Ambulance Chasing: A Social Media Success Story

When it comes to posting online about my own personal misfortune, I have one simple rule. Don't talk about it until you can tell the story with a sense of humor. Yet, when it comes to a visible personal injury the first question you inevitably have to answer is, "What happened to you"? Three weeks ago, I was in a bicycle accident where I landed on my shoulder and broke my clavicle (collar bone). I'm better now, but I'm still wearing an arm sling. My first attempt of bringing humor to the situation was on Twitter.

In the past, I've joked with my wife that every time I've had a physical injury it when I'm doing some type of physical exercise. So why do we exercise? My accident happened during a 26 mile bike ride on the bike trail when a skateboarder accidentally or on purpose (I want to believe it was the former and not the latter) put his skateboard in front of my bicycle wheel. I flipped over on the bike, landed on my shoulder, and by the next day found that I had broke my collar bone. The doctor said to expect my arm to be in a arm sling for two to six weeks. It took me almost a week to admit the specifics of my injury online. This time with a little less humor on Twitter.

I just wanted to give people an explanation why they weren't seeing me as my usual active self whether that be online or in real life. That's all I wanted to say about my injury as I really couldn't find much humor in breaking bones. Then something amazing happen. I got pitched on Twitter by a company that wanted to sell me a product based on my injury. Not Blue Designs wanted to sell me one of their designer arm slings.

Since childhood, I've always been fascinated by the ambulance chasing lawyer commercials you see on television. The commercials include the personal injury lawyers that provide legal representation to those who claim to have been injured, physically or psychologically, as a result of the negligence or wrongdoing of somebody else. In TV shows and movies, they're the lawyers in the polyester suits spending their time convincing clients they should be compensated for their personal injury. In real life, I believe them to be more respectable and professional than the stereotype allows. What I find fascinating is, love them or hate them, the commercials work. Those trial lawyers receive almost instant name recognition through their pitch on television.

But when it comes to social media, do we really want people selling us their products and services based on our personal tragedies? A month ago, I would have answered with a big "no". How rude can you get? But reality is different. I've spent the past two weeks thinking about Not Blue Designs' designer slings. The realization that I may be wearing an arm sling for a full two months is sinking in. I'm starting to wish I had a second sling as an alternative to the one given to me by my doctor's office. I'm actually glad someone told me through social media that I have alternatives to the basic black sling currently holding my arm in place.  

For ambulance chasers using social media, it's a fine line for a sales pitch to be welcomed or rejected by someone recovering from a personal injury. I don't know how marketers pull this one off with any consistent success. I don't understand the psychology that determines when a commercial is helpful and when it is in bad taste. I could easily have written this blog post to roast Not Blue Designs for using Twitter to try to benefit from my injury. But instead I'm praising them on their marketing skill and I'm not even sure why. Perhaps, besides landing on my shoulder I hit my head too. I don't know. What I do know is once my shoulder his healed, all I want to do is get back on that bike again. It's no fun to have your arm in an arm sling.