Tag Archives: social media

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.”
DSMBD
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.
 
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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.
 
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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.
 
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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.
 
 
 

April DSMA Blog Carnival: Surviving Social Media Burnout.

The April DSMA Blog Carnival topic is an interesting one. As Karen says, “Just as we can have bouts of diabetes burnout, we might also have bouts of social media burnout.” So true, so true. Our question this month is:

What are some of the things we can do to prevent social media burnout?

Especially when we have months like this one, right? That New York Times story has had Twitter, Facebook, and blogs buzzing for two weeks. At moments like that, it’s easy to burn yourself out.

One of the things I find very interesting is the fact that no matter your age, or your background, or your prominence (or lack thereof) in the social media landscape, you will get burned out sometimes. I mean, it’s easy to get caught up in something, work hard to keep up on it, and then find out two weeks later you haven’t taken the dog for a walk or spoken to your spouse. So there’s a piece of advice right there:

Talk to your spouse once in a while. Take the dog for a walk. Play with your kids. Trust me, those tweets aren’t going anywhere. Facebook will still be there, faithfully waiting for your status update.

Why do we get so caught up in social media? Because we’re connected like never before? Because we know more people, in more places, than ever before? Those things are true. But I think we get so caught up in social media because we’re (usually) connected to people and issues that we care about deeply. I’ve personally made the mistake of feeling like I’m letting people down if I don’t stay at the forefront of an issue as it makes its way through the virtual landscape. Those are the moments when I need to remind myself:

This is not my job. And oh, by the way, social media was here long before I created a Twitter account, and it will be here long after I’m gone.

And let’s not forget something that really helps addict us to our smartphones and tablets. All of us, I think, have had a positive experience, or several, or several hundred, via social media. Who wouldn’t want that to continue? When you think of likes or followers or uplifting comments, and the way those make you feel, it’s easy to understand someone’s motivation for blogging and tweeting and instagramming and storifying themselves into a perfect computerized glow of co-dependency. We don’t want the love to stop.

If that’s you: You need a vacation.

At least once a year I go on vacation, for maybe a week. When I do, I also take a social media break. I don’t check my email, or my blog, or Twitter, or Facebook, or Instagram. And two things happen. I don’t miss it, and I find myself with renewed energy and sense of purpose. I feel like I can embrace social media again, rather than feel enslaved to it.

Oh yeah, we’ve all been there. It’s okay to admit it. Social media burnout does occur. When it does, remember that it’s okay to step away, take a break, enjoy the other great things in your life, even take a vacation from it for a while. Don’t worry… we’ll all be right here when you come back, and we’ll be very interested in what you’ve been up to! Go make some offline stories, then fill us in when you return. We’re looking forward to it. When we come back from the walk/date/vacation of our own.

This post is my April entry in the DSMA Blog Carnival. If you’d like to participate too, you can get all of the information at http://diabetescaf.org/2014/04/april-dsma-blog-carnival-4/.
 
 
 

Like these links– Friday edition.

Happy Friday! I hope that somehow you’ve either avoided the terrible weather gripping the country right now, or that you’re safe and warm wherever you are.

I haven’t done this for a while, so I thought I would pass along these terrific posts from around the Diabetes Online Community. You’ve probably already seen a couple of these, but there are also links to a couple of items that you may have missed.

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Christel at ThePerfectD has your initial lineup of diabetes conferences for 2014. Personally, I was glad to see this since there were a couple in my area that I didn’t know about. Look for conferences in your area here:
http://theperfectd.com/2014/01/01/your-2014-diabetes-conference-calendar/

Here are a couple of additional conferences for you:
I got an e-mail about a one-day event in Washington, D.C. in February. From The Gary and Mary West Health Institute (WHI) and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) the focus of the conference is “Igniting an Interoperable Health Care System”. It’s a public conference that will be held at the Omni Shoreham hotel on Feb. 6. The conference will convene stakeholders critical to driving interoperability – a cornerstone to improving patient care through safer and more cost-effective health care delivery. For more on the conference, and to register (it’s free),
Go here.

On February 28, there’s a symposium entitled “Challenging Current Diabetes Care: Strategies for Practice Improvement”. It’s taking place in Richmond, Virginia, and it’s coming from the University of Virginia’s Office of Continuing Medical Education. It looks to be primarily related to Type 2 diabetes care, and features a few notable speakers. I don’t have a web address for you, but if you’re interested, e-mail me at happymedium[dot]net[at]gmail[dot]com and I’ll send you the information.

Kim at Texting My Pancreas is looking for a little help test-driving a new source of diabetes information via the web. I won’t link you there directly. Instead, I’ll send you over to her post so you can get all of the information. Oh, and get this: If you help provide feedback, she’ll enter you for a chance to win a $100 Target gift card:
http://www.textingmypancreas.com/2014/01/profile-health.html

Finally, I want to turn you on to a blog from someone who’s outside of the normal diabetes-blogger profile. This writer graduated from college in the USA recently, then took off this fall for Kenya, where she’s working with people living there. Her story about managing diabetes on the African continent is the perfect example of “you can do anything with diabetes” (except make insulin, of course). The blog is Achieving Dreams While Acing the A1c:
http://t1worldtraveler.wordpress.com/

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I hope your weekend is spent doing something fun and fulfilling. Life isn’t always about the diabetes, but when it is, make it worthwhile.