In recent years, social media has created a new era of online communities, including those dedicated to physician-related topics. While these groups can be a valuable resource for physicians seeking information and support, some physicians running these communities have used their positions to rule their online forums like dictators.
On Facebook, several physician-led groups have garnered significant followings. In these groups, those doctors that run the groups have established themselves as the ultimate authority, often discouraging dissenting opinions, narrating the conversation to their liking, and even banning other physicians who question their motives. In this article, we discuss how physicians running Facebook groups mimic the behavior of dictators.
“Everyone can be great, because everyone can serve.” -Martin Luther King, Jr.
Running a Facebook group for physicians can have several advantages. One of the biggest advantages is building a community of like-minded individuals around a shared interest or topic. By creating a space where people can connect and engage with each other, you can foster a sense of belonging and create a space where members can support and learn from each other. This can help to establish trust and build strong relationships with your audience, which can be invaluable in today’s digital age. Additionally, running a Facebook group can be a great way to establish yourself as an authority in your field, share information and resources, and collect feedback from other physicians.
“Power without love is reckless and abusive.” -Martin Luther King, Jr.
When you’re in charge of a Facebook group, you have the power to control what information is shared, what discussions are allowed, and who is allowed to participate. While this can be a positive thing in some cases, it can also lead to a situation where the group leader becomes overly obsessed with the control of their followers. This can be especially true if the group leader fixates on maintaining their power or controlling the group’s direction at all costs. In extreme cases, this can lead to censorship or silencing of dissenting voices. Rather than focusing on fostering a healthy, open, and inclusive community, these Facebook group leaders prioritize their financial gains as the group’s administrator.
“We do not have to look very far to see the tragic consequences which develop when men worship the almighty dollar.” -Martin Luther King, Jr.
Some doctors have amassed a large following within their Facebook groups seeking advice on various issues related to the practice of medicine and beyond. This has allowed those physician group leaders to leverage their open community into a personal business that generates income. These Facebook groups have become a platform for a select number of physicians to promote their agendas for financial gains rather than providing a supportive and transparent community they preach about. The problem with this type of behavior is that it is ultimately unfair to the community members if the group leader muddles the group’s purpose. Physicians may not recognize how the doctors running the groups promote products and services, participate in affiliate marketing programs, and silence the voices of those who contradict their views to enhance their revenue stream. By shutting down dissenting opinions and promoting their own agenda, these physician group leaders are creating an echo chamber that may not always provide the best advice to their fellow physicians.
“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” -Martin Luther King, Jr.
Does the behavior of some physicians that run Facebook groups mimic that of dictators? A dictator is a leader who exercises absolute control over a country or group of people, often through force, coercion, or manipulation. Let’s review the specific qualities of a dictator that are similar to those of physician administrators leading their Facebook groups for monetary reasons.
#1. Authoritarian. Dictators tend to have an authoritarian personality, meaning they are inflexible, intolerant of opposition, and see themselves as the only legitimate authority.
Physician group leaders participate in affiliate marketing programs that enrich themselves by promoting products and services while shunning the recommendations of other physicians.
#2. Narcissistic. Dictators often exhibit narcissistic tendencies and are preoccupied with their own image and how others view them.
Physician group leaders post stories about themselves to garner admiration to help grow their personal brand while deceptively leading their followers without transparency.
#3. Manipulative. Dictators are skilled at manipulating others to achieve their goals, often through deception, propaganda, or coercion.
Physician group leaders, on a superficial layer, appear as helpful to their communities by providing educational content while pushing agendas that drive their income.
#4. Ruthless. Dictators are often willing to use extreme measures to maintain their power, including violence, torture, and repression.
Physician group leaders will suspend and remove physicians from their groups for opposing them. More so, these group leaders will not tolerate other physicians promoting ideas, products, or services that hinder their image or fail to allow them to profit from.
#5. Single-minded. Dictators tend to have a singular focus on maintaining their power and control by surrounding themselves with loyalists rather than those that challenge their worldview.
Physician group leaders surround themselves with friends and colleagues who support their views. Some may be simple cheerleaders, while others may be profiting from the same water hole.
“The time is always right to do what is right.” -Martin Luther King, Jr.
It is important to emphasize that Facebook leaders should prioritize collaboration, mutual support, and the sharing of knowledge within their professional communities rather than focusing on exploiting their followers for personal profit. Facebook group leaders should be mindful of their power and use it responsibly and ethically to avoid behaving like dictators, which will erode the trust and respect they have from colleagues.
Within physician Facebook groups, we should foster an environment of cooperation where we can collectively work towards advancing the medical profession, improving patient care, and promoting physician well-being. By collaborating, engaging in meaningful discussions, and sharing valuable insights, physicians can leverage their online followings to create a positive impact on the medical community and society as a whole rather than seeking personal financial gain at the expense of their colleagues.