August 20, 2006

Why I'd like to maintain my Pseudonymity.

The time was a year and a half ago, a week after spring break. I got an urgent phone call from the Biology Dept asking that I make an appointment with the dean ASAP. I received a merit scholarship award a few months earlier and they didn't even bother to call me about that, so I was a little bit concerned. I went in to see the dean that afternoon and he started asking me some odd questions.

"Have you ever seen a Dr. Nx?"
"Do you have a personal blog where you made any negative comments about him?"
"He's accusing you of slander, for painting him as an inconsiderate, tardy doctor."

BWA? Sure. However, this was an event that was a year old and I had gone on a trip for spring break to shadow some doctors with a club. A bunch of doctors had agreed to let the pre-meds follow them around in various parts of the hospital and clinic. I was just commenting on my experiences and I mentioned that "Dr. Nx left me sitting around for half an hour, then when he got to work, he left me sitting around for another half hour so I ended up following another doctor around." It was just a sentence in a long reflection entry. This was on a blog entry that I had made "private", but unbeknownst to me, Google had a cached version of the entry.

The dean believed me and told me that he thought the doctor was on pretty thin ice to get me on academic probation for libel, especially if the incident was well over a year ago and no longer "public." I was given the doc's phone number so I could call him to apologize.

I swallowed my emotions and I called up Dr. Nx. He seemed very upset, but he tried to talk to me in a reasonable manner, telling me how "I screwed him over." He calmly explained how easy it would be for someone to Google his name for a job interview only to see my little careless blurb about his tardiness that stains his reputation as a doctor. Then he proceeded to give me his excuse/explanation for why he was late and why he ignored me when he arrived.

Okay, I can see how unprofessional it would be to be googled and have these negative impressions pop up #7 of maybe 20 sites. I didn't write with the intent to upset anyone; I just wanted to say "oh, I had a fun trip, except for a few rare instances."

Then, he dropped the bomb.
"If I weren't such a nice guy, I could call up your medical school and .... talk with Dr. Sx, your medical school interviewer, right? I could tell them that you slandered me. I could make sure you wash test tubes for the rest of your life."

This certainly implied that he had been reading through my entries since the event.

I thanked him for being a nice guy. I promised to "contact Google to get rid of its Google cache of my personal blog site." They were both lies, but they placated Dr. X... and that was sufficient. My Undergrad School had their "formal record" of the story from both sides and received no further complaints from Dr. Nx.

This was an eye-opening experience for me. This will be the ONE and ONLY time I will make negative comments about anyone on NotMySecondOpinion. I've learned that casual comments on the internet can last forever... luckily for me, there weren't any regrettable consequences from my harrowing experience.


  1. Sorry for commenting on such an old item, but wow, that must have been scary. And kudos for the smooth handling.

  2. Google and it's cash can indeed be a real pain.