“I’m struggling to stay in this world, because everything just touches me so deeply. I’m not doing this for attention. I’m doing this to be an inspiration and to show that I can be strong.”
Do you know Amanda Michelle Todd? Even I didn’t know her until a few days back when the news about her suicide appeared just about everywhere: newspapers, social networking sites or numerous web pages. For the people who have not yet heard of her case, let me brief you regarding her life and the cause of her death. Amanda, a 15 year old Canadian girl, was plainly a victim of cyber-bullying which had its roots in the social networking site, Facebook. It all began close to three years ago when she started video-chatting over the internet to meet new people. She befriended a man who convinced her to flash her breasts over the camera. She couldn’t have imagined at that instant that this would amend her life in a way that someday she would be forced to kill herself. The man started blackmailing her and threatened that he would spread her pictures all over the internet if she didn’t agree to do a show for him. She refused to heed to his wishes. Thus, he created a Facebook profile with her name where the display picture set was that of her bare chest. He circulated the photograph all over to her friends and classmates in an attempt to harass and humiliate her. She had to change her school twice over the course of 3 years because of such incidents but the bullying, the torture, the anguish did not end. Moreover, she was affronted and beaten by the girlfriend of a man she was allegedly involved with for sometime. She had tried to commit suicide previously by drinking bleach but she was saved. Following this incident, her family moved to a new city.
Alas, the torment did not stop. She took anti-depressants and received counselling; yet she cut her hand repeatedly as an effect of the psychological and emotional pain that was inflicted upon her. On 7th September, Amanda posted a video on YouTube where she used a series of flash cards to tell the world about her experience of being blackmailed, bullied and physically assaulted. The video lasts for 9 minutes and is called: My Story: Struggling, bullying, suicide and self-harm. The video has gone viral ever since her death and the world has gathered together against Amanda’s offender. Several support groups have been formed on various social networking sites where people have been warning the man who harassed her. A loose collective of online ‘hacktivists’ called the ‘Anonymous’ assert that Amanda’s tormentor is a 32-year old man from New Westminster, B.C. However, the investigation is going on in order to accurately track the person responsible.
On the whole, there was one thing that prompted me to share this story with you all; the cause of Cyber- Bullying. We live in an era governed by the internet; these are the times when our existence is somehow revolving around social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest and all of that. But, where do we stand when it comes to protecting ourselves from people who might push us into circumstances like those faced by Amanda? Also, we cannot persuade or coerce ourselves to believe that we should be unaffected and detached from the entire incident. After all, how could that happen to us? We have got brains, right? Nevertheless, tell me, did you have brains when you were twelve? Or think about your young sisters or daughters who must be precluded from falling into the same pit. The Amanda Todd case has been gaining immense popularity, but here what hurts me is the approach of hundreds of people who are still hounding her and posting hateful messages on her profile or support pages. Quite a few people are writing posts which say that she deserved being bullied and call her a slut or a whore. It’s a shame to accept that this is the world we live in. Don’t you think this girl, who had been in distress for years leading to an agonizing death, ought to have respect and love now that she is dead?
As I draw this post to a close, I would just like to say: Please take care because somewhere deep down we know that the world of the internet is not as upright and harmless as we presume it is. Besides, Amanda’s life was as valuable as our life is. We pray for her: May she rest in peace.
(Below I am posting a link to a wonderful article I read concerning Cyber Bullying and Amanda which appeared in the Huffington Post. In case you wish to go through it, please click:
References: Wikipedia, Montreal Gazette, CBC News, Huffington Post, Inquisitr.