Virtual Connections that can Alter Policies

The article Facebook post about Moultrie Middle School student’s skirt goes viral, reignites dress code debate by Caitlin Byrd describes a social media battle for dignity. Suzie Webster piques after visiting her young sixth-grade daughter Franyo in school to see her school principal Ryan Cumback pulling out a ruler to measure the length of Franyo’s skirt. To Webster, that is sexual harassment. Webster’s rage exacerbates after hearing how her daughter has been personally shamed by her art teacher who believes out loud that she “…looks like you belong in a club…”, (Byrd) although Franyo’s accused “distracting” (Byrd) skirt was later confirmed to be within the school dress code tolerance.


Franyo in the skirt she wore that day.

With permission from Franyo, Webster writes an 818 word Facebook post responding to the experience, wishing to raise awareness / publicize unfair school dress code enforcements, resulting with near 1.2K shares. The abundance of positive feedbacks recurring on Webster’s post presents empathy from the public, whom may or may not have experienced an occurrence alike, showing the internet’s capability to spread emotions. In fact, all 222 current comments on the post shows support for Wester and Franyo agreeing and expanding on the topics raised. (Webster).

Studies have suggested that empathy can be felt virtually. The internet is not what limits the transportation of emotions. According to the article Found on Facebook: Empathy by Teddy Wayne, empathy have different interpretations. The youth of the younger generation are surveyed to show more tolerance for an uncommon phenomenon, e.g., homosexuality, then the older generation on average. Through exposure to social media, people have opportunities to oversee diverse perspectives and opinions while encountering like minds, thus eventually feeling more connected to a broader community. On Webster’s case, her post “has reignited a conversation about issues of gender equality in Charleston County schools and in schools nationwide.” (Byrd) While “…many of the reactions to her post have been positive”. (Byrd) This demonstrates the public’s inclination to empathize with an online thread. Even if one has never experienced a similar occasion, one would care to imagine on the narrator’s expressions.



Another media post example about unfair dress code enforcement.

A 2014 study from the University of North Florida designates a correlation between higher Facebook usage and social connection. Data shows that men and women with a Facebook account are about 110% more likely to spot a friend’s usual stress than those without an account (Wayne). Which could translate to how social media is not a greenhouse for narcissism but a network that builds actual interpersonal connections, both virtually and in real life. By the time Webster gets home on another day, her Facebook is filling up with messages from many other moms and students reflecting parallel experiences (Byrd). Personal stories are shared between strangers who might never intersect if without the internet platform. It is then when the post collects strength when public realizes that unfair dress code enforcement are a widespread issue and it must be attended. For the smaller community, Franyo’s art teacher apologized (Byrd), for nationwide, this issue is brought up to a more conscious level that is less likely to be overlooked.


People comes together and connects through internet

Social media is an easily accessible tool for everyone. It can either build, break, or rewire connections. Depending on its user (who have a choice remain anonymous), the connections can be used to attack, support, or transmit. Webster stood up for what she believes is right, and so did many others scattering around the internet. Eventually, the like minds gathered and form a stronger community, intertwined with personal experiences. Facebook is Webster’s tool to plot social connections which eventually pressured Franyo’s school to apologize and adjust their attitude towards to dress code policy. Relationships built through the internet carries strength, that strength will generate an impact, enough for people to progress and take their position in a broader horizon.


Works cited:

Byrd, Caitlin. “Facebook Post about Moultrie Middle School Student’s Skirt Goes Viral, Reignites Dress Code Debate.” Post and Courier. N.p., 23 Sept. 2016. Web.

Wayne, Teddy. “Found on Facebook: Empathy.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 10 Oct. 2015. Web.

Image References:

Franyo’s Skirt. Digital image. Post and Courier. N.p., Sept. 2016. Web.

Carey Burgess’s Response to Her School’s Unfair Enforcement of Dress Codes. Digital image. N.p., n.d. Web.

Ahlefeidt, Frits. Positive Impact of Social Media. Digital image. N.p., n.d. Web.

17 thoughts on “Virtual Connections that can Alter Policies

  1. I agree with the stance taken in this blog post. Social media does indeed help foster connections that would have never been made in the first place and helps bring social issues to a wider audience. It makes empathy easier to transmit as well, something that was mentioned in the post, and the reason for that is related to how social media can change our interactions in the physical world. In Elizabeth Tenety’s article, “The Digital World is Warmer Than You Think,” it is noted that being connected to social media increases our awareness of the things around us and makes us obligated to care. The increased use of social media makes it easier for people to keep up with the lives of others and subsequently be more empathetic towards each other. This empathy was demonstrated in Webster’s post that resulted in many other parents empathizing and relating their own experiences to her, even seeking Webster out on Facebook’s messaging feature to offer their support.

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