An open letter to Facebook

In an open letter to Facebook, Dr. Chris Salierno, chief editor of Dental Economics, says, “I wanted to quit you. Seriously, you got really annoying.” He explains how Facebook changed over the years . . . and how he and his colleagues found a new way to use Facebook that works better for them and their relationships today.

I wanted to quit you. Seriously, you got really annoying.

It wasn’t always this way. In 2001, when I graduated from college, my friends and I wondered how we could best keep in touch. Group emails were clunky and required active participation. After a few years, Myspace, Friendster, and you, Facebook, changed our world.

Suddenly I could follow my friends from elementary school through graduate school in their life achievements. And I could follow their friends. I remember the first time a friend of a friend and I connected at a party when we had only known each other through posts and photos. We felt like amigos from a bygone era even though we had never met. How exciting! Such were the early days of social media.

Then came the dark times. Facebook became the social media monopoly. Everyone and their mother had a profile, and they had to post daily photos of their breakfasts (trust me, no one finds it amusing that Aunt Edna took a selfie with her oatmeal). And you, Facebook, had to find ways to monetize the whole operation, but you didn’t have any oversight. There was no parent to prevent you from using our personal data without permission. So I was ready to drop you like a bad habit.

But then something interesting happened. Dentists started private Facebook groups. Communities sprang up around their passions. CAD/CAM, practice management, esthetics . . . dozens of loose societies began to form, and the members in each group were excited to share and comment on whatever made them excited to wake up every morning. The groups were private, so we were comfortable to speak candidly. It was Facebook, so we already had a username and password.

So I didn’t quit you. I’ve been hanging on for another year or so. There are active private Facebook groups that serve as inspirational forums for civilized discourse. And then there are the occasional dumpster fires—threads of barbaric comments that might make you lose hope in our profession.

This is a new form of media, and we’re still figuring out the rules. Internet forums can certainly bring out the worst in people, but they can also bring out the best. In this issue of Dental Economics, I’ve invited Alan Mead, DDS, and Jason Lipscomb, DDS, to help make sense of it all. You know them from the Dental Hacks podcast, and they also run a few of these groups. We also have Paul Goodman, DDS, who runs the Dental Nachos group.

So, Facebook, let’s keep this relationship going. Just don’t do anything weird with my personal information.

Cheers,

Chris Salierno, DDS

csalierno@pennwell.com

To find DE’s private group on Facebook, go to facebook.com and search “DE’s Principles of Practice Management.”

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