When Social Media Becomes STUPID

By Dan Limmer

dislike-SMI did something last night that I am a bit embarrassed about and I must confess publicly: I posted in a thread on an EMS Facebook page.

I just couldn’t help myself.

I was reading about a pilot program in Alabama that would take people over a year and make them EMTs and paramedics. The so-called “Zero to Hero” program. Alabama is trying this because they have a paramedic shortage.

An article was posted on the EMSWorld Facebook page. The comments were instantaneous. One person used all caps to say it was STUPID while another posted a meme about stupidity. Frequent comments said it was a terrible idea. Many of the comments began with “I think…” There were an ocean of “I work with people who…” to round off the less-than-factual discussion.

This is where I chimed in. For the record I don’t believe that you need to learn EMT first, then paramedic. I actually theorize that teaching airway from OPA to ET at the same time creates a continuum and eliminates the whole “that is a BLS skill” mentality. Note that I said theorize. I don’t know for sure but with 36 years in EMS and a lot of experience teaching and designing courses of different types I have some standing. In my post I said “…Maybe it would solve the problem of the whole BLS vs ALS issue if we taught airway from OPA to ET in the same module…”

I said maybe because I can’t prove it. It is a theory that is up for discussion. Intelligent discussion. Something that doesn’t happen on social media.

But then a funny thing happened. I posted a note on my personal Facebook page where I stated I was an ass for jumping into the fray on a major EMS site. I had largely sworn off EMS Facebook posts as beating my head against the wall in the past and told myself I would never do it again.

I had a lot of fun comments from good friends. But then those friends went into the original forum and commented. They commented a lot and commented respectfully and wisely. Not only did they comment on the original post, they got into long threads and posted annoyingly thoughtful and articulate statements.

It really seemed to totally put a damper on the “talk-out-my ass-athon.”

People are entitled to opinions. Everyone is. For some reason there are EMTs and paramedics who believe it is acceptable to call an EMS program designed by a state STUPID. I was brought up believing stupid was a bad word. Yet the EMS social media posts are riddled with blatantly rude statements that drag us all down as a profession. If I was a paramedic program director or looking to hire an EMS provider I would refuse to hire anyone who was an ass on social media. Why? Because they will eventually be an ass at my school or agency.

While the police and fire service boards occasionally dip into the mire, they are much more respectful of colleagues than EMS.

Perhaps the best way to be looked at as a professional (and get the respect and pay we deserve) is to act like a professional. That begins with being more professional in social media.