The Power of Social Media


Upcoming Important Dates

Thursday, February 12 – Digital Citizenship Assemblies for all grades
Friday, February 13 – A Dose of Reality Presentation, all students.
Friday, February 13 thru February 22 – Mid Winter Break, Enjoy the snow!!!
Friday, February 27 – Southern Maine Honors Chorus Festival, Westbrook Middle School
Saturday, February 28 – Southern Maine Honors Concert, Westbrook Middle School 3:30 pm

My Story about Social Media

On Thursday, February 12, Terri Dawson, Susie Hanley and I will address our entire student body in grade level assemblies to remind our kids about how to be a responsible digital citizen. I think we all recognize that, in the hands of the inexperienced, naive or immature individual, social media can be a very dangerous tool. It can be fraught with so many pitfalls that some of our students get caught up in a spider’s web of harsh talk, meanness and threat that escape, or even retreat, seems impossible.

There are some very positive ways to use social media, however, that can create a better world for all of us. Before last week, we had never heard of James Robertson of Detroit, Michigan. Today, because of social media, he will no longer have to trudge 21 miles, round trip each day, to get to work. Evan Leedy, a Wayne State University student had the idea to raise $5,000 to help James get his old auto repaired. His efforts through a social media fund-raising site raised more than $350,000 for Robertson and a local Ford Dealership donated the Ford Taurus. The result of these efforts not only aided an individual in need, it raised the spirits of a city, Detroit, Michigan, that has experienced a considerable downturn in the past two decades. As Robertson said “Forget Los Angeles, Detroit is the city of angels!”

My story is quite a bit different and far less compelling than James Robertson’s and Evan Leedy’s. Mine is about a large corporation and a small guy living in Saco, Maine who just wanted a way to keep his driveway clear of snow.

This past fall I purchased a garden tractor to mow my lawn, and a snowblower attachment to keep my driveway free from snow. Now, I must admit, I did not foresee the kinds of storms we have been getting this winter, but I did want to release myself from being reliant upon someone else to keep free from the back-breaking work of shoveling a long driveway.

When the first snowfall came, I was ready! My snowblower was on (I had the Sears guy out it on because I would have messed it up!), gas tank filled, oil changed to the proper weight (did you know you should use 5W30 and not 10W30 in the winter!), chains on the tires, I was ready. About 10 inches into a 21 inch snowfall, I went out, started my tractor and gave it a go. It seemed to be working fine, although the wind-swept snow returned to my driveway as soon as I passed, but I was making progress (in my mind).

Now comes the fun part. Toward the end of the snow storm (maybe the 19 -20 inch mark) I return to my tractor to finish the job begun earlier. I again check the gas, the oil, the chains and the blower chute, all good. I sit in the seat, place the choke on, depress the brake pedal and turn the key.

A wirrrr! A wirrrr? Yup, definitely a wirrrrr, no turning of the engine at, all. This isn’t right!

I could tell you all of the things I did to try to start this baby, but it would be a waist of time and space here. Suffice it to say that I needed to call the company, which I did.

They sent a man out to fix it and, after a week of waiting for parts and his schedule, he fixed it. Or, so I thought. Next storm, exactly the same result!

This time my call was on a Sunday (right in the middle of another monumental New England snow storm), and the results were much different. They could not possibly get someone out to see my sick little tractor for 12 days, 12 days! With the threat of lots more snow in the forecast, that was not acceptable and I told them that. Alas, there was nothing they could do, and they regretted my inconvenience!”, this is where social media enter the picture for me.

Having not had success with anyone from the company ( I actually had one of the telephone guys tell me “he was the boss, and there was no one above him” that I could speak with!), I turned to social media, met notably, Twitter and Facebook. Here is a picture of my original tweet.Screenshot 2015-02-11 09.45.21

Immediately, I received several tweets from other disgruntled Sears customers about their experiences with Sears repairs. The response was absolutely amazing.

My next move was to express my displeasure on the Sears Facebook page. On the Sears Facebook page there is a section for people to leave comments. I think Sears hoped that people who had received great service or bought life-changing appliances would sing the praises of the company for the whole world to see. What I found in this section of the Sears Facebook page were people who had similar experiences to mine and they were looking for a place to sound off.

This may be where my experience differs from many of the folks who had posted the negative comments. Posting to Twitter and Facebook elicited an immediate response from someone (other than the caller who was the boss!) to inquire about my problem. I started to think I was getting someplace, because shortly after I posted my comments to the Sears Facebook page I received a direct message (DM) on my Twitter feed asking if we could keep this in DM and not public and to DM my phone number and address to the folks at Sears Cares.

Initially, the response was similar to all of the responses I received up to this point. Here is the Sears Cares response:


Screenshot 2015-02-11 12.04.30When I responded to their DM that I didn’t want their “regret”, I wanted to be able to use the $3700 I spent for a solution. I explained they I had my money but, I didn’t have their product to use. Not the way I expect commerce to work! So here was my response to them:

Screenshot 2015-02-11 12.08.55

They then responded by asking me to call a telephone number. Now, I must admit I had great trepidation in starting this all over again, trying to get someone to understand the real problem here, not that Sears can made everything they make perfectly, but that they need to stand behind the products they sell. I understand that stuff breaks, I wish we could all be perfect (not like me!) and that the sun shined everyday and that we had achieved world peace, but I really , really do know that is not possible. What is possible is that the company can become more of a humanist (if that’s the correct use of the word) and exercise some compassion for their customer. That’s all I ask.

A nice woman answered the phone, after the obligatory auto-phone-answering voice led me through a couple of options. As soon as I mentioned my name she had my information in front of her on her computer screen. (What a great way to use technology!) She recapped my story and asked if Thursday would work for me (3 days!), so she understood! Finally, someone from the great corporate giant showing compassion!

I don’t know if they will be able to fix this garden tractor, and I certainly could have left all of the negative comments out there, but Sears did respond in an appropriate manner and they did, eventually find some compassion for a small consumer. This is no

Today is Wednesday and I have just received my robot phone call reminding me of the call between 10am and 2pm. I will take time out of my day to be there, as they requested. I am hopeful that the repair guy will have a new starter with him and that I will be able use my very expensive snow remover without any further problems. We’ll see.

What I did learn out of all of this is that social media can be used in a very constructive manner and it can be very powerful. It can also help to open doors to people and things that can help to make your life easier. I have been a huge consumer and user of social media in helping me to get better at being a Principal. I have connected with some very amazing people all over the world who face many of the same challenges and obstacles I do in being a Principal, and they have been so very helpful and giving of their expertise and knowledge.

So, we will continue to work with our students to help them become responsible, respectful, compassionate, courageous and honest users of social media. We will focus our attention on the positive uses and work to minimize the negatives because, if we all endeavor to contribute only positively to social media, we won’t need to worry about the negative. Maybe I’m naive, but I do think I know I kids… and they are the best!





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