Tag: social media

Bro, Do You Even Tweet?

I had an interesting experience yesterday that made me think about how truly toxic social media is. I am a low to medium use Twitter consumer. Meaning, I follow a bunch of people and scroll through the feed reading the various things posted. Mostly I’m looking for memes that make me laugh, the occasional inspirational post, and then lots of stupid shit politicians do that make me angry. I use it to keep up with the breaking news of the day since we no longer have actual news stations. That’s it.

I have six Twitter followers (probably all bots). I’ve posted maybe three or four original thoughts on Twitter in the last few years. I “like” someones Tweet maybe once every several months or so. I think I’ve commented on a post maybe twice. I think it’s fair to say that I have zero Twitter presence. I am an invisible gnat in the Twitter world.

So yesterday I’m scrolling through all the nonsense and saw a post from Dr Eric Topol. He’s a smart guy. He’s clearly one of the leading advocates for vaccines. His entire feed is nothing but post after post (sometimes dozens a day) of charts, graphs, and papers advocating for the effectiveness of the Covid vaccine. It’s an understatement to say he’s a fan of the jab. Anyway, yesterday he posted some chart showing that the original vaccine efficacy is clearing waning, but, he declared “Protection is fully restored (or even exceeded) by 3rd (booster) shots.” I have no idea why I felt the need to say something, but I posted a snarky comment to that tweet:

“Ok, ok, ok, ok… this time we’re absolutely positive this one will last a long time. Well, maybe just one more but that’s it. Pinky promise!”

Now, of the handful of comments I’ve ever posted to any Twitter feed, not one has ever been noticed, commented on, or probably even read. I’m not sure what the point of commenting is, especially on the bigger accounts with literally thousands of comments. The author is never going to actually read what you wrote. It’s shouting into the wind. Pointless, but I guess I felt better that I’d posted my incredibly smart and witty reply (that’s sarcasm, just in case you weren’t clear).

Almost instantly someone replied to my comment: “wow troutdog the 6 follower d-bag shitposter has so many thoughts about vaccines! tell us more oh esteemed man of science!”

D-bag shitposter? It continued with a bunch of people flaming with all kinds of charts and comments that this is how all vaccines work, I’ll trust scientists not you, bla bla bla. It was like a strange fanboy club that was just coiled and ready to strike back at anyone that dared disparage the official party line. I will admit that for about thirty seconds my blood boiled and I was ready to wade in an do battle with these folks.

And then I realized two things. First, Twitter is mostly a toxic dumpster fire mostly made up of keyboard warriors ready to savage anyone who questions their dogma. Never in the history of mankind has anyone ever had their mind changed by a comment on Twitter. There is zero point in reading or participating in any comment war on Twitter. Read someone’s original post, think to yourself I agree or disagree, and move on. That’s it. Anything else is a waste of brain cells. Lesson learned.

Second, it made me a little frightened for where we are as a society. I could feel how easy it was to be enraged and want to refute everything being thrown my way. The level of vitriol is crazy. How are people so angry that they feel the need to call folks names just because they disagree with a comment? The worrisome thing is that I think a larger and larger percentage of society gets their entire worldview from social media like this.

Just yesterday a member of the US House of Representatives was censured and lost all committee assignments over a tweet his staff posted on his account. I watched the video that was posted. It was some weird Asian anime thing that I didn’t entirely get. Somehow this was interpreted that he was advocating killing other politicians. Social media has truly become the public square for debate and discourse.

I’m not sure where I’m going with this. The impact of social media is so vast today. It’s the news medium of choice. In a world where the traditional media are official spokespeople for political parties, it’s the only place where you can hear independent thoughts if you search hard enough. Generally it’s a vapid waste of time, yet if you completely ignore it you’ll have little real grasp on what’s happening in the world. But tread lightly young grasshopper (anyone else old enough to get that reference?), one poorly thought out post or comment can cost you your job, friends, or land you on a police or government watch list.

It’s so powerful the tech titans spend 24×7 using it to actively curate, censor, and generally shape and change public opinion to fit their needs. When Parlor attempted to create an alternative voice, the tech world stepped in and squashed them like a bug. Facebook’s Zuckerburg spent nearly a half a billion dollars (that we know of) to sway the election. I don’t think people grasp how powerful and far reaching these tech empires have grown.

I think about the level of anger sitting out there in the ether over one silly comment I made. Remembering the violence that erupted all summer long in this country… it’s not hard to image the tech world actively curating an environment of mob rule. And the mob will be turned lose on anything that impacts the liberal/progressive agenda. Already the police are afraid to do their jobs. Politicians and government officials are petrified to do anything to stop crime, homelessness, or an invasion on our border. The real media, social media, will drive the narrative on any event that happens.

If any prominent person, politician, or government official criticizes anything that goes against the tech titans narrative – an avalanche of negative press will rain down upon them. Social media will instantly be flooded with the rallying cry of racism, white supremacism, sexism, xenophobia, hate, fascist, and of course… Nazi. All seemingly designed to stir up the angry keyboard warrior class. Few are willing to fight it. Most will cower and comply so as not be be cancelled. The smarter ones simply choose to withdraw and stop engaging, effectively conceding the public square to those shouting the loudest.

If we don’t find a way to achieve some sort of equilibrium in the new public square, I see a future we won’t recognize and outcomes we really don’t want. Mob rule is ugly.

All of that from one snarky comment on Twitter. My brain works in strange ways. I probably need more coffee.

No Vax, No Treatment?

Social media is an interesting place. There is no doubt its driven a giant wedge in society. Everyone has been forced into one camp or another. There is no longer respectful debate or differing opinions… on anything. People are constantly outraged at something. Outraged and extreme. There are no shades of gray, just black and white. The latest outrage seems to be a massive amount of self-righteous indignation over people choosing not to get the vaccination for the virus we shall not name.

Post after post on Twitter and Facebook of people calling folks who haven’t been vaccinated uncaring monsters, selfish, and worse. What I’m seeing a lot of lately are people saying that if an unvax’d person gets Covid they should be denied a hospital bed, relegated to tents in the parking lot, or “go to the back of the line”.

Not only does that opinion lack any compassion, it also shows a complete lack of understanding of our healthcare system. I’ll estimate that at least 50% of my hospital (probably more) is full of people being treated for something self-induced. Obese, smoker, throws a clot and has a stroke. Uncontrolled diabetic who has non-healing necrotic foot ulcers. Alcohol detoxing. Drug overdoses. Alcohol induced cirrhosis. Suicide attempts. Intravenous drug users with massive septic abscesses. The list goes on and on.

All these folks get treated. We don’t withhold care because they are responsible for their illness. We don’t judge your poor life choices. Oh, and by the way – the vast majority of these folks are unfunded. They do not have insurance. They still get the same care as everyone else. The hospital has to eat that cost, and so it gets passed on to you.

Are hospitals starting to see a lack of beds? Yep. But it’s for a variety of reasons. Prior to Covid we were starting to see a decline in the number of rehab, skilled nursing, and assisted living facilities. We have patients in the hospital that are medically cleared, but have been there for weeks (months sometimes) because we can’t find a facility that will accept them. Covid made that problem 10x worse. I’d guess that at any given time close to a quarter of the beds on my floor are occupied by patients who have been cleared to go but we can’t find placement for them.

The other issue is one of staffing. Many, many hospitals were starting to see staffing shortages pre-covid. With the pandemic, the bottom simply fell out from a staffing perspective. We often have physical beds available… just no staff to be able to accept more patients. I receive text messages from management nearly daily, begging for folks to come in and work additional shifts. Overtime pay, premium pay, covid bonuses, and we still can’t cover all the staff shortages.

So now we have a new variant that’s hitting the world pretty hard and that’s making everything worse again. Is this new wave impacting care for non-covid things? Absolutely. We’re now limiting elective surgeries again and postponing non-urgent procedures. That sucks. The trickle down effect of people postponing care will hit us hard later. All in all, this is a mess. Covid will be with us forever and the impact on our nation’s overall health will be a generational one. The point is that hospitals being “overwhelmed” is a multi-factorial problem, not just due to Covid. Surges in Covid cases simply exacerbate what was already an issue in healthcare.

So back to my original point. If you think that we should start rationing care based upon a personal choice about a vaccine… be careful what you wish for. We go down that road and you better not show up to the hospital slightly overweight with hypertension and a smoker, and complaining of chest pain. You may get put to the back of the line so we can treat someone with cancer first. So sorry you’re having a heart attack, I guess you should have taken better care of yourself. Bottom line, this pandemic sucks for everyone. Stop with the indignant, self righteous outrage. We’re divided enough already as it is. No need to add to it so you can feel morally superior over someone who makes different choices than you.

What Have You Done Lately?

  • I am constantly amazed at the number of my elderly patients who never traveled further than a 100 mile radius from where they were born. It’s a way higher number than you’d think. We’re here on this planet for such a short time, how do you not have even the slightest interest in seeing beyond your little town? I’m honestly not trying to make anyone feel bad, it’s just that you realize you’re only here once, right? And that expected expiration date is not guaranteed. What made me think of this is the story of the Black Swallow. I stumbled on this and highly encourage you to read it. (it’s a short read) The life this guy had is like straight out of a swashbuckling fiction novel. This is a Netflix series just waiting to happen. What makes it more amazing is the time period he did it in. Reading his story just solidifies my desire to maximize the time I have left. In the adventure and experience department I’d rate my life as maybe slightly above average. I’ve had the opportunity to do some things that not everyone has done. But at the same time I also spent years never taking a vacation, toiling away for the corporate overlords, because I thought that was what was important. I don’t have regrets because it’s afforded me the opportunity to do things today… but part of me wishes I’d been a little more adventurous back then. I look at the youth of today and worry that the adventurous spirit is gone. They’ll have spent a chunk of their formative years locked down, tethered electronically at all times, afraid to interact with other humans. I feel fortunate to have grown up in a different time. I saw a tweet that expressed it perfectly:
    “Today – Son: I’m going outside to play.
    Mom: Ok, check in every thirty minutes so I know you’re safe.
    When I was 11: We’re going to the dump, someone said the hobos killed one of their own there and we want to find the body.

    Mom: Ok, but do not bring a dead body back to this house”
    I’m a little too old to chuck it all and travel the country living out of a van, or go join the French Foreign Legion, but I can keep my vow to start seeing and experiencing as much as possible in time I have left. How about you?
  • I don’t understand how the crunchy granola, global warming crowd, doesn’t rise up in outrage over John Kerry being appointed Climate Czar. The man is a gazillionaire via marriage, who lives in multiple mansions and jets around the world in a private jet. Yet, he’s going to lecture us about doing our part to “fight” global warming? And don’t give me bullshit about “carbon offsets”. That’s one of the biggest scams ever produced. And he uses it only so he can self-justify his carbon footprint and not have to fly commercial with the common folk. “Private jets are the only option for a man like me” he said. What a pompous ass. Think about that as you’re dutifully washing out your used mayonnaise jar to recycle and car pooling to reduce your emissions output.
  • Continuing with the experiences/adventure theme, I started collecting a list of trips in my, and surrounding, states. Single day and multi-day trips with various attractions and sights. It’s addicting once you start looking at the possibilities. It’s already a several years long list. Time to get cracking!
  • As a wanna be photographer, there’s something that you may not realize. Every photo you take, regardless if it’s an expensive DLSR or your phone, contains what’s called EXIF data (exchangeable image file format) imbedded in the image. It’s metadata that shows what kind of camera or phone it is, the time of day, where you are, GPS coordinates, exposure settings, etc… When you post that pic to social media they do strip it out, but they also use it. This is how Instagram knows how to suggest a location when I upload a pic from my phone that I took a day ago. I wonder what else they do with that data? Just saying…
  • Continuing the theme of big brother tracking you, we all know that social media uses your search history to serve up ads. Well, at some point I looked up catheters to show Mrs Troutdog a picture (she’d never seen one and didn’t believe me when I described the size. “You put that big tube up there?!?!”). Anyway, ever since then I’m continually served up ads for catheters. Usually the ads go away after a while when algorithm figures out a new topic to start serving you. But not catheters. It’s been months and I’m still seeing them daily. What is Facebook trying to tell me?
  • Speaking of keeping lists, the Bullet Journal is officially dead. It’s just not for me. I like making lists of things, but the act of having to maintain something daily just doesn’t work. Great idea and I can see how it’s perfect for lots of people. I’m too scattered for it to be effective. I will continue with making lists of ideas, projects, and travel however. That’s been a positive thing. Giving some structure to the randomness that is my brain is a positive step.

Song of the day: SKRILLEX – Bangarang feat. Sirah [Official Music Video]