“Please don’t friend me on Facebook”

The boom of Facebook recently culminated in its co-founder being voted Man of the Year by Time Magazine. Indeed, facebook has become so intertwined in our lives that the first thing many people do in the morning is to check their facebook page. Sure, it has revolutionised the way we communicate with each other and has kept, otherwise dead friendships, alive. Unfortunately it creates a professional dilemma for doctors.

I used to be quite an advocate for facebook but awkward situations have arisen. My patients suddenly asking about my little baby daughter, can catch one by surprise. Moreover there are certain features that enable others to tag photographs of yourself. So things are not entirely under your control. Of course you can untag yourself but that would be tedious.

Facebook comments have to be well scripted when your friend list is so heterogenous. Uncanny comments can affect your professional reputation. Threading with care on facebook can be a difficult task. Ultimately it is a social networking site, rather than a professional tool.

Facebook does allow you to choose who can view your comments but selecting individuals from hundreds on a friend list can be a huge task. Facebook is not really allowing us to choose a pre-determined list of friends to view certain comments. I find this very basic feature a letdown for facebook.

As facebook develops and is forced to tackle ethical and professional issues, added features will make it more relevant than just a social networking tool. It can be tailored to meet the needs of professionals like doctors who may want more from facebook than just chatting or sharing with friends.

So doctors like the author of the above article on USAtoday, will rethink their strategies in the near future. Soon our virtual lives will amalgamate with reality, a future that is undeniable.

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