#243 Prescription required: Having intimate ‘conversations’ on facebook
Friday 12th March, 2010
My doctor has told me to stop having intimate ‘conversations’ on facebook. Unless he can also be involved. What’s your advice?
(From Welles via email, received with coridial thanks and humour)
Well Welles, you must be able to read people appropriately on social networks, just in the same way that you do in ‘real’ life. There are likely to be at least two types of ‘introductions’ that you come across on Facebook those who are – Friends – and from others who are – Friends* – and you need to be able to work out what are the relationships that you want to secure and what is the most appropriate type of social banter to engage in.
I suspect that your Doctor is hinting at your ferociousity of interaction Facebook Friends, especially if they are angling for ‘involvement’. I cannot imagine how on earth Doctor has got ‘wind’ of your activities; have your moments manisfested themself physically? mentally? or is your Doctor particularly needy in the Facebook Friend department? If Doc has asked you quickly about your Facebook exchanges, then Doc is probably in want of some entertaining.
I would have serious concerns if Doc is using his patient list to make Facebook acquaintences. Do a general check before any ‘out of hours’ engagement, so by the time you next meet with them you can say: ‘Oh good morning, nice to see you again, I see from Facebook that you have been golfing/shopping/sky-diving (delete as appropriate) again’ and then continue to sound them out from here...
You will always get people with whom you run into in everyday life and who I am sure would make the most appropriate connection on Facebook and beyond. CARE needs to taken though to protect yourself against any funny business, reason for ‘malpractice’, and that they are who they say they are, with honorable intentions.
For almost as long as we’ve been talking there’s been cues and signals to watch for; coded rules and rituals. Facebook has helped to develop new codes for social engagement, when friends can be defriended at the swift press of a button (and (thankfully) never recorded in your NewsFeed). There are suggestions by anthropologists that dining etiquette emerged becasue one wanted to signify distance from the messy masses – yuk. We can think of our social exchanges today in a similar way. Your Doc’s indication that they are on Facebook and willing to pursue to you through such medium stands either as overaly enthusiastic Doc/patient concern; an invitation for friendly contact; something else… (Your description of the Case Notes point toward something else btw). Whichever, what you have to ask yourself is: Does such an invitation indicate a better etiquette, or potential mess within the masses. I would shy away from the latter. Not least as it would make that next appointment all the more awkward. In short, if at any time you feel uncomfortable, then Doctor needs reminding that such interventions are simply not required. Unless Doctor resembles George Clooney and they are after an (oo)-ER moment.
*Friends this by no means implies any funny business, merely hints at another layer to any kind of connection (nudge, nudge, wink, wink). Oh, and this is NOT reference to that TV show.Tweet