hours. ‘But what could I do?’ Your daughter is flashing all over the Internet. ‘But what could I do?’
I get so, so angry.
Then we see a peculiar attitude towards her daughter in death. At one stage in the blog, Mrs Todd refers to herself as feeling like the mother of a ‘rockstar’. Give me strength. She’s basking in the bizarre glory of it all. She keeps on and on releasing more and more photos of her daughter. If she thinks interest is waning, she suggests a cookbook, pink Starbucks cups, anything. OK – many of you will be thinking that this is some fanatical mother trying to keep her daughter’s memory alive. Brava! But it’s become tawdry.
What Mrs Todd hasn’t realised is this. Take a long hard look around. Look at the comments on the YouTube videos; the sorts of things being said on the remaining R.I.P. pages; the opinions that are becoming more and more prevalent. Amanda is NOT being remembered for good things – she is being equally remembered for being the kid who was all over BlogTV, drank, took drugs, became promiscuous and then killed herself. The hatred and venom that plagued her through life is continuing after death. Truly, Mrs Todd, if you loved your daughter, it’s time to let it go. Work towards getting rid of the R.I.P. pages (they are all being trolled or misused) and stop her name being used so much. If you truly believe she is up there, watching, then let her truly rest in peace. She supposedly died to avoid the hatred – you are keeping it alive. I beg you – put your own selfishness to one side, and just let her memory fade away in peace. She would have wanted, after death, to have been seen as a good person, and it’s what you wanted too. It is just unfortunate that it’s not really turned out that way. Take her out of the spotlight. Show some compassion. Let her rest.
Fuck me – I’m quite sad now. That won’t last!