Not So Social Media

I stopped inviting you to join my facebook group because I was over facebook and was just feeling part of the noise, part of the problem. I felt like one of Pavlov’s dogs, triggered by that red notification and its ‘bing’ on my best days and on my worst like Schrödinger’s cat.

Social media, didn’t that catch us unaware. It was a natural progression from email and sms, satisfying our need to connect, to share, to stay in touch . We still don’t have the mental capacity to connect with so many people, far more than even the best pen pal could’ve managed back in the day. The progression seemed harmless enough; sharing photos with family and friends, tracking down old school friends, stalking old rivals and ex’s. As the platform options increased, so did the volume of our participation and our loss of time.

Like a drug I started socially but I bought into the need to use it to promote my fitness business and was compulsively checking notifications and posting multiple times a day. Facebook was my poison. After I burnt out of dentistry I used it to find dentists online and understand what I was going through and after finding healing in such places thought I could bring more healing and awareness to that world through my own private group. Too shy to start posting to public straight away, my page came later.

About the same time I stopped being a dental recluse and tried to find my dental friends and joined all the dental facebook groups I could find. What I found horrified me. I cast the net wide but some of these groups amplified everything I’d wanted to avoid all these years, I left them all. These groups were full of self congratulation, group/mob attack of minority views and opinions. I didn’t realise such a ruthless, self righteous, dark corner of our profession was so rife.

Thankfully, there are plenty of great groups out there, far more supportive than that but it’s still a massive task for the admins to keep an eye out for the snipers taking pot shots and inciting mob criticism of people who seem to just be asking for guidance and help. Privacy can be a real issue even in the most supportive and vulnerable of groups, most have been hit by someone posting a screen shot elsewhere. Always dealt with, always disappointing.

The same dark side to all social media exists for dentists too. Peacocking to impress others or our own egos, who knows? To portray a better than life showcase of our work, our lifestyles, ourselves?

‘Comparison is the thief of joy’, and although there’s some truely amazing dentistry, dentists and lifestyles out there, spending our time lamenting over or trying to reproduce what we see can be unhealthy.

I like to think of social media as a casino, the house always wins. To play the game effectively takes constant attention, often to the detriment of our off screen lives.

Will I quit it? No.

Will it continue to both reward and reduce me? Yes.

Can I still use it to make a difference and heal broken dentists? I hope so.

I urge you to look at your social media usage, mute and block the voices you don’t need to hear, evaluate the groups you’re members of and leave the ones you don’t enjoy or engage in. I will do the same, which might mean goodbye but we both have too many ‘pen pals’ already!