there is no doubt that technology has come a long way from when I was a child. I was thrilled when pagers came out and having the pretty baby blue Motorolla one was all the rage! Shoot, it's 2015, shouldn't we all have hover boards by now Marty!? With everything you can do online and in social media today, there are certainly "two-sides to every coin." There is so much to learn, see, get involved in and new friends within specific social circles, to be made! But on the flip side, we remove the human element. We can't see facial expressions, express real/raw emotion in tone and most importantly, we really need to be careful what we chose to believe! This can be a blanket statement for all aspects of the Internet. It is truly amazing what we have been able to produce in the age of technology and how quickly we are able to advance, but it is also unbelievably terrifying what we as humans are capable of from the security of our homes and behind a keyboard! Alas, the Internet is full of bad and misguided information, flat out deceptive lies to hurt people, malicious individuals and inappropriate internet behavior and etiquette. We have entered the digital age of "keyboard warriors." I mean really, why should everyone care what is truth, lies or hurtful if at the end of the day you can hide behind a computer alias locked away in your home? The Internet and social media can be a dangerous playground and as always, you should proceed with caution.
One tragic problem we have created in the digital age is running to the Internet and social media groups for medical advice. I know, I may get a lot of flack for this one but it's reality folks. This can be said about human medicine and veterinary medicine alike. There are numerous story's out there of children who have died because parents sought advice and were told on the Internet that, "it wasn't a big deal and it would clear on its own!" That or: "Do this and use that and it will be cured!" I see this trend growing daily in pet groups as well. It's wonderful to have these groups to share our cute pictures, stories and experiences with each other and our community, but it is flat out irresponsible to be seeking or offering major veterinary advice to your peers if you lack a PhD behind your name. We all have experiences but remember, all our experiences aren't the same and we are all unique individuals with different outside elements coming in to play. We cannot and will not know all the variables in someone or a pets situation. We have to quit acting like we know it all! We are not all magically "Internet doctors" with "internet PhD's" just because we had an experience. This is a dangerous plight and one that can even end people in legal battles. The Internet community instead, needs to help refer people and pets back to their licensed medical specialists for proper diagnosis and treatment. You may have a good general idea and of course we all want to share our experiences but at the end of the day, if it isn't a minor issue, always refer back to a doctor. Again, Of course there are minor issues that possibly can be addressed (my pet got stung by a bee, has minor skin irritation, didn't poop today, is this normal behavior...etc) but if there is ever a gut feeling ask yourself: "Ten years ago would I have polled the Internet for this or would I have gone to my doctor or vet's office?" If you find yourself responding with the the later... Do everyone a favor and GET OFF SOCIAL MEDIA AND SEEK MEDICAL ATTENTION, for you or your pets immediately!
What always gets me is how quickly people take to social media to get a diagnosis. Why? If the answer is lack of money or in human medicine, insurance, can you get on government assistance or social welfare programs till you can get back on your feet? If you don't have the money and it's a pet, sincerely ask yourself if pet ownership is the responsible thing for you right now. Just because you are in a difficult time now, you wont always be; remember that! Even rescuing an animal just to bring it in to another financially depleted situation is not good. You are doing yourself and your pet a disservice. With pets and children, you have to be responsible! Put away money and learn to save or have a credit card with a zero balance stashed away for a rainy day. If you can't be financially responsible, should you own a pet? The answer is probably no, wait till you are in a better place. Quite frankly, we are all exhausted of seeing GoFundMe accounts for every animal or bad situation you run in to. Remember buying the pet isn't the expensive part of the journey, the maintenance and healthcare is. Not owning a pet and learning your limits shows strength and grace and puts you in a better frame of mind for when you are finally ready to make that leap. Being mindful and understanding another living beings needs and financial responsibility, is a paramount attribute of ownership. We all hit a rough spots in life but what defines us is how we humbly get back up and fight on without taking advantage of others and being responsible for our short comings. Don't be the person always soliciting major medical advice on the Internet, be responsible and find a doctor or veterinarian who you can establish a face to face, patient relationship with and know you are being taken care of. Sure, some veterinarians might not be a good match for your pets needs but at least it's better than anyone on the Internet can boast of, especially for legal reasons.
For those that just love to dish out the information and play doctor, take warning. That is not good social media etiquette, especially in public places. Always do your best to convince a friend or community member to seek licensed medical advise. It's just the right thing to do. Can you imagine the guilt you will have to live with if you have bad information and it cost a pet its life? That's a heavy burden no one should have to bear. There is a difference from sharing an experience that may be similar in nature but referring them to a doctor in the end, and giving out advice like you suddenly have a Facebook PhD. Don't fall in to that trap! Learn to steer others in the right and ethical direction or steer clear of the situation entirely. People who are not doctors, yet post radical opinions on Facebook, are doing so not to be helpful but to simply stroke their own egos. Just because you read an article on some rogue blog, does not make you a medical expert!
Just remember, there is such a thing as Internet etiquette and we need to be, not only respectful to others, but diligent in not spreading misguided information. If you want to post and discuss politics and sports team predictions/opinions, go for it; those are always up for debate! But finding every feed to give medical advice on is just wrong and inappropriate unless you are a licensed doctor. Do not claim any authority about medical issues when you have no professional knowledge to support it. When you provide myth and hearsay as “fact,” they can be easily shared and misinterpreted. What's worse, it can cause others to follow your misguided lead, resulting in serious medical problems. Experience won't make you an MD, a degree does. If you want one, go and earn it. But let me guarantee you this... After you finally put in the time and dedication to obtain a doctorate, you won't want anything to do with constantly giving advise on social media. You will also know that without an established patient relationship, you risk your medical license. For a licensed vet that is currently a heated debate with the state board of veterinary medical examiners.
For further reading on Online Veterinary Medical Advise follow this link: http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2015/06/15/vet-restructed-from-giving-advice-underscores-national-telemedicine-debate/
The Hog Blog...
Jodi will be keeping up the blog but we are more interested in guest bloggers! Please contact us via email if you may be interested! Check back to see who our guest blogger is and what topic we will be exploring.