There’s an affirmation bias in public dialog. We only like things. Facebook, for example, only offers Like button. To dislike is not PC. It contributes to the social health sewer of self-interest.
Perhaps we can thank the marketers. In social’s early history, we took our cues from marketing professionals who were the early adopters in the use of new media. They’ve traditionally lead the conversation on conversation. Marketers love to cheer.
Moving beyond cheerleading
But what marketers want and do may be entirely different from what healthcare professionals might and should do. It’s not that we can’t promote, but maybe we have an equally important job that’s entirely foreign to the look and feel of our traditional dialog.
A couple of days back there was a story circulating on Twitter about a teddy bear that captures biometric information on cuddling children. Predictably, everyone pushed the story along like a beach ball at a stadium event. The future, it seemed, was just adorable. Wendy Swanson spoke up and suggested that maybe there was more information needed before planting this in a child’s hospital bed.
We need to question things
Admittedly, it’s fun to share links about flying robotic bedpans that detect colon cancer. But we desperately need to question things. The social health infosphere is a sewer of self-interest. And as the personal digital health heats up, someone will need to ask the tough questions and shape meaningful dialog.
There aren’t enough physicians taking leadership in this role. Of course it’s a tall order:
- You must understand the tools and have some semblance of a voice.
- You need the confidence and chutzpah to leverage that voice.
It’s a jungle out there. Standing on your own two feet in an information stream that’s moving briskly in one direction can be tough. We’re up agains powerful interests and well-connected microcelebrities. And taking a public position opposite a peer takes a whole other level of confidence.
But for those looking to define themselves in a noisy world, defying our affirmation bias with a healthy element of skepticism is one way to not only stand out but create value.