Early 4th May 2007, news hit the headlines across Europe that a little three year old girl had been abducted from her bed. It was alleged that she had been left sleeping in the holiday apartment alongside her younger siblings, whilst her parents were wining and dining in the nearby Tapas restaurant. So the story was told.
It was no surprise that the media would take an immediate interest in such a rare tragedy, think, how often are very young children snatched from their bed in the middle of the night, aside of fairy stories and familial child custody disputes?
The particular case attracted unprecedented attention across the globe, thanks to media interest, public concern and the campaign launched within hours by the parents, their friends and family who instantly launched a long term campaign of publicity, private investigations and who knows what else.
No one can reasonably say that the Portuguese police failed in any way in their official investigation commencing the night of 3rd/4th May, through to the beginning of October 2007, when the case coordinator was removed from the case, apparently because of a minor indiscretion involving the media. The official investigation conducted by the Portuguese police was professional, thorough and well documented, it can't be said with any conviction that they failed in their collective duty - to solve the mystery of the little three year old child's disappearance.
The tragedy occurred around the same time as the dawn of advanced technology and the internet - in short, the internet and social media. Mainstream media attention, police diligence and indeed public interest were inevitable but what wasn't anticipated was the public outcry at the injustice which evolved over ensuing weeks months and years through the medium of social media.
The golden fleece or the poison chalice?
It all started with one or two internet domains opining on various aspects of the little girl's disappearance. Fora and blogs attracted an ever growing interest in the case which exploded into a whole new world of intrigue when the Portuguese police files were made public after the case was archived in the summer of 2008. As time passed, more blogs and more fora appeared, each vying to be the leading authority on the case of missing Madeleine McCann. The people appeared from all walks of life claiming to be professionals and experts in just about every academic field in existence, there was no knowing of course who was genuine and who just an imposter.
So time passed, gathering more and more voices from across the globe. Voices with conflicting opinions, theorizing, interpretation of documentation and of course the unavoidable menace. Fora and blogs flourished, technology advanced and ultimately the likes of twitter and facebook, the new form of communication with little or no censorship, took on a prominent role in discussing the case of little Madeleine McCann's disappearance. YouTube was flooded with home movies and latterly podcasts, all with something new and old to say. Crazy theorizing, logical thinking, genuine experts with positive input and the cranks and opportunists who had to muscle in on the tragedy.
Over a period of 12 years, people across the social media divide weren't satisfied with being just another voice to be heard, they desired something more - to be the lone crusader, the one first past the post, seemingly forgetting the one victim and hero of this tragic affair .... Madeleine McCann. Nothing daunted, day by day, social media was swamped with a select few seeking to be the voice to be heard above all others, the belching foghorn only to be heard in the thickest of pea-soupers. The one with inside knowledge, the one with the perspicacity that has eluded all others, the one with such outstanding research and analysis expertise they must be the leading light where all others have failed.
Not content with the democratic process of debate in a mature manner, when all else fails, the supremacists continue their battle by resorting to sabotaging and boycotting decent dedicated fora, indeed anything to combat their target rather than join forces towards a united goal - justice in the name of Madeleine McCann.
Doesn't that simple act signify something unsavoury, an unhealthy interest in the case of a missing three year old child rather than an altruistic concern? Why, rather than join forces towards a united goal, would the select few spend so much time and energy trying to destroy a dedicated, well intentioned, platform that devotes so much time and energy to seeking the truth behind the mystery of Madeleine McCann's disappearance? Minutes, hours, days, months, years spent on social media, twitter, facebook, censored blogs and biased fora - why? Have they forgotten the little three year old child who lost her voice during that fatal holiday in Portugal in April/May 2007 - do they even care?
Are they only there to boycott and sabotage any genuine cause or are they only there to claim the right to supremacy?
Name dropping, claims of personal contact with leading authorities, inside knowledge, superior academia, personal attacks against others who likewise strive for supremacy in this Game of Thrones.
It doesn't end there. Not only did the sad case attract a group of media socialites hungry for a piece of the action, it also lured the ravenous retired professionals so willing for a place on that comfy studio sofa to spout their meandering theory about this that and a lot of the other. Queuing for the prime time slot so coveted by the has beens of yesteryear, a chance to chat aimlessly with the national treasure show host and with any degree of luck, secure a lucrative retirement plan into the bargain.
Bums on seats eh?
Take a step back and look within - it's a veritable battleground for supremacy - who will win the crown, be first past the post to park their posterior on the veritable throne?