My friend and fellow college alum (the irony is we didn't really know each other until we met via the D-OC!) Karen Graffeo at "Bitter-Sweet" had an idea last year to do Diabetes Blog week and recruit a bunch of fellow diabetes bloggers to participate. Needless to say, last year's event proved to be very popular and successful, so she's decided to do it again this week, which marks the second annual diabetes blog week.
The topic du jour (Monday, 5/9/2011) is Admiring our differences. Although like last year, there is an option for wildcard posts within a few, pre-defined topic ranges. The basic overview of today's topic is as follows (in Karen's words): We are all diabetes bloggers, but we come from many different perspectives. Last year, Diabetes Blog Week opened eyes to all of the different kinds of blogs (and bloggers) out there – Type 1s, Type 2s, LADAs, parents of kids with diabetes, spouses of adults with diabetes and so on. Today let’s talk about how great it is to learn from the perspectives of those unlike us! Have you learned new things from your T2 friends? Are D-Parents your heroes? Do LADA blogs give you insight to another diagnosis story? Do T1s who've lived well with diabetes since childhood give you hope? Pick a type of blogger who is different from you and tell us why they inspire you - why you admire them - why it's great that we are all the same but different!!
I must admit that when I first began blogging about type 1 diabetes way back on September 15, 2005, I wasn't really looking for people who were different from me -- in fact, I was looking for quite the opposite -- I was looking for patients who were just like me, and indeed, I found them! Of course, in those days, the Diabetes Online Community was still very much in it's infancy.
For example, it would be a fair number of months before David Edelman of Diabetes Daily would create a widget with blog post "headlines" from fellow members of the diabetes blogging community, so in those days, simple blog searches and word-of-mouth were the way this community really began. Also, an early crash in the Diabetes Daily headline feed proved to me at least that my own blogroll would prove to be as important as a third-party source, a practice I have maintained since then!
Among the earliest bloggers I remember on the topic of diabetes included at least a few who remain with it today (more than six years later), although many of us have subsequently acquired our own domain names, changed hosts, blog designs and whatnot. Keeping track of all the changes is an ongoing job! I won't mention any names of the early bloggers specifically (I think most of you know who you are already) and we've been fortunate to have a dynamic and ever-expanding number of great new members in this community, each of whom have added in ways that are impossible to articulate in just a few words.
But the topic for today is more about admiring our differences.
Of course, here's where I may deviate a bit from Karen's perspective just a bit on the topic. My perspective as one of the d-blogger veterans out there is that collectively, I think the community has learned a lot more about respect for one another over the last 6 years.
In the early days, many (or all?) diabetes internet message boards would have regular debates (monthly or even weekly) about the differences between type 1 and type 2 and why one group didn't want to be associated with the other. Often, those debates would end up with insults or annoyances for failure to appreciate the challenges on either side of an issue, and just when I thought the debate had been put to rest, another one would re-emerge with the same basic discussion.
Learning From Each Other, and Hopefully Learning Mutual Respect
Since that time, I can say that I think the incidence of these "debates" have subsided dramatically. They still flame up every now and then, but it seems that the interest in participating in those debates has subsided a lot. Instead, I have seen a lot of growth within the community where even if participants don't share a perspective, today it doesn't end up (at least not as often as it used to) in insults or flame wars.
Much of credit for that, if I may be so bold, really belongs to two things: first, a few, brave type 2 bloggers who have gone a long way towards venturing in a community that so far, remains disproportionately stacked with type 1 bloggers. But as important, I think the community has collectively no longer seems interested in debating about which type of diabetes is more challenging or finds it easier to manage or take care of. The bottom line is clear (it should have been all along, but no one ever said there would not be a learning-curve, apparently): no person asked for diabetes, and while the challenges are unique to the individual in managing diabetes, it's a full-time job that never goes away. Similarly, no form of diabetes can be eradicated with some kind of diet or exercise plan. In fact, the medical establishment is clear that medically, cure may be defined as restoration to good health, while remission is defined as abatement or disappearnace of the signs and symptoms of a disease, hence at present, the only option for any type of diabetes is to put their disease into remission. In summary, the type 2 bloggers who have braved a blogging community that is disproportionately type 1s in the online community, as well as the community's willingness to hear different perspectives and lack of willingness to turn the conversation into a debate has enabled me and many others to admire our differences.
Collectively, I would say this has been one of the D-OC's greatest accomplishments to date!