Even the heat of July, Italy might be the most magnificent place on Earth (its climate is more pleasant than southern Ontario's because there's no insufferable humidity). Rolling hilltop farms in the countryside, mountains rising from the horizon above centuries-old Gothic churches, Renaissance palaces filled floor to ceiling with great works of art, monuments of and to Imperial power...amore a prima vista is a certainty.
And the food! Farm-fresh produce (no Costo-bought Franken-fruit), hearty pasta, tender meats in savory sauces cotto a puntino...a daily feast and an idyllic setting in the company of warm, welcoming hosts. Pancia mia fatti capanna!
Okay, what gives with the travel ad for Italy? Not much, other than to recognize that sometimes you need to step outside of your life to take a look at your life.
I left full-time clinical medicine a year and a half ago out of gas, avere le batterie scariche, burned out, fed up, lost, adrift, overly cynical...pick your label. It was the second time in five years I'd felt real dissatisfaction with medicine, with the caveat that the first time, circumstances were much less within my control. Leaving wasn't an easy decision, nor a happy one, nor one I will ever feel comfortable with...but it was the right one.
I was encouraged to write my thoughts, my feelings, my experiences, to assemble them with the funny and tragic stories I'd amassed over the years. Storytelling and writing are activities I've always enjoyed, and (in my opinion, anyway), there's no better way to discover and disseminate wisdom.
So I wrote my book and started this blog, throwing in a podcast here and there if a good idea came my way. It was all in the name of building a "platform", a "brand", or whatever other label one might affix to the ludicrous importance we place on marketing nowadays. Supposedly, the key to effective marketing nowadays is social media, including the platform I've never really understood the point of, namely Twitter. You gotta do what you gotta do, right? Avere le mani in pasta.
After a year and a half on Twitter, I'm ready to say it's been more trouble than it's worth. Not because I've not made some good connections, I have (even though I've yet to follow up on my Twitter "connections" with apparent sex trade workers, but I digress). But not counting people I've made a point of meeting in person, or at least had a more personal discussion with, Twitter has proven tedious and even toxic to what I enjoy most.
As open and embracing of opinion Twitter purports to be, it's little more than a place where people seek comfort in the like-minded, reduce every conceivable issue to an absurd "left" vs. "right" gang-war, and see every disagreement as a license to degenerate into insults and personal attacks, botte da orbe. I claim no innocence here, and will happily apologize to anyone I might have offended or at least shown disrespect.
But that's the kicker with social media, Twitter especially. 140 characters leaves little room for nuance, little room for substance, little room for clarification, and little room for courtesy, regret, or forgiveness. I'm wordy (and sarcastic and cynical and foul-mouthed and curmudgeonly), and see no justifiable excuse to restrict what (I at least think) might be important to say when 140 characters simply isn't enough.
I have much more to say on the corrosive effect I see social media is having on the medical community as a whole, but that's another piece for another day.
So I'm fading into the background from Twitter, essere uccel di bosco. I'll still tweet my blog posts, and will happily respond to personal messages or Twitter shout-outs. But my days of back-and-forth on the latest medical-political controversy are over for now. Darsi all’ippica. Thanks to my many Twitter followers and non-followers for the discussions, re-tweets, and one-liners. I'll drink a toast when I crack my next bottle of Chianti.
(Italian phrases courtesy of Smartling.com)