Sunday, December 22, 2013

This Christmas, Look Up

I sit before the computer screen this morning, wondering "What should I write?"  Yet as I thought about this, I realized I should really write about why I'm thinking about this.

My journey in this space of social media has been a bumpy one, full of ups and downs, ins and outs, obsession and indifference, all rolled up into one.   Yeah, this sums up health care social media now, at least for me.

I began writing here in November 2005, not really knowing what I was doing.  I thought of this space as a marketing space, then an information-to-patient space, then a social space ("gee, so many interesting people here!) and even an "inside view of medicine" space.  In reflection, I really didn't know what the hell this space should be.

But then came 2006 and 2007, my father became gravely ill, and social media was a wonderful outlet for me to reflect on all of the emotions, memories, and experiences that such an event invokes.  I found I loved writing.  To this day, I use this space as a diary of that time in my life, and even found my eyes blurring a bit this morning as I re-read my earlier Christmas reflection of the events that occurred that year.  Blogs, I've found, are really a good space for remembering certain events, certain times.

Later, I'm not sure where I went with social media.  I signed up for Twitter during the Twitter-craze and learned about "tweets" and "hashtags" and all that stuff.  I was amazed at how "up-to-date" I could be with the latest rage, outrage, sound bite and scandal in medicine.  Heck, it my cell phone would come alive!  Medicine is so, *ping* , i-n-t-e-r-e-s-t-i-n-g again!  *ping* *ping*

As if the latest cell phone vibration, chirp, and flash was really what mattered and dull ol' medical care was just, well, glacially stimulating by comparison.  What's not to like, right?  You could be a teacher, provocateur, and health care social media detective!  You, dear doctor, could make a difference!

But in reflection, reality's been very different than that.

I realize now that I am just one voice, one small individual in a the overcrowded mess that is the internet.  Everyone is trying so hard to be heard.  Entire social media companies are developed just to make sure you pay attention to your cell phone - just look at SnapChat, where if you don't immediately attend to your cell phone, the image, message or 10-second video is gone, never to be seen again.  Pay ATTENTION, people!

This is not to say people's voices aren't important.  In fact, many in this space say incredibly powerful things here.  But I am seeing something very interesting on social media now, especially as it pertains to doctors' participation in this space: propaganda.

There are very savvy, well-organized forces on social media now.  Everyone knows this is where the battleground of public opinion rests.  So forces are marshaled, teams assembled to make sure the party line is towed.

I ask you, dear doctor, who much time do you have?  So it is with social media in health care.

But recently in my evolution in this space, I realize I have matured.  I don't come into health care social media starry-eyed any longer.  It has a purpose.  You can meet some remarkably thoughtful and insightful individuals here.  You can make some pretty amazing friends.  And you can get lost.

But I realize there's a purpose, too.  People can tell a single, quiet, story  here - a small, transcendent one, too.

Nowhere was this more visible than in the recent quiet, painful reflections of a young boy suffering with leukemia and the wonderful stories he and his parents shared in their blogs.  These are not people providing propaganda, these were people with a purpose.  These were people who realized what mattered.  These were people who were an inspiration to us all.

As I reflect on all of this at Christmas time, I find it's more important to spend these short, dwindling, yet cherished moments with real life, not one manufactured by the media companies.

Time is precious.  Family is paramount.  And social media is, well, social media.

This holiday season I hope all of us will take time to pull our heads from our cell phones and computer screens.  There some amazing things going on around us, some amazing stories of hope and courage, and things we really need to appreciate.  Most of those things aren't represented by bits and bytes on an iridescent screen, but rather what we take for granted every day, if we dare to look up.

Merry Christmas.



clr said...

Merry Christmas.... Dr Wes
Your post feels real not something "manufactured"
by a media company.
In 2014 I hope you'll keep writing...

doc said...

ciWes, I've been a reader for years, and quite honestly. hit your site almost daily to see what you have to say. Though it is not the 'real world', in another sense it really is. Much of what you write bears directly with what we all deal with on a daily basis in the real world of medicine today. And without the digital connection, people like me would never be able to read your thoughts and experiences, and to learn from them. From my perspective, you have become a friend, a friend I have never met, but a friend nonetheless. And your insight, your sensitivity, your experiences have helped me to learn and grow. I may be well over the hill (65+ yrs on this planet) but there is always room to grow. Your time and effort, your laughter and your tears, are appreciated. Don't let them take you away from the real people and events in your life, but recognize that for many of us out here in the ethers, your writings are very much a part of our daily lives as well.

A very Merry Christmas to you and your family

Anonymous said...

Merry Christmas to you and yours too, Doc. And thank you. I look forward to your future blogs.

Bob Fenton said...

Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Continue enjoying writing as we like your version. Thank you!

AnnFriedmannMD said...

Merry Christmas Dr. Wes. I always read your posts and appreciate them very much.

Dr. Ann

AnnFriedmannMD said...

Merry Christmas to your Dr. Wes.
I always appreciate your posts.

Dr. Ann8

Anonymous said...

Dear Dr Wes

my search about board re certification hoops led me to your blog and since then I read your blog often.

Did you get your result yet?

Merry Christmas

PS: this is just a note to you. no need to post it.

Anonymous said...

Dr. Wes

What a wonderful post. Makes me proud to be a doc again. This thing was there in an inchoate form when we entered med school, but formed somewhere in those rooms where the offscouring of society somehow became terribly important to us. If there are saints on earth today, I suspect they roam the halls tending to the needs of the least of us.

Anonymous said...

I've given up on my propaganda changing your propaganda; however, I can make one difference in your life - it's "toe" the line, not tow the line.

Merry Christmas!

Margaret Polaneczky, MD said...

Merry Christmas Dr Wes. Interesting post as always. In the end, its not the receiver or transmitter that matter, but the voice. And you have stayed true to your voice ever since you write your first blog post.

Happy and healthy new year to you and your family.

Peggy Polaneczky, MD
aka TBTAm