Videoing your principal, it’s social media road rage

At what point do we decide it is okay to video school Principal Steve Warner, dragging a student across the playground and posting it online?

This type of use of social media only hurts and destroys individuals, families and schools. It creates an undue level of scrutiny and anxiety for the student, the family, Steve Warner, the staff and parents of Manor Lakes School. It is a reputational crisis that will now firmly sit like a big red mark on Steve Warner and the community he leads. Google will ensure it remains.

With the touch of a screen, we capture the footage and swipe away for public judgement. On posting via a social media channel, the story gets momentum and seamlessly moves into the mainstream media. The commentary then polarises with conviction, ‘Should Steve Warner get the sack or not’? The public then re-engages with their opinion on social media posting ‘guilty or not guilty’. It escalates from the school community to senior bureaucrats to the Education Minister who further polarise the situation with the public expectation they must comment immediately.

It is a story on steroids leaving personal and professional in ruins.

At no time are we considering the impact of taking the video, sharing the video and publishing the video? In this story, no one is questioning who took the footage? What were their motives? Was there consent? No one is questioning the ethics of this process or the negative and significant impact on the individuals. Agree or not agree with Steve Warner’s actions there is no accountability from the individual who shot the video.

This is social media ‘road rage’ and the use of the medium at its worst.

There is no doubt the image is confronting. Even more confronting, it’s judgement playing out online without us considering the full context of the parties’ actions. Principals, children and parents do not need the acute spotlight of such an incident.

Principals are essential people in our community. They regularly face exceptional and heart-breaking circumstances that few understand unless you are to walk in their shoes. They inherently work to provide an opportunity for our children and do not deserve trial by 30 seconds of footage on a mobile phone.

This level of transparency leaves deep scars. These are scars we could prevent by putting the phone in our pocket, walking into the school and having a face-to-face conversation.