Liza Long, the blogger who wrote the viral piece, "I am Adam Lanza's mother," was writing about her thirteen-year-old son.
Just like Liza Long, I have a thirteen year old.
Just like Liza Long, I have written about my child on my blog.
I've written about my daughter's first adult-less trip to the mall. I've written about her first time babysitting her sister. I've written about her adventures on Facebook. My daughter is a colorful character with a lot of quirks, a lot of funny moments, a lot of great insights.
What I write is pretty innocuous stuff, but still, it drives her crazy.
"I don't want you mentioning me on your blog unless you ask me first," she finally told me a few months ago.
What? I am an adult woman and I have to ask my 13-year-old daughter's permission?
And although I hate having my first amendment rights obstructed by a overly demanding 13-year-old, I pretty much have stuck to this edict (except right now—by writing about how she doesn't want me writing about her, I know I am violating her wishes.)
I wish I could write about her—there's so much material. But I get it. She is thirteen. Everything I do is embarrassing. Everything I say is embarrassing. And everything I write is beyond embarrassing. It's mortifying. The entire world—well, all of her friends—could potentially discover it and tease her relentlessly. It's hard enough going through puberty without a mom documenting it for all to see.
A few days ago Liza Long wrote her blog entitled "I am Adam Lanza's mother". I'm sure you've heard about the blog by now. Of course she isn't really Adam Lanza's mom. Adam Lanza's mom was killed by her son a few days ago in Newtown Connecticut. But Long was making a point that she felt a kinship to the late Nancy Lanza because she too has a son with his own slew of mental health problems.
By titling the story the way she did, Long was virtually guaranteed to have her blog hit viral proportions. The first wave of people read the story thinking it was actually written by Lanza's mom before she died. They opened it up hoping to find some insight into a killer's mind. They hoped to uncover a reason behind such horrible acts.
Then it got passed around on Facebook and Twitter. It was cross posted on high traffic sites like Huffington Post and Gawker. Many readers praised it saying it provided insight into mental illness.
Maybe it did. But at what expense?
Liza Long changed her son's name to Michael. But she posted a photo of her child. Even without the photo, people who know her could easily figure out who she was talking about—the single mom from Boise, Idaho, has four children and one is thirteen. "I live with a son who is mentally ill. I love my son. But he terrifies me," she wrote.
Long talks about "Michael's" violent outbursts—he has threatened to kill her, to kill himself, he has pulled a knife on his mother. She writes about his problems in school. Imagine what those problems will be like now that this blog has been circulated everywhere?Everywhere.
Some are praising Liza Long for offering the world this startling portrait of mental illness. But behind this mental illness is a real live thirteen-year-old boy who is mentally ill. If my mentally healthy 13-year-old is mortified by a mom writing about innocuous mall trips, how does a mentally ill 13 year old cope with a mom writing about psychiatric hospital trips?
If Liza Long wanted to provide the world with a portrait of mental illness, why didn't she write her story under a pseudonym? Her child needs help, love and compassion, not worldwide notoriety and certainly not a viral-producing comparison to Adam Lanza. This is a mother whose most important job is to protect her child from the cruel world, not exploit him via social media.
Yes, Liza Long may have educated some people on mentally ill children, but maybe one mentally ill child would have been better off if she had educated herself on what was best for him.