One of the reasons social media is so powerful is because of the way it connects people. By removing all the constraints that would normally prevent people from sharing, we form connections based on shared experiences and familiar stories. We know that in the Twitterverse, there are no boundaries or territory lines to divide us. Last year, this blog was read by people from over 90 countries around the world. (Seriously, I couldn’t name 90 countries, so I’m going to have to take the word of the clever WordPress fairies on this one.)
There are so many examples of times when I read something and feel a pang of familiarity because the story mimics my own experience. And I’m always touched when people tell me that my posts ring true to them. There can be real solidarity when you are part of an online community. In today’s diabetes online community, I am fortunate to say that I feel I was welcomed from when I first hesitantly put up my hand and waved hello. The reluctance came because in a previous attempt to participate in an online diabetes site, I was condemned for having an opposing opinion to the moderators. I meekly retreated, insulin pump dragging behind me, and never went back for another play.
It saddens me when I see stories of internet trolls who deliberately upset people and consider it fair game and sport to have a go at those with differing opinions. The cowardice and manipulation shown be some who use anonymity as a screen to hurt people can be terrible.
There are billions of stories in the world and when we find people we connect with, we reach out and want to hold on. I know that’s how I feel about the DOC – I hear familiar stories and want to grab onto them and the people who wrote them (metaphorically, not literally; that would be creepy) because they help make sense of my diabetes life.
We’re not all the same and that is so okay. Perhaps the reason that online communities like to DOC work is because rather than looking for differences and calling each other out on them, we look for the similarities instead. We search for the things that connect us and build our community on that. And that makes me want to keep coming back for more. And more.