Tag Archives: social media


That moment when someone who’s inspired you turns out to be a jerK? I experienced that this week.

There’s a doctor in Las Vegas, who goes by the moniker ZDoggMD online. He’s gotten a lot of notoriety over the years, been on cable television news, recorded videos, and basically, developed a significant social media following. I’m not going to go into too much detail… in my opinion, he doesn’t deserve any more help than he already has.

So why am I writing about him then? I think I need to get this off of my chest.

I saw Dr. Zubin Damania deliver the keynote address at the initial HealtheVoices Conference two years ago. I was inspired by how he seemed to take a different approach to health care, and how to deliver the important messages that patients needed to hear.

I’m a big fan of Turntable Health, the health care initiative he got off the ground in downtown Las Vegas with the help of Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh. After seeing Dr. Damania speak in 2015, I made an appointment to tour Turntable Health when I was in Vegas the following March. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get the story I wrote about my tour published; I couldn’t get my facts double checked by the staff there, and I didn’t feel it was right to publish something that might not be entirely accurate. But I was very impressed by Turntable Health, and by Dr. Z, as the staff there refers to him.

Fast forward to this week. Using his ZDogg online persona on Twitter and Instagram, he posted a photo designed to shame and guilt People With Diabetes. It was remarkably horrible. It was junior high school level crass.

Cue the immediate backlash from the diabetes community. Many advocates stepped forward to voice their disapproval. Reaction was swift, and at times, it was pretty intense. Which elicited responses from Dr. Z himself.

Later, he took to Facebook Live, along with a couple of friends (or employees or accolytes or something), and he tried to explain the posting. He went to great lengths to explain that he was only reposting an existing meme. Yeah, that makes it aaalll better.

He complained a lot about Type 1s and how they were overly sensitive, and how this post had nothing to do with them, and how it was really directed at Type 2s. At the end of the video, he deleted the post, and then mocked deleting the post, both at the end of the video and afterward in comments on the video.

It’s easy to get angry about behavior like this. It attempted to shame People With Diabetes… ALL People With Diabetes. It allowed people to laugh at those living with a chronic condition they will have to live with the rest of their lives. It gave voice to countless medical professionals who believe the message in his post is the proper way to treat People With Diabetes.

In addition to violating the sensitivities of everyone who believes in treating others with common decency, Dr. Damania violated two of the most important tenets of internet communication:

1. Consider carefully all the implications of what you’re posting, before you post.
It’s like salt in your stew: you can always add more, but it’s really hard to take any away.

2. You can almost never recover your reputation by complaining about the people you’ve already offended.
It’s the social media equivalent of kicking someone when they’re down. It confirms your status as the bully.

I’ve posted things I’ve had to take back. At one point or another, just about everyone does. In fact, two of the most difficult things for me are to apologize for posting something that bothered someone else; and to be happy for people who get to experience things I’ve always wanted to experience.

Those things are hard for me to do, but the difficulty I have with them is no excuse not to do them. In my case, I must express these things exactly when they will mean the most. Even when I’m not sure how sorry I am that I bothered someone, or I’m not sure how happy I am for someone else.

It’s not important how I feel about those things. It’s important how they feel about those things.

There are gray areas in reacting to social media backlash too. But what I’ve seen through this episode… from the original post, to the hurtful comments from others who chose to Do No Harm by becoming healthcare professionals, to leaving the post up and letting animosity boil until deleting the post toward the end of a less than sincere video rant… shows me that for Dr. Z, there is no gray area. He didn’t leave himself any.

If you know me, you know I’m the kind of person who tries to consider all sides of an issue before saying anything about it. I admit it… I was inspired by Dr. Z previously, and I wanted to believe he would act with compassion, if not empathy in this matter. I not only wanted to believe he would, I wanted him to act with compassion so I could believe in him again.

Which leads me to my final piece of social media wisdom: It’s okay to be unhappy. Bitterness? You own your bitterness yourself.

You have to live with your bitterness. You have to live with the cause of it. You can’t escape it without contrition.

Will I have more to say about this? Probably, in another form, in another venue. Truly, I am disappointed. I want to laud Dr. Damania, and I want to celebrate his successes. After this week, however, I find myself fearing for his patients, and fearing for the patients and acquaintances of those he has influenced.


T2 Series: Mark your calendar.

Hey, did you know that TuDiabetes has a super live interview series? Every week, they’re interviewing someone new, talking about subjects that we all care deeply about.

During the month of October, TuDiabetes’ live events will focus on Type 2 Diabetes, featuring guests who really know what they’re talking about.
Yesterday’s guest was journalist and author Gary Taubes, whose books Why We Get Fat and What to Do About It, and Good Calories, Bad Calories (also known as The Diet Delusion in the UK) are widely read. He’s also co-founder of the not-for-profit Nutrition Science Initiative. In addition, he’s recipient of a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Investigator Award in Health Policy Research, and he’s won a boatload of awards for his journalism.

Did you miss this interview? It’s okay. TuDiabetes will be posting a copy of the interview shortly, so you can watch it whenever you want. Isn’t technology great?
On October 7, TuDiabetes welcomes Susan Guzman, co-founder of the Behavioral Diabetes Institute. It’s the first non-profit organization devoted to the emotional and behavioral aspects of living with diabetes. By trade, she’s a clinical psychologist specializing in diabetes. Her main focus is on overcoming emotional challenges that interfere with managing your diabetes on a daily basis.

They’re going to be talking about dealing with and overcoming the stigma that people try to lay on Type 2s on a regular basis. This should be a really interesting talk, and I, for one, cannot wait to hear it.
On October 13, Ansley Dalbo will be welcomed to TuDiabetes to talk about DiabetesWhatToKnow, a great resource for Type 2s who are just getting started in their life with diabetes, or are looking for a little more information to help them manage their Type 2 lives better from here on out.
On October 15, noted Type 2 and major advocate Bennet Dunlap will appear, talking about the recent launch of Diabetes Patient Advocacy Coalition, and how each of us can take a hand in carving out a better life for everyone living with diabetes.
And Mike Durbin will be on! The author of My Diabetic Heart will stop by on October 22 to talk about living with Type 2 diabetes and congestive heart failure. Shame isn’t a part of his repertoire, and I’m thinking he might have some great advice for you and me too. This one has been already marked on my calendar.
Pretty good lineup, no? Want to be in on the happenings? Good. Here’s what you do:

CLICK HERE for a quick look at the calendar of events. Want to find out more about a topic? Click on the event. Can’t be more simple than that.
Hey, I’m not a Type 2, but I could stand to learn an awful lot about my brothers and sisters who are living with a type that’s not my own. Join TuDiabetes for the innovative T2 Series, and for heaven’s sake, be part of the discussion, learning, and empowerment that comes from being a member at TuDiabetes.

What does that mean, anyway?

After my interview with Rick Phillips for TuDiabetes Tuesday, I took some time to reflect on what we discussed. There were a lot of acronyms in there: CGM, DSMA, and a couple of others I can’t remember right now.

You can probably relate to this when I tell you: Before I found the Diabetes Online Community, I had absolutely no idea what those things meant. Or even that they existed.

Those of us that have been communicating about diabetes for some time, even people like me with just a high school education and a few years’ experience writing about diabetes, tend to shorten our words an awful lot sometimes. On one hand, that’s just the nature of communication these days. Why write out “been there, done that” on your phone when you can just tap out “BTDT”?

On the other: If you’re new, and all this is new to you, it can be a bit overwhelming at first. I wonder sometimes if we lose people with our thorough knowledge and discussion of the A1cs and BGs. I don’t think so, at least not all the time. But sometimes I worry that while I’m trying to make a point about IOB, or CDEs very quickly, I make it so quick that it’s easy to lose someone on the outside of the conversation, knowledge-wise. I don’t ever want to do that.

So if you ever see something I write, or hear something I say, and it doesn’t make sense to you, I hope you’ll ask me for an explanation. You deserve that.

And if you don’t want to ask me for an explanation, guess what? TuDiabetes is an amazing source of information. They even have this Diabetes Terminology Glossary that explains just about everything you’ll ever want to know about the acronyms that power our diabetes discussions.

I admit it: I’m a diabetes acronym-dropper. But don’t let it rattle you. And in the words of Bennet Dunlap, LYMI.
CGM: Continuous Glucose Monitor

DSMA: Diabetes Social Media Advocay (the #DSMA Twitter chat is every Wednesday at 9:00 ET)

DOC: Diabetes Online Community

A1c: According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), “The A1C test is sometimes called the hemoglobin A1c, HbA1c, or glycohemoglobin test. The A1C test is the primary test used for diabetes management and diabetes research.”

BG: Blood Glucose

IOB: Insulin On Board (the insulin still active in the body at any given time)

CDE: Certified Diabetes Educator

LYMI: Love Ya, Mean It.

Diabetes Social Media Burnout?

Welcome to Tuesday. September 1st. Oh, and it’s my brother’s birthday. Happy Birthday Chuck!

Thanks to the people at Diabetes Daily, today is also Diabetes Social Media Burnout Blog Day. According to Diabetes Daily:

“… let’s talk about ways in which we can address and take care of our burnout! Let’s talk about ways in which we can step back for a bit and re-fuel or ways in which we can handle the situations where we feel like we’re being attacked or even where we might find ourselves attacking others for differences in opinion.”
Okay… there are a few things I should get straight with you right from the outset:

First, maybe I’m late to the party, or maybe I just like this all too much, but I haven’t really felt social media burnout to the extent suggested by this topic. I’ve been connected to the internet since the early 1990s, but never in a big way until I found the Diabetes Online Community (the DOC) four years ago. Also, I never owned a mobile phone until about four years ago, and I’ve only owned a smart phone for the past few months. So that probably has a lot to do with it.

Second, and I hope I’m not jinxing myself, but I haven’t ever really been attacked on the internet. I’ve encountered a few uncomfortable situations here and there, discussions where someone felt a certain way on a subject, and were ready to go toe to toe with me if I disagreed with them. But those moments were few, and by and large, unless that person was advocating for something dangerous or unquestionably wrong, I just let them vent. Didn’t cost me a thing to do so.

Third, my influence on the internet, and within the diabetes community, isn’t that big to begin with. If someone wants to attack me, they’ll have to hit a pretty small target. I’m a fierce target… but when it comes right down to it, nobody is going to feel a lot of pride trying to knock down someone like me. I’m not a big enough fish for most trolls.
That’s not to say I haven’t ever experienced social media burnout. Usually, it’s around the time when I am busier than usual already. What I try to do is think of my social media interactions as fun. If it’s not fun, if it seems like too much of a chore, then I back off a bit.

Also, when I get a vacation (which is rare these days, but still), I usually disconnect totally from social media for the week or so I’m away. Once I do that, I’m really ready to engage with others again. Also, it seems like something big always happens during those rare times when I’m not as active on social media. More impetus to jump back into the conversation.
As for being attacked? It’s only happened twice that I know of, but I’ve experienced situations where someone accused me of somehow being a shill for a large company, or being part of a select group of bloggers within the DOC that always gets to go to big events while others stay home. Here’s how I deal with something like that:

Look… I know who I am, and what I stand for. I’m not afraid to change my stance on something if I feel that my stance needs to be changed. When someone has something critical to say, I try to listen first and consider whether there is merit to what someone is unhappy about. I allow for the possibility that I may be wrong. That’s a difficult thing to do, and I do it. And sometimes, I’ve changed my point of view. Also, it should be noted, I’ve paid my own way to nearly everything I’ve attended.

I also know the difference between disappointment and bitterness.

I didn’t get to go to MasterLab this year, or Friends for Life (never been to Friends for Life, actually). I am really bummed about that; I’m incredibly disappointed that I didn’t get to make it this year, and it still affects me when I think about it.

Now, if I were to take to the internet and complain about the people who were there, accusing them of being part of an exclusive clique of bloggers who always get to go to big diabetes events and hang out with each other all the time, blah, blah, blah (we’ve heard this before, right?)… well, that’s just bitterness. Bitterness comes from someplace different from disappointment. Those people who went to MasterLab this year? It’s not their fault I didn’t get to go. I get a lot more emotional mileage from being happy that they are there, as opposed to criticizing them for my not being there.

Bitterness can come from disappointment. But disappointment is never an excuse for bitterness. When the only argument you have is to say, in effect, “I’m better than you because look how bad you are”, that’s bitterness. I’m not going to give you my time. You have to own your bitterness all by yourself.

Also, I will add this: When you attack people in the diabetes community, you are attacking my friends. People who have laughed with me, who have befriended me, people who have commiserated with me through my failures, and celebrated with me through my successes. You don’t mess with my friends.

If it weren’t for this community, I wouldn’t be where I am today, physically, emotionally, or just about any other way you can think of.
Finally, and I hope this doesn’t sound overly simplistic, but I try to think of the information superhighway just the way I think of an actual superhighway. Along the road, there are places to eat, places to lay your head at night, places to gather socially with one another, places to share experiences, places to ask questions and seek advice.

Along the superhighway, there are good, helpful, strong individuals who live in communities that protect one another and support and encourage one another. And there are terrible, awful people, who thrive on the misery of others, and try to pump up their own sense of self-worth at the expense of someone else. Unfortunately, there is nothing to bar the access of those people from the information superhighway. The best we can do is protect ourselves, and each other.

Well, those are a lot of words, and maybe not a lot of advice. But if I were giving advice on dealing with social media burnout? I’d say: Participate as long as it’s fun and/or meaningful to you. Encourage and support others. Learn the difference between disappointment and bitterness. And…

Do not let a bitter person steal your voice.

How to react? How not to react?

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.