This is the first time I’ve copied over an entire article of mine, and I’m probably infringing my own copyright, but I think this is an important discussion and I can only join in here.
In the wake of the terrible events of last Friday in Newtown, which left 27 dead-20 of them young schoolchildren-social media such as Twitter and Facebook played a key role in communicating the shocking news and expressing an international sense of outrage and grief. But they also spread misinformation and misapprehensions just as quickly. The gunman was initially misidentified, and his murdered mother was erroneously connected to Sandy Hook Elementray School. But while these errors of fact were soon corrected, a deeper misunderstanding took hold over the following few days as a shattered nation tried to understand an inexplicable tragedy.
Writing is seen on a home in Newtown, Connecticut on Dec. 17, 2012. The two funerals on Monday ushered in what will be a week of memorial services and burials for the 20 children and six adults massacred when gunman opened fire at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown last Friday. (Eric Thayer/Reuters, via Landov)
An uncorroborated rumor about the gunman, Adam Lanza, suggested that he suffered from Asperger’s syndrome-a now out-of-use term for a higher-functioning form of autism. By Saturday, a blog post by Lisa Long-“I Am Adam Lanza’s Mother: A Mom’s Perspective On The Mental Illness Conversation In America”-had gone viral, been retweeted hundreds of thousands of times, and republished on Gawker, Britain’s Daily Mail, and on the Huffington Post. Long, the mother of a 13-year-old with behavioral problems, argued, “It’s easy to talk about guns. But it’s time to talk about mental illness.”