Monday, December 7, 2009

Melissa Young, MD: Reading what I write

I have been blogging for several weeks. I have gotten responses primarily from people I don’t know. I have received a couple of responses from people I know only over the phone or through different Internet venues. And somehow it did not occur to me that people I actually know, or may soon know, would read my blog.

Tonight, I was at a hospital function, and I met, for the first time, one of my “competitors.” I had heard about him. I had seen his picture. I was told that I may never actually meet him in person because he isn’t big on social functions.

So imagine my surprise when I saw him at this dinner. I wasn’t sure it was really him. Like when you think you’ve seen the Loch Ness Monster — you see what you see, you’ve heard that it’s out there, but you didn’t really think that you would see it in your lifetime. But nonetheless, I walked up and introduced myself, and, lo and behold, it was him.
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And imagine my even bigger surprise when he said he had read my blog. He even knew what my latest post was about. I was flattered. Then as he walked away, I began to wonder — was there anything I said in the comfortable distance of my own home that may have offended my neighbor and colleague? I don’t think so. I certainly hope not.

It is so much easier in this day of computer anonymity to freely voice not only one’s opinions, but also one’s biases and sometimes an exaggerated sense of one’s self. I have certainly been witness to others’ rantings, beratings, and just down-right rudeness. I admit to being much more free about my opinions online than I would ever be in person. Still, in retrospect, I’d like to think that I have maintained a sense of decorum and professionalism.

And it just occurred to me, that two days ago, a patient had mentioned to me that she had read my blog, too.

Why write this now? Maybe it’s because I’m tired of the ill-mannered postings on other sites. Maybe it was the startling realization that, yeah, people actually do read what I write, even though only one person responds. Or maybe it was the open bar at the function this evening. I don’t know.

But I do know, that from now on, whether I write for this blog, or another site, or the local paper, I have to remember, idle as my ramblings may be, there are people out there who read them. And it may be a colleague, a hospital administrator, or a patient. And if I don’t have the guts to say it to someone’s face, well, then, maybe I shouldn’t’ say it at all.

Melissa G. Young, MD, FACE, FACP, is an endocrinologist in private practice, an assistant clinical professor at Robert Wood Johnson, and a working suburban mother of two in Freehold, N.J. She is a regular contributor to Practice Notes.

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