Why are you here? Why do you read diabetes blogs? What made you want to start a Twitter account and participate in diabetes chats? What makes you want to attend diabetes conferences? What inspires you to organize meet-ups with local PWDs or advocacy walk teams? How come you read diabetes articles and news sites and magazines? Why do you want to connect with others who have diabetes?
Why are you HERE?
I’m here because I have diabetes. My impetus for starting a diabetes blog was because I didn’t know anyone else “in real life” who lived with type 1 diabetes and that feeling of isolation was starting to gnaw at me as much as my fluctuating blood sugars. Back in 2005, there weren’t a lot of people sharing their stories, so I connected fiercely with the few who were. (And if you’re wondering, I do still talk with Dee, and Violet. I miss Tek and haven’t heard from her in ages.)
Before the diabetes online community was a “thing,” I felt like the only diabetic in the universe. It felt good to be proven wrong, over and over and over again.
I started this site because I wanted to find some kindred spirits. And that’s the reason I continue to write, and to try and connect. It keeps the loneliness of chronic illness at bay and makes doing this diabetes maintenance thing easier. Even though so many healthcare professionals think that my A1C is the most important marker of my success as a person with diabetes, I think my happiness is, and connecting with my PWD peers keeps me happy.
It’s a personal preference thing, and that’s my personal preference.
There are people who understand what you’re going through. That’s the whole entire point of the Diabetes Online Community, to give us that “me, too!” moment that helps make diabetes suck less. You are not the only person living with diabetes, or caring for someone with diabetes. You are not alone. The point is not pageviews or advertisements or conferences or “perks.” If that’s why you’re here, I wish you all the best, but that’s not why this community started, or why it continues.
There’s no “how to” list when it comes to engagement. You just have to DO. Do it. Engage. And just as with diabetes (or with life in general), it’s important to manage expectations. Give yourself time to find that kindred spirit, those PWD peers. Feeling connected is not as simple as logging on, but becoming part of the discussion, however big or small. Please remember that your voice is important, and it doesn’t matter how many people are “reached.”
The point is connecting with your own, personal community and you are at the very center of that experience. It’s about you being reached. It’s about you. YOU.