Occupational therapy practitioners are using social media much more frequently to communicate with others and to promote the profession. Venues like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and others are much more commonly used.
I read a blog post today that was titled, “The End of Empathy” by Stephanie Wittles Wachs. The post shared her thoughts about how increasingly people are mean, rude and thoughtless in short responses to others (that they often do not know) on the Internet. One of her comments (slightly edited to remove profanity) gives you a hint about where the blog post goes.
She writes, “These days, kids go online to do mean kid #$@!. Adults obviously do, too. Our screens give us carte blanche to be #$@!!$+% to each other than we’d ever be IRL (in real life)."
I believe that sometimes we can change minds and attitudes through the use of social media. I believe that what I have seen called #hashtag advocacy actually can influence our thinking without us being fully aware that we are being challenged. I know that my mind and attitude has been affected by the education and advocacy of others. But sometimes you know from the start it is just not worth it………
More and more though I find myself wondering, “What were they thinking?” I see professional colleagues and Online “friends” disparaging not only the opinions or thinking of others, but their character as well. Accusations are levied, intentions are assigned to actions without validating them with the person acting and unseemly motives are subtly suggested; often in In 140 characters or less. Rather than promoting a position, an opinion or point of view, the focus is on criticizing, minimizing and disparaging others. I wonder if they would say the same things in the same ways to others IRL.
It has led me to be more thoughtful about what I post and how. I believe that over time the individual messages fall away and others are left with a general impression of who we are and how we participate.
I hope my last 140 characters contributed to a positive impression and that over time, I can be proud of what short bursts of communication say about who I am.
The blog post, “The End of Empathy” can be found here:
One of the reasons I decided to start my own Website was to include a blog. I have blogged on and off on OTConnections which is a professionally oriented social media site for occupational therapy practitioners and clients. My OTConnections blog can be found at the following link:
I will continue to blog about occupational therapy topics, but sometimes the mind just has to go in another direction and not all topics are appropriate for OTConnections.
2016 has been a year of loss so far of personal friends and icons like Prince. It got me feeling a little nostalgic and I decided that it was time to replace the music that I have on my iPod shuffle that I use on the treadmill or when "wogging" around the Rice University Running Trail. BTW "wogging" is a fast walk, just short of jogging that comes about after 38 years of pounding on the knees. As I approached my fifties my running evolved into jogging and then.........wogging.
So I spent part of the morning gathering 80's music for a new playlist. Something where I know every word and can sing along (no need to thank me Rice University Runners!)
It's My life (Talk Talk)
Tainted Love (Soft Cell)
I Would Die 4 U (Prince)
One More Chance (Pet Shop Boys)
Brand New Lover (Dead or Alive)
Do you Really Want to Hurt Me? (Culture Club)
Enjoy the Silence (Depeche Mode)
Take on Me (A-Ha)
I Wouldn't Normally Do This Kind of Thing (Pet Shop Boys)
Don't You (Forget About Me) (Simple Minds)
Everything She Wants (George Michael)
White Wedding (Billy Idol)
You Spin Me Round (Like a Record) (Dead or Alive)
Where is My Man? (Eartha Kitt)
Mad About You (Belinda Carlisle)
Rent (Pet Shop Boys)
Karma Chameleon (Culture Club)
Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go (Wham)
Together in Electric Dreams (The Human League)
Go West (Pet Shop Boys)
Faith (George Michael)
Hit Me With Your Best Shot (Pat Benatar)
Time and Tide (Basia)
Together Forever (Rick Astley)
Come on Eileen (Dexy's Midnight Runners
What am I missing?
I have written blog posts on AOTA's OTConnections for the last few years with varying regularity. I try to be sure that my words are always kind, usually thoughtful and I hope mostly interesting. For the last three years my voice has been further shaped by my role on the AOTA Board of Directors. I don't regret that in the least but will share that sometimes I have wanted to blog on topics not appropriate for a professional social media site. Most of my blog posts will likely continue to be about some aspect of occupational therapy and when so will also be cross posted on OTConnections. From time to time, I will decide to write something more personal; maybe about politics, maybe about society, and most definitely about my cats and appropriately about life with my partner Paul. Those will only be found here. I hope you enjoy them. My inaugural post is a cross post reflecting on the participation and the lost chance to have an influence.
I have had two reasons to reflect on the value of participation in the last 3 days. Today in the staff meeting that I run I presented staff feedback on the three focal areas of our draft updated strategic plan. While feedback was positive overall I shared that 9% of those who gave feedback marked “neutral or disagree” on three or more of the evaluation questions, but when asked, “If YOU were in charge of this process, what would you do differently?” offered no comment or suggestion. The plan will move forward without any insights they might have shared and without their influence on the process or outcome.
On Saturday I attended the AOTA Annual Business Meeting where among other things we voted on a revision to the AOTA Bylaws. The revision was put forward after review by the six members of the Bylaws, Policies and Procedures Committee (BPPC) and unanimous approval by the Board of Directors. I have been an AOTA member for 32 years and have attended 31 conferences and 31 business meetings. I was fortunate to have strong mentoring early in my career that impressed upon me the importance and responsibility of attending the business meeting and participating. I strongly value any influence I have and take every opportunity to influence outcomes through participation.
I do not expect that all members attend every business meeting as attendance must be in person and requires the considerable expense to travel to the conference city. However, I am dismayed by the annual low turnout at the business meeting. As Secretary I had the honor (and fun) of calling the roll call of states. If I kept accurate records (they will be confirmed) we had members attend from 45 states and two territories. Because the “Rules of the Day” state that a quorum is established if 100 voting members are present and that the quorum will be deemed to be in existence for the remainder of the meeting, I completed a count of the hall prior to calling the states and determined that more than 200 persons were seated in the member areas.
Passage of the Bylaws raised some significant discussion. A handful of members voiced concern over one element of the revision via Email and on OTConnections prior to the meeting and several rose to speak in opposition to the motion to approve the Bylaws revision at the meeting. Because I was instrumental in drafting the revision and had the opportunity to vote as a member of the Board, I was naturally in support of adoption and disagreed with those rising to voice opposition.
I am not going to return to debate the merit of the revisions or the motion but I stand by my support of both.
I am going to give sincere praise for those who participated prior to, and at the annual business meeting.
The process of a Bylaws revision is complex. The BPPC drafts revisions and they go to the Board of Directors and are reviewed by AOTA legal counsel and the Executive Director and other staff. Often, as in this case, more changes were made. The draft was posted on the Website and solicitation of feedback was sought on the Website, in OT Practice and by other means. As in the past, response was limited. I will gladly correct any of the following if I am off by a count or two, but I understand that less than 5 persons sent an Email to the Email address provided to ask questions or give feedback. Nine posts by 6 members were made on the forum discussion offered on OTConnections. One-hundred eleven members voted at the business meeting. The Board of Directors members also raised their hands, I believe all in support, but do not think they were included in the tally of the vote, which was a close outcome of 57 in support of adoption and 54 in opposition. If we include the affirmative votes of the Board, the outcome is even more certain, although I understand that in close votes on important issues, outcomes are often questioned.
I am not certain how to get AOTA members to pay more attention to complicated and detailed work such as Bylaws revisions. I am not sure how to get more than a couple of hundred out of of thousands of attendees to attend the business meeting. I am not sure how to keep members from leaving early and missing an important vote because discussion runs long. I am not sure how to more clearly educate those in attendance that voting on the rules of the day matters…..a lot……. and will guide decision making throughout the meeting.
I am certain that some decisions are hard and that we made the right decision to pass the Bylaws revision. I am certain that I have a great deal of respect for the few members who wrote on OTConnections, Emailed or rose to speak at the business meeting for doing so despite my disagreement with their opinions. I am 100% confident that if you don’t participate, you have no influence.
Please choose to have an influence on your professional association in the future.
The opinions expressed in my blog are personal and neither represent the views of my employer nor any organization.