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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