The case of missing Madeleine McCann has been a media war from the moment the news broke. In the right hand corner, we have those desperate to establish that Madeleine was abducted through no fault of her parents, and who are intent on policing the internet (supposedly to track down paedos and perverts) and introducing new laws to gag the press. In the left hand corner, a baffled crowd saying 'hang on, its not right to leave kids on their own' and we want to know what has happened to that little girl'.
The baffled crowd have been firing arrows into the seemingly impenetrable fortress of Team McCann for nearly 8 years, with varying degrees of success. That the McCann case has never gone away for example, could be a reaction to those campaigns, the case can never be laid to rest whilst suspicion hangs over the parents. The baffled crowd keep throwing those questions out there and through the use of social media they are spreading far and wide and they are urging the public to ask why this child's death has been covered up and who is responsible. Unfortunately, due to the fruitloop actions of some of the extremists who wanted the parents placed on a rack until they confessed and Team McCann spin, the baffled crowd were lumped together as one and dismissed by the mainstream media as a frenzied gang of pitchforkers. Such is life.
Equally, it could be said that the McCanns themselves chose to keep the case of missing Madeleine high profile, and indeed that is why they are lauded by sections of our society, they have never given up on their daughter, or indeed their Fund. They are the stoic, long suffering, representatives of the British middle classes abroad, wronged by a nation of sardine munchers who have never forgiven us for the Armada. Sadly among the little Englanders there is a notion that they are superior to the rest of Europe and that a droplet of Churchill lives on in their gene pool. Unfortunately, that is not good old days sentimentality, that's just plain old racism. As is the fact that we Brits do not accept the findings of the Portuguese police, so we have sent in the big guns, Scotland Yard, to show 'em how its done.
The answer however, probably lies somewhere between the two and those of us still here continue to wait with baited breath for the grand finale when all will (hopefully) be revealed. Meanwhile, anyone new to this case will find enough to spark their interest, simply by googling McCann. Its a red pill/blue pill moment, and a case of how much do you want to know? They will come across the facts and the intricacies of this case quickly enough and with a bit of luck they will soon be able to distinguish between the wheat and the chaff. If they have made it as far as here, the facebook groups or the warring forums, they will be able to track down the nuggets of information they are seeking. I have studied this case from a psychological perspective, because that is what interests me. But it is loaded with media, marketing, politics, economics and accounting (thanks Enid), backstabbing and intrigue. Take your pick.
In my opinion, anyone new to the case can do no better than to read Goncalo Amaral's The Truth of the Lie, the book the McCanns have so desperately tried to ban. Its not available in the UK due to our medieval libel laws, but is free online via the links on my blog. If there is any justice in this world, it will soon be available here and I and I hope everyone else, will be rushing out to buy it, the first edition will take pride of place on my bookshelves.
Goncalo Amaral was born to write, he has an easy going, reader friendly style that tells us without unnecessary detours or elaboration, exactly what was going on in the summer of 2007 from his perspective as co-ordinating detective leading the investigation. Contrary to negative McCann propaganda, he is both a scholar and a gentleman.
I also point people in the direction of the McCann files, an amazing website filled with everything you ever wanted to know about the case of missing Madeleine. The website of Joana Morais was also another invaluable source of credible information, but unfortunately Joana has closed it for now, Joana and others have worked incredibility hard to ensure the facts of this case reached the British public, who were only receiving the Clarence Mitchell spun version. Unfortunately, the years of abuse and intimidation have understandably taken their toll, but I do hope Joana reconsiders.
For more factual information and a darn good read, I also recommend Pamalam's website, which has preserved for posterity the incredible blogs of Gerry McCann detailing his life and times as a global superstar. Essential reading methinks for anyone with an interest in psychology, human behaviour and wtf moments.
Having had an unhealthy interest in this case for far too long, I have tiptoed through the minefields and found my own ways to remain sane(ish) and to keep things in perspective. There is so much 'reading' out there, it is easy to waste hours reading material that appears to be credible only to discover at the end that the writer believes in clones/fairies and that every crime involving a child stems from sexual deviancy and illuminati conspiracies.
I personally, follow the KISS (Keep it Simple Stupid) school of thought, cunning plans are rarely very cunning and the McCann Media Monitoring Team have been kept on the hop since they issued their first press statement. They have been fighting a media 'war', that is their job has been to establish the abduction story as fact and the McCanns as the tragic victims of online trolls and stalkers. And it has worked splendidly, you only have to look at the soppy faces of Lorraine Kelly and Carole Malone, to see that they have bought it hook, line and sinker. I sometimes wonder if the spin industry have some kind of secret annual awards ceremony where Oscars are handed out to those who make the lie become the truth.
But back to that social media minefield. If a commentator or blogger has their own theory set in stone I stop reading. Life is too short for closed minds and know it alls. I like learning new things every single day and I enjoy nothing more than reading or listening to others who are far more insightful and intelligent than myself. Sadly, those who insist they alone know the answers, rarely are.
I personally enjoyed the forums and the facebook groups and the exchange of ideas, but they can be hostile places littered with people who have set ideas on the way in which the case of missing Madeleine is discussed and reported, and as a grumpy old bird, I find that off putting. So too the mini despots intent on having the biggest gangs. There are however, some great writers on the forums and the facebook pages and some I will always take the time to stop and read, Kath on Facebook - my old mate from the AOL days, the HideHo videos and even Petermac on CMoMM for example.
As for opinion, Blacksmith is hard to beat. I have read and followed him from the beginning, he throws in those curved balls that make you stop and think, and perhaps look at things slightly differently. Teddy on twitter is a star. A satirist from the je suis Charlie school of journalism, hard hitting and factual and a doorway to the murky world that lies behind the cover up, even if he is a little bit scary.
And finally twitter - the McCann hashtag. If you are thinking of venturing on there, I would recommend you prepare yourself as if you were a Spartan - that is one of the 300. There are people on there who will cut you down and decapitate you before you can say, I'm here in error, I was looking for Miley Cyrus. The McCann twitter hashtag is a battlefield with some tweeters (I'm tempted to call them twits) spamming the arena with thousands of tweets daily - their job, to persuade the public they are not obsessive or loony. Miow, lol.
They have and are however, doing a great job in getting the truth out to the general public. They are countering every 'official lie' with the facts, and showing up the mainstream fairy stories for what they are. Whenever pro McCann stories are planted in the media or written by compliant journalists, they are immediately rebutted on twitter, they are actively preventing the cover up, and for that they should be applauded.
As for getting down in the mud and the blood and beer, some like it! Shock, horror, stop the press. For many of us it is a great way to show off our sparkling wit and Truman Capote style put downs, and it would be a lie to say we don't enjoy it. I do not understand the need to say we are there for moral, upstanding reasons, and if we weren't on twitter we would be working towards world peace. The truth is, for many of us, its that or Eastenders,
I have the official word of a qualified psychiatrist that the use of social media is the 21st century equivalent of chatting to your neighbours over the garden fence - I feared I had an incurable addiction at the time. We are social creatures, most of us anyway, and we are drawn towards interacting with others. It isn't anything to be ashamed of. I don't troll or stalk anybody, I never have, but if they attempt to squish me, I'll squish them right back. The media hysteria gives trolls the power they do not deserve, it makes them threatening and important, whereas in reality, they are probably socially inept and terrified of their own shadows. I prefer to squish them with their own ignorance rather than instruct lawyers or get a crime number from the police.
The internet and social media are an alternate reality and situations we encounter on the web, are no different to situations we encounter in the real world. So too is the way in which we deal with them. People, be they real or cyber, can only hurt us if we allow them to. If you are vulnerable or sensitive you will go into a state of paranoia if you answer the phone to a caller who is having an asthma attack. You will have locked yourself in your Panic Room. dialled 999 to report a heavy breather and unleashed the pack of rottweillers who accompany you to the local shop when you dare to go out for another pack of fags and bottle of gin to calm your nerves.
The sorrow lies in those who believe the 'scare' stories and who are put off from getting the company they need and enjoy, by those spreading the complete and utter lie that the 'lawless internet' is a dark and sinister place that will lead us all to our doom unless the Government intervene. It isn't. Its anything you want it to be with sources of information and entertainment that can only enrich our lives. As for the scaremongers, we all need to make our own minds up about them.