For the benefit of anyone reading this months down the road:
CrossFit, the fitness company, posted a tweet that was particularly offensive to People With Diabetes. It was wrong, both in its tone and its wording, and because its statement had absolutely nothing to do with actual, you know, facts.
After this tweet went out, members of the diabetes community did their best to show their outrage at such a gutless attempt to guilt people into working out using their program, and shame People With Diabetes. Which brought out more ridiculous responses from the CrossFit CEO. Stupid is as stupid does, I guess.
The biggest diabetes organizations in this country got involved too, posting their own social media messages in response. For the most part, I was happy to see this. It’s good to know that when someone tries to hurt you via social media, JDRF, ADA, and others have your back.
But… and you knew there would be a but… some of the reactions were less than stellar from an inclusiveness point of view.
Is that too vague? I’m not sure I know how to put it into words. I think what I’m saying is, when I see a popular singing star, who lives with diabetes, tweet “Know the difference between types of diabetes”, I wonder what in the hell the different types of diabetes have to do with this issue in the first place. I’ve gotta admit… when I saw that one, I cringed a little bit. Why?
Because when we point out that my type of diabetes isn’t to blame for [fill in the blank], or we say this type of diabetes isn’t caused by [fill in the blank], we’re also implying that some other type of diabetes is to blame, or some other type of diabetes is caused by something that our type isn’t. Don’t believe me? Ask a Type 2 how they felt about some of the most vocal responses to the CrossFit issue.
And if you say, “Hey, well, that’s not what I meant”, I will tell you that it is not what you say, but rather how what you say is perceived that is important. Just ask my wife. And, Type 1s, when we make Type 2s feel this way, we are alienating 25 million People With Diabetes just in this country. 25 Million potential allies in the fight for better care, better access to medication, better acceptance by society. And, Type 2s, if you ever alienate Type 1s, you are alienating one of the most resourceful and vocal groups of diabetes advocates on the planet.
To varying degrees, we are all getting screwed in the media. To varying degrees, we are all getting more attention in the media. I don’t have the exact textbook way to respond to situations like these.
I just know that, like I’ve said before, it’s not always important to get there first with the most anger. It is extremely important that we respond to shaming and stigma-inducing ridiculousness by starting with what is in our heart… considering everyone affected by (and potentially viewing) the initial issue, and potential responses… and holding up a light to our shared humanity, and giving a voice to that shared humanity, in a way that protects us all, lifts our common cause to the highest plain, and encourages thoughtful discussion and meaningful change for the better.
I think that’s the longest sentence I’ve ever written.
There will be more discussion on this topic, coming on the next episode of Diabetes By The Numbers, here in a few days. As always, your opinion matters here too.