WDEL Blog: Allan Loudell

Question of the Day: What intoxicating effect does Facebook have on people?

From St. Louis, Missouri, comes word that an OB-GYN doctor posted on Facebook about an unnamed pregnant patient habitually late for appointments. Dr. Amy Dunbar speculated about whether her patient would "show up late for her delivery". And what for many was inexcusable: Dr. Dunbar further indicated her patient had previously had a still-born child.

St. John's Mercy Medical Center in St. Louis faces public outrage, and calls to terminate Dr. Dunbar. Some folks have leaped to the doctor's defense. After all, she never NAMED her patient. Counter-argument: It is simply unprofessional to air your frustrations with a patient in a public forum, even if that forum was initially just 470 "friends" on Facebook.

But does all this not suggest a much bigger question: Do Facebook and other social media lower our inhibitions, indeed induce almost an intoxication in some people? What is it about the social media enviornment that some people think they can rant about nearly anything... without consequences?


Posted at 8:05am on February 7, 2013 by Allan Loudell

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Comments on this post:

Thu, Feb 7, 2013 8:26am
This to me isn't about Facebook. It's more about the arrogance and self-aggrandization of doctors.

If you, as a patient, happen to be a few minutes late, it's somehow an outrage and your appointment gets cancelled, or you get charged a late fee. Flip the script, and think about the thousands of times your doctor has been late for you, making you wait around in the waiting room for hours, making you late for other appointments in your busy life.

The doctor doesn't think for two seconds about the inconveniences he creates for the patient when he's late. But, when the patient is late, this is a major controversy because the doctor's time is so important.

Thu, Feb 7, 2013 8:57am
Just right off the top from your headline.... the verb should now be "had"..... The intoxication with Facebook has been replaced with disgust at the corporate trash that is now interjected between anything of value. No one cool is looking at Facebook except perhaps once a week. Corporations hire people to peruse Facebook. Facebook is the new MySpace. If you are still on Facebook, you are a creeprer has-been. It is like listening to Allan's noon broadcast to hear 5 minutes of news, and 55 minutes of advertisements. Plus the creep factor is immense. You know Facebook is selling everything you say, or post, to someone...

That said, ... has anyone ever noticed that all those who are outraged over Facebook are entirely guilty of what they did? Like a bad tip. Or a racial insult. It is like, they were a complete jerk, and then got called out for it. How dare you print the truth they say?

Imagine a criminal outraged he got arrested. Imagine a someone on the red carpet at the Oscars, outraged they got photographed. Most of us would say, if you didn't want that you should have changed your actions.

If you choose to act stupid, you are the problem; not the casual observer who points out "hey look over there; that person is acting stupid... particularly when our lives are flooded with amusing clips of people acting stupid on purpose to get attention and cause us to laugh. That is just life; pointing out other's foibles to get a couple of chuckles out of them."

Facebook is no different from growing up in a small town, if any of you did. You were very careful of appearances because everyone saw and everyone talked... Mom, Dad, and siblings heard things about you sometimes faster than you did.

The question in this case needs to boil-down to whether what the doctor said was true, or a malicious lie. If it is true, sorry girl, behave better next time....

Facebook needs to be protected like Free speech. Because it is exactly that. Even in real life, if you confide in someone you trust, the secret can still get out. The same happens on Facebook where the intended audience is one's closest associates.. But if one can't talk to one's friends in a honest way, then none of us have free speech.

In this case this Doctor should file suit against the patient for time lost, damage to reputation, etc., in handling the outrage this patient has cost her...
Heck, people make fun of Donald Trump in every media outlet available. And there is nothing he can do about it! Everything they say is true....

Mike from Delaware
Thu, Feb 7, 2013 6:31pm
Facebook is a place for gossip, and mostly mundane chit chat for women. The ladies love FB. They post every detail of their lives. Post photos of every thing their dear little darlings, do as if the kid were some sort of extraordinary talent. Those poor kids have no privacy. Everything they do gets recorded on FB for the entire world to see.

Unlike WDEL's blog, most folks on FB don't want to have a real conversation. It really is idle chit chat, small talk.

Obviously many folks use it and play Farmville, etc., on it, but I'm not totally sure of the good it does. It probably isn't any real harm either. FB is more likely to be a waster of most people's time. Cyber junk food.

Thu, Feb 7, 2013 8:18pm
Perhaps what this doctor says on Facebook is protected free speech, although we do still have anti-obscenity laws, so not everything is protected, and this case here is borderline.

Legal or not, this doctor seems to have forgotten the hipocratic oath to "do no harm". That not only applies to physical harm, but emotional harm as well.

It's one thing to display your life as an open book - it's another to stand naked in front of your open door, which is the equivalent of what many on Facebook do.

Fri, Feb 8, 2013 12:01am
Actually, Mike, Facebook originally was a nifty arrangement. It enabled one to finally contact members from one's past, lost forever without that technology... Mike, if you wanted, you could find old buddies stationed with you outside Fairbanks...

That was the potential Facebook provided. It also had enough detail so you got to know them again as people. You could talk face to face. Reminisce if you wanted. It was like visiting them in person at their home... It had far greater worth than being a medium for old women to tsk-tsk back and forth.... I was just watching today's Air Force personal answer these questions: best base/worst base/ best tdy/ worst tdy. It was fascinating.

I like Mr. Pizza's open-door analogy... but then I guess we would have to draw the line of whether that person was caught naked by being brazen and daring all to look, or whether he was just sneaking from bedroom to bathroom and the door got opened by the dog and someone peeked?

Even so, it is still free speech, and whereas one could turn one's head and never look at that person's door again, whereas one could warn other neighbors not to ever look again, it is actually much easier on FB to simply block them if you don't approve....

None of us would think it was ok to have a conversation within a booth at a restaurant, and then get sued because someone overheard us from the booth behind us.... Imagine a manager telling his customers he was suing them for slander because he overheard them bad-mouthing his restaurant because the food took 18 hours to get to the table!

People have the right to express opinions. It is ok in conversation. It is ok in publications. It is ok in music. And if Facebook is our prime method of communication, it needs to be ok there too. Of course the same rules of liable and slander apply just like they would on any other medium.

But in these situations mentioned in this thread, the facts were true.... The complainers themselves are the guilty ones in the court of public opinion, and deserve every bit of ridicule foisted upon them....

I hope the doctor sues her into oblivion.

Fri, Feb 8, 2013 4:56am
Just for the record, I'm not on Facebook, and won't be unless I find a way to make money with it - legal and ethical of course.

Mike from Delaware
Fri, Feb 8, 2013 8:19am
Kavips: I've found that it's the younger women (ages roughly 25-50) who are on there sharing every aspect of their lives and everything their kids do. Those poor kids are going to hate that when they become teens. Those kids will grow to hate mom's cellphone camera. See Johnny picked his nose today. See little Susie she got her first training bra today. Little Billy got poison ivy all over his body; Baby Jane ate her poop today, etc., etc. Each time I see this sort of stuff I want to text back, Quick Alert the Media !! Little Johnny did something !! Film at 11.

Frankly I wonder where these moms get the time to post so much. I guess raising kids and doing house work is easier now than back in the day.

I have one FB friend that's a real hoot. She is the real-life version of Lucy from "I Love Lucy." She gets herself into some funny situations. I've told her that she should write a book about her adventures; she could be the next Erma Bombeck. I enjoy most of her postings, because they are actually entertaining and most often quite funny (truth is stranger than fiction).

Then there's the political folks, both ultra-right-wing and ultra-left-wing. They want to post their views, but get upset if you counter their point-of-view. As in how dare you disagree with me? They want to use FB to forward some agenda.

You're right, the one really good thing about FB is the ability to connect with folks you haven't seen or heard from in many years at no cost. I've done that and that is what keeps me coming back to FB: The ability to connect with those distant folks and finding others I haven't seen or heard from in years.

Still, most of what's posted on FB is drivel. It's seems to be more of a chick thing. But then I guess that's normal, women talk more than guys, so FB is basically cyber-talking.

Fri, Feb 8, 2013 8:14pm
Mr. Pizza ... don't waste your time... Facebook is a dinosaur when it comes to making money. You would be better off putting on an extra dash of salt so people go "wow, this is awesome pizza..."

And Mike, sounds like you got the wrong type of friends. There is way you can keep them on a friends without seeing all the junk they post each day.. And if you think of it, Facebook just represents the divide between the two genders pretty accurately... Women just chatter about all that is extremely important, and don't mention the rest... For example, how often do they talk about their husbands? Ever? Likewise, a male will be silent for weeks, then one evening.... "G>>>O>>>A>>>L>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>" As I said, it is all about what is important....

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