I’ve only been a part of the Diabetes Online Community for a little over a year.
When I nervously took part in an OzDOC chat for the first time, I felt very welcome. Strangely welcome, because the discussion was so friendly it looked like these guys all knew each other in real life. Somehow Renza stumbled upon my (very crappy at the time) blog, and offered me encouragement. Mike was one of the first people to leave me a comment, welcoming me into the Diabetes Online Community. I later learned he worked for a little site called Diabetes Mine and had included my post in their monthly blog round up.
I found my place in this community quite easily, and I continue to participate quite actively. It stimulates me, it offers me support when I need it, and it inspires me to do better with my own diabetes.
Yet the other day, I felt compelled to agree that I sometimes I do feel hesitant to speak up because my opinion might differ from that of the majority.
To this day, one of the hardest things for me to accept is that not everyone is going to agree with me. I constantly try to remind myself that we are all different and naturally won’t agree on everything, but it’s still hard. I guess I find it hard to separate the difference of opinion with a dislike for my character. Silly, I know…
There have been some issues circulating around in the DOC that people have really strong opinions about. #DiabetesAccessMatters and Low Carb High Fat diets, are two examples that come to mind. Sometimes as a witness to these intense discussions and advocacy, I do feel hesitant to jump in with an alternate opinion for fear of being attacked or banished from a community I genuinely do love.
Social media only gives us a really small window into a person. When I first jumped in, I knew nobody with diabetes. I know for me, even just meeting a small group of peers at DX2Sydney this May has given me a lot of perspective in regards to the person with diabetes versus the Twitter window. It was a really valuable experience that carries me forward in my online activity to this day.
Some of my peers in the Australian community have set a great example for me in the use of diabetes social media. When I write here, I am increasingly conscious of trying not to “bash” the alternative opinion, or claim that my opinion is the right one, instead focussing on my own experience.
One thing I do admire is this community’s eagerness to comment and voice their thoughts. I often struggle to fit my ideas into 140 characters, and I’m terrible at keeping up in fast paced Twitter conversations. It often feels easier to lurk than to comment, and I feel I could be more inclusive by not being a stranger so often!
I feel that Diabetes Daily and Diabetes Mine also do an outstanding job of being inclusive of the wider DOC. Diabetes Daily feature a wide variety of perspectives on diabetes management that I find myself reading more and more of. And you need look no further than the @diabetesmine Twitter feed to see how engaged the folks at Diabetes Mine are with the wider community.
Reading Renza’s post on the issue of inclusiveness yesterday really put my mind at ease. We don’t have to agree with one another, but we certainly need to be respectful so that others don’t feel afraid to voice their thoughts.
I don’t really know how I come across online. But I hope that others would feel that I am respectful towards other opinions, even if I don’t agree all the time.
Be kind to one another.