Condolences drown in brevity;
Empathy, a hastened veneer;
Understanding lost to formality;
Contracted and insincere;
140 character souvenir.
What significance should we ascribe to our increasing reliance on informal snippets for communication? Is it the death of civilized conversation? No, too dramatic and once-more-we-cry-wolf. I do think it signifies shifting priorities: cleverness over thoughtfulness, expediency over thoroughness and surface over substance. In my experience, these are not the priorities of medical care, but unfortunately, that care, is provided by people who live in a world polluted by hollow words.
Through each clerkship, even those plagued by poor reputations for patient care, I consistently found all levels of the medical team responsive to patient concerns. The focus remained on establishing a constructive dialogue and not on winning a verbal exchange. I never witnessed a care provider sacrificing the interests of a patient in order to sound clever. But, I often did see phones and computer screens turned to social media platforms.
Perhaps my experiences were atypical. Maybe medicine has remained insulated against the more subtle influences of communication culture. Only time will tell the strength of the professional divide that separates one from the other.