Facebook has been a wonderful website for me. It was a way for me to connect with my friends from medical school which has been great, especially as many of my friends work abroad or are on a variety of hospital shifts at peculiar times in the day.
When I started working as a doctor, I suddenly became weary of Facebook, as I had various staff from the hospital trying to add me, some of which I didn’t even know when I had worked with them.
However, when I became a psychiatrist, my weariness turned to fearing Facebook. Statistically, 20% of psychiatrists are stalked by patients in their lifetime, and 10% of psychiatric staff are stalked by patients in a year.
In my first year of psychiatry, I had my patients trying to add me on Facebook, I would have patients telling me they saw pictures of what I was doing the night before. I was terrified that patients would be able to find what school I had gone to, find my family members, and find where I lived. Any pictures of my car I then deleted, as it had my number plate. I started feeling paranoid about everything on my profile, and privatised as much as I could possibly do. I changed my name on Facebook so that nobody would be able to find me unless I had told them which name to search.
However, Facebook then complained that I was not allowed to have a pseudo name. So what was I to do? Facebook is an incredibly convenient way to keep your pictures uploaded from friends, to converse with family, as well as keep up to date with friends. I just don't have the time to keep up to date with everyone on the phone, and Facebook was a way of helping me.
However, safety of your own personal welfare and privacy in psychiatry is not something to be looked upon. It needs to be taken seriously, as I could one day be the head of the department in somewhere like Broadmoor hospital with patients that have been involved in gangs and mafia, and I could be a victim. I could be my colleague who had to change their name and move country as a patient did indeed stalk them to point of threatening their life. Unfortunately, social media cannot always protect you and your privacy as a psychiatrist, but one can help themselves by not using any, and so I deleted my personal Facebook account.