News Ticker

Using social media for good: A chat with Liza Long

Adam Lanza will forever be remembered as the boy who killed 26 people, including 20 children, at Sandy Hook Elementary in December 2012. It is believed he suffered from some form of mental illness.

Not long after the massacre, a local Boise woman took to her personal blog, “The Anarchist Soccer Mom,” to share her thoughts for the first time as a mom whose child suffered from a mental illness.

“I’ve blogged anonymously for years,” Liza Long said. “I was too chicken to put my name on it (the blog).”

It was Nate Hoffman, the editor of the Blue Review, who encouraged her to put her name on the story.

“I think it’s really empowering,” Hoffman said. “Liza has a lot to say.”

“He kind of outed me,” Long said.

Long wrote her infamous blog post from a local hospital, where her then 13-year-old son was being treated for an undiagnosed mental illness.

“I felt like I was in isolation,” Long said. “I said it’s time to talk, and I talked.”

The news of the blog post, titled “I Am Adam Lanza’s Mother,” spread like wildfire through every media outlet in the United States, including social media.

Long was surprised with the overwhelming response to her then-unknown blog, both the positive and the negative.

“It’s rare you get the opportunity to touch a whole lot of nerves,” Long said. “I have found this amazing community. By sharing that story, I connected to the world.”

However, the anonymity of social media brought scores of hurtful comments, but the negativity surrounding her blog post didn’t change her reality.

“I was going through a really dramatic time with my son,” Long said.

With a background in writing and editing, Long used the Internet as an outlet to share her stories to whoever stumbled upon her blog.

“Stories are timeless,” Long said. “The Internet allows you to share the story.”

And that’s exactly what Long did. Her very personal detailings of her family’s struggle to cope with their son’s undiagnosed mental illness was laid out for the entire world to see.

That pure honesty was just one component of how her blog quickly gained popularity.

“People would ask how I made my blog go viral,” Long said. “You can’t just make something go viral. It doesn’t work like that.”

Long’s rise to fame has allowed her to advocate on behalf of those, like her son, who struggle with getting help for their mental illnesses. She was just one of the highlights at this year’s CommCon, where she spoke about how social media has gotten her message out.

Through the use of her blog, which she still updates regularly, and social media sites like Twitter, Long has been able to speak up and advocate for those who aren’t able to have a voice, most recently appearing on an episode of “TEDx.”

In December 2013, Long wrote a follow-up article titled “I Am Not Adam Lanza’s Mother,” where she shares what she has learned from her infamous blog post during the year after the

“A year ago, I had almost no hope for my son,” Long said in her post. “The consequences of my decision to put my name on my story were devastating to us personally, as we learned firsthand just how harsh the stigma of mental illness can be.”

But now, there is hope. All because Long utilized virtually every form of media to find a solution for her son.

“Now, we are talking about where he will go to college,” Long said.