Anderson Cooper from CNN's AC360 closed out a recent news segment with "follow me on Facebook and Twitter...." By saying that, he sent a few simultaneous and subtle messages to his viewers:
- He is using these social networks to put news out for his job
- He is reading these social networks to get news
- He knows you might be on Facebook and Twitter instead of being glued to his news show and its RidcuList.
As a union activist, I not only use Facebook on a daily basis, but I also have shared with thousands of workers from every trade why they should, too. In part, this piece is to further spread that message -- with your help!
"Facebook for union activism? I'm a nurse, what do I know about that?"
The quick and dirty response to this frequently asked question is: There is a strong probability that you are not going to be featured tonight on Anderson's show (or any other mainstream media outlet).
You might have back pain that is so severe after your shift that the idea of even picking up your child, grandchild, or even the dishes seems like a task for Superwoman or Superman. A patient might have taken a swing at you, again, or groped you while you were taking a blood pressure, or treated you like a servant. You are strong women and men, but...superheroes you are not. And some of the issues you contend with every day are issues that are potentially preventable. Unfortunately, Anderson (or any of his colleagues and counterparts) will never hear your stories or consider them all that newsworthy, as it stands.
Now envision an unmedicated returning patient -- who shouldn't be roaming the streets to begin with - who saunters into the ER with a huge smile on his face and, without warning, pulls out a revolver and starts shooting.
All of a sudden Anderson, CBS, NBC, ABC, Fox, MSNBC, and so on, they're all clamoring for the "big story."
Question: Is the story about the shooting spree? Or is the story about what COULD'VE been done to prevent it from happening in the first place? I think you know the answer. It could definitely be both, but the likelihood of getting deeper into the preventative aspect of the story is usually not a priority for selling news packages to viewers.
Facebook and YOUR work.
As educated union members, if you aren't already familiar with your rights as they relate to concerted and protected activities, you should definitely brush up on them as we become Online Activist Ninjas. Added to that, as a nurse, you must, of course, always be cognizant of HIPAA rules as well, and never, ever, post any potentially patient-identifying information on the internet or elsewhere. If you have questions about this, your union representative can help you.
If the facility where you work has a social media guideline, you need to know that, too. (In another article, I'll discuss some ideas about how labor and management can potentially come together to work on social media guidelines.)
At the end of the day, regardless of how well you have memorized rules, regulations, and laws, it is your common sense that should prevail and lead you forward. In other words, if you are about to hit send/publish/post, and the thought suddenly comes to you that "If I actually post this amazing picture of my patient's bulging eyes staring into a drug-induced cloud, I will be on the unemployment line this time tomorrow...." that thought is a "red flag," your Common Sense Detector. Please be sure it is well charged! The "identifying information" doesn't have to be that dramatic--a reference to "so and so's cousin", or Mr. P., or "someone you might know from high school", are all equally dangerous when used in reference to work.
Become an ONLINE Nurse Leader & Educator
You may know an SEIU Nurses who is reading the bi-weekly Nurse Alliance Roundup email newsletter right now. You may also be aware that our current readership is a sampling of our 85,000 nurse union sisters and brothers. AND...you know that the guy writing this continuously begs you to help spread the word, get heard, and -- if you're able -- step up your game when it comes to union activism.
With all that in mind, I'd like to leave you with an exercise to get you moving with online activism. There is one caveat: If you find yourself interested in carrying out the exercise, but are being challenged for one technical reason or another, you need to let me know so that I can help you as best I can. You can always reach me at Richard.Negri@nursealliance.org.
Here it is, my exercise for nurses and online union activists:
(Spoiler: I am about to ask you to post this article to your Facebook page and then to share on the Nurse Alliance Facebook page that you did this.) If you're ready to jump right in, no need to read instructions below.
1. Find and copy the URL to this article.
2. Sign in to your Facebook account.*
3. In the "status update" box, paste the URL you have copied.
4. What SHOULD happen is that you will see the article and picture appear in your status update box -- and you will now have the opportunity to write something about what you are posting.
5. If you cannot think of something to write about the link you're posting, feel free to just write: "Nurses shouldn't just be a blip in the mainstream media when one of us is killed. This article is a primer for nurses (and all union activists) who want to get active online."
6. Hit update.
Let's go one step further.
1. Go to the Error! Hyperlink reference not valid.
2. Have you "liked" the page? If not, please do.
3. Now, leave a message on the Nurse Alliance Facebook page. You can say anything that doesn't trigger your Common Sense Detector.
6. It can be as simple as your name, title, and local union.
*If you don't have a Facebook page, I am curious to know why. Please let me know: Richard.Negri@nursealliance.org. Also, please let me know what part of all this stumps you, even if it is the first direction to "find the URL." I don't judge.