JF: You could say that you worked hard for years to become an overnight sensation.
Explore This IssueACEP Now: Vol 37 – No 05 – May 2018
EC: Exactly! I’m like, “I’ve been here the whole time!” When I look at people I admire in health care with huge followings, people like Eugene Gu, MD (@EugeneGu), Atul Gawande, MD, MPH (@Atul_Gawande), or Jen Gunter, MD
(@DrJenGunter), all of these people have been very on-message the entire time. Jen had this amazing blog for a long time before becoming so obviously known and getting a New York Times column. Their messaging and passion have been very consistent. You don’t become somebody else to do this. You’re just who you are and then you hit a moment where your message resonates with a lot people.
JF: Generally, the “tweet storm” or “thread” has become a natural outlet for you. Can you describe the mechanics of that?
EC: This is my favorite thing to do. I love the limited structure of Twitter actually. When you have to be brief, you have to choose your words wisely. But you miss a lot of nuance. I started doing this thing where you post something and then you respond to yourself. So when people pull it up, they see the whole string of messages, and some of them were really long because a bunch of doctors who weren’t on Twitter asked me to post [patients’ stories] in opposition to the AHCA [the American Health Care Act]. That was a nice balance between being able to say a lot but still using the thing about Twitter that makes it beautiful.
JF: And how did you develop the thread about the racism you’ve faced that went so incredibly viral?
EC: It was so organic. You have no idea how spontaneous and random that was. It was a mixture of circumstance and long-brewing thought. Charlottesville [the neo-Nazi protests] happened that weekend, and it was obviously really disturbing how overt the racism had gotten in the last year. I’m in Oregon where there are a ton of white supremacists, so it’s more in my face than ever.
I’m with my family. We’re going to the park, getting ready to play, and my toddler had fallen asleep in the car. So my husband takes the other kids out to the playground, and I’m just sitting in the car doing nothing. I was bored, and of course, as we do, I opened up Twitter, and I just tossed off the thread. The rest of my day happened. I was going into an overnight, so I slept and I went into my shift, came home, and Chelsea Clinton had retweeted it. It just went kaboom! My email box was just [sounds of explosion]. This was not premeditated or well-thought-out.