We are living in an age where it is very difficult not to have some sort of social media presence or digital footprint.
Furthermore, with everyone being locked down over the last few months. Many of us have tried to learn a new skill set and this has included: building a social media presence for ourselves. People do it for different reasons which include: creating a hobby, the hope of being a healthcare journalist, establishing yourself as an expert in your field and showing this, or finally it may just be for the purposes of educating others.
Whatever your motive for wanting to create a social media presence. It is important to know that as a healthcare professional, you are in a position of trust and this does not necessarily end when you leave work. As a result of this, it is important to behave professionally on social media and conduct yourself in a way which you would be happy for your patients and colleagues to see you.
As a medical student, you are likely to have had teaching on this, but it can be easy to allow those lectures to slip to the back of your mind, when you are sat at a keyboard replying furiously.
To whom responsibility is given, much is expected. The purpose of this article is to act as a foundation for reflection on how we behave towards each other on social media.
Tip 1: Be Kind!
We are all too aware of political figures and celebrities who have found themselves embroiled in online spats. The truth of the matter is that everyone will have different points of views on things. This can be considered a debate; debating is a healthy skill to develop in life as it can be good learning experience and intellectually stimulating.
However, in expressing your point of view it is really important not to be offensive. We all know about the adage - there is no smoke without fire. I would go further to say, the fire will not continue to burn if people do not continue to put fuel and in this case, the fuel is words.
Continuing to respond /add justifications to a brewing controversial situation can leading to things escalating quickly. I am sure we can all recall seeing explosive conversations online.
The key thing to remember is to BE KIND. It may feel really easy to be nasty online because you are behind a computer screen and can hit the enter button more quickly than you can think. However, it is vital to remember there is another human being on the receiving end of these remarks. They have feelings.
Whilst the words may not be said in person, the effect is still far reaching. Unlike a conversation in person you might not always be able to see that you have hurt someone’s feelings, therefore the compulsion to take words back can be delayed and by then their negative effect has already begun.
Tip 2: Before you hit the reply button ask yourself if your viewpoint is necessary.
Growing up I was always reminded that it is not everything that you see, that you must comment on. We have all had the experience of reading a tweet/social medial post that we might not agree with. However if things are already escalating , ask yourself what the benefit of you wading in will be. Whilst we all want to be part of a conversation , sometimes being silent and reflecting is far better than being perceived as perpetuating the bullying of a colleague online..
Tip 3: Is your tweet/social media post futureproof?
In years to come will you be proud to retweet your tweet?
In years to come, will you be happy to discuss your post and answer questions about it?
Sometimes we post things that at the time we might deem to be harmless. But being forward thinking and trying to post with hindsight may help to avoid future embarrassment/judgement when it comes to a post which may have been posted in what was thought to be a ‘laugh’ or ‘light hearted’. Some people might say that this takes the fun out of having a social media presence, however if you learn to build this way of thinking into your every day posting. It will soon become second nature.
Tip 4: Draft your post on a word document and post it later !
This gives you an opportunity to reflect on what you have written. It gives you a moment to edit things. Many times when you take yourself out of the heat of the moment, you can see the flaws in what you have written. You might even decide after careful deliberation that the post is not necessary.
Tip 5: Don’t be personal !
This is pretty self explanatory, in the process of responding to the tweets of others. It is helpful not to be personal. What I mean is, don’t set out to attack people personally. A good basic principle which may help you adhere to this, is treating others online, how you would also like to be treated. Social media conduct varies from person to person, however everyone should always be treated with respect!.
We hope you have found this post helpful.
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MR Revision Team Dr Matilda and Dr Ruth.