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‘Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. Hate multiplies hate, violence multiplies violence, and toughness multiplies toughness in a descending spiral of destruction.’ – Martin Luther King

Though Dr King wrote the above in the 1960s, for me this quote is more profound than ever with the advent of social media and the ability for people to make unnecessary and often more bold negative comments from the safety of being behind a computer screen.

Facebook was the ideal platform years ago for my Year 12 cohort to find each another and reconnect in order to have the most amazing turn out for our 20 year reunion. And, of course, during Covid lockdowns, social media allowed us to stay connected.

Having said this, social media has also borne an era of many constantly making comments on others’ situation and lives without necessarily knowing any background. Like the old game of multiple whispers, each judgemental comment creates another and another until the initial story is forgotten.

Gippsland Grammar utilises social media to promote and celebrate the wonderful activities, events and achievements that encapsulate this wonderful school. We use VOS as our direct means of keeping parents and families informed; and I encourage families to engage with these medias to stay connected with the School and their children’s learning.

I appreciate that social networking sites can enable parents and community members to build relationships and organise social activities separate to those that the School provides. I also appreciate that monitored versions of these platforms can help our students stay connected with friends made in different locations and with current friends at times when they are not attending school. However, I would like everyone (staff, students, parents, School Community) to think about the following questions:

  • Is social media the appropriate channel to raise concerns, give feedback or express views about each other or about Gippsland Grammar?
  • Would in-person and confidential discussions with the School be more appropriate?
  • Should social media sites be used to name individuals and make abusive comments about those people?
  • Are negative or inflammatory comments likely to cause emotional or reputational harm to individuals, particularly if the full story is not understood or if the School has not yet had the opportunity to investigate a student issue?
  • Are we the type of community that is ready to ditch the idea of a quick response on the keyboard and foster a culture of openness, connection, honesty, collaboration and positivity in the face of challenges?

Referencing Martin Luther King’s quote, let’s be a community of love and light that can be an example and fully nurture these wonderful students that we have the opportunity to raise together.

Michele Wakeham