A STRONGER CONNECTION

I recognize that the world is changing, that we are not going back to a time before technology, and that the internet remains a powerful tool that needs oversight and responsible usage.

I admit that I am a somewhat passive member of the Facebook community – a reluctant traveler through cyberspace. I tend to use it for updates from my children, and I relish the opportunity to stay connected with colleagues and friends from all walks of my life. I have a former school classmate who, since her husband’s retirement, has traveled the world, staying for months at a time in thriving cities and remote villages. I admire her tenacity and adventurous spirit, particularly as I am a fairly traditional traveler. My Facebook family is geographically, economically, racially, and culturally diverse, and while I have a strict policy about not accepting friend requests from current students, after graduation they may connect with me, leading me to believe that if Facebook is a place to find me, it is not cool. Truthfully, most of my young friends are not habitual users, and I am able to “like” their nascent travels through adulthood – college, careers, marriages, etc. I recognize that the world is changing, that we are not going back to a time before technology, and that the internet remains a powerful tool that needs oversight and responsible usage. This is especially true for our students, many of whom - by nature of their age - are just scratching the surface of self-discovery.

"Our Marlborough girls will go to college well prepared. They will be well served by the excellent programs here. But we must all be in partnership to ensure that they are able to strongly self-advocate."

I once asked a group of 9th grade girls why they engaged on anonymous sites that allowed them to say cruel things about one another when it was so hurtful. They had interestingly all been recipients as well as perpetrators. One girl agreed that comments hurt, but that she was more afraid of being invisible. It was, therefore better to endure meanness than be unnoticed. That was one of the saddest things I have heard as an educator, but psychologists have told me that it’s not uncommon.

I just finished reading an article about Tinder, a no commitment, no relationship way for young adults to “connect” – based solely on physical attraction and often resulting in absolutely nothing beyond a brief liaison. Although this arrangement is a mutual one for some, the sad truth is that many of the young women interviewed for the article still believed in the possibility of relationship, while the men saw it for what it was. In my opinion, all of them are ultimately losers in this zero sum game. I couldn’t help but wonder if these young woman were - like those 9th grade girls - also choosing hurt over invisibility.

Our Marlborough girls will go to college well prepared. They will be well served by the excellent programs here. But we must all be in partnership to ensure that they are able to strongly self-advocate. The strength of their voices in class and the school values that they live by every day will be reminders of the importance of being their best selves, and that they will have the strength to seek out the meaningful relationships they deserve. Having spent a week in their presence, I believe that they are willing and open to good and healthy relationships from many sources, and the friendships that they form while here will allow for nothing less post Marlborough. Yes we need to be cognizant, but also comforted by our partnership in keeping them educated and aware.

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