At times I have been the victim of social media commentary attacking me and some of my teachings. This is OK and I have come through just fine. If anything I feel empowered by the whole experience largely due to the support of past patients who “pushed back” against the critics and spoke about the positive experiences for themselves their children and their families. Overall it has been an eye opening experience and one which I will have to learn to manage in the future. It has been an experience that I now share with many of the families who see me and discuss their social media journey.
The experience has demonstrated a number of things to me:
- Firstly that social media services amplify a small number of voices dramatically. There is the risk of becoming involved in two-way conversations with people whom you would never want to talk to. Opinions which are extreme and are held by small numbers of people can now be quite prominent.
- Secondly that in this media space what could normally be a strong difference of opinion becomes an attack and inappropriate and hateful comments come to the surface rapidly. Being anonymous behind a keyboard seems to embolden some people to make comments that they would never say face-to-face. Their anonymity also often means they can express lies as truths without qualification, accountability or risk of consequence. For example, it was claimed by certain commentators that I had not completed my PhD, nor that I was even a qualified Medical Practitioner!
Social media and mums
Where social media is used by women to criticise other women for their parenting choices, it is often done with guilt and emotion in a way that, to be frank, I find quite worrying.
I can now understand how teenagers can be brought to a very bad place psychologically by a social media campaign of denigration and hate. As adults, we attempt not to tolerate this behaviour for our children, but some of us display exactly this horrendous behaviour towards each other, without remorse.
So what is my advice? For mothers (and fathers) who are making choices that are in the best interests of their children and their families use these media services with caution. Your principal responsibility is to your own wellbeing and that of your family. Avoid strident and aggressive sites. If people are attaching you with guilt and hate simply disengage, do not respond. Do not give their extreme ideas and rantings oxygen by answering them.
I can’t resist finishing on a positive note. Firstly it was amazingly strengthening to see the number of past patients and families, husbands and wives who wrote answers to the women who were attacking me. Interestingly the assaults were almost exclusively from women whom I had never seen, met or talked to. These writers displayed minimal and in fact distorted views of my teachings. Secondly there was one women who claimed to have seen me as a patient. She was very unhappy with my advice. In addition I was “the hairiest man she had ever met”. Having been bald for 30 yrs, I found that quite amusing.
Dr Brian Symon
The Babysleep Doctor