Steps to Control Social Media

This week’s guest blog on steps to control social media is from Jonathan Cabin, MD, a practicing plastic surgeon in Beverly Hills, California. Social Media, with great advances and substantial pitfalls, is here to stay. Navigating this can seem like an overwhelming challenge. Jonathan lays out simple, actionable steps we can take to manage our participation in social media platforms to avoid the overwhelm and minimize the pitfalls! - Jeff Smith

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In a recent Doximity Op-(M)ed blogpost, I discussed the intentional and dangerously addictive properties of social media, and the potential pitfalls for, and responsibilities of, the physician who chooses to engage with these platforms. I alluded to a set of positive constraints that could be employed to leverage the positive benefits of social media, while minimizing detriment. Below are some accessible, low-effort and highly actionable ways to positively transform social media use:


One of the most powerful ways to control social media – or the addictive nature of smartphones in general - is to selectively opt-out of those non-stop pop-up notifications. Notifications are purposefully designed to create a sense of false urgency, leading to a feedback loop of addiction. But there is rarely, if ever, urgency in social media (or nearly all of the other apps that constantly ping us). Even with the best intentions to contain use, the list of notifications on your locked screen creates a sometimes-irresistible urge to peek at the action. 


By selectively deleting social media apps from your phone, use is inherently restricted to an actual computer. This relegates engagement to specific, limited settings and eliminates the temptation to mindlessly scroll during opportunities for reflective moments. For certain services, like Instagram or Snapchat, phone use is unfortunately the only straight-forward option. But in the case of Facebook, removal of the app is an excellent way to create a powerful boundary.


Yes, you can forgo one or more of the social media networks. This allows you to reallocate your time to specific networks (or other activities) that are personally or professional higher yield. Of course, depending on your marketing goals, this may not be feasible. But it is worth considering, especially if you are deriving most your professional and personal value from a select few services.


If you are trying to positively leverage social media for marketing - like any marketing effort - it’s best to have a plan. Instead of deciding day-to-day what, where and how to post, sharing can be pre-determined on a weekly or monthly basis. This not only leads to more thoughtfulness about overall messaging, but reduces the inefficiency of posting randomly and on-the-fly. If you're looking for organization ideas, a quick online search will lead to various templates and data-driven recommendations for maximizing your social media ROI.


In conjunction planning, social media use can be made intentional and meaningful by batching and scheduling. There are several online services that allow you to centralize all your accounts and schedule posts in creative and practical ways. And most of these programs allow you to post without actually logging into the service, which is an added bonus – especially if you tend to get sucked into content consumption when just intending to share your own.


If you find social media to be a necessary evil, it may be worth the added expense to dedicate staff to it. This could be as little as physically posting photos and captions you generate, and as hands-off as putting someone in charge of all content, posting and responses. Although potentially expensive, consider the time-intensiveness of social media management. What additional value could you generate by outsourcing in order to focus on more high-yield professional (or personal) activities?


There is pressure on social media to reciprocally follow, and there can be strong FOMO (fear of missing out) at the idea of no longer getting someone’s content updates. But if you truly find joy in consuming social media content, but notice little value or even negative emotion related to the posts of certain individuals, it is a wise choice to eliminate their content from your feed. In some networks, like Facebook, this can be achieved without actually “de-friending” but by merely “unfollowing”. With so little time in the day, why waste a moment interacting with something that hold little or no personal value.   

The objective is not necessarily to eliminate social media use (although for some this may be a reasonable conclusion). Instead, pick and choose from the above tools to establish systems and boundaries with the goal of an intentional practice. This will help to maximize personal and professional value, while minimizing unintentional distraction and negativity: for yourself and for your patients.

Author Bio:

Dr. Jonathan Cabin is a board-certified facial plastic & reconstructive surgeon with a private practice in Beverly Hills, California. His areas of expertise include surgical and non-surgical facial rejuvenation, primary and revision rhinoplasty, facial reconstruction, and migraine surgery. In addition to caring for his patients, Dr. Cabin writes on the topics of performance-enhancement for physicians, surgical coaching, and bringing joy and meaning back into the practice of medicine.


The Two Sides of Burnout

Photo by karenfoleyphotography/iStock / Getty Images

Photo by karenfoleyphotography/iStock / Getty Images

We talk a lot about surgeon burnout – how to prevent and treat it. Burnout can be incredibly detrimental to a surgeon’s emotional health, as well as their ability to treat patients and provide the best possible care. But from one perspective, burnout is not a bad thing.

The Stigma of Burnout

The stigma of burnout is that only the weak experience symptoms. In reality, many of us feel the effects and there are a myriad of factors that contribute to burnout, including some which impact high performers.

Burnout also has two sides:

  1. The system abuser side

  2. The surgeon abused side

So the fact that our system burns out good surgeons (and might even burn out some of the best even faster) is NOT a good thing. 

However, many people look on in shock as an abused person returns to an abuser. How can they do that? Don't they understand that they are enabling the abuser? Couldn’t the abused make the choice not to allow the abuse to continue by:

  • Saying no?

  • Setting boundaries?

  • Walking away?

All of these actions would seem like rational, intelligent choices to most people.

Emotional exhaustion often results from the stress of caring for traumatized or suffering patients. It can also stem from processing empathy in unhealthy ways. Lack of fairness in, respect for, and control of one’s work are major contributors to depersonalization (cynicism). When a surgeon experiences those symptoms and a reduced sense of personal accomplishment (purpose) IN THAT AREA of their life, that surgeon is considered a victim of burnout. If they then move their energy into something that provides them more satisfaction, that would seem like a good thing for the surgeon!

The victim is choosing to no longer be a victim. The rational choices seem to be either stop the abuse or leave the abuser.

The Loss is to the System Abuser

So the loss is to the profession (the system abuser) and the many patients that a better-treated surgeon could have served. I repeat! The loss is to the system. The loss is to the abuser. Maybe we should stop, or at least figure out ways to lessen the abuse. Disease and injuries are hard enough to handle. Maybe the system could not pile on?

If you are dealing with burnout in your practice, SurgeonMasters has educational materials like web-conferences, podcasts, online CME webinars and other resources to help you attain a lifestyle friendly practice consistent with your goals.