How can we help people with diabetes in a social media world?

I feel grateful that I grew up in a time where Facebook didn’t exist.

Twitter wasn’t a word and a ‘double tap’ could at best mean two faucet handles in a bathroom sink (one hot one cold, anyone remember?).

I can’t imagine all my silly decisions and “lesson learned” moments being so readily available for my peers and the world to see through social media.

Now this is going to make me sound old, but the power of words has also taken a different turn. People young and old can say whatever they want without it ever being traced back to them. There’s a loss in accountability. It’s one thing to tell someone (as they stand trembling with tears in their eyes) that they are ugly, worthless and that they should die, and quite another to do it behind a screen. Both are horrid though. I don’t need to tell you how bad cyber bullying has gotten.

Imagine what life would be like if people spoke as they wrote online? smh. <–that’s stands for ‘smack/shake my head’

Technology is a wonderful tool, but it also makes an impact we have yet to fully understand for the younger generation.

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I see this all the time on all channels: a toxic combination of relentless anger, resentment and dark depression about living with diabetes. Someone made an incorrect assumption about diabetes, attack! Oh they didn’t specify type 1? Attack!

Don’t get me wrong, it’s annoying and of course feels personal when someone is miseducated about diabetes. Unfortunately blasting someone online doesn’t go very far even if you’re trying to educate them. Being hostile doesn’t set the tone for someone to open up their mind to what you have to say. From my observation, it’s an unfortunate cycle that never seems to end.

It’s saddening to read what seems to be a manifestation of pain, but it’s also a window into the minds of what some of these young people are going through. 

Maybe these angry diabetics aren’t REALLY angry and are exaggerating. Maybe not. Either way, it’s a cry for attention and they are screaming every which way.

Being on social media has opened me up to a world that I’ve never lived in before, and it’s scary. A world where some don’t take insulin because they are too embarrassed to do so in public. The burnout, ignoring diabetes for months on end, the shame, the guilt.

I understand fully that in real life, people are also more quick to complain and not as ready to celebrate the little joys in this world. I get that. But that doesn’t deter from the fact that it’s still a problem.

 

How do we educate the younger generation into a world of acceptance, responsibility, and a little less anger towards the uneducated and ignorant? How do we promote peace, understanding and use social media for good? I don’t claim to know the answers but what I do know is talking about it openly is the first step.

A lot of this is already happening but I think it needs to happen more. We need to talk to our health care professionals, diabetes companies, caregivers, teachers, anyone who will listen about what it’s like to live with diabetes (of any kind) in a social media world and what we observe.

There are fantastic resources online such as the DOC (Diabetes Online Community), live chats, and wonderful systems of support which need to be acknowledged. Wonderful bloggers and organizations are out there educating, supporting and providing much-needed help in the cyber universe. How do we harness all this good? By telling people about it.

We need to be more open-minded and learn how these kids are growing up with diabetes in a world consumed by social media.

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8 thoughts on “How can we help people with diabetes in a social media world?

  1. Pingback: Friday Six: - Six Until Me - diabetes blog

  2. This line stopped me cold: “Imagine what life would be like if people spoke as they wrote online.”
    This is such an important post. The DOC has been a figurative (and sometimes literal) lifesaver for so many of us who have felt completely alone with our diabetes. My own experiences online have been mostly positive and helpful in ways that none of my IRL connections are. But, I too see the anger, vitriol, and extreme reactions sometimes and I worry about my daughter (only 6 at this writing) who won’t necessarily bring the same sensibilities to the online world and social media as I do. I confidently make my own choices about what conversations to engage in based on a lifetime of learning from face-to-face encounters, e-mail exchanges that can quickly go wrong, and great models of appropriate communications. If a majority of our children’s communications start online — what are they learning? And will they have the tools to “promote peace, understanding and use social media for good?”

    • Hi Leslie. Thank you for your comment.

      It’s really a different world out there (here) in social media. I agree, the DOC has been a lifesaver I’m sure for many who feel so alone and isolated. I’m going to write a future post on the importance of moving online connections to IRL. I think it’s IRL that we can feel the most impact.

      I move in between being incredibly active and pulling back and simply observing. Both provide a lot of insight for my own personal d-journey as it’s been heavily shaped around the online world.

      How do we keep up with technology that’s simply changing and advancing at such a rapid speed? I hope we can shed light together and hopefully come a little bit closer to the answer, whatever it may be. Thanks again Leslie for sharing your thoughts. I agree with you 100 per cent on this.

      I am not a mother but am deeply concerned for the welfare of children so engulfed in social tech.

      And here lies a great example of two people sharing ideas and trying to find the good online. Thank you.

  3. You raise a whole lot of points! It’s crazy to think that my nieces and nephews will grow up and only know about a world before social media from what we tell them. It is so valuable to consider what you’d say in person if you weren’t shielded by a computer screen and keyboard. A lot of the drama (diabetes and not) in my life seems to stem from online communication.

    Although I credit social media contact with other PWDs as helpful to my overall diabetes care, I have to wonder if it sometimes contributes to feeling overwhelmed by diabetes and even burned out at times.

  4. Pingback: Around the Diabetes Blogosphere - May 2014 Edition : DiabetesMine: the all things diabetes blog

  5. Good day! I simply would like to offer you a big thumbs up
    for your excellent info you have got here on this post.
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  6. I’d like to see diabetics supporting each other, not attacking. I’d like to see information sharing occur between the types especially on how to live with this.

    I’m yet to find a page on social media that does that

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