Sunday, August 9, 2020

Speaking Up

It’s a strange time to be living in rural America. I suppose it is a strange time to be living anywhere in America, or anywhere in the world for that matter. This is not new territory for my husband or I as we both grew up in small towns and the country side, but we did spend the last few years in metro areas and suburbs before committing to our hopefully forever home here. 

There’s a strange disconnect from what happens in the large metro areas only about an hour away to what is happening here. A large portion of my patients think wearing masks are unnecessary and the whole coronavirus is blown out of portion. I am somewhat removed from the direct horrors of the virus myself, as I am currently working outpatient care in a “clean clinic” which means you have to undergo intense screening to make sure no cough, cold, or loss of smell sneaks through the cracks (which also means I have some frustrated COPD patients I haven’t seen for months). However, an hour away my best friend from medical school is working part time in a COVID clinic seeing 30+ patients a day and part time in the hospital and telling me the stories of the young healthy patients who came down with vicious complications. 

I also have plenty of Facebook contacts from various circles posting fake news and theories about mask dangers from hypoxia - at what point do I step in? At what point do I stand on my medical training and credibility and post that “this is not right” while awaiting the wrath of anyone who dares to post back?

I was raised to not argue from when I was young. I was taught it often doesn’t get you anywhere other than trouble. I have always leaned away from engaging in controversy. I want those around me to feel comfortable in my presence. And I have always been much too cognizant of what others think of me.

However, during my last year of residency I learned a lot about the power of advocacy through social media from some of my favorite mentors and the power of a Tweet- especially a Tweet by a physician. I reactivated my Twitter account when I strongly disagreed with plans to shut down an area hospital that directly served some of the most underserved in the area and probably annoyed my entire handful of followers with my onslaught of Tweets that followed. 

On one hand, I’m not brave enough - or maybe I simply don’t have the energy to fight off Facebook warriors. On the other, I don’t know how much misinformation I can continue to ignore - especially when I happen to have an advanced degree in the field being discussed. 

 So I have to ask - how have you all been handling your social media? Especially friends and family? 


  1. I was also conditioned to avoid confrontation- but the stuff people on my social media have been posting have driven me to the point of... well, 3 AM instagram arguments and passive aggressive Facebook comments. The amount of misinformation is beyond the level I feel comfortable staying silent about.


  3. I'm actively wondering about this tonight! My husband's cousin (with whom I'm FB friends) just posted a meme to Facebook about how if your kid wears a mask, they're easier to be kidnapped and trafficked because you can't recognize them in a crowd anymore (...don't even get me started) and I just was trying to decide if I should say something. Because I agree, in general, it isn't worth it to me to begin the vitriol onslaught, but as a health care worker, I feel obligated to at least message her and be like "Girlfriend, you know better."

    But I haven't decided if it's worth risking the wrath of the aunties. I'd love advice too!

  4. I recently debated this as I saw a FB post from someone (acquaintance with kids that interact with mine) that referred to "law and order" --I wasn't sure whether I wanted to go there but decided to respond in a non-politically charged way. After a couple of quick, slightly strained exchanges, it turned out to be a good, reasonable conversation. I don't think I changed minds but maybe opened them a tiny crack. Maybe we need, as doctors, to be those voices of science: respectful but persistent. You have an important voice as a physician in your family/friend circle and carry influence in what you say.


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