I never knew the diabetes community existed online. Well, I assumed something existed, but like online men’s rights advocates or My Little Pony fan clubs I assumed they would be a little obscure and we wouldn’t have much in common.
Nonetheless, I was curious to find out more and promptly set up Twitter and Instagram accounts (follow us @pumpstash on both!!). At first I really did not know what to do and let the accounts sit at 0 for both followers and following. What do I even search to find people involved in diabetes? What do they even post about? Would I have anything to contribute?
Once I bit the bullet and decided to get involved, I was blown away. Twitter and Instagram have such different, but equally awesome groups of people who are active members of the diabetes online community (or the #doc as I’ve learned).
Instagram is a young, fun community, with accounts run from parents of diabetes, siblings with diabetes, newly diagnosed, and veterans like me. It’s a pretty young crowd, a lot of middle school, high school, and college students. It’s so cool to see people from all over the country (and world) bonding over selfies with insulin pumps, good and bad blood sugars, and tips and tricks. Everyone is always looking out for each other, lots of likes and comments when someone wakes up with a good number, and dozens responding when someone posts asking for help. A lot of the bios list contact info if others want to reach out just want to talk. One of the accounts ideas I like best is faces of diabetes (the three I’ve found are @faces_of_diabetes, @beyondtype1, and @thefacesofdiabetes). They feature self-submitted photos and descriptions about who you are, both with and without diabetes. It builds and fosters such a nice community. Some posts are about how difficult it is, non-diabetes aspects of daily life, and many are funny memes or pictures joking about different aspects of diabetes.
Twitter is similar in terms of content, but the audience is a little bit older, mostly people with diabetes, those working in the healthcare field, and parents of kids with diabetes. What I’ve enjoyed most about the diabetes community on Twitter is the conversation it fosters. On Tuesday and Wednesday nights there are Twitter chats. Run by one or two people highly involved in the DOC they feature a variety of topics. This past Tuesday, for example, the topic was diabetes hacks. From 9pm to 10pm those with (or without) diabetes can join the conversation using the hashtags #dcde or #dsma (on Tuesday and Wednesday nights respectively). The questions are all really interesting and allow me to interact with people that share the same struggles (and joys) with diabetes. It’s so interesting to connect with people from all over the world and seeing what cool things they are doing in spite or because of their diabetes.
I can’t wait to get further integrated and to get to know more people within the diabetes online community. I am learning so many little tips, meeting great people, and I am looking forward to building new and stronger relationships.