In the never-ending quest to enthuse midwives and nurses about professional use of social media I’ve talked to people about it, given inservice education sessions, demonstrated is use as an adjunct to education, facilitated workshops, submitted conference posters, contributed to journal articles and have been invited to speak at conferences. To spread the word I’ve taken the risk of being called
geek wanker narcissist, and even had cards printed:
When I talk to people about health care social media, I always mention how it lets information be shared quickly and easily, and network with people from a range of professions/walks-of-life from all around the world. However, the thing I value the most and try to emphasise the most, is the participative, interactive nature of social media. Social media is where the debates are held; those of us who want to influence and participate in decisions gather and test our ideas on social media. Twitter is especially good for this: it lets anyone join in and contribute to- and be enlightened by- the contest of ideas.
To see how Twitter works to share information and the contest of ideas, see these two recent examples (click on the pics to see the complete conversations unfurl):
In health and education roles I encounter many people who give dumb blanket statements like, “I will never use Twitter – I don’t care what Justin Bieber had for breakfast”. Much to my embarrassment, this is the sort of thing I hear nurses (especially those in positions of influence and power) say all the time. These people are so stubborn that they won’t even look, listen or learn about professional use of social media.
A few months ago two Australian nurse lecturers forthrightly and very confidently told me that Twitter and facts are (somehow) mutually exclusive, and they do not and never will use it. I tried being zen about the whole thing (water flows around resistance, rocks in the stream shift or erode), and celebrated some of the nurse academics who are more enlightned about health care social media (see storify.com/meta4RN/lecturers).
However, the same thing keeps happening: people in positions of power and influence in the health care and higher education systems are still using silly, uninformed, blanket statements to decry the use of social media and warn people off from using it.
No more Mr Nice Guy – I’m calling these people what they are: Luddites.
People being resistive to new technologies and innovations is not new, and in my lifetime I have seen that change is inevitable – the luddites and laggards will catch-up eventually.
In the 1970s I knew people who refused to play video-games like Space Invaders – “No it’s too confusing, I’m sticking with the pinball machine” said my friend when we went into the pinball parlour.
In the 1980s I knew people who refused to use ATMs (automatic teller machines) – “No, you can’t trust a little card and machine. I’ll wait until the bank opens on Monday.” said my relative.
In the 1990s I knew people who refused to use computers. Every now and then I still hear people say, “I don’t believe in computers” as if computers are akin to the tooth fairy or religion.
In the 2000s I knew people who refused to use a mobile phone, “Why would I ever need one?”, people would say. Now, in Australia, there are more mobile phones than people (for more info: meta4RN.com/mobile).
In the 2010s I know people who refuse to use social media. As evidenced by the “I don’t need to know what Justin Bieber had for breakfast” type of statements, the reason they don’t use it is twofold:  they do not understand it, and  they decline the opportunities to learn.
I guess I should be patient with my resistive colleagues – history shows that they’ll come around eventually. However, for those nurses and midwives in positions of power and influence, I’m hoping people will print and fax you a copy of this picture below. If you can’t summon the willingness to learn about professional health care social media, please summon the dignity and sense to stop critiquing something you do not understand.
PDF version (suitable to print and fax to a social media denier of your choosing): Luddites
As always, your comments/feedback is welcome.
Paul McNamara, 3rd May 2014