Selfies at conferences … where to start? Well ever since someone was smart enough to reverse the camera on a smart phone (and in fact before then, though selfie quality was much diminished and you often ended up with a picture of your left ear!) selfies have been a part of our social media spaces. Now I have to admit – I am a fan of the humble selfie, its good to meet people and take a picture and then hang it in a social media space .. its fun, it’s part of a ritual and it’s a good way to keep memories of great events. However (and here’s where I duck for cover) I think that there is a time and a place.
Let me add a little context here…
Over the last five years nurses have worked hard to break down boundaries, to get healthcare and nursing to take social media seriously, and there can be no doubt that we have made great strides. There are now more nurse bloggers than ever, twitter chats are not only being used to share information, ideas and expertise but also being used for CPD and as part of revalidation, evidence and research is being shared, best practice is being disseminated and developed, and nursing issues are being debated constructively and productively.
In addition to this nursing itself (regardless of social media) continues to promote the ideas that care is anything but basic, that no nurse is “just a nurse”, that nurses need a degree education in order to deliver the very best care, and that nursing is a profession that is based in evidence and research.
I have often said that social media gives us global expertise in the palm of our hand but there is a flip side to this … with access to global expertise comes the plain and simple fact that we too are on that global stage. Social media puts us – and by us I mean nursing – front and centre, whether we like it or not the second we set foot into social media spaces we are “on show” And herein lies my problem with selfies at conferences … is this the image of nursing that we want to portray at national events? Isn’t this a bit trivial? Isn’t trivialising nursing what we are all working hard to eradicate?
Ok … lets just hold fire a moment and get one thing very clear …. I am not saying ban the conference selfie ! Perhaps I ought to say that again … I am not saying ban the conference selfie (hoping that’s clear now!) I take selfies at conferences from time to time and as I stated above I think they are becoming an interesting part of modern culture and have a purpose that is based in fun and bonding. What I am saying is lets make sure we get the balance right.
So how do we get the balance right ? I’m not sure I have all the answers but here are some of my suggestions to conference organisers:
- Be your conference role model – use your own account to share the tweets highlight the amazing work that nurses do and how great your conference is, let that be your global image
- Encourage those who are sharing the conference well
- Have some role models in the room, people who tweet well and can convey the key messages of the conference
- Encourage selfies at break times
- Give people some top tips on conference tweeting before they come
- Share the speakers Twitter handles – this may sound a bit off the wall but give people the tools they need to share the important messages
- Have great wifi – again this mean that people don’t just tweet at breaks and the selfies don’t take over
And my advice to all those tweeting nurses out there? Just remember that nursing is so much more than a selfie.