Social Networking: Twitter and Diabetes
By Manny Hernandez
Have you heard about Twitter? It’s social networking that lets you share what’s happening in your life in 140 characters or less. With so little space, it may sound like a place with little to offer for people touched by diabetes. Well, think again. Cherise Shockley, known as @diabetic_iz_me on Twitter and diagnosed with LADA in 2004, shares with us how Twitter helps her manage her diabetes and how it can help you.
Manny Hernandez: When did you start getting involved in the DOC (Diabetes Online Community)?
Cherise Shockley: I was diagnosed with type 1.5, or LADA in 2004. At first, I treated my diabetes with oral medication, instead of insulin. I didn't know anything about type 1 diabetes and knew very little about type 2. I used the Internet to help me understand diabetes, but I did not connect with the Diabetes Online Community until I became insulin-dependent in 2008. When I stumbled upon TuDiabetes, I felt at home. I then decided to start blogging about my life with diabetes.
Manny Hernandez: When did you start using Twitter?
Cherise Shockley: First, I tried to stay away from Twitter; it was too confusing. I didn't know how to participate, who to follow, and who not to follow. Jaimie, a very good friend with diabetes, convinced me to join Twitter in 2009 and I haven't looked back since then. Today, I am addicted to the support system the DOC provides in 140 characters or less!
Manny Hernandez: How has the use of Twitter helped you as a person with diabetes?
Cherise Shockley: Twitter has helped me as a person in many ways. I have met and connected with many wonderful people who live with diabetes. Twitter has also helped me look at diabetes in a different light. People who tweet about diabetes and healthcare have helped me become more empowered, inspired, educated, and aware of the needs of people who live with diabetes.
Manny Hernandez: Can you explain what #DSMA is?
Cherise Shockley: #DSMA stands for Diabetes Social Media Advocacy. It is a Twitter chat designed for people living with diabetes, parents of children with diabetes, family members, or anyone that advocates for or is curious about what life is like with diabetes. #DSMA takes place every Wednesday at 9 PM EST.
To participate, all you have to do is follow @DiabetesSocMed or the hashtag #dsma. The chat was organized not only to offer support to people living with diabetes, but also to advocate, spread awareness, and educate those who don't understand what diabetes is or what it's like to live with diabetes.
Manny Hernandez: What is the most important highlight of #DSMA so far?
Cherise Shockley: To see the community participating once a week, coming together to talk about their own personal experience with diabetes, sharing tips, laughing, venting, and connecting with others. It's truly an inspirational and humbling experience.
Manny Hernandez: What would be your Twitter advice for someone with diabetes?
Cherise Shockley: Twitter can be very overwhelming. You have to take baby steps, be able to handle other people’s opinions, and follow people who are interested in the things you are interested in. Once you get that down part down, it is amazing. I promise you will not look back.
Manny Hernandez: Any last thoughts?
Cherise Shockley: You can find support in any and all forms of social networking. The difference with Twitter is that it's instant and you have to condense your thoughts in 140 characters or less. I like to say it's the instant 24/7 lifeline of the diabetes community. Tweet when you’re high, low, and anywhere in between.
dLife's Daily Living columnists are not all medical experts, but everyday people living with diabetes and sharing their personal experiences. While their method of diabetes management may work for them, everyone is different. Please consult with your diabetes care team to find out what will work best for you.
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