For many years, I have been an advocate of social media in maternity care. I felt from the inception of the internet, that websites would be a one of the newest ways that expectant parents could learn about evidence-based birth. With the advent of social media such as Facebook, I once again heralded this as an adjunct to childbirth education. I am happy to report that many expectant parents use web-based learning!
However, in the recent months, social media has become laden with current events so disturbing and so evil. Many of my colleagues are reporting mass unfollowing of individuals who are send too toxic messages through social media. Even news outlets with social media accounts have become toxic just by reporting the current events. Social media has become a platform for not only political stances but racial and other volatile issues. And the atmosphere is not just “sharing”. The atmosphere can be down-right angry.
According to the Huffington Post, 28% of people say social media influences their music choices, television viewing and products purchased. A whopping 57% of social media users say their lives are stressful (due in part to social media). This stress may be due to projecting a certain image of their life, stating their opinion on an issue, defending their opinion on an issue or being apprehensive about the privacy of their social media accounts.
We don’t just post pictures of a great dinner we prepared. We are more aggressive and feel more free to say things on social media than we would face-to-face.
So how do we get back to the social media of yesteryear? How do we return to using social media to promote, in our profession, evidence-based maternity care?
- Discern why you are on social media and be honest with yourself. For me, it is an extension of my childbirth education classes. It is also a way to market my business and currently, promote an organization for which I volunteer. A side benefit is to keep in contact with friends.
- Remember that social media is a tool or teaching strategy just like a pelvic model or chart. It is a device that we use with which to teach.
- Use the “unfollow” option to limit the number of aggressive posters on your feed. You do not have to unfriend them, just unfollow them if their posts are not something that you want to see.
- Regardless of how you access social media, remember there is always the option to not be active on social media. Often, we can access social media through a computer, smart phone or tablet. Is that too much? Do you receive push notifications that prompt you to engage? Then turn off the notifications or limit social media time to one device.
- Go “dark”. Take a break of 2-3 days. This can happen around a holiday, weekend or anytime! While you may find a drop in the endorphin/dopamine rush that happens when someone “likes” your status, it may also drop your stress level and allow you to regroup and think about other aspects of your life.