I was extremely hesitant about taking a plunge into the Twitterverse a year ago. Unlike Facebook, my name, my photo, and everything I posted could be seen by anyone on the internet. When I first joined I would upload a profile photo, Tweet a few things, and then delete everything on my page again. I did this a few times before I eventually had the confidence to stick with it.
I seriously considered Tweeting under an alias for a while. But inspired by others I saw in the diabetes community, I decided to go with a first name and a profile photo. I wanted people to be able to connect with me, and I felt that this did me better justice than an alias.
I also feel that putting my name to my posts on social media makes them more honest and genuine. I think it’s a lot easier to be dishonest and disrespectful on social media when you’re posting behind a mask. If you’re serious about the “a” word (advocacy), then this is definitely something to consider too. I know that when I’m scrolling through my Twitter followers, I’ll follow back genuine people with diabetes rather than the account called “Diabetes Cures.”
It’s fair to say that Twitter has surprised me. I thought that Twitter would be pointless for someone like me, who was relatively unknown and far from the likes of being a celebrity. I never thought that I would make connections, or find any meaning to it. That is, until I began using it with a focus on diabetes. I have discovered a whole new meaning to Twitter since I began using it with a focus on diabetes.
A lot of people with diabetes use Twitter. If your Twitter profile identifies as a person with diabetes, chances are a lot of these friendly folk will follow you back. There’s just something so meaningful about being able to reach out or share with people who just “get it.” Waiting out a hypo at 3am? Support on the other side of the world is just a Tweet away. Have a question? There’s a good chance someone else in your circle has gone through the very same thing. Having access to this kind of support 24 hours a day is very meaningful to me.
I love that Twitter is so short and sharp and to the point. It’s also very stimulating. It’s the first thing I check when I’m sitting at the table with my coffee in the morning. It’s something I relish during a break in the afternoon. I’m always finding something interesting to read, or jumping into a chat such as #OzDOC or #DCDE. It’s the place where I initially became passionate about diabetes (outside of my blog, of course).
I also love my hashtags. Owning a genuine Tweet about diabetes with the hashtag #diabetes is just so empowering. Everytime I use the hashtag, I mentally picture my Tweet thwarting 10 other Tweets in the #diabetes feed promoting cinnamon and weight loss and cures. I’m proud that I’m putting genuine information out there.
I love Twitter. It’s helped me to find a community, become an empowered patient, and feel less alone with my diabetes in general. Although I haven’t met any of these folks in real life, many of them do feel like friends. When you live with something as isolating as diabetes, that’s not a bad thing to have.