There is a veritable epidemic of doctor-writers out there. What is going on?
Are doctors suddenly in the kiss-and-tell mode? What about confidentiality? Professionalism? HIPAA?
one of the aforementioned doctor-writers, I look upon this trend with
both awe and trepidation. I suspect that that this flourishing
literary phenomenon relates to the public’s fascination and fear
about all things medical. It also relates to the falling away of
previous, pedestal-like images of doctors and doctoring. Lastly, it may
have occurred to the medical profession-- and this has taken a few
centuries, it seems-- that doctors have profound emotional reactions to
the work we do, and that exploring these reactions may offer benefit to
both patient and doctor.
Whatever the reason, this literary
genre appears to be here to stay, and it is worth considering the
ethical implications. Legally, there doesn't appear to be much beyond
protecting identity and avoiding libel.
On Christmas Day, Yemeni student Umar Farouk
Abdulmutallib nearly blew up a flight from Amsterdam to Detroit using three
ounces of the explosive PETN sewn into his underwear. Only a faulty detonator
prevented more than 300 people from perishing. As is so often the case in
instances like this, the only real casualty of the abortive terrorist attack
will be personal privacy.
Just a few days after the attack, the Dutch government
announced that all passengers emplaning for the United States will be required
to go through a "full body scanner." The more technical term is a
"backscatter X-ray," a device that uses high energy X-rays to scan
under an individual's clothing and reveal whether they are concealing any
weapons or contraband. If Abdulmutallib had been required to go through such a
device, security experts say, it is likely that technicians would have detected
the presence of the PETN in his underclothes.
Since the 9/11 tragedy, the Transportation Security
Administration has been pushing for the installation of full body scanners
around the nation, but the roll-out has been slow. Currently, just 19 airports
are using a total of 40 machines, although TSA has another 150 ready for
installation in the coming year. The agency is also planning to buy an
additional 300 machines, each of which costs between $130,000 and $170,000.
The devices have sparked opposition from a variety of
quarters, chiefly due to the fact that the backscatter x-ray technology is
capable of producing highly detailed images of the body of each person who
steps into the machine. The images are so accurate that the American Civil
Liberties Union describes the experience as a "virtual strip
search." A European child rights advocate believes that the
images are so revealing, in fact, that scans of teens and pre-adolescents could
qualify as child pornography.
Recently I was watching ESPN's Sportcenter Live when producers of the show interrupted the program with a breaking news report. Minutes earlier, Tiger Woods, the world's most famous athlete, used his website to post a public apology to his wife and kids and combat the rumors that were rapidly spreading about his private life. With the stroke of a keyboard Tiger used his website to, at least momentarily, reframe the press coverage about his recent troubles.
ESPN was not the only news outlet that immediately reported on the statement. Several other major news media organizations ran front page stories on their websites, too. What really caught my eye was the fact that each of the stories in the New York Times, Washington Post, and Los Angeles Times used one source for their initial reporting-- Tiger Woods.
After observing how Team Tiger was able to spin the news reporting I began to think about how social media is transforming the culture of sports. A few weeks ago I had an interesting conversation with Eddie Matz, senior writer for ESPN The Magazine. Eddie was writing a piece on professional athletes' use of social media platforms like Twitter.
Shortly before my chat with Eddie former Kansas City Chiefs running back Larry Johnson found himself in serious trouble and, eventually (albeit briefly), out of a job after he used a gay slur in a Twitter post. The firestorm that confronted Johnson was yet another reminder of how the sportsworld, like virtually every other institution in America, has been forced to grapple with the spread of social media. As a generation of athletes accustomed to social media and the "always on" norms of digital media culture enter pro sports the executives of billion dollars sports franchises have been forced to upgrade their knowledge about social media. In many NFL training camps this summer several teams instituted a no-social media policy out of fear that team secrets, strategy, and practices could be openly shared. In September the NFL established a formal policy regarding the use social media by players.
Eddie asked me what I thought about the use of social media by pro athletes. We talked about several things but here are six ways in which social media is changing the business and culture of professional sports.