Making choices in Social Media

This past week was a pretty exciting, relatively controversial week for people interested in Health Care in Social Media.  If you don’t know what happened, you can listen to Dr. Mike Sevilla’s podcast about it here. Although it is certainly not the end of the discussion, there has been a new flurry of activity today since MommyDoctor (@mommy_doctor) has apparently deleted her Twitter account.

In my opinion, the “system” (i.e., social media and the exuberant discussion that occurred) worked perfectly.  It worked just like it should.  I am not trying to insinuate that I am “pro” Dr. Vartabedian (@Doctor_V) and “anti” MommyDoctor.  On the contrary, I have been listening intently to both sides.

How did the system work perfectly?

  • We the participants (@Doctor_V, @mommy_doctor, and everyone who commented about the debate) were all at liberty to say what was on our minds.
  • We were at liberty to act in a way that best suited their values in response to what was said.  People listened and stayed out, choosing sides or not.  Some took sides, some quite verbally.  Some commented without taking a specific side.
  • In brief, we engaged in a great, open discussion.

Both Dr. V and MommyDoctor chose to enter social media, blog and tweet.  Neither was forced to do so.  They did so in the fashion they felt was appropriate.  Both were at liberty to comment on the other’s posts.  MommyDoctor chose to tweet what she did, Dr. V chose to call her out publicly.  Dr. V took one approach, MommyDoctor took another.

And we chose to comment. Many people chose to use their freedom of expression to lambast him for lambasting her. However, if we don’t think it’s right to call someone out and be the “police” of Social Media, then what makes it right to tell someone else that they were wrong to speak out? It’s sort of contradicting ourselves.

As a result of the brouhaha, Dr. V took one action (remained steadfast in his convictions), and MommyDoctor took another (decided to leave the space). But don’t mistake choice for an obligation.  MommyDoctor was not “forced” to leave.  Was she “bullied” as some would suggest?  If a single blogpost constitutes bullying in your mind then I can see how you’d think that.  Nonetheless, at no point did Dr. V request that MommyDoctor go away.  She listened to the community and took the action that best suited her values.  It was her own choice.

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About Ryan Madanick, MD

I am a gastroenterologist at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine, and the Vice-Chief for education in the Division of GI & Hepatology . I specialize in diseases of the esophagus, with a strong interest in the diagnosis and treatment of patients who have difficult-to-manage esophageal problems such as refractory GERD. I can be followed on Twitter: @RyanMadanickMD (he/him)
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6 Responses to Making choices in Social Media

  1. I agree with your assessment: “The system worked.” The only thing I’ll add is one blog post by me, who is largely anonymous, is different than one blog post by Dr. V, who has a tremendous influence in the social media space.

    Since I know you’re probably a Heat fan, it’s like in tonight’s Heat game. No one will remember Tyson Chandler emphatically dunking at the end of the game. It was Lebron James’s dunk that’s all over ESPN, and it came just seconds before Chandler’s, essentially erasing anything anyone was going to do next.

    Dr. V, KevinMD, Dr. Ves, Kent Bottles, and a select few others have all the influence. I can see a single blog post probably made @mommy_doctor feel cornered.

  2. Paul Dorio says:

    I’m not sure I agree entirely with you, Ryan. I’ve enjoyed reading your comments and think you, like me, are here to offer what we can in the sense of intelligent discourse.

    But, here’s an anecdote: If you are tentatively checking the water with your toe and someone splashes you in the face, do you turn and run away or ask them to stop and wait until you are ready to jump in and swim?

    I think that an unfortunate thing has happened. A person, who was trying to use a medium to grow and develop as a person, or maybe just communicate and commiserate to make a day more interesting, was forced to feel that such involvement was unwelcome or full of risk. Maybe that person spoke out of turn or said something she shouldn’t have. Haven’t you ever made the same mistake “offline?” I know I have. More than once. And I try to learn from it and correct my errant ways. Unfortunately, it’s hard to show people you are sorry for something online. That’s where I think we see how unforgiving even the most empathetic people might be.

    I am not judging DrV or mommy_doctor. But I think the end result of her deleting her account is unfortunate. Of course such action is her choice. But you can’t tell me that our goal here on social media outlets should be to homogenize thought and keep everyone in conformity with the morals and ethics of the group. You also might look at the “crime” and tell me if it really fits the “punishment.”

    • Good points…although based on her backing, I’m not sure she was a novice “swimmer”. Even still, there were plenty of people around as well who were saying, “That won’t happen again…Jump in, I’ll catch you”!

      I did not want to see her leave, but she decided to. She could have stayed around; hopefully she’ll reincarnate herself.

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