Humans have an extraordinary ability to communicate and to develop ways to enhance that communication. We’ve been conveying information through stories and news from the earliest of human times. Cave drawings were perhaps the initial nonverbal medium used to transmit information more widely. The primitive medium was followed by stone tablets and, eventually, paper, which came to dominate communication for centuries. Now we have a new disruptive advance—electronic media—that has, for better and worse, put countless newspapers and magazines at risk of failure.
The advances in media technology have fragmented what people see. Back in the day, the Cyrus Cyllinder and Darius’s trilingual stone relief carvings probably didn’t have a lot of competition. People now have more widespread access to the information that resonates with the beliefs of their community. The fragmentation of information, particularly in social media, parallels fragmentation of society.
Into that world, dermatology jumps in headfirst. Social media is a double-edged sword (or perhaps cudgel). On the one hand, dissatisfied patients can use social media to express their bile; the resulting anecdotes can be demoralizing. Not to worry. In this issue, Dr Sheila Farhang discusses how social media can be used to connect with patients and to promote the specialty (page 34).
Patients now have an acute need for information about COVID. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations change rapidly, and with patients’ access to vaccinations rapidly expanding, patients are seeking information about the vaccine and how their disease and its treatment may impact vaccination (and vice versa). There are too many sources of information, and the vastly different perspectives on the limited objective data could make patients’ heads spin. Fortunately, in this issue, Dr Robin Lewallen and colleagues wade in with timely, down-to-earth, brass tacks information that we and our patients need on how the COVID vaccines relate to dermatology (page 38).
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