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Hey guys,

I was about to quote an ignorant politician's tweet, call her a few curse words, and leave my opinion on why her statement is wrong. If you're wondering what she tweeted, she was basically saying wearing face masks during this pandemic is bad because excessive use of it can cause pneumonia, apparently. Before I hit send tweet, I realized people on social media lose scholarships, acceptances, or experience negative consequences all the time for saying the wrong thing online.

This lead me to wonder how a medical student, resident, or physician should carry themselves on social media. Is it OK to use curse words? Will there be any consequences for me if I seem unprofessional on social media? Is it OK to get into heated arguments on politics, medicine, etc etc etc if you know people may screenshot and send your tweets to your medical schools/hospitals to show them what you said? Will a medical school give punishment to students for expressing their opinions (popular or unpopular) on social media? How far can students go when expressing their opinion? I realize my worry may be unnecessary and/or excessive, but I just want to be sure my social media posts don't come back to haunt me.
 
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Miles Gloriosus

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Anything you write on social media will stay on the internet forever. Statements or words written that are acceptable today may not be acceptable in the future. Any hospital you will work at will have conduct policies that will allow them to dismiss you if they think you will make them look bad. Free speech arguments will not protect you. Be careful what you write.
 

sb247

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Hey guys,

I was about to quote an ignorant politician's tweet, call her a few curse words, and leave my opinion on why her statement is wrong. If you're wondering what she tweeted, she was basically saying wearing face masks during this pandemic is bad because excessive use of it can cause pneumonia, apparently. Before I hit send tweet, I realized people on social media lose scholarships, acceptances, or experience negative consequences all the time for saying the wrong thing online.

This lead me to wonder how a medical student, resident, or physician should carry themselves on social media. Is it OK to use curse words? Will there be any consequences for me if I seem unprofessional on social media? Is it OK to get into heated arguments on politics, medicine, etc etc etc if you know people may screenshot and send your tweets to your medical schools/hospitals to show them what you said? Will a medical school give punishment to students for expressing their opinions (popular or unpopular) on social media? How far can students go when expressing their opinion? I realize my worry may be unnecessary and/or excessive, but I just want to be sure my social media posts don't come back to haunt me.
Just stop social media, it isn’t worth a career
 
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I wouldn't swear at anybody, that's never a good look. Your school probably has some sort of policy on social media use and "professionalism." You won't get punished unless you say something awful that makes the school look bad but that doesn't mean you're free from consequences. The PD at your favorite program might be a Republican and look down on you if your posts are publicly accessible and they decide to check into your social media activity. Some people might frown upon any political statements whatsoever. Realistically, as long as you don't say anything beyond the pale nothing will happen.
 
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sb247

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I wouldn't swear at anybody, that's never a good look. Your school probably has some sort of policy on social media use and "professionalism." You won't get punished unless you say something awful that makes the school look bad but that doesn't mean you're free from consequences. The PD at your favorite program might be a Republican and look down on you if your posts are publicly accessible and they decide to check into your social media activity. Some people might frown upon any political statements whatsoever. Realistically, as long as you don't say anything beyond the pale nothing will happen.
I’m going to really disagree here in that no one cares what OP considers “beyond the pale”. There is a growing trend of outrage mobbery if you say even a little bit of the “wrong thing”. I also have to laugh at the notion that the most likely way to get kicked out is angering a conservative republicn

it shouldn’t be reality but you have to play the game you are in
 

sb247

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Because social media has an impact on our day-to-day world and some want to speak out

I'm not sure if @'ing a figurehead will get views/retweets, but there's no harm as long as it's done cleanly
The biggest impact a single tweet can have on a doctor is not being a doctor.
 
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I’m going to really disagree here in that no one cares what OP considers “beyond the pale”. There is a growing trend of outrage mobbery if you say even a little bit of the “wrong thing”. I also have to laugh at the notion that the most likely way to get kicked out is angering a conservative republicn

it shouldn’t be reality but you have to play the game you are in
You’re putting words in my mouth, if you think there’s no way a PD could ever be influenced by somebody posting political views contrary to their own I don’t know what to tell you.
 

VA Hopeful Dr

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Which is pretty easy to avoid as long as you behave professionally.

You know, avoiding name-calling, saying racist things etc.
Except it's clearly not easy. And the "definition" of racist seems to be constantly evolving.
 

sb247

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You’re putting words in my mouth, if you think there’s no way a PD could ever be influenced by somebody posting political views contrary to their own I don’t know what to tell you.
i didn’t put words in your mouth, I said this (below)
I’m going to really disagree here in that no one cares what OP considers “beyond the pale”. There is a growing trend of outrage mobbery if you say even a little bit of the “wrong thing”. I also have to laugh at the notion that the most likely way to get kicked out is angering a conservative republicn

it shouldn’t be reality but you have to play the game you are in
in response to you saying this (below)
I wouldn't swear at anybody, that's never a good look. Your school probably has some sort of policy on social media use and "professionalism." You won't get punished unless you say something awful that makes the school look bad but that doesn't mean you're free from consequences. The PD at your favorite program might be a Republican and look down on you if your posts are publicly accessible and they decide to check into your social media activity. Some people might frown upon any political statements whatsoever. Realistically, as long as you don't say anything beyond the pale nothing will happen.
 

Matthew9Thirtyfive

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There's a lot of cancel culture these days - not just limited to the Republican party. If anything I see it moreso by Democrats, which is unfortunate (I have been a lifelong Democrat despite being from a conservative state). I think that cancel culture pushes people further away from a viewpoint and sets people up as unnecessary targets for doxxing, etc. I personally don't agree with cancel culture but the mob mentality is scary.

I personally got rid of my social media. lol. Seems like a risk and I didn't need to be reminded of stupid statuses and arguments I had over facebook with some girls in high school over dumb boys lol.

edit: I've also seen some anonymous med/premed twitters get doxxed. People are whack-a-doo.
Yeah, the only people I’ve seen go out of their way to try to get med students in trouble for things they posted on Facebook, no matter how innocuous, were millennial or gen z liberals.
 

Goro

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Hey guys,

I was about to quote an ignorant politician's tweet, call her a few curse words, and leave my opinion on why her statement is wrong. If you're wondering what she tweeted, she was basically saying wearing face masks during this pandemic is bad because excessive use of it can cause pneumonia, apparently. Before I hit send tweet, I realized people on social media lose scholarships, acceptances, or experience negative consequences all the time for saying the wrong thing online.

This lead me to wonder how a medical student, resident, or physician should carry themselves on social media. Is it OK to use curse words? Will there be any consequences for me if I seem unprofessional on social media? Is it OK to get into heated arguments on politics, medicine, etc etc etc if you know people may screenshot and send your tweets to your medical schools/hospitals to show them what you said? Will a medical school give punishment to students for expressing their opinions (popular or unpopular) on social media? How far can students go when expressing their opinion? I realize my worry may be unnecessary and/or excessive, but I just want to be sure my social media posts don't come back to haunt me.
No, it's not. I don't know about your school, but mine has a social media policy. If I go loose cannon, I know my butt will be in the Dean's office by Monday.

Once you put that white coat on, it's sticks to you.

It's perfectly OK to tell the politician that she's doing her best to kill her constituents and that she's full of bovine excrement.
 
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I said Republican Party because the OP is almost certainly referring to a Republican politician based on the myriad stories of how politicians have reacted to masks and if you insult a politician from ones preferred party you risk alienating people. If a Democrat said that I’ll retract. The statement of course applies to everyone. If you insult a politician or party or policy you risk alienating people who support them, and it might not work to your benefit if someone discovers it during the interview process. Never said you’ll get “kicked out.” In fact I said you’re highly unlikely to get kicked out unless you say something egregious.
 
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TelemarketingEnigma

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Assume that anything you post anywhere (including SDN!) can be seen by your med school deans and/or your future patients. One of my deans and multiple attendings from my school follow me (and other students) on twitter lol. I personally think there's value in a certain amount of public social media - Twitter is great for sharing and keeping up to date with new research for example. I am also not afraid to post some things related to certain opinions that I hold, but they're convictions that I would stand by in person as well. You should always think carefully about what you post, and swearing at a politician probably isn't worth it.
 

jurassicpark

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Good that we are finally learning about the perils of the internet and social media. The biggest problem with social media is that while 90% can agree with what you may have said, it only requires a small vocal group to demand action against you. And unfortunately there's no hiding anymore on social media either, people will find you.

While you are still a student, you are stepping into a wider professional world. Unfortunately pro-right or pro-left can cut you badly depending on what you say and how you say it. Medicine is fairly conservative (not necessarily political belief) but we tend to try to take the neutral approach to things to make sure we treat our patients appropriately across the board. Step out of those bounds and the repercussions can be great especially in regards to "professionalism."

Keep your social media presence confined to pictures of pets, non-wild vacation photos and memes about Star Wars and you should be safe.
 
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rosegoldenkitten

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Yeah, the only people I’ve seen go out of their way to try to get med students in trouble for things they posted on Facebook, no matter how innocuous, were millennial or gen z liberals.
I've actually seen the opposite is true as well. There are definitely physicians who are doing the same with their public profiles, trying to or threatening to get premeds and medical students in trouble for things as well on twitter or facebook, even if their profiles are not professional profiles. I think it definitely goes both ways.
 

altblue

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Except it's clearly not easy. And the "definition" of racist seems to be constantly evolving.
Sure, it can be hard to keep up with what is acceptable at times, but the bar for serious consequences is usually much higher than that. The people getting fired or dismissed for their social media posts were about 5 steps out of line, like the resident who was terminated in 2019 after she had said that Jewish patients didn't deserve treatment - or for a more general example, Eugene Gu for repeatedly antagonizing his program on Twitter. As long as one is a reasonable person, they'll be alright. A career won't be ruined over some minor misstep.
 

Matthew9Thirtyfive

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I've actually seen the opposite is true as well. There are definitely physicians who are doing the same with their public profiles, trying to or threatening to get premeds and medical students in trouble for things as well on twitter or facebook, even if their profiles are not professional profiles. I think it definitely goes both ways.
Haven’t seen that. That doesn’t mean it’s not happening.
 

VA Hopeful Dr

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Sure, it can be hard to keep up with what is acceptable at times, but the bar for serious consequences is usually much higher than that. The people getting fired or dismissed for their social media posts were about 5 steps out of line, like the resident who was terminated in 2019 after she had said that Jewish patients didn't deserve treatment - or for a more general example, Eugene Gu for repeatedly antagonizing his program on Twitter. As long as one is a reasonable person, they'll be alright. A career won't be ruined over some minor misstep.
I believe the principal that @sb247 referenced wasn't way out of line
 

altblue

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I believe the principal that @sb247 referenced wasn't way out of line
Yes, career comes first, but you can speak out about what matters to you without jeopardizing it. sure there are people with select viewpoints on the extreme right or left where this is less valid, or in certain parts of the country where specific political views are unwelcome, but for the most part, it holds

There's sometimes a culture in medical school where one is supposed to shut up and work hard, which can be helpful for building modesty and learning the trade. But in other ways it's restrictive for getting voices heard in addressing health care, health disparities and beyond
 

Dr G Oogle

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The only times you should post any personal opinion on social media, particularly if it is very opinion-sounding, eg: this POS [x politician] doesn’t know s&@$ is if you 1) are independently wealthy 2)on your way to being independently wealthy and your only followers are your parents 3) are Elon Musk (see parts 1 & 2)
 
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VA Hopeful Dr

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Yes, career comes first, but you can speak out about what matters to you without jeopardizing it. sure there are people with select viewpoints on the extreme right or left where this is less valid, or in certain parts of the country where specific political views are unwelcome, but for the most part, it holds

There's sometimes a culture in medical school where one is supposed to shut up and work hard, which can be helpful for building modesty and learning the trade. But in other ways it's restrictive for getting voices heard in addressing health care, health disparities and beyond
None of that addresses the point some of us are making in general or the point I was making in a direct response to you.
 
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altblue

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None of that addresses the point some of us are making in general or the point I was making in a direct response to you.
I think I actually did address this. His point was that social media wasn't worth the risk to one's career; my response was that it wasn't that risky in most cases and there would be a net benefit for the causes people cared about
 

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Just echoing the others that it simply isn’t worth it. It probably becomes less risky as you progress in your career simply because a Med student that gets expelled is done in medicine but an attending who gets fired is still a board certified physician. Early mistakes are far more costly. Add to that the fact you probably don’t have anything truly authoritative and interesting to contribute anyhow and there doesn’t seem to be much upside.

The cancel culture thing is intense these days and may even get worse. Whatever you say at least half the country disagrees with and that can bite you later. We always search through and review residency applicants social media posts and people have been dinged for it.

It’s Also challenging to keep it professional because the temptation to chase clout is high. I’ve seen many people start out professional and slowly devolve into posting things that would have been unthinkable before simply because the allure of more likes and followers is too high.
 

VA Hopeful Dr

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I think I actually did address this. His point was that social media wasn't worth the risk to one's career; my response was that it wasn't that risky in most cases and there would be a net benefit for the causes people cared about
Fair enough, I missed that point then.

I still think you're wrong. There are numerous examples of either minor behavior or peripheral behavior costing people their jobs/schools.
 

altblue

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Fair enough, I missed that point then.

I still think you're wrong. There are numerous examples of either minor behavior or peripheral behavior costing people their jobs/schools.
Appreciate that

Yup, I don't doubt this happens often in the non-medical world. I'm more referring to medical school or residency... my impression is that it's very hard to get kicked out for expressing one's views just by itself. Usually there's more to it than that, like with the Eugene Gu scenario.
 

VA Hopeful Dr

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Appreciate that

Yup, I don't doubt this happens often in the non-medical world. I'm more referring to medical school or residency... my impression is that it's very hard to get kicked out for expressing one's views just by itself. Usually there's more to it than that, like with the Eugene Gu scenario.
I suspect a large part of that is that the general public doesn't care what med students/residents/physicians think nor do many have huge followings.
 
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altblue

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I suspect a large part of that is that the general public doesn't care what med students/residents/physicians think nor do many have huge followings.
I believe it's more that medical students and residents are seen as an investment to be protected, so they won't be abruptly dismissed for sharing political or religious views.

There's also no reason to believe med students are any less entitled to post about social issues or tactfully respond to politicians than the general public, regardless of how popular they are. And with how memetics work, the more that a given individual with social connections shares an idea, the more likely it is to spread, even for random med students without a considerable following.
 

TelemarketingEnigma

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The only times you should post any personal opinion on social media, particularly if it is very opinion-sounding, eg: this POS [x politician] doesn’t know s&@$ is if you 1) are independently wealthy 2)on your way to being independently wealthy and your only followers are your parents 3) are Elon Musk (see parts 1 & 2)
Idk about number 3, someone really needs to take Elon Musk's twitter away from him before the SEC sues him again
 

Matthew9Thirtyfive

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Most of us go our whole lives without being labeled racist or homophobic or bigots. IMO, it's not that hard.
It’s not that hard if you just stay out of everything. Like I’ve mentioned, I have been literally called racist for saying that I hope some of the people who are so outraged on Facebook right now actually end up doing something because there a lot of things that need to change, including institutional racism and its consequences, so that the leading cause of death in black men 17-23 isn’t murder by other black men 17-23.

I got called racist for advocating to prevent black people from getting killed.
 

Lawpy

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Hey guys,

I was about to quote an ignorant politician's tweet, call her a few curse words, and leave my opinion on why her statement is wrong. If you're wondering what she tweeted, she was basically saying wearing face masks during this pandemic is bad because excessive use of it can cause pneumonia, apparently. Before I hit send tweet, I realized people on social media lose scholarships, acceptances, or experience negative consequences all the time for saying the wrong thing online.

This lead me to wonder how a medical student, resident, or physician should carry themselves on social media. Is it OK to use curse words? Will there be any consequences for me if I seem unprofessional on social media? Is it OK to get into heated arguments on politics, medicine, etc etc etc if you know people may screenshot and send your tweets to your medical schools/hospitals to show them what you said? Will a medical school give punishment to students for expressing their opinions (popular or unpopular) on social media? How far can students go when expressing their opinion? I realize my worry may be unnecessary and/or excessive, but I just want to be sure my social media posts don't come back to haunt me.
Bad idea to argue politics, and definitely terrible to use vulgar language, on social media. If you're going to use social media, why not use it productively like posting pet pics and videos? Pets are good :cat::shy:

If you want a place to argue about politics, you can head on over to SPF and debate away.
 

altblue

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It’s not that hard if you just stay out of everything. Like I’ve mentioned, I have been literally called racist for saying that I hope some of the people who are so outraged on Facebook right now actually end up doing something because there a lot of things that need to change, including institutional racism and its consequences, so that the leading cause of death in black men 17-23 isn’t murder by other black men 17-23.

I got called racist for advocating to prevent black people from getting killed.
I think the issue with that is that it sounds like you're disqualifying social media activism as less useless or virtue signalling. Yes some forms of protest get more things done than others, but not everyone has the time or knowbow to do those things. Some might need to vent and find social media a good avenue for that. And it can help the issues too, social media awareness was the beginning mechanism for massive movements like Arab Spring for example. More relevantly it also drew attention to the death of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor

It's a learning process for certain. Everybody has room to grow. You don't get there by keeping quiet
 
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Matthew9Thirtyfive

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I think the issue with that is that it sounds like you're disqualifying social media activism as less useless or virtue signalling. Yes some forms of protest get more things done than others, but not everyone has the time or knowbow to do those things. Some might need to vent and find social media a good avenue for that. And it can help the issues too, social media awareness was the beginning mechanism for Arab Spring for example

It's a learning process for certain
That’s just how I wrote it here. But even if I was implying that just posting on social media is useless or virtue signaling (which much of it is), that still doesn’t qualify as racism.
 
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altblue

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That’s just how I wrote it here. But even if I was implying that just posting on social media is useless or virtue signaling (which much of it is), that still doesn’t qualify as racism.
I mean, suggesting how one should protest, what works/doesn't, or how to raise awareness has been the number one defense of people who don't support BLM. Similar arguments were used to oppose MLK Jr. as well. It isn't a great look to have.
 
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Just for the sake of argument, can anybody actually provide an example of a medical student or resident who got punished for writing something on social media that didn't violate basic human decency or common sense? I'm fully on board with not writing flagrantly offensive or shocking things but I feel very confident that I could write a post any hot button political issue from either side without jeopardizing my career.
 

KnuxNole

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There does seem to be lots of docs on Twitter who have fulfilling medical careers and are flourishing and slaying, so it's not ALL bad!
 
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