Thursday, May 17, 2007

Perception IS Reality

Comments and analysis on the events of May 16, 2007 continue. Some are going to all this a juvenile analogy, but to me, it's feeling like Star Wars: Episode 3 when all the good guys are being eliminated - thus leaving the bad guys to take over the universe. (Yeah, I know, kind of cheezy.)

In reading Kevin, MD this morning, he has an interesting grouping of opinions of the meaning of what happened yesterday (and the trend of medical bloggers leaving the blogosphere). What's more interesting is the comment section. Some have made the accusation that this situation is being blown way out of proportion.
Has even one person filed one claim against a doctor for putting their info out? Can you guys be any more dramatic?
# posted by Anonymous : 9:18 AM

I am sorry to see that blog go, but it is not the death knell of med-blogging, the end times, nor dogs and cats, living together, nor physicians stripped of their first amendment rights.
# posted by For whom the blog rolls : 10:09 AM
I'm not going to respond to these, because the "comeback" comments are a lot better than what I could have written. I encourage you to check them out. I admit that in the big scheme of things, people like me may be causing some unnecessary hype.

But, when it comes to the medical blogosphere, I think that we're in the midst of the aftershocks of a seizmic event that culuminated with what happened yesterday. What does it all mean? I think people are still trying to figure it out. But, in trying to sense some trends, many medical bloggers are perceiving a problem out there and I really do believe that Perception IS Reality.

Here are two comments from the grassroots which really concern me:
This week I chanced across a blogger whom I recognise. Whilst I'm pretty sure they haven't yet recognised me, I'm certainly not going to take the chance of waiting and hoping. These betrayed bloggers ought to be evidence enough that it's better to be safe than sorry. For this reason, on the afternoon of Sunday the 20th, I'm going to make this blog private. (from Tea at Ten)

Wow. This reiterates why I am “anonymous”. But I do fear what has happened to Flea and Fat Doc. People are jealous, vindictive, and generally out to make others miserable while trying to make a buck off you. It makes me consider making my blog by invitation only. Which I would hate to do. (comment made on Emergiblog)
Perception IS reality. The "demise of the medical blogosphere" will not occur with the already established blogs with lots and lots of traffic. Their future is secure. What I am concerned about are those smaller blogs with less traffic (like mine), those who have just started blogging, and those who are considering starting a medical blog.

The demise will occur because of the lack of growth of the medical blogosphere from the grassroots. These people will (or already have) changed to private blogs. And, those who have not started blogging - they will be more hesitant to publically blog, or even blog at all. That's another reason for the "I'm A Blogaholic" blog - to try to catch these people before they leave the public blogosphere or to welcome those considering medical blogging (or any blogging for that matter) in a group environment.

Will the I'm A Blogaholic blog work? Who knows? Am I still blowing this problem out of proportion? Possibly. But, I feel that people are going to be voting with their feet - leaving or not even entering the public blogosphere and we won't hear about it until most of medical blogging has already been wiped out.


Anonymous said...

Here is my rant: I hate that anonymous medbloggers are being outed left and right and being forced to go underground to blog, go private, or not blog at all. Then there are bloggers like the [non-anonymous] one at who regularly out their anonymous commenters, libel well known epidemiologists, physicians, midwives because she simply disagrees with them (calling them liars), demand "credentials" to comment missing completely the point of anonymity (but has no proof provided in return and insults you if you ask for it) and worse yet, hounds women who have lost their babies like a ghoul! This is called "debate" and goes on without a protest.

Decent bloggers are dropping like flies and that monstrosity goes on.

MM said...

I don't think you are making too big of a deal over this.. this is scary. Medical bloggers falling every day for no reason! I think the idea of the new blog is FANTASTIC!

Pieces of Mind said...

Actually I think that once medical blogs became better known and gained a higher profile, some kind of backlash was inevitable. It's not unusual for technology to outstrip our ability to define how said technology should or could be used.

I think some of it is an issue about control by employers and administrators. I also think there are a lot of bloggers who have not been careful, and it's coming back to bite them. It is one thing to discuss your personal life or vent your spleen among friends and coworkers and quite another to put it out there on the Internet for everyone to see and judge.

Language and thoughts also are a slippery commodity. Maybe we think we know what we want to say, but how it actually comes out might not be what we intended. Or it triggers a reaction we didn't anticipate, because we didn't think it through or perhaps because we hold mistaken beliefs about who our audience is. I think a lot of bloggers are not used to the exposure provided by the Internet, and there has been a bit of a learning curve.

I don't want to sound like I'm discouraging people from expressing their unique and creative voices. Blogs should have character.

But I think a certain amount of introspection and/or self-censoring is not a bad thing. Two words: authenticity and integrity. Even if you blog anonymously, you have to be ready to own your words. I posted something rather personal on my blog today and I debated internally whether to do so, but in the end decided that the post describes an experience that I don't have a problem with sharing publicly.

The Internet has sort of been a new frontier and it's full of gun-slingers. It's been fun and exciting in many ways, but when you start waving six-shooters around, you do have to think about the consequences to yourself as well as to others.

Sorry for the long comment; I guess this is my $0.04. ;)