by Mark Hartleymarkh@pennwell.comFollow RDH magazine on Facebook

Out of the social darkness

Oct. 1, 2010
In the darkness overshadowing my life, I sometimes wonder if a friendly conversation with the Red Ring of Death would brighten my day.
In the darkness overshadowing my life, I sometimes wonder if a friendly conversation with the Red Ring of Death would brighten my day. Instead, I settle for a Nissan dealer in Tulsa, Go RVing, RV Vacationer, and a hotel in Amsterdam (where I've never been and have no upcoming plans to visit).

The Red Ring of Death follows a colleague on Twitter, but not me. In case you're wondering about my obsession with motorized vehicles, don't give it a second thought. I drive a single car for about 10 years and then get another one. My Honda CRV is still alive and well, and I have yet to think about replacing it. Since I'm a man of a certain age, my guess is that recreational vehicle manufacturers must think I daydream about touring all 50 states in my retirement. The trouble with that notion is that the significant other would last about five minutes trapped in an RV with me before screaming that the insanity must end.

I attended a social function recently with other couples of a certain age, and social media was regarded as more of a social disease. I, the proud owner of Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, and LinkedIn accounts, stayed primarily quiet. The Red Ring of Death could have been at the party, and he/she might have been offended by comments on how dangerous the world of social media allegedly is.

I read somewhere that 5% of Twitter accounts make all the "noise." All 5% must follow me. I recently calculated that 51% of the followers of my Twitter account had posted something within the last seven days.

The Twitter followers must notice I stay pretty quiet. If you want to spot me reaching out of the darkness, your best bet, as alluded to in the byline above, is Facebook.

My scorecard of RDH columnists engaging in social media has Lory Laughter as being the most active. Anne Guignon is a close second. Both are very active "listers" at, but I see Lory more often on Facebook. I asked Lory about what she gets out of social media.

"[Social media is an] excellent source for networking," she said. "I have dental friends on Facebook who I know by name but have not met or have only met once or twice in person. It adds value to my professional relationship with these individuals when I do have occasion for a face-to-face meeting. I already know something about them and/or their company.

"Other social media, such as LinkedIn, is very valuable on the professional front. This media allows me to recommend companies and individuals I have worked with in the past and helps guide me to people and services that others recommend. While I realize not all recommendations are true and honest, I do have connections on this type of media whose opinions I trust and value."

The godfather (uh, godmother) of social media in dental hygiene arguably is Amy Schack, the founder of, which has provided a forum for the profession since 1998.

Amy views social media "as an amazing tool to stay informed, connected, and on top of new technology for all dental professionals. You can 'like' your favorite speakers, columnists, or companies. Many dental speakers post their upcoming speaking schedules, and many companies are posting information about their new products.

"I am constantly seeing my dental colleagues post news stories or videos on dental technology and research. It can help you to stay on top of the most up-to-date information in real time."

Note that Lory refers to face-to-face meetings with online acquaintances. So it's not a matter of being cloistered alone with nothing but a computer vs. avoiding all benefits of social media interaction. There's a happy medium. But we probably should wait on meeting the Red Ring of Death, eh?

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