If there is one lament that I truly have about the world today, it’s the endless cynicism coupled with the need to the “right” and not fooled by anyone. This is evident in the comments section on any viral image, all the calls of “Fake!” “Photoshop!” “It’s not real!” Recently a page I follow posted an image of a girl with eyes the lightest shade of turquoise (think Vanessa Williams’ eyes in terms of how light they were) and talked about how gorgeous they were. The picture had some ‘touched-up’ qualities about it, but nothing about it screamed fake. Of course, people had to point out the most minute and even nonexistent of details to prove that they were not fooled by it, that they knew it was photoshopped. One girl went as far to say that the whites of her eyes were too white, that you couldn’t see the tiny red blood vessels. I was so astounded by this that I had to go look through my own pictures, wondering how easily-seen my own blood vessels were. They weren’t. My eyes were brown (green in one or two of them) and my eyeballs white. No capillaries to be seen. I briefly considered replying to the girl that if her own eyes were bloodshot, she might want to look into that (pun intended) but then just didn’t care. I was too busy thinking how jaded all these people must be that they couldn’t just look at the picture, think to themselves, ‘Wow, those are pretty eyes!’ but instead had to dissect it to figure out what was fake.
The same goes for FB statuses, Tweets, and blog posts. Anyone who had ever made one of those “Dear Inanimate Object/Location/Random collective noun” posts, be careful! Especially if the subsequent lines include any kind of reference to causing harm. Instead of your followers or friends just reading it and laughing at your sarcastic humor, someone might read it and start accusing you as being full of hate for your toaster, or the barista who still can’t seem to get your order right, or the traffic lights. They’ll say that you’re vindictive a cruel, and launch a campaign against you, under the guise of looking out for that safety of your toaster.
By now, I’m sure you’ve all seen the “I am Adam Lanza’s Mother” post from The Anarchist Soccer Mom Liza Long, but have you seen the highly speculative “critique” by Sarah Kendzior? Kendzior goes through Long’s posts one by one (going back several years), and isolates single lines, removing them from context and painting Long as a vindictive, viscious parent who wishes harm on her children on a daily basis.
For instance, she describes Long as having violent and paranoid fantasies about her family, wanting to choke them out them and give them to the state.
What Long really said: “Your ‘I love to fart on you’ song may seem whimsical or even clever to you, my dear seven year old. But it makes me want to throttle you. And you, the 11 year old in the back, if you even touch your brother again, I will call your parole officer. I quit! Let the state take care of you and your compulsive inability to stop poking people.”
On its own, especially while given the precursory intro as a parent with violent fantasies, this sounds damning. However, the entire blog entry is one long vent, about her own kids and her students. I’m sorry, do we not all have bad days? Do we not all let the phrase “punch him/her in the face” cross our lips from time to time? I recently had the pleasure of working with the biggest Debbie Downer complaining hag on the planet. I’m pretty sure I talked every day about how much I wanted to slap her. I guess that means I have violent fantasies. Oh darn.
Kendzior pulls a post from earlier this year, introducing it as “On her allegedly violently insane son, described pre-Newtown massacre as a normal boy“. Yes, Kendzior, most people dealing with mental illness themselves or a family member with such an affliction have thousands of normal days. Long never indicated in her ‘I am Adam Lanza’s Mother’ post (actually titled Thinking the Unthinkable) that her son woke up as such an angry frightening young man every single day. In fact, the reason she fears and needs help is because he’s so unpredictable. Kendzior attempts to make Long’s post a total jump-the-shark moment, as if Long had never given any indication in the past of any problem. If she’d actually read the blog, she know that was patently untrue. She must have missed the post from the fall of 2010 where this same boy threatened to kill himself.
She refers to a post as “forcing her son to climb a mountain despite the fact that he is in physical pain,” when in reality, the post is about climbing back down the mountain, and realistically, there was no other option for the son other than to keep descending. Talk about crucifying someone. Kendzior explains the same post as “having Abraham-Isaac murder fantasies.” Really? Because a one-line reference to Abraham, in which Long is talking about sacrifice, giving up something that you value greatly for those you love, specifically a decision not to jump across a crevasse when she really wanted to do so. It was an existential internal soliloquy, wondering why we want to do things if we’re going to get to the point of doing them and then decide not to, situationally applied to climbing a mountain only to decide not to jump across the crevasse.
Kendzior was grasping at straws, at best, in her attempt to look out for the privacy of Long’s children. She wrote the post indicating that she was concerned about Long’s feelings and attitude toward the kids, that she “fantasizes about beating them, locking them up and giving them away,” and because they’re about to become the subject of more and more media attention as the ‘I am Adam Lanza’s Mother’ post continues to spread, that she’s worried about them. I understand her point, I really do. Long’s post does include a picture of her son and probably should not. However, Long has 41 total posts since her first in in July 2008, and in only 2 of them does she include any photos of her kids in any way. She references to writing for magazines quite a few times, so it doesn’t seem like this post was done to suddenly get media attention; it seems like she could have already had it. People keep talking about a media tour… but I have seen nor heard nothing that sounds like she’s taking this show on the road, and it doesn’t seem like she would even be about to do so. She took the (naive) step of changing her son’s name, so at least she made an attempt at protecting him.
All in all, while I can respect the concern for the privacy of Long’s son, because yes, he will likely see that some day (if he hasn’t already) and that will probably cause incredible damage. However, the post does not disparage him, it merely shows a mother at her wit’s end trying to figure out how to navigate her son’s world.