Wall Street Journal social media director Liz Heron notes that the life cycle of viral content is composed of two phases: "Uncritical mass sharing" followed by "semi-informed backlash."
It may have taken a few days, but mommyblogger Liza Long's massively viral essay "I Am Adam Lanz's Mother" has finally entered its second phase.
Writing yesterday on her own blog, academic Sarah Kendzior points to a number of overlooked aspects of Long's parenting style that "tell a different story" than that of an overwhelmed mother dealing with a mass murderer in the making.
Linking to blog posts written by Long in 2010, Kendzior attempts to paint a portrait of a woman with her own history of mental illness and violent tendencies.
Long's "Adam Lanza" — then 11 — had already been incarcerated four times at the behest of his allegedly abusive father, at least once "for not doing his chores."
Long writes about calling the boy's parole officer if he refuses to quit messing around in the back seat of the family car. She talks openly about sending the child to jail yet again to "let the state take care of you." She describes a strong desire to "throttle" her children. And she discusses going "stark raving mad" during a bitter divorce from her "handsome, successful attorney" husband, and calls insanity "fun" and "highly recommended."
After many responded with varying degrees of anger to Kendzior's post, she released a response saying Long's latest post must be set in the context of her previous posts.
She also notes that Long does little to obscure her son's identity, and her child "does not deserve to have his mother embark on a media tour promoting him as a future mass murderer."
Another post critical of Long entitled "You Are Not Adam Lanza's Mother" was also published yesterday. In it, the writer goes after Long's substance rather than her claims.
It chastises Long for a lack of "any real evidence" to suggest that her son will commit the same kind of "rage murder" that took place at Sandy Hook. Further, taking Long's assertion that her son is mentally ill at face value "dehumanises the mentally ill" by "reducing 'mental illness' to 'outward behaviour.'"
The post concludes:
You are NOT Adam Lanza's mother. The sort of quasi-solidarity expressed in "We are [oppressed people]" or "I am [dead person]" appropriates the experiences of people who are unheard, in this case the victim of a mass homicide, and uses that to bolster a narrative that doesn't even attempt to discover or represent the experiences of those they claim to speak for. Don't do that.
Beyond the criticism of Long's motives and dime-store analysis of her son's psychology exists the real story of how Adam Lanza came to be.
Relatives, friends, and acquaintances have come forward since Friday's tragedy to describe Lanza's real mother Nancy as a gun-loving survivalist who feared the imminent collapse of the world economy and home-schooled her troubled, autistic son and "battled" with Newtown's public school system.
Whoever Liza Long is, she is not Nancy Lanza.
UPDATE: Liza Long and Sarah Kendzior have apparently settled their differences and released a joint statement calling for "affordable, quality mental health care for families" as well as "support for families who have a relative who is struggling."
The statement reads, in part:
Our nation has suffered enough in the aftermath of Newtown. We are not interested in being part of a ‘mommy war'. We are interested in opening a serious conversation on what can be done for families in need. Let's work together and make our country better.
[photo via AP]