Should doctors use their real names on social media?

Generally speaking, news editors rarely accept for publication any letters to the editor that are submitted anonymously. To do so would merely encourage the trolls to spew forth.  Discouraging anonymity is a good thing, I believe, because the jerk-to-normal person ratio out there is already perilously high even without encouragement. For example, the Toronto Star – unless agreeing to specific requests to protect confidentiality for valid reasons –  is just one of many that advise readers:

“Letters to the editor must include the writer’s full name – anonymous letters and letters written under pseudonyms will not be considered. For verification purposes, they must also include the writer’s home address, e-mail address and telephone numbers. Writers should disclose any personal or financial interest in the subject matter of their letters.”

And imagine what would happen if The Star or other media outlets let us just willy-nilly vent publicly under fake names whenever we like.

Oh. Wait a minute. That’s already allowed, and it’s called social media.   Continue reading

Texting at funerals

Dr. Sherry Turkle is worried.  The MIT prof (and author of Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less From Each Other) told an interviewer from The Verge recently that one of her main concerns is how to get families to talk to each other at the dinner table – instead of texting. What also concerns her is that young people may think of communication as being a Like button.

“People are texting at funerals! (Only during the boring bits, they protest).  But things worth doing (like grassroots political campaigning) often require boring bits. For good stuff to happen, people need to talk to each other.”  Continue reading

10 tips: Social Media Highway Code for doctors

New technology has often been risky. Consider the 1865 Red Flag Act in the U.K. that required all self-propelled motor vehicles to travel at a maximum of 2 mph in towns, and to carry at least three people – one of whom was required to walk ahead of the vehicle with a red flag to warn pedestrians and horse-drawn traffic.

This caution was necessary because cars were so unfamiliar to the majority of road users – except for those we’d now call the “early adopters” of automotive technology.  When cars were first introduced, there was no shared understanding of the rules of the road (or highway code) to help guide people on how they should behave. And so avoidable accidents happened frequently. Continue reading