Social media. It’s something that more and more every day we as veterinarians must think about and probably are all subconsciously worrying about. Social media can have some amazing applications, such as education, outreach and marketing…but it also has some down sides.
I’m sure you’ve seen news articles flying among the internet at time to the tune of, “Evil vet steals puppy from owners” or “Worst veterinarian ever kills puppy for routine procedure,” and people share these like crazy. They spread across the world wide web like wildfire, inciting lynch mobs across the country that comment things along the lines of, “Veterinarians are only in it for the money!” or “Veterinarians have no compassion!” Some clinics have had to get restraining orders, some practice owners have received death threats, some have lost their businesses, all because someone on the internet shares a story we only hear one side of and people get mad.
What social media crusaders don’t see the other side of is that the owner declined recommended treatment that could have saved their pet. They don’t see that the veterinarian offered XYZ plans to help the pet. That they offered an appointment even though the negative review states that the vet couldn’t even be bothered to see their pet. What you get on social media is only one side of the situation and most times, by law, the veterinarian on the receiving end of hate mail and negative social media reviews can’t say what actually happened because it is a breach of client confidentiality.
More and more we see this happening to many businesses. One person can share whatever they want and it could potentially ruin people’s lives, drive people to suicide with hateful words that may or may not even be true. I’m not saying that there’s not truth to some of what you see on the internet but I am asking that you think about what may be happening on the other side. If I could ask one thing of you, my readers, it would be to think of that the next time you read a negative review of any kind. Maybe don’t share that article floating around the internet slamming a veterinary hospital, a coffee shop, or mechanic just because it sounds upsetting. Maybe it’s not true and sharing it would just perpetuate a story that doesn’t need to be told.