Today’s Diabetes Blog Week topic is Message Monday. What sort of message are we trying to send to our readers?
Monday, May 16, 2016
Diabetes Blog Week 2016 Day 1: Message Monday
Welcome to the 7th annual Diabetes Blog Week! I've been participating for a few years, and this week, where we all write according to a specific prompt, is really what eased me in to blogging about diabetes - a subject which, prior to this, I didn't even want to talk about. But today's topic is all about talking, or rather, the message that talk sends:
Today’s topic is Message Monday. Let's kick off the week by talking about why we are here, in the diabetes blog space. What is the most important diabetes awareness message to you? Why is that message important for you, and what are you trying to accomplish by sharing it on your blog? (Thank you, Heather Gabel, for this topic suggestion.)
In my college-level essay writing and analysis class, one of the first things I teach is authorial intent. Not just “what is the writer trying to achieve” (thesis, message) but “how is the writer trying to achieve it?” To determine this, one important aspect to examine is context. An essay is like a person: it has a brain (thesis), background (context), bones (structure), muscle (evidence), and skin, hair and presentation (language). It’s hard to be a person in a vacuum. You have to interact with others. That’s where context comes in, and that’s why context comes in early on – without knowing where the writer is coming from, and where the audience is coming from, you can’t really begin to deal with structure, evidence, or language.
One of the most popular mottos in the Diabetes Online Community is “YDMV” – Your Diabetes May Vary. It’s an interesting conundrum – the very thing that unites us – diabetes – is probably the thing in our lives that’s the most variable. What unites us is the commonality of our differences; we can never really know each other, but when it comes to diabetes, we can never fully know ourselves, even with the most sophisticated monitoring devices out there. Our bodies will do things that are complete and utter mysteries to us.
My blog, and my message, may vary (MMMV), just like my (and your) diabetes may vary. Sometimes I’m here to share stories about my past and how much connecting with other people has meant to me (it’s meant friendships, better numbers, and a sense of being able to control something in an ultimately uncontrollable universe).
Sometimes, I’m here to rant, because getting our frustrations off our chests, ranting and listening in turn, is one of the best ways to connect.
Sometimes it’s about sharing the hard-won victories, and telling the reader that all things are possible.
Sometimes, it’s about sharing the painful defeats, and sharing the pain; realizing that even outwardly successful people feel failure (as noted sage Jean-Luc Picard once said, “It is possible to commit no mistakes and still lose. That is not a weakness. That is life”).
Sometimes, like that last quotation might indicate, I’m here to make connections between what I’m feeling and the pop culture that many of us share. In my English class, we talk about analogies. One of the most difficult things to explain to another person is an intangible experience that they can’t fully share. You can explain, drily, what “diabetes” means; you can talk about having too much or too little glucose in the blood. It’s hard, though, to explain how it all feels, and a way to make that clearer is to reach into shared stories, from Shakespeare to Star Trek, Buffy to My Little Pony to The West Wing to The Phantom Tollbooth. Diabetes, with its chronic aspect, resists narrative arc and clarity, but we can shape it by likening it to more satisfying narratives. If we can’t ever collectively throw the ring into Mount Doom, we can at least walk the mountain path together.
Sometimes, I’m just here to entertain, by writing song parodies or creating Cards Against Diabetes (probably my biggest victory). We can complain about diabetes; we can share our pain and connect; we can analyze, but sometimes we just want to laugh.
So, just like Your Diabetes May Vary, My Message May Vary. Frustrating? Unquantifiable? perhaps. Ultimately, though, it’s the infinite variability of life that makes it thrilling, and fascinating, and worth living, and I want to be here to share it with you.