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Bad behavior in Physician Groups is Rampant. We Need to Do Better

Bad behavior in physician-only social media groups and platforms is rampant. We need to do better.

(this article is a response to our anonymous article, which you can read here).

 

It’s probably been about a decade since I first became aware of physician-only social media. I was excited at first. I started with Sermo and moved to Facebook when the groups there exploded, and I’ve since moved onto other platforms as well.

Have the groups provided what I thought they would?

When you’re the physician, you’re often working with nurse practitioners, physician assistants, RNs, and other support staff.

As the captain of the ship, there are problems that physicians, alone, face. It is often hard to find a peer audience with whom to discuss these issues, so these groups were a welcome change.

At first, these platforms seemed to be what I had hoped they would be: a place for free exchange of ideas.  I learned unique things about point-of-care-ultrasound, FOAMed, celiac, cancer management, rare diseases, and new drugs; toxic training programs, great and not-so-great hospitals, and recertification issues.  We discussed ways to navigate tricky physician issues and things that really couldn’t be addressed in more general groups.

 

As the captain of the ship, there are problems that physicians, alone, face. It is often hard to find a peer audience with whom to discuss these issues, so these groups were a welcome change. #medtwitter Click To Tweet

 

I love science and healthcare topics, and I found the experience rich and rewarding. At first. But then the “dark underbelly” of the groups began to emerge.

We fought about politics. Right/left, immigration, race, religion, women’s issues. The divides grew and groups splintered. One specialist group was considered too conservative, so a parallel liberal group was formed. A big group was repeatedly anti-Semitic. Its leader and moderators were called out repeatedly, until a significant number of the Jewish physicians in that group, including me, left. Some groups, specifically apolitical, degenerated into cesspools of bias.

Then there’s the control. When a group leader can reach 5,000, 10,000, or 30,000 physicians, he or she has a captive audience, which represents a potential source of income. Group leaders are possessive of this potential income and seemingly loathe to share it. I’ve watched group leaders marginalize other physicians. I’ve seen other physicians badmouthed, cancelled. I’ve seen efforts to get dissenting physicians de-platformed, fired from their jobs, or to destroy their businesses. Some leaders have tried to block others from internet posting.

 

We fought about politics. Right/left, immigration, race, religion, women's issues. The divides grew and groups splintered. One specialist group was considered too conservative, so a parallel liberal group was formed. Click To Tweet

 

 

Who are these people? What happened to #FirstDoNoHarm?

When I was a child, my mother used to tell me not to say anything that I wouldn’t want on the cover of the New York Times. Things are different now, so I have changed this for my own children. I tell them: Don’t put anything on the internet that you wouldn’t want your grandmother to read. Treat others as you want to be treated.

In Judaism, we refer to some of this bad behavior as lashon hara (לשון הרע). Literally, “evil tongue,” although not all the bad behavior is people saying bad things about others.  Sometimes it is deletion of posts. Blocking certain voices. Expulsion.

This is wrong. There’s enough room out there for us to be civil and disagree, for us to support each other’s business ventures, and for us NOT to treat each other the way these groups – especially some of the leaders – treat some physicians.

 

In Judaism, we refer to some of this bad behavior as lashon hara (לשון הרע). Literally, “evil tongue,” although not all the bad behavior is people saying bad things about others. Sometimes it is deletion of posts. Blocking certain… Click To Tweet

 

 

I’m not naming names. I don’t believe in doing that.

It’s ok to disagree. It’s ok to debate. However, it’s NOT ok to belittle, gaslight or behave maliciously. I don’t care what the issue is.

First, be kind.

As my oldest learned in fifth grade: #KindnessIsCool.

 

 

 

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