Thursday, May 31, 2007

Blog Obsession

The Boston Globe seems obsessed this week with blogs. On Tuesday, it was an article entitled MySpace vs. Workplace , a mildly entertaining but simultaneously disturbing piece about employers trolling the internet for potential employees’ blogs, webpages and MySpace pages, looking for compromising information. Never mind that serious employers probably don’t have the time to google all their job candidates and see what dirt they can find. This is news! This is exciting!

Today, the page one headline screamed Blogger unmasked, court case upended. It seems that a local pediatrician who had been sued for medical malpractice was – gasp! – blogging about his experience on his personal blog. Never mind that most people probably never heard of his blog, and never saw his blog. Most people probably don’t even know what a blog is. But the opposing counsel found about it, and used it in order to intimidate him into settling the case. This is news? Front page news?

Come on, folks.

For those who don’t know, the word “blog” is short for “web log,” a kind of on-line diary or journal that is easily created using websites such as Blogger or Typepad or other similar sites. Basically, you sign up, and then you can write your thoughts, feelings, and experiences, and publish them instantly online. It’s very similar to a journal or diary, the only difference being, it’s on the internet. Then you can choose who sees your blog. It can be just for you, for you and your friends, or you can make your blog public, for all the world to see.

The problem is that some people don’t realize that the world – anyone in the world – really can see your blog if you make it public. And herein lies the problem.

Anyone – in – the – WORLD – can – read – your – blog.

ANYONE.

If you read some blogs – and believe me, there are thousands, probably millions to choose from – you will quickly realize that people feel very free to say whatever they want on their blogs. Bloggers are a pretty irreverent group. They say what they feel, and rarely say it delicately. This is the fun of blogs. You can say what you think and feel, and usually, there are few repercussions.

Usually.

The internet is a relatively new phenomenon, and we are just learning about its power and its pitfalls. People are slowly learning what they should and should not say via email, and now they will need to learn the same lessons about blogging. If you are job hunting, perhaps you shouldn’t publish photos of your wild drinking adventures on your blog or on MySpace, just in case potential employers are looking…. And if you are taking part in a court proceeding, maybe you shouldn’t make your blog about that proceeding public, just in case the opposing counsel is looking.

But while doing these things is …well… stupid… it isn’t criminal. I feel badly for the people who weren’t hired because of their blogs or MySpace pages. And I really feel badly for the pediatrician who has probably lost his professional standing because of his blog. There is nothing wrong with blogging. The problem is when the wrong person sees it.

2 comments:

Awesome Mom said...

That really is the hard lesson that people need to learn when they do start a blog. What truly makes me sad is that a very good blogger is gone (rational well written blogs about medicine are very hard to find)and he could possible loose his practice over this. He could be the best pediatrician ever but now that all his patients know that he settled a malpractice case that was not based on the merits of the actual case they are likely to shy away from using him.

I am a little biased about this since I was a huge fan of Flea the blogger.

Kat Brennan said...

I can't believe that a doctor who was being sued for medical malpractice would start a blog about malpractice wouldn't only incriminate you for any sort of case against it, but it also seems inappropriate for someone to blog about such a serious issue. I doubt anyone will be using his practice anytime soon.
Kat Brennan | http://www.lahmlaw.com/syracuse-ny-medical-malpractice.htm