“I’ll be back” I said as I left social media in early 2019, albeit with far less venom than Arnie. It was a deliberate retreat but now feels like a good time to re-join the digital chatter and promote foot health and research by allied health professionals, indeed anyone committed to making the lives of other people better.

Social media has its critics, but really it is like discussing whether you like electricity of not. Media, in all its forms, is in our lives, with some forms better at communicating some messages than others. A recent American president seems to have run his communications in bouts of 120 characters [I omit the name so as to treat the main character in a manner similar to that in the “the Scottish play”, best not mentioned…..), although we can all agree that professional messages almost always require more space than Twitter allows.  

A big “go back to it” for me was the speed at which communications are possible digitally (can we just say digital communication, as  social media seems to have a poor reputation as ”tat”) and it fills a useful space between academically rigorous reviews of published works that takes weeks to publish at best, months in still too many cases, and books that are a platform for opinion free of real peer review (and take an AGE to appear in press). Social media better reflects the pace at which work and life goes on in reality (it changes by the hour) and academics need to move into the social media realm to match the pace of life in the audiences we work with and serve.  Otherwise aren’t we a waste of public funds?

Be assured, I take the space I might occupy in your email, twitter feed or other media seriously. I took a break from social media because I was not entirely convinced I was offering something of merit, above and beyond what was already available, and because it bought me time to reflect. Time not writing is not down time, it is time thinking time, and this is FAR more valuable than typing time. Typing only communicates what we have been thinking about, and the real gold is created in the “off social media” time, I promise you. Typing is easy, finding something (genuinely) useful to say less so. I invite you to be kind to yourself and make sure any “on media” time is fed by some “off media “ time. Try it, you won’t be disappointed.

Doing your thinking “live” in front of everyone on twitter or facebook is certainly being brave and vulnerable, qualities I can applaud in both professional and personal life (I read a lot of Brene Brown whilst I was away thinking). But this does not absolve you (nor me) of the responsibility to be thoughtful, considered, and productive in your musings. I took a break to make sure that I had social media in the right place, so that it serves the purpose it is best suited to – to share my (considered) thoughts that might add value to your considered thoughts (we are a team of sorts right?), and those of our colleagues in health care and academia, so that we might, as a community of practice, do some good.

With that in mind, I feel good to be back, with others, “in the arena” as a US President once said. And I am here listening too, so that I might learn as much as I might offer, as that is surely the essence of a good and lasting relationship – to be good for each other?

For the critics of social media I offer this – better to be in the game and help shape it, than out of it and simply point the finger.  Stop being lazy – media is not optional, it is the window through which our publicly funded careers can have impact.

In 1910, Theodore Roosevelt gave what would become one of the most widely quoted speeches of his career. The former president delivered a speech which would become known as “The Man in the Arena.” [for Man, read person/he/she/man/woman]

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”