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Un-healthy dialogues

Does social media divide our unite our communities?

First-graders Amira Sabha and Maddie Doran in 2007. Photo courtesy of Doran.

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First-graders Amira Sabha and Maddie Doran in 2007. Photo courtesy of Doran.

Maddie Doran, assistant editor

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Every day was basically the same, but I didn’t mind—I liked predictability. My alarm would wake me up, I would eat Special K with fresh-cut strawberries and sugar sprinkled on top, I would go to school, play with my friends, go to aftercare, my parents would pick me up, we would eat dinner, then I would begrudgingly go to bed just to wake up and do the same thing again the next day. My favorite part of the day was always recess. I loved to crystal hunt with my friends, jump off the swings and play tag. Every day was just another day at Lee Elementary.

Bottom line: don’t post anything you wouldn’t say to someone in person.”

On Monday, March 28, 2016, the AISD school board voted that Robert E. Lee Elementary’s name would be changed to Russell Lee Elementary. Don’t get me wrong, I think that the name change was necessary, but still, it was something new. Honestly, I don’t think that my 8-year-old self had ever called it “Robert E. Lee,” it was just “Lee” to our community. Many news sources began to weigh in on this issue. I read dozens of articles online that week, all of them shared both sides of the story, but to me, they all seemed to be missing just one thing: the fact that in our little Hyde Park community, no one called it “Robert E. Lee.”

My school had always seemed pretty tight-knit to me. Every morning the halls were filled with parents talking and kids running to avoid tardy slips. That’s what these articles were missing. They were missing that this was still a community.

Photo courtesy of The Living New Deal website.

After the name change, however, our community didn’t seem as coherent. I don’t know if it’s because I am older or if something had happened, but when I was in elementary school it seemed like there weren’t many disagreements among the parents. Had something changed? Did I just pay more attention now? While I am now much more aware of these issues, I watch my brothers that are in kindergarten and fourth grade at Lee, and they seem to have no clue. I began to ask my parents, who are extremely active in the Lee community and discovered that the normally calm PTA meetings that went on when I was there had begun to get a lot more rowdy. More people had begun to share their opinions on issues that hadn’t been talked about for years. Not that this was a bad thing, but the more opinions that were shared, the more there was to disagree about.

Before the name change was the topic of choice, it was all about the Spanish program. As a former student, I knew that having 30 minutes of Spanish a week taught me nothing except maybe the numbers one through 10 and a few colors. Parents began to push for a more immersive Spanish program. After much debate, and many months of meetings, it was decided that there would be an outside-of-school immersion program. To me, it seemed like this could be a disagreement that adults should be able to solve easily. After all, our parents had always taught us to compromise, right?

Photo by Qiling Wang/The Texas Tribune

Ever since the name has changed, I typically overhear my parents talking about other issues that have come up about once a week. The more I ask about it, the more I see that it all stems back to the school’s Facebook page. While some helpful information is shared on the page, there have been many posts that seem to be posted just to stir the pot.

If anything, this page should promote togetherness within our community. The things people are posting are controversial and have begun to tear our little neighborhood elementary school apart. I think that the rise of social media has helped give people a platform to share their opinions.

While some use their social media to spread positive ideas, not everyone does. It is extremely important to share your opinion, yet I also think it is important to know how to do that respectfully and when it is appropriate to do so. Many people feel some sort of safety sitting behind a device. They feel like they can post whatever they want. The PTA monitors the page, but there are no set rules around what can and cannot be posted. There needs to be set rules about what can be posted and about what can be taken down in order to begin to solve this problem.

Through all of this, I think about how ironic this whole thing is. Parents always teach their children that it is necessary to be respectful and compromise; so why can’t these issues be solved in a more orderly fashion?

Bottom line: don’t post anything you wouldn’t say to someone in person. If everyone did this, so many painful outcomes could be avoided.

3 Comments

3 Responses to “Un-healthy dialogues”

  1. Kathy Russell on March 19th, 2018 8:26 pm

    Thanks for sharing these thoughts, ideas and your personal memories. Well put and I hope many adults read this and get inspired into kindness.
    Peace, Kathy

    [Reply]

  2. Zoe Hutchens on March 26th, 2018 1:50 pm

    I thought this article was really cool, and it was easy to recognize the point of it. It was straight forward and upfront with its ideas. It was well thought out, and I also didn’t find any grammatical mistakes.

    [Reply]

  3. Liam on May 3rd, 2018 2:35 pm

    Such an inspirational article

    [Reply]

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Un-healthy dialogues