It’s the Friday before National Diabetes Week here in Australia. Over the next 10 days, diabetes will be in the press. A lot. And that means a lot of misreporting and a lot of people saying the wrong things about diabetes.
So, here are some of my thoughts about how to address this:
- Stay calm. If you hear or see or read something about diabetes that is incorrect, don’t get angry. Send a balanced, calm response to the journalist, radio/TV station/person talking with CORRECT information. Be brief, use facts – dot points are good.
- Know your facts! And that means no perpetuating other myths to bust the one that’s pissed you off.
- Get over the type 1 versus type 2 thing. Seriously. Don’t bash the ‘other’ diabetes.
- I send the Diabetes Australia Language Position Statement out to any journalist who uses damaging language when writing about diabetes. I tweet the link directly to journos all the time!
- Naming and shaming is okay if you’re nice and polite about it.
- Don’t engage. Make your point and walk away. There is no need to enter into an argument that will most likely get heated and result in abuse. Grace and dignity are amazing qualities; demonstrate them in spades!
- Action! If you’re going to complain, make sure you actually do something meaningful with it. It’s all very well to bitch and moan amongst your peers, but find the source of whatever has upset you and write to them directly. (See point 1 for the tone to use.)
- Follow up. And if you do take the time to write, you should expect a response. If you don’t get one within a reasonable time, re-send your correspondence.
- Pick your battles. I can tell you now that no one has bucket loads of money to spend on diabetes campaigns, so no matter how much you want the government or diabetes organisation in your state to run a full-blown campaign explaining the difference between type 1 and type 2 diabetes, it’s not gonna happen. Accept it!
- Remember that you know a lot about diabetes out of pure necessity. Don’t expect that same level of knowledge from everyone. Most of the stupid things people say are out of sheer ignorance or bad manners. Politely correct and move on.
- There are some great resources out there that can help. Check out this and this.
The primary aim of National Diabetes Week is to raise awareness of the condition – specifically awareness about prevention of type 2 diabetes. Consider any misreporting or silly comments an opportunity to provide information and education in the hope that the people perpetuating the myths won’t do it again. And as your (and everyone’s) grandmother would say: Keep yourself nice.