There’s lots of discussion about how doctors should carry themselves online. What are the social standards that guide doctors online? I think it’s simpler than we make it out to be.
Consider that we all live and work in communities. We’re are shaped by those around us. None of us do what we do alone. And what I do and how I behave affects the way my community feels about me. There are benefits and consequences to what I do. I can blast fireworks in my yard 2 am, speed in my neighborhood, or get drunk and disorderly at the local Mexican restaurant. I can volunteer as a scout leader or lead a food drive for a local woman’s shelter. It’s my choice. How I operate in public influences how people see me, how I’m received, and ultimately, how people work with me.
New media doesn’t change that. We live and connect in online communities much like in real life. And what we do in the virtual space has risks and benefits. It’s interesting that before the democratization of media there was little discussion about how physicians should carry themselves in public.
Ultimately, defining social standards for doctors is tricky. Our patient and professional communities vary. Standards vary. We have to understand what works individually for the spaces we occupy and the company we keep – online and off.
We can argue about what doctors should and shouldn’t do online. One thing’s for sure: In the context of our communities, good stuff build us up and poor judgment can close doors.
It’s simpler than we make it out to be.