Tuesday’s election of Donald Trump as the President of the United States gripped the nation.
In Newton County Wednesday, specifically at Alcovy High School, many students were more than gripped by the Presidential Election results. They were divided.
A video surfaced on social media of students shouting at one another, swearing, showing their middle fingers. Two groups stood on either side of the common area and one student appeared to throw something.
The video was taken via a student’s cell phone and with a tap of the share button, pandemonium ensued. Calls were made to the high school, school board, sheriff’s office, local newspapers and Atlanta television stations that a riot was taking place at Alcovy.
The video picked up momentum on Facebook, and word of weapons, vandalism and attacks spread. Hundreds of students were checked out of school early.
We are dismayed that students felt that this was an acceptable response. Standing across a room, screaming at each other, is never the answer. For anything. At any age.
We are equally dismayed that adults perpetuated the problem via social media, leading to fear of the unknown. Overvaluing of the authority of social media above that of official agencies led to furthering the level of fear.
We as a community need to be a support system for our young people. Our students need an outlet, other than social media, to learn and respond. And they need role models to show them the way.
For those students who were ignorant or misinformed of some of the issues, parents, teachers and even this newspaper should have provided that information. Our younger generations should be engaged more in the decisions that affect this nation and this community, such as The Covington News’ Next Generation Candidate Forum that was held before the primary in March.
Our students must also learn how to engage in conversation about difficult topics. In today’s world, it is way too easy to say anything without seeing the face of someone who may think differently. If that face-to-face engagement takes place, then the young people of our community may come to understand that people who think differently are not their enemies.
That face-to-face engagement should also take place with our citizens and teachers, school system staff and other officials. We, as a community, need to get to the point where we can value the trust of our institutions, those that are in place to provide basic needs for us and our families, over our followers and friends we have never met in person.
For those who engaged in social media without being on campus that day, they ran the risk of becoming gossips. Gossip can lead to fear.
Fear is more easily spread now than ever. It just takes reaching into your pocket and tapping a few buttons. From there, people watch the numbers of friends and followers grow, eager to gain more comments and fan the flames. In some cases, more likes and shares on social media means more inaccuracies, more rumors, more fear. But such behavior is no better than screaming at others from across the room.
Throughout the last two years, “fear” has been a common word used by the media. As the Presidential election got closer, more hatred and divisiveness came out.
Now the ballots have been cast and counted. Deciding on how to react to the election is now in the past – the decision is really how we respond to our future.
For what to do next, we’ll leave you with the words of TNT’s Inside the NBA host Ernie Johnson. During the NBA show’s telecast Wednesday, he declared he wanted to be a part of fixing the wounds of a divided country.
“For me to be a part of it I have to look into the mirror. How am I going to be a better man? How am I going to be a better neighbor? How am I going to be a better citizen? How am I going to be a better American?” Johnson said. “How can I be a fountain and not a drain?”
We challenge you to consider these questions carefully. Because make no mistake, this is our shared, collective future, Newton County, and the decision is up to us.