In the current era in which we live, we reap the benefits of easily utilizing social media. One can “virtually” interact effortlessly on various platforms, spanning generations, cultures, geographic areas, and economic bounds. Challenges and joys are shared with friends, colleagues, or acquaintances from distances near and as far away as the other side of the globe. As an academic, there is value in sharing publications, research, and scholarly debates.
As a private practice co-owner, information and stories can be shared with the public about the importance of hearing, etc. As the president of the American Academy of Audiology, it fills me with pride to witness our member-to-member online mentoring through addressing professional questions, trouble-shooting equipment, or explaining the nuances of audiological procedures, or even commiserating about the challenges in serving the difficult patient or obtaining reimbursement for services.
Of course, with the positives of social media, one doesn’t have far to look, even in the Academy’s Audiology Communities, to be confronted by looming figures in the shadows making hateful comments for “infractions” of misspelling or opposing opinions, and ultimately judged as illiterate, uneducated and/or even unworthy of being an audiologist. Unsurprisingly voices silence themselves of opt out in fear of being ridiculed, bullied or indicted by a critical jury of one or two. Sometimes the posts turn from indicting colleagues to the entire Academy for any number of “transgressions.”
One repercussion from such contentious social media posts is a perception held by the general public about a presumed conflict between the audiology organizations producing a fractured profession. In fact, this perception about the audiology organizations could not be further from objective evidence that is regularly demonstrated by the audiology organization’s leadership and staff who collegially communicate over multiple issues impacting our profession.
I challenge anyone to find any public forum or social media in which any of the audiology organizations' exchanges are anything less than professional and collegial. Quite the opposite! There have been repeated sentiments by various notable individuals over time that “the biggest threat to audiology is audiologists.” Professional behaviors from any other health-care provider (e.g., physical therapists, otolaryngologists, cardiologists, etc.) have not been exhibited with such unprofessionally contentious behaviors. We are overdue for immediate and dramatic changes in our own personal professional behaviors toward each other.
Demonstrating respectful attitudes can begin with that universal adage (as paraphrased) to “treat others how you would like to be treated,” incorporated by the following:
- When pointing the blaming finger, you have many of your own pointing back at you.
- Pause 24–36 hours for a cool down period.
- Examine all perspectives before reacting.
- Encouragement rarely destroys.
- Use diplomacy rather than being tactless.
- Tolerance depends upon self-reflection.
Our profession and the American Academy of Audiology is dependent upon “YOU,” “ME,” and “US.” Let’s get to the “US” by remembering we are all part of the solution.