Health Is Social: A Brief Explanation of What Phil Baumann Does

Health is social. Not media.

When I started Health Is Social, one of my aims was to bring a mash-up of disparite elements of style, philosophy, nursing, humor, grief, and green knives to the public discussions on Healthcare and Technology. (What’s a green knife? Listen here after the post if the above embed doesn’t work.)

At the time, Social Media in Healthcare  was still a nacent topic. So it was natural for me to pick-apart the predominate views on Social Media (SoMe) – views which I considered superficial, mimetic, nauseatingly repetitive, and downright misleading. The superficiality was especially disturbing.

The funny things is: “Health Is Social” wasn’t about SoMe. No. Quite the contrary: it was about propounding ideas that call us back from a technologic-centric view of Health and Healthcare to a human perspective.

Yes, “Health Is Social” included “Healthcare Social Media”. In the prior years, I had started the first clinical chat on Twitter. (I am proud that of all the Healthcare professions, it was Nursing that got that “prize”. Sadly, physicians were behind, so I started the first chat for physicians. I mention this in case you think I’m a Luddite – no: others should have started these chats. Why didn’t they? Perhaps they’re the Luddites. Just sayin’ 😉

But what I’ve been doing with Health Is Social has been lost on some readers: I invert styles in ways that confuse. For instance, I’ve written posts that seem serious, and yet are utterly sarcastic. Why? Because I felt it was important to point out some of the narrow-thinking ways of the social media “gurus” – and this narcissistic-superficial way of thinking has infiltrated Healthcare.

Examples of such weird behaviors include:

  • Repeating the matras: “Social Media is revolutionary” – “It’s all about conversation.”
  • Failures to acknowledge the need for HCPs to fully understand the pitfalls of using SoMe: not just from their own professional standing, but also the harm they may cause patients.
  • Superficiality in appreciating the Iceberg of SoMe (the tip is deceptively simple)
  • Embarrassing self-promotion – Much of my “schitck” on Twitter is a way to illustrate to followers how weird self-promotion looks. Much of what I saw what was ultimately narcissistic and addictive behavior (and yes, these media do lead to addiction, but that’s a whole other topic).
  • Healthcare Marketing ideas in the context of SoMe seemed to be uninformed by experience – and, again, seemed superficial and imitative of a lot of the popular online personalities who got lucky with Technorati back in the day.
  • Sycophantic behavior – too many clicks had started to form, and many important voices were being drowned-out by the loud chirping from those whose voices were probably the last to hear. If at all.

In my head, the list went on.

Now, this is all the ‘negative’ side of Health Is Social (trying to wake people up from the ‘dopery’ so common on social networks). That is, a counter-weight was needed. And you know what? People subscribed and shared and loved what I was doing. Yes, loved. That doesn’t happen much online, and I’m every grateful to those who engaged me via email and Skype and AFK (Away from the Keyboard, aks IRL).

The “postive” side? Well, that was about waking people up to the promises of technologies within the context of very human ways of processing the world.

It’s important for us to be passionate – truly passionate – about speaking our minds.

Do you want to know why Healthcare is so messed up in our country? It’s because nobody is angry enough (in a good way). We’ve been sitting back and accepting things without question.

It’s unacceptable to have uncritical thinking in Healthcare. As we march deeper into the 21st Century – a Century of economic, cultural, political, technological tumult), we need to take time-outs to THINK before we act. Let’s not just do things because others are doing them or just to feel like we’re doing something.

If you look at all the Revolutions of the last several hundred years, they all started out as utopias and ended in catastrophe. If only a little more thinking were done, perhaps we wouldn’t have had gulags, and concentration camps, and domestic violence. That’s an exaggerated reference in this context, but the mechanics are the same.

Social Media is not ‘revolutionary’. People are.

Social Media is not healthy. Wisdom is.

Social Media is not poetry. Poets are.

Social Media is not social. A playground is.

Play more. Tweet less.

[For an accompanying sound version of this post, listen here.]

Phil Baumann