Five days ago I published a blog post that turned out to be, well, quite a surprise. I thought my 50 friends, family, and new blogging friends who followed me would see it, get a little chuckle, maybe comment and click the like button, and I would be on to the next post. Just as I have done for the past year.
But I guess I said something that struck a chord.
As the hours went by, I saw that the usual 80 hits I get on my publish day were growing… rapidly. When I watched my stats barely go past my all time high of 121 hits in a day, I got really excited. Then it just kept going… faster and faster. By the time I went to bed that night, the hits were at 800! I was ecstatic and couldn’t believe that so many people were interested in this topic, and I was sure it would probably die down overnight. But I couldn’t sleep. I was too excited. I kept getting up during the night, curious to see what was going on. By midnight, it had reached 1839 hits. Surely it couldn’t get any better than this. I unintentionally happened to check it right at midnight, and it showed the hits at 0. Seeing the 0 made me nervous. Would that number stay right there?
But it didn’t.
So after 6 days and over 280,000 hits to my blog, I had to ask myself… why? What was it about this post made people go so crazy?
Here’s my take on it.
Every person in a service industry feels similarly about a very small percentage of their clients. This is the first time in which I’m aware that a dentist has so brazenly spoken up about some of the things we go through. In our business, it is always about the patient, as it should be. As a group, we have been made fun of forever– all over the world. Now that one of us (that would be me) turned the tables and started making fun of “You”; dentists all over the world felt a little release, and many patients welcomed this perspective.
Finally, it was our turn to have a laugh.
Case in point: the “10 Reasons I Hate The Dentist” post was a post that I had found on a WordPress.com blogging feature called Freshly Pressed. On Freshly Pressed, they feature posts that “represent how WordPress.com can be used to entertain, enlighten or inspire.” That means that even the powers that be at WordPress.com, who see thousands of posts a day, believed this to be a worthwhile topic– from the patient’s point of view, of course. This post peacefully came and went, probably gathered a lot of readers, and was something that gave a lot of people a good chuckle– because it’s nothing new, and it’s an already accepted perception. We have all watched movies and TV shows that have portrayed dentists as some pretty kooky characters. So for some reason when I reciprocated, it caused quite a stir. Some people didn’t know how to react. It made many people laugh, shocked others, and even angered a few.
I heard from dentists in the UK, Ireland, Egypt, India, the Middle East, Chile, and more who said they could relate to all of this.
As you can see from many of the comments, every dentist has experienced all of the things on this list; and we’ve never said a word. It’s been decades of a sort of repression for some, because as professionals who care about our livelihood and who care about our patients, we try to avoid conflict and stay respectful of those that keep us in business. Based on the hype, I can safely say that for many it felt good to let off a little steam. And as a result of the weird stuff we do in our jobs and all the jokes made about us as a group, we have developed a quirky and sometimes twisted sense of humor– in a good way, and all in good fun. After all, what is all of this if we take ourselves too seriously?
I feel the need to remind the readers of something, dentists included. The post is titled “10 Reasons Your Dentist Probably Hates You Too.” It is not titled “10 Reasons Your Dentist Hates All Patients.” If you managed to read all of the nearly 800 comments, you would see that most dentists, including me, love most of their patients. In fact, this list wasn’t really about anyone, just about some of the things people do. It was a play on the statement we so often hear in and out of the office: “I hate the dentist.” If you were one of the people who took this list as an insult to you, and you lashed out with nasty comments, then maybe it was about you. If you were one of the people who felt like this list was about you, and you politely explained why you were offended by me, this post was most definitely NOT about you. If you were one of the people who stated that you think you did some of the things on this list, but were going to try to be nicer to your dentist, this was also clearly NOT about you. Dentists everywhere appreciate that you have listened and that you want to improve your relationship with your own.
The discussions that this has opened up have been amazing. There were long, thoughtful posts between people communicating opposing opinions in a civil, but passionate manner. Many laughed along and even added their own lists. And then there was the name calling. There were about 100 comments that I couldn’t approve because of redundancy or maliciousness. Someone else said it best in his/her summary of my post. PLEASE READ THIS.
I have been called an a**hole, whiny, babyish, unprofessional, bitchy, bitter, and I’m sure a few more. Fair enough. If I have to go through the transient and mild discomfort of being insulted by a few to in turn get to hear that this made hundreds of people’s days; or hearing from people who felt stuck and alone and scared to make a move out of a profession that isn’t right for them; then I will take it. Seems like a fair trade to me. The post felt like a snippet of any moment in time in a dental practice: you connect with and touch the lives of most, but there are a few that just don’t get that.
Newsflash: You can’t please all of the people all of the time!
I can’t express my gratitude (somehow it now oddly sounds as if I am making an acceptance speech for an award) for feeling like I now have a bunch of cheerleaders, supporting my difficult decision to give up a life in which I have invested so much time and energy. Or for knowing that there are people out there who might just feel a little less trapped, armed with the realization that they are not alone while unhappy in their profession; now able to hope for a future that fits their dreams. Or for the many dental patients out there who laughed with us and reminded us why we chose this profession by telling us how much they love their dentist. Or for hearing the many dentists out there that absolutely love what they do.
So what now?
My husband seems to think you can’t top this, and I should leave on a high like George Costanza.
Nah… how could I do that now? Instead I plan to do what I have always planned to do: write what feels right at the time. This blog is a bit of an open journal for me, and the next logical step has always been to keep writing about my career change: how I started in dentistry, how it came to evolve into something from which I needed to walk away, and how I actually made the move into a new career.
Please continue to join in the discussion. I welcome challenges and opposing opinions or beliefs; but please know that moving forward, I will not tolerate hatred on my site. While I want everyone to have the chance to be heard, mean-spirited comments do not serve any of us, and I will reserve the right to send them straight to the trash bin. Let me know if there are any topics you want me to discuss in the future. My travel and food topics may take a slight detour for a while as I jump into the process that has led me here.
I have added a contact form, so if you have sent me a question, and I haven’t responded, please email me. I would love to hear from you.
After a very interesting week, I can say that my life now feels a little lighter knowing that dentists all over the world have breathed a collective sigh of relief. And the biggest reward I get to take from this experience is that I’m reminded that there’s more compassion in this world than there is judgement and hatred.