The Internet’s Not A Thing Anymore!

Melinda Seed writes for Twice Diabetes

It’s true get over it!

Do you hear any sensible person saying things like

“Don’t look at any television news/read the newspapers or news magazines because they’re full of false information and negativity.”  or

“I never go to parties or social gatherings because they’re full of negative people or somebody might say something that’s untrue to me.”

No?  Funny that neither do I.  Of course the simple and obvious answer to comments like that is to choose your media source and/or your social events more carefully and be discerning about what news or information you view as credible.

So why do people say stuff like this about “the internet”? Back in 1995, sure the internet was new and social media was a newborn but it’s 2017 people and the internet is an opportunity to communicate (in both the narrow and broad meanings of the word) in the same way the printing press, television and film AND the pub, the kitchen table and the Saturday night party or Sunday morning brunch are.

There are people who don’t enjoy  real life socialising and some have little interest in news and so there are people without an interest in internet news and/or social media. That’s fine but let’s stop framing that as though it’s a fault with ‘the internet’ rather than an individual foible of the person expressing those sentiments. Sure it’s also an individual foible that some prefer the internet to real life socialising, that’s also an individual foible.

I have been avidly following t1 diabetes news since I could read and a part of the social media/peer support world of diabetes almost since it began in the late 90s. I have had 100s of hours of communicating via PHpb discussion boards, Facebook and Twitter. Not once have I seen somebody say that they are ignoring their doctor’s advice to go it alone with the internet, not once have I seen somebody say they are ceasing insulin so they can drink ochra juice or eat cinnamon. Not once have I seen anybody encouraged to replace their health care with “the internet.”

I have seen people who have been told by their GP to cease insulin whilst fasting seek more information on line and being advised to seek diabetes specialist care. I have seen a woman who was told by an endocrinologist that a miscarriage was all her own fault given support, understanding and offers of practical assistance online. These included recommendations of D clinics, accommodation and travel assistance (as she lived in regional Australia) to see a diabetes specialist who would help her achieve the desired A1c. It must be noted this poor woman was checking her bsl 12 times a day but had been given help, instruction or advice on what to do with the results. I have seen people with complications receive moral support and encouragement from others who had undergone similar challenges and be able to see that it’s not the beginning of the end. This is just the tip of the iceberg and why I believe passionately in the power of digital platforms to enhance the life of people with diabetes.  It’s like a village, sure there are know-alls, there are pains in the neck and there is always the village idiot  but these are balanced by the majority of well-intentioned, sensible, kind and funny people who just want to spend a little bit of time each week with people who “get” what living with diabetes is like. If the information you are reading is crap, or the people on social media are not your cup of tea, find other websites, there’s heaps out there.

Dissing the internet on the basis of one or two sites is a bit like saying you hate magazines if you are reading New Idea when The New Yorker is more your cup of tea.

Rachel Botsman, Slide from Trust Me I’m a Stranger presentation, at Wired for Wonder, Sydney

The internet is part of life in 2017, it is not a “thing” of either virtue or vice (but can be used for either). Those health professionals or indeed, patients who try to stop their patients using the net are as impotent as King Canute trying to hold back the tide. The ‘net is here, it is just another vehicle for information sharing and communicating. Get onboard and be part of the positive use of this no longer novel technology or resign yourself to being  a dinosaur and we all know what happened to them!


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