Oct 29, 2014

Anonymity on the internet is a powerful tool.  Some use it for good, and some use it to put their coworkers, colleagues, and services on blast.  When I started writing almost five years ago, I first started perusing blogs like Kelly Grayson’s and Justin Schorr’s.  Justin had recently gone public with where he worked with the release of Chronicles of EMS right around the corner.  I always looked at Justin as one of the lucky ones because his service so openly embraced his writing.

When EMS in the New Decade was started, I had hopes that I would get it to where it is today, but looked at things more realistically in that so many blogs are started on the internet but not followed through on.  While my name was made public i did not mention who my employer was, and i did not talk about my writing at work.  I maintained this stance for more than a year, mentioning it to some people here and there but for the most part I kept my social media life divided, not discussing my writing very heavily on Facebook, and promoting the heck out of it on Twitter.  Once I did start letting people know what I was doing, the response to me was overwhelmingly supportive.  It is not that I doubted my friends and colleagues, I just did not know that the response would be so overwhelmingly positive.

If you met me, it was not very difficult to figure out who I worked for, but I never said it, keeping my description of my employer to “a large national ambulance service in the United States.”  Heck, it was not until I gave my two weeks’ notice that I stated publically that I worked for American Medical Response.  I did not do this out of spite or disrespect for the people that I worked for.  Truth is, if you did know who I worked for, or figured it out, it was pretty easy to put names to a lot of the examples that I gave.  I used this blog to arm chair quarterback a lot of what I saw as failures in the system that I worked in.  We had the people who could do the job, but refused to adapt the process that we needed.  I kept my employer private but used what I saw internally as motivation to try and fix things for the greater good.

Now that I have moved on, I still do not mention who my current employer is.  My personal friends on Facebook know, and I am sure that a lot of my followers who worked in my previous or current system obviously know as well.  I feel though that maintaining that level of anonymity gives me a little more freedom in how I write.  I adopt that philosophy with when I go to conferences as well.  When I am there, I am a paramedic, and I am a blogger.  I am not an employee of XYZ ambulance service.  I do not wear a uniform, or any departmental clothing, and I like it that way.  I prefer to do this “internet stuff” with a different brush than the one that I use to paint my career.

Friends don't let friends wear shirts like this.

Friends don’t let friends wear shirts like this.

We need to keep in mind though that we need to use our anonymity responsibly.  Plausible deniability does not always play in the world of internet rants.  We need to Tweet and post responsibly.  The fallout could be greater than you realize when someone searches Facebook for information on paramedics and finds shirts with slogans like “I’m here to save your life, not kiss it!” or “To avoid serious injury don’t tell me how to do my job!”  I have not seen anyone wearing these shirts yet, but obviously they sell, so they are out there somewhere.

Take some time to think before you post, especially when you are putting your service or a provider on blast.  Regardless of what level of anonymity you are maintaining the statements that you choose to make could effect your coworkers or even your colleagues across the country.  More now than ever, the world is watching the internet.  The words “offended” and “offensive” are being thrown around just as much as words like “the” or “and.”  We live in a different world, and a different culture that is intertwined not only in the public but also when sitting behind our keyboards or on our phones.

Surf responsibly, my friends!