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ADVANCE Perspective: Nurses

Social Media: Power to the People?

Published February 13, 2012 6:15 PM by Rich Krisher

Recent events have demonstrated the growing power of social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. It started with actions against governments in the Middle East, with participants organizing themselves and publicizing their efforts online. Then the “Occupy” movement came to a number of cities across the U.S. last fall. The amount of attention they generated was far in excess of the proportion of people in tents at the protest sites, thanks in large part to savvy use of social media, which has led to widespread mainstream media coverage, pro and con.

My fear is because of the relative newness of social media tools, and how they accelerate and at times minimize debate, we’re in danger of being stampeded to ill-considered positions. I saw a great example last week in the comments area of an online article. One reader took the time to write a detailed yet concise response that discussed the gray areas of the topic. “Remind me not to ask you about the weather,” another reader commented. “You’ll talk for 20 minutes and I still won’t know the answer.”

We’re seeing it in the healthcare arena as well. In January, parents took a claim their daughter was denied an organ transplant at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia due to her intellectual disability to a blog entry. It quickly went viral and spawned an online petition, all based on one side of the story. The hospital and doctor were guilty in the eyes of many without having said a word publicly.

Just the other week, the Susan G. Komen for the Cure organization experienced withering attacks from the online world when it changed a policy affecting its donations to Planned Parenthood for its breast cancer screening efforts. The speed with which a widely-admired organization fell to near ruin was stunning.

Social media tools are great to have at our disposal – we use them at ADVANCE every day. But before you support the next cause-of-the-week on Facebook, take the time to see if you’re getting the whole story.


Social media also stopped verizon's ridiculous surcharge and bank of america's $3 fee on debit cards. Susan G Komen's decision was based on a political agenda and could haveharmed low income women who don't have access to mammograms. It also exposed how little of their money goes to the purported cause.

It's called the first amendment. Social media is just a new way of utilizing our right to express an opinion.

kris, rn February 15, 2012 9:46 AM

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