My friend shared a post with me from Facebook last night from a community page in our area. She had screen shot the original post and then a few replies, because she saw that the vet I used to work for had posted a few comments. I read them last night but at the time did not go on a hunt for the OP.
The post was from a distraught dog owner whose pet had lost its life recently while under the care of another vet clinic (not the one I used to work for).
I’m laying awake on a Sunday morning before 6 am, unable to fall asleep again, partly because my mind is moving and in part because my husband is snoring and talking in his sleep. So, left with my thoughts I decided to find the original post to read.
I’m not going to share the Facebook post because I refuse to contribute to the spread of online and public slandering - despite the fact that the dog owner mentions to not personally attack or bully those involved. With the advent of the internet came an influx of people with zero filter and thought to their actions against another human being. Yes, I feel horrible for the dog owner in question, but to publicly shame the technician responsible for the death is where I feel it the most. I briefly scrolled through the comments. People LOVE to jump online and post bad reviews, every day. It makes them feel better to off-load their anger into the cyber world. People online are a thousand times more of a horrible human being than they are in person, except for a select few who never learnt proper human interactions in person to begin with. I fear for the future of our children who grew up with screens who cannot speak in person with even a family member.
Cyber bullying is that next stretch, and actually a killer. Children who are vulnerable, feeling insecure in their own skin, are being bullied or ostracized by other children, especially through adolescence. These children are a thousand times worse off once the bullying is spewed online. I feel for these children.
I also feel for the veterinarians who are cyber bullied. Publicly slandered online, to the point that they can no longer live with themselves. I remember reading about Dr. Shirley Koshi, a veterinarian who took her life after being bullied online. The situation is just worse in the U.S. where the right the bear arms and fear-mongering is rampant. The American Veterinary Medical Association has recognized this growth.
I cringed when I read the Facebook posts last night, and told my friend, I already knew about the incident. The clinic in question is not far from home. In fact, I used to work with two of their current employees. One of those people already told me about the death and incident because we both know the technician who was present when the incident happened. Reading these posts online increases my own anxiety. It is this fear that actually holds me back from a lot of engagement in social media when it comes to my professional life. In fact, maybe this is a question for Gary Vee, whom I follow for all his advice and really take to heart. #AskGaryVee - how do we as veterinarians overcome the overwhelming pressures from one bad review that spirals into a catastrophe? How do I find the courage to share this blog with the rest of the world, in the light of cyber bullying? How can our stories be heard and advice be given online, without having online harassment?