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Twit, MD…Might That Be Me?


Follow Diagnostic Imaging Editorial Board member and regular columnist Eric Postal on Twitter.

In recent columns, I’ve mentioned gradually wading into deeper waters of social media, and how this has led to greater communications with other professionals, radiological and otherwise. It feels a little more profound than sharing dank memes with Facebook “friends” I’ve never actually met.

Last weekend, one of my new LinkedIn contacts—in radiology fellowship, but far more accomplished than most budding rads are at that stage—suggested that I get in the game on Twitter. He had kind things to say about this little blog of mine, but thought I’d do well to have a larger social media profile.

I haven’t been an early adopter when it comes to this stuff. I never even considered getting into MySpace, and while I think I started using FB before it peaked, it probably wasn’t all that long before. I only started using LinkedIn this year and haven’t touched any of the others except for when I hear of an interesting post, and I can go snoop without creating an account.

It never occurred to me to create an account so I could “follow” anyone. I know the meaning of the word “follower” has morphed, but in my mind it still conjures up notions of subservient, sheep-like minions, if not cult-members. The wrong end of a leader-follower dichotomy. If someone called me a “follower,” I might feel insulted.

That said, I also don’t think of myself as someone who’s got enough material to attract and retain followers on Twitter. Heck, sometimes I have difficulty coming up with material for this column, and I only do that once per week…what on Earth could I have to offer on a daily (or even more frequent) basis that would make someone want to follow me?

Underscoring that: I wouldn’t consider most of my thoughts to be fodder for such a public forum. The permanent nature of the Internet (go ahead and delete whatever you said, but it’ll still be out there somewhere), offensitarianism, and troll-culture being what they are, I think anybody with something to lose—including professional reputation as a physician—is tapdancing in a minefield by going on social media at all…especially if saying word one about matters sociopolitical.

Even if it’s something that a doc should reasonably know more about than the general population—for instance, a proposed change to national healthcare policy—pretty much no matter what stance the doc takes, about half his audience is going to disagree. Probably strongly, if not angrily and vindictively. Why risk alienating so many people? What’s to be gained?

Let’s say a rad nevertheless wants to give tweeting a go and plans to avoid such things. What’s left to post? I’ve seen people share interesting cases, advertise their practices, discuss new academic discoveries, etc. Not so coincidentally, things I’ve pretty much never done in the 9.5 years I’ve been doing this column. If I did try to focus on such “safe,” professionally respectable topics in tweets on a daily basis, my lack of such material—or interest in same—would be on full display.

If I blundered on ahead—pretending to know/care about such things while surely being seen through by any savvy onlookers, or risking my future reputation by delving into more divisive, emotionally-charged stuff—I think I might just stand revealed as more of a twit than a tweeter.

And yet—that rad-fellow mentioned above sure seemed to know what he was talking about. If another rad with far more social-media experience tells me I should get into it, might I be more of a twit if I don’t give it a try?

After all, I have no real idea of how many folks actually read this column, or how tweet-hungry they are. Maybe, since they usually see one column from me per week, they’d be fine with an occasional extra line or two? Not unfollow me for the sin of failing to post on some days? Perhaps they’d just like a forum where they could comment on each of my weekly blogs. Responding to comments might just be hectic enough to keep me looking engaged.

What the heck, let’s give it a try. If nothing else, I’ll find out how many folks make a point of regularly reading this column. I created a Twitter account, calling myself EricPostal_MD. I might already have been a twit and done that wrongly, because a quick Google-search for that name turned up diddly-squat. I guess I’ll know soon enough if followers start to appear.

My first act with that account shall be to “follow” the rad-fellow who inspired me to create it; come on by and discover who he is! (I won’t follow anyone else for a few days, to make it easy for you.)

Follow Eric, a member of the Diagnostic Imaging Editorial Board, on Twitter -- @EricPostal_MD.

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