Stop being a cock!

Easier said than done sometimes but we all need to give it a go. If this article rings any bells, my appeal to you is this… Stop being a cock.

In the old days, the world was a simpler place. Grumpy cynics were much more isolated. After a hard day of being a smart-arse, these grumblers just went home. They could grumble at their families. They could even find other like-minded old farts to meet up with at the pub and debate the reasons why it was so much better in the old days. But as a rule, they were pretty secluded and could be avoided.

The problem is that nowadays, these cynics have smart phones. What’s more, they’ve managed to stop moaning about the modern world long enough to open social media accounts and sign up to forums where they can spread their bullshit far and wide, planting seeds of doubt that they hope will grow into trees of utter despair.

As mentioned in a previous post, once you’ve developed a strongly held point of view, you cannot help but start to share it. You look for evidence that confirms your beliefs and then you go out and preach it to the world. So once you’ve developed the depressing point of view that being a dentist is awful, that’s all you can see. You are no longer able to view the world as it is because you’ve created your own reality and you like it.

So you go on social media sites, you lurk in forums. When someone asks a genuine question, you’re not interested in giving a helpful answer. It’s much more empowering (for you) to give an unhelpful, cynical answer. Your answer is of no use to the questioner and serves no purpose other than to elevate your status in your mind to the ‘Arch-cock’, the preacher of the gospel that says everything is crap and everyone is stupid (except for you, naturally).

If this rings any bells, cut it out.

And so the witch-hunt begins…

There are loads of recent examples from dentist forums where a cry for help turns into a witch-hunt by the cynics. The post is hijacked for the purposes of showing off or gossip. These are the first two that came to mind but this seems to happen all of the time.

The first example is that of an anonymous post made by a dentist, asking advice regarding financial difficulties. It was mentioned that money had been invested with a fellow dentist but that investment had not materialised. No details or evidence were given but that didn’t stop a large group of us jumping at the opportunity to gossip and join a witch-hunt for the dentist accused of fraud. Plenty of us started to show off that we knew who this person was, blah blah blah and we had inside info on what was really going on. Amongst the gossip, there were very few attempts to actually help our distressed colleague.

My second example is another recent post from an anonymous colleague who was clearly feeling anxious and inadequate when confronted with the day-to-day boasting from Facebook celebrity dentists. There was loads of great advice offered but again, like a cock in a bath, it didn’t take long for the cynics to float to the surface. Some people couldn’t help but question whether the post was fake, inferring that no one could genuinely have such a stupid concern, could they?

Hijacking posts by fellow professionals who are seeking support is unhelpful and unfair. The next time you feel tempted to make a feckless comment for the sake of your own ego, turn off your phone and find something useful to do.

If you feel vulnerable…

If what you have read by fellow dentists on social media makes you feel inadequate or anxious, here is my view on what I would term ‘Facebook Dentistry’.

I think that forums for dentists are great and the vast majority of colleagues want to help each other. However, there are some people who post comments for nobody’s benefit other than their own. It is so important to never let anyone else diminish your personal worth.

If you have a problem, do not be afraid to ask. Even if you think your question might sound stupid, just ask and there will be plenty of friends ready to help. Shrug off the cocks (not a sentence I ever anticipated writing) and don’t lose sight of what’s really important.

Just as an extra point, I’m currently working with a practising psychologist to create some information and advice for dentists on managing anxiety and stress so if that might be of interest to you, enter your email address and you’ll get updates straight to your inbox.

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Alright stop, collaborate and listen

Being a professional isn’t easy. And every profession has its problems. There are problems within dentistry but you only have to consider the struggle of junior doctors over the last few years to understand that the grass isn’t always greener.

When there are so many external factors making life harder for us, it’s vital that we support each other. That’s the beauty of the internet and social media; it’s easier than ever to be a positive, supportive influence for other colleagues. You can do a huge amount of good with your smart phone.

If you don’t want to write helpful comments, that’s fine. But please don’t hijack posts from colleagues in need so that you can show off or get your fix of gossip. If you haven’t got anything nice to say, do me a favour and drop your phone down the toilet.

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