Dear Ms. Specs in the City,

I have been an optician for quite some time now and am disheartened by the current trend of patient/newbie bashing on optical social media. What is going on?

Heartbroken in Hoboken

Dear Heartbroken in Hoboken,
Thank you for bringing this important subject to light. In November as per your question, we talked about patient bashing on optical social media. Now, let’s focus on the optical newbies asking questions on optical social media and the unfortunate newbie bashing that has commenced.

It recently occurred to me that I have been teaching opticianry for 30 years now, since 1989 at Holyoke Community College in Mass., and presently at Hillsborough Community College in Tampa, Fla. How time flies. While reflecting on my most amazing teaching experiences, I recall that it is the brave students who ask questions who create the best teaching moments.

Yes, Ms. Specs is highly aware of the debate: Is there such a thing as a stupid question? Some would argue that you must do your due diligence, and research and prep before asking a question. I would suggest that if an optical newbie has a question and a passion for being the best optician they can be, we should welcome and embrace their question, albeit their lack of research. In my classroom, at the beginning of the semester, I encourage students to ask questions. And I validate that when they ask a question, many of their classmates in the room breathe a sigh of relief as they had the same question but dared not to raise their hand.

Again, it takes great courage to ask a question in a public place. Given the outreach of optical social media, perhaps we can look at it as a huge optical classroom. Many of the amazing opticians who have walked the path before can be a great resource for education and inspiration for our optical newbies on optical social media.

Let’s be honest… we all want to leave a positive mark in life, both personally and professionally. When we bash a newbie for their optical question, we guarantee that they will not ask a question in our public forum again. Their enthusiasm for learning will be impacted negatively and their flame extinguished.

If the questions irritate you, please consider Miss Manner’s book and our Mom’s advice: “When you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” If you feel irritated by the question, please resist the urge to condescend. If you do not have anything helpful to say, consider scrolling down to the next post rather than investing negative energy into posting insults.

What we really need are new optician professionals with passion. So much passion that they are tempted to adjust strangers’ glasses in public. (Although from unintended and unfortunate experiences with this, Ms. Specs highly suggests that we do not do so.) So much passion that they obsess over the eyewear styles and fits seen on mass media. So much passion that they want to obtain their ABO-AC Advanced certification, to go on to be an ABO Master. So much passion that they want to help others in any way to improve their vision. And so much passion that they ask questions on optical social media, putting themselves out there, not being afraid. Let us embrace this! After all, we all want the same thing: to help build our noble profession and to help pull up the new optical generation behind us. I am an optimist… I think with education, mentoring and empathy, we can shape our optical future to be even better.

I, for one, have great confidence in the next generation of opticians to follow. Let’s embrace them and encourage them, and answer their questions, remembering how our early mentors answered our questions. And if answering their questions is not your thing, please scroll down to the next entry and not throw cold water on their spirits. We will all benefit from this—most importantly, our patients/clients.

See Well and Be Well,
Ms. Specs in the City
Laurie Pierce, ABOM