With the changes in technology it has made it so much easier to feel a sense of community in vet med. You have web pages like this one. Veterinarians and support staff have their own Instagram pages, Tumblr Blogs and LinkedIn profiles. There are VIN message boards and VetMedTeam for learning. Technology has created an amazing sense of community in this field. I’m still a bit old school and stick to Facebook. For those of us who work in clinics in small towns we can connect with colleagues and discuss medicine and all that comes with it. It’s can be a beautiful thing, but it also has a dark side.
We think a computer screen can provide us with some anonymity and it’s easier to say things behind a keyboard. We think closed groups and message boards hold our secrets and therefore we may complain about how a case turned out, a negative work experience or gripe about a lazy coworker. I want to tell you something and it truly pains me; nothing on the internet is private – ever. Not only do our posts, rants and videos become a part of the widespread interwebs, there are people out there with the intent to use those posts to harm you.
I started a Facebook group with over 11,000 members. When I began this endeavor, I wanted people to have a safe space to discuss their victories and struggles in veterinary medicine. It was a tough wake up call to realize that people will use the content shared on any forum to create harm. Maybe they contact the medical board because they feel you didn’t follow standards? They might take screenshots and send them to your employer with the intent of getting you fired. Maybe they share your posts on another forum just to mock or shame you? When I started my Facebook group I swore that if this ever happened in my forum I would shut my group down. Then it happened and I had to make the difficult choice. Do I deny people the opportunity to find a sense of community based on a low percentage of jerks out there?
I decided that I couldn’t do that. But I write this article with the intent to provide many of you with a sense of caution. Be aware and stay aware. Here a few tips to protect yourself:
• Don’t have your employer listed on your profiles.
• Don’t post anything you wouldn’t want your coworkers or boss to see. If a forum so allows, have someone post anonymously for you.
• Protect yourself and share smart. It truly breaks my heart that there are people out there who look to harm others and enjoy stirring the pot.
We can do better in the field and do better as people. For those who are so intent on hurting others, I ask you this: is it worth it? Our field is plagued with depression, anxiety, compassion fatigue and burn out. People are killing themselves over social media stories gone viral and the pitchfork mentality. Is this who you want to be?
We are a community. We do amazing things that some people will never experience. It’s time to start living as a community and stop trying to throw our colleagues under the bus. Have a heart and remember that the person on the other side of the screen is a person. Realize that none of us are getting out of this alive. Our actions show our character. Be able to look yourself in the mirror and be proud. Show support. Don’t create another statistic. Be kind. Always.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of the DrAndyRoark.com editorial team.
Jade is a licensed technician of 9 years who lives in Port Orchard, Wash. She enjoys emergency and critical cases, dentistry and creating a bond with her clients and team. During her off time she is busy keeping up with her two crazy Basenjis!