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Social Media Kindness Day

November 9th marks Social Media Kindness Day, a day in which users pledge to make social media a kinder and safer place.

Social media plays a large part in everyone’s lives, with over half of the global population now using it, and some of those spending hours a day checking the sites. While social media can be an important aspect of our interactions, news, or sharing opinions, it can also have its disadvantages.

Social media can be used in harmful ways and have a detrimental effect on users, despite the positives it brings. Connectivity is a positive of social media and is perhaps one of the main reasons why people use it, whether for personal or business use. It allows you to connect with people you wouldn’t ordinarily connect with, reach a greater audience and meet like-minded people. But sometimes the negatives can outweigh the positives.

Long periods of time spent on social media can cause stress, anxiety, and even depression in some cases. Spending more than three hours a day on social media can cause stress, and information shared on social media can sometimes lead to disagreements. 37% of users say it sometimes leaves them feeling ‘worn out’, while others feel more stressed out when they see an opinion that opposes their own.

Within the healthcare sector and particularly GP practices, many GPs and practice staff regularly face abuse online. The BMA has stated that ‘in general, where a patient’s conduct is regarded as unacceptable when you meet them face-to-face, then it should also be considered as unacceptable for them to behave that way online.’

The BMA has also set out practical steps to deal with any form of abuse or harassment online:

  • Record: Keep a record of the post or message and any other information.
  • Report: Report any misconduct online to someone who can advise you.
  • Investigate: If the patient is known, this should be reported before any response is made.
  • Act: If a post is annoying but poses no threat, it is best not to respond, but in other cases, responses using the right tone can be an appropriate reaction. However, it is still an advantage to seek advice before doing so.

Social Media Kindness Day is about spreading love and kindness online in a pledge to stamp out hateful comments to create a safer space for all, no matter what you use social media for, whether personal or business. But it remains important to be aware of the effects of comments made on social media and be clear how to act and respond to them.


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