Thoughts on The Diabetes

For me, though, more significant even than the business status of the site is your approach to the content. You lost me as a potentially trusting reader when you began shaking your finger at people with diabetes, constantly berating us to improve our care and inundating us with news of the horrifying outcomes awaiting our presumed negligence. It’s one thing to inform; it’s another to preach and castigate. Your status as a non-diabetic makes this stance EXTREMELY hard to take. I imagine your intent is to be motivational, but you are not succeeding for this reader.

I was furious when you began posting blog reviews a couple of months back and, in practically the same day, extolled Amy’s positive attitude while labeling Lori’s “depressing.” How dare you! How dare you so casually pass judgment on the brave sharing of honest experience! BOTH blogs are important and meaningful, as are the many others of their kind. Why would you imagine that we need you to evaluate the personal writings of other diabetics for us, or that you are qualified to do so? Do you see the difference between offering a link with a factual summary of, say, the blogger’s profile vs. reviewing the tone of their writing like some kind of media critic? These are real people with a real disease, and what you write about them has an impact on them. Blogging about diabetes takes courage, and you showed disrespect for that in Lori’s case. I found that particularly ironic given how depressing your own site often is.

The practice of constantly surfing our blogs and posting snippets from them seems–and here again is the cynicism–motivated by your need for content. It seems to me that people like Amy, in particular, are doing much of the nuts and bolts work of making connections and digging up information. You pass it along, fine, that’s useful enough. And you give credit when you do so. But it was more honest when you had links to individual blogs on your site. Why did they vanish and never return if you’re so interested in fostering community?

One thing I do appreciate about how you run the site is that you ask for feedback and make use of it–for example, I’ve seen fewer assumptions from you about medical studies since people took you to task for telling us to avoid caffeine. But the reaction you’re getting from some diabetics suggests to me that you could benefit from continuing to heighten your sensitivity to what it’s really like for us, and in particular for the subset of diabetics who are drawn to the Internet as a medium of information gathering and self-expression.