I like to look beyond the confines of medicine in order to understand medicine. And I happen to follow a handful of sociologists who bring me things that get me there. Today I stumbled upon “Not This One”: Social Movements, the Attention Economy, and Microcelebrity Networked Activism by Zeynep Turfekci. The paper explores a new dynamic borne of the networked age: the microcelebrity.
(Unless you have masochistic tendencies or an advanced degree in sociology, I would not try to muscle through this one.)
The microcelebrity uses “affordances of social media to engage in presentation of their political and personal selves to garner public attention to their cause, usually through a combination of testimony, advocacy, and citizen journalism.” They leverage social networks to command attention, drive issues and, in turn, enjoy a certain privilege not afforded other individuals. Such a position was not achievable before the democratization of media. This is a new phenomenon.
There are corollaries to the world I watch. Medicine and health is beginning to spawn its own core of microcelebrities. Many are connected in such a way as to wield significant power and attention. While most physician figures have not seized their positions for significant social or policy change, e-patient microcelebs have been successful as drivers of movements.
The pathway to physician influence was once achieved by scaling the ivy wall and conquering the heavily filtered publication matrix. Medical leadership in the networked age will be determined increasingly by trust, access and the attention of the professional public.
h/t to @nathanjurgenson for the Turfekci paper.