Amanda Todd Verdict And Goodbye Olivia Newton-John

Verdict For Amanda

It was great to read the news about final verdict of the Amanda Todd Harassment And Sextortion case, which found Aydin Coban guilty of five charges in a BC court:

  • extortion
  • importing and distributing child pornography
  • possession of child pornography
  • communicating with the intent to lure a child
  • criminal harassment

I'd been watching Amanda's situation from the beginning, having seen her (trigger warning) heart wrenching flashcard video within a day of its release. Hearing the news of the verdict was profound. Lets hope this sets a social precedence that prevents such situations from arising in the future against youth, and certainly against people of all ages.

I posted about this topic about a month ago with regard to the fact that there are many other threats against youth that can happen at the community level. Threats that people need to be aware of on many levels, without becoming the tools of an Orwellian Big Brother-esque threat to freedom or privacy. A threat which for all intense purposes, can arise from governance or grassroots or even both.

Insofar as harassment is concerned, which was one of the biggest components of the Amanda Todd case, there is evidence all around that this sort of phenomenon is ever more and more seemingly responsible for other crimes and their final outcomes. I would even be willing to suggest that it is an unconsidered factor that might be behind more tragedies than people would be willing to admit. Just because the kind of people who partake in it are so selfishly fixated on winning a social game of love versus hate or blood versus fire, that they would go to any lengths in order to "win" by the day's end. 

When you pursue any social activity with such vitriol and narcissism, someone is bound to get hurt sooner or later. 

Whether they hop into a car and speed away to escape such torment, crashing their own car in the process possibly harming others or themselves. A recent news story comes to mind.

Whether like a time bomb, they burst in a murderous and vengeful rampage trying to silence their unseen tormentors with guns, bombs or other means of mass murder.

Whether they take their own life as Amanda did in order to escape the constant pain of harassment arising from the online sextortion conducted against her. 

Though Amanda's case is very different from most other situations, she would probably want us to ask ourselves: when does "winning" a social game of status become more important than a human life? What is the limit to which we're willing socially to bombard others with abuse and hatred? That group psychosis that is best described in Stanley Kubrick's brilliant 2001: A Space Odyssey. The scene where the apes figure out how to use bones and sticks and rocks and weapons. Upon first using the weapon as a group, they bludgeon one of the other tribe's apes to death. Even after it is lying defenseless and presumably dead, they continue to beat the dead ape, as if doing so will elevate their own status in the tribe. 

As a side note, I understand that the point of that scene was to illustrate humanity's first use of tools (weapons), and how they eventually led to the space age. I also think that Stanley was showing us another side of humanity, perhaps in the hopes that we might become aware of it and learn better to deal with it? A sort of retelling of the idiom, monkey see - monkey do?

Torment isn't a question of when is enough, enough because at that point it has already gone too far. Perhaps to Amanda's tormentors it was about winning against her, hiding behind the defense of online anonymity or in-person unfamiliarity. That psychosis where a group of people wield their weapons against a solitary person in hopes that they might break them. Break their victim's spirit in order to elevate their own status within their tribe, whatever that tribe might be.

So here we have Amanda, who is a victim of this very phenomenon, with a chilling motive of sextortion at its core. She was coerced into a situation where she was exposed to those of a predatory nature, who wielded the weapons of technology, anonymity and their numbers against an innocent young girl. She was socially and psychologically bludgeoned to the point that she took her own life to escape the pain. Bludgeoned by the apes that copied the first one, perhaps attempting to elevate their own social status within their predatory tribe.

Not having known Amanda personally, but certainly being very familiar with her case and situation, I would think that Amanda would opt not to bludgeon the someone to death over her suicide, but rather to spread preventative effort and awareness throughout the world so that the same thing was kept from ever happening to anyone else ever again.

One last note is that I hope that all responsible people can feel safe using the internet and technology, though we all should be aware that there are things to keep in mind to preserve your own own online safety. 

Also, responsible adults who are using the internet at a social or even sexual capacity should not be made to feel criminal by Amanda's case. The vast majority of adults on the internet, both women and men are responsible when it comes to their own social and sexual practices, respecting identity, individuality and consent.

All of the points above are a part of having a safe social space in the internet and with technology in general.

Goodbye To Olivia Newton-John

I've been a big fan of Olivia Newton-John for my whole life, right back from when she starred in  Grease and Xanadu and through to her musical career with songs like Physical. When I was in my teens, I even managed to convince a DJ at an old Toronto goth club to play the song Magic, which eventually became a regular at that club's goth set as a result of my request. Ironically years later when I'd eventually return to writing, I'd listen to Magic whenever I wrote a chapter or story for anything from the A Lady's Prerogative universe.

I was very saddened to see that she'd passed away, and a night before she had, I'd been counting birth dates and had used her birth year in one of the calculations in my head, before I knew that she had passed away. Also of some note, I recently created a character for my Conan Exiles online game on a European server that is named Kiraie, a play on the name of Olivia's character in Xanadu (with her character's name being Kira).

On behalf of Shhhh! Digital Media, I'd like to wish condolences to her family and her fans around the world. We truly lived during the time of an incredible and inspiring woman in Olivia.