Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Having a Positive Break OnLine

During last week’s morning meetings, I shared with the middle and upper school students my wishes for them over the winter break. Among my exhortations for them were to get lots of sleep, read a good book, see an inspirational movie, go for a hike, and sleep some more. I also encouraged them to visit with friends face-to-face and give social media a rest. I was more specific with upper school students and recommended staying off Twitter and Facebook; a couple of students even cheered when I said that.  

Unfortunately, when students don’t see each other on a daily basis, as they do when school is in session, they may rely on social media as their primary form of communication with one another.  As we all know, it is impossible to convey nuance and context in 140 characters or with postings, and very often, what was meant as a joke can be misinterpreted. 

In middle school morning meeting this week, Carly Andrews, Head of Middle School, presented a video on gossip.  As you will see by watching the video, people gossip for many reasons. Unfortunately, the end result is the same—someone’s feelings are hurt and the damage in today’s cyber-connected world can be wide-ranging and possibly permanent.  Ms. Andrews ended her presentation with the following call to action by asking students to consider this question from author and speaker Steve Maraboli: 

“How would your life be different if…
you walked away from gossip and verbal defamation? 
Let today be the day…
you speak only the good you know of other people and encourage others to do the same.”

We all want our students to have a fun, relaxing, and drama-free holiday season.  My hope for our students is that they do the old-fashioned kind of socializing where they actually spend time face-to-face with their friends and acquaintances and avoid spending too much of their days and nights on social networking sites.  In addition, I hope that if they read something online that is either negative or a form of gossip, they have the courage to walk away and not allow themselves to be caught up in the drama of the moment. Last year, I wrote about an article that discussed how young men and women can deal with cyber-aggression and the benefit of not responding or engaging when a negative comment is made. We have linked that article, “Antisocial Media,” again in case you wish to read it.  

Students, you deserve a break that is pleasant.  I hope you spend your time doing things that bring you positive feelings and avoid activities that may produce anxiety or unhappiness.  I look forward to seeing you in the new year.