Social Media and Nurses — Does Betty White Have a Point?August 9, 2010
By Shawn Kennedy, AJN interim editor-in-chief
I’ve been extremely busy and have had trouble finding time to write a post for this blog. And it’s not enough just to write a post—we’ve got to think about what should go on Facebook and what should be Tweeted, whether we should do a mention in the eNewsletter and if a topic deserves a spot on AJN’s home page. All this communication takes time.
When she hosted Saturday Night Live, the inimitable Betty White acknowledged all the fans on Facebook who were the driving force behind the campaign to have her become the host. She confessed she didn’t know what Facebook was, and said, “Now that I do know what it is, I have to say, it seems like a huge waste of time.”
Facebook and Twitter sort of remind me of the Valentine’s Day card exchange in grammar school—everyone bought boxes of 100 cards (actually, more like small, cheap postcards) so you could give them out and, hopefully, get as many in return. It was about the number of cards you could collect—even if they were from classmates you didn’t care about or even disliked. You felt good if you had lots of cards and people saw that you had lots of cards; getting just a few cards made you feel friendless.
I know why we at AJN are involved in all this e-media and social media—we want to connect with you, our readers and potential readers, and learn what’s important to you, what’s on nurses’ minds, so we can provide information that fits your needs and is important to your work. For the last 100 years, we’ve done this in print format, teaching videos, and conferences, but now there are many more venues for disseminating content. So we Tweet, blog, Facebook, comment, link, e-mail, and do everything we can to connect, deliver content, and get feedback. (Bonus: we have found some new columnists and authors through our e-efforts, and we’re constantly trading tips with other health care editors, journalists, and writers.)
But I’m still stymied about why so many nurses, who are extremely busy people, spend the time it takes to do all this connecting. After a long day (or night) at work, and then dealing with family and life obligations, what drives you to spend time online? Or do you not spend a lot of time in these ways? Or maybe you do your social networking on the fly, in pauses in work and commuting and travel . . . or, even better, over the dinner table in a restaurant instead of talking to each other (we’ve all seen that one)? And is it really “connecting” with friends? Don’t you call the people who are really friends on the telephone? Or is it because it’s a fun new thing? Do you find you and colleagues are using social media more or less than you did? Have you changed the way you use it?