Diabetes is so gay.

gay bottles of insulin

To you, they might be totally different things, but hear me out. The term “that’s so gay” used to describe something stupid and the way that some people use #diabetes on Twitter or Instagram hit the same nerve with me, and I would go as far as saying that these two problems also have very similar solutions.

People saying “that’s so gay” has pretty much become synonymous with “that’s so stupid.” We live in a world (according to GLSEN) where 75% of high school students say that they have heard “that’s so gay” or “faggot” used as an insult while at school. I would guess that an additional 25% didn’t understand the question.

I can speak with authority on this after working with young people for the last decade that “good” kids with no intention of insulting their gay peers are using the term “that’s so gay” because it has become part of this generation’s daily dialect. It’s a term that’s accepted in schools. The sports field. On social media. And it’s hurtful.

Regardless of the intent of the speaker, calling something you dislike “gay” connects a group of people to something you don’t like. It’s a microaggression – a sneaky way that we passively communicate hostility toward a group of people.

Microaggression is a decent way of explaining what I feel that many people are doing when they use “#diabetes” on social media to tag photos of unhealthy food. A quick search on Instagram for the hashtag and you see that it’s equal parts people sharing their lives with diabetes and people sharing photos of unhealthy or over-indulgent food choices.

people posting fattening sugary food to instagram using #diabetes

The intention of someone adding “#diabetes” to a picture of cupcakes, for example, is to really poke fun at themselves. It’s as if they are saying, “look at the bad choices I’m about to make!” People that use this hashtag as a joke, like people using the term “gay” in the pejorative, rarely know the harm that they are doing. Like a racist joke, even if the intent of the joke-teller isn’t to cause harm, that doesn’t mean that harm wasn’t done.

The harm done by people poking fun at diabetes isn’t done to me. I understand what causes diabetes (as much as science has figured out anyway). I know that the candy bar that you take a photo of and add a hipster filter to is causing insulin-resistance as little as your bad sense of humor will.

The harm comes when someone hears for years that diabetes is a consequence of shitty choices and then he/she is diagnosed with diabetes. These jokes are the root cause of the shame-burden that newly diagnosed people with diabetes carry around…a burden that makes managing a complicated condition only more complicated.

rainbow vials of insulin from pancreassassin for diabetes art day

Photo Credit: Pancreassassin

What’s the solution? When I was working with young people and I heard one of them call something (not someONE) “gay” I let it go.  Part of me thought that the problem was just too big to tackle, while another part of me didn’t want to come off as the “word police.” Over time I started correcting word-choice when I heard a kid call something “gay” and it usually made a kid stop using the word (around me anyway).

My feelings toward the usage of #diabetes are very similar.  For the longest time I’ve thought that the problem is way to big for me to ever make a dent in, and I don’t want to be the diabetes-joke police on Instagram…but I can’t sit around and watch it any longer. Now when I come across them, I’m going to start tagging people that use #diabetes as a joke in photos of my bloody fingers, blood glucometer, insulin needles, etc.  And I’m going to say “This is what #diabetes really looks like.”

Join me.

#MuttMuggin Is My New Favorite Instagram Hashtag

Six months ago Emily McCracken posted a photo to her Instagram feed and she, as far as I can tell, coined the hashtag #MuttMuggin.  This was a spin off of the less cute #BabyMuggin.

The idea is this:  You hold a coffee mug up and position it so it appears that your pup is hanging out in your mug.

Capturing really good dog pictures isn’t the easiest task.  I have found that having a treat in my hand makes the world of difference to the dog that doesn’t give a damn about having a good #selfie on IG.

I really can’t wait to try this with #LancetThePug next week!

If My Broken Pancreas Was On Social Media…

if my pancreas were on social media facebook diabetes

They just float around all day doing nothing. I would guess that the life of non-functioning pancreases is pretty easy.  I’m pretty sure that I can hear mine making un-funny jokes all the time about my other organs that are actually doing their jobs.  Busted pancreases are annoying.  Thank god mine doesn’t have internet access, because if he did…

line gray light faint foursquare diabetes social media pancreas humor

He would only check into ONE place on Foursquare

Why don’t you save the location-based apps for people that do exciting things?

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twitter account for my pancreas diabetes social media

His Twitter feed would be full of #HumbleBrags

I can think of a few things that I wish you were doing right now.  I don’t want to hear about how much you’re enjoying your life of leisure.

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songs lyrics posted on facebook diabetes pancreas

He would posts a lot of song lyrics

We might like this song, but reading it out of context and without the sweet guitar accompaniment, is just irritating.

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facebook to twitter sync is annoying

He has his Twitter Synched to Facebook

Hey @pancreas don’t you know that Facebook is different than Twitter? #duh

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tagged photo from instagram

He will tag you in photos that you aren’t in

Wait…were you wishing I was there?  Were you mistaken? Or is this just your obnoxious way of trying to make me look at your photo?

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annoying inspirational photos on facebook

The only photos he would post on Facebook are inspirational pictures he stole from someone else

He gets really inspired by hearing some worn out quote from Ghandi…fine.  But why do you have to post the images you stole from Pinterest to Facebook?

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diabetes jokes nobody thinks are funny

He reposts jokes that nobody thinks are funny








Ten Ways To Be More Presidential On Instagram

Barack Obama's Instagram Page White House Social Media

Let’s be honest.  You’d kill for over 2 million Instagram followers.  And wouldn’t it sort of feel nice if each time you uploaded a washed-out picture of you and your new hair it received 150,000 likes and 45,000 comments?

While it might take getting elected to the most powerful position in the world to become as popular as President Barack Obama on Instagram, there are still a few lessons we can learn from his Instagram page.

president barack obama eating pizza from instagram1. People don’t care what you ate, they care who you ate it with.

Stop taking those boring shots where you hover over your plate at a 90° angle. If we want to see the menu of that new Korean BBQ place, we’ll look at the menu for the new Korean BBQ place.  But since we’re looking at your Instagram page, what we’re looking to find are pictures of you and your life.  Your friends.  The ambiance of the place.  Tell us the story of your night, not the story of how many calories you ate.

President Barack Obama before an interview on Instagram2. Make your followers feel exclusive.

Don’t feel the need to share every Instagram shot with your Twitter followers and Facebook friends.  Having a bit of exclusive content just for the people that follow you on Instagram will make them feel…exclusive.

Plus, don’t most of your Instagram followers already follow you on every social network anyway?  Duplicating the content dilutes the number of “likes” your picture will get!

Barack Obama talking in Madison WI on Instagram3. Don’t be afraid to show us what you do at work.

I’m not suggesting that you take your cell phone into super-secretive meetings and start photographing all of the trade secrets your company holds.  But you spend a lot of your life at the office…why not show your followers this real part of your life?

president barack obama sitting at a table from instagram4. Sometimes the best shot cannot be done by you.

Every once in a while you’re going to need to hand your phone over to someone else and ask them to help you get a shot.  Selfies are great, and everything…but it’s sort of difficult to really capture how fabulous your shirt matches your pants without relinquishing control.

barack obama and michelle obama doing a throw back thursday on instagram #tbt5. Participate in #TBT…but not every damn Thursday.

We get it.  You were so skinny…back then.  You were so young…back then.  You were so whatever…back then.

Throwback Thursday (#TBT) is fun.  We all enjoy seeing old photos that you dig up.  But when we start to suspect that #TBT is a way for you to live in the past, we start to feel sorry for you.

We follow you on Instagram because we like to see what you’re up to.  Not what you were up to 20 years ago.  So if you’re going to post a #TBT, do it sparingly.

An Obama supporter from social media6. Don’t be afraid to use the Willow filter.

Some pictures look good all Kelvin-ed out…but don’t be afraid to use the simple black & white filter called “Willow.”

This filter works especially well when there are areas of both light and shadow in your image.

barack obama picture on instagram with no filter social media 10 things image7. Don’t be afraid to use no filter.

I know. I know.  Sharing a photo on Instagram without a filter is a lot like going to McDonalds and asking for no salt on your fries.

Trust me here.  Your Instagram feed will look okay without each image having shadowy corners and sepia tone centers.  Try it once.

michelle obama posing for pictures that were posted to instagram8. Take pictures of people posing…for different cameras.

This isn’t exactly a candid shot since the subjects in the photograph are posing.  But there’s something dynamic about photographs of posed people looking at other cameras.  This makes your Instagram follower feel like part of your action…watching on as the photo is taken instead of looking at just another contrived “Say Cheese!”

barack obama's back as he poses for a pictureThe Obamas do this one well (that’s why I’m including two examples).  Part of the reason they do it so well is because their Instagram is managed by a team of people that are taking photographs at their events.  But this technique is also one that really draws in the viewer and makes them feel like there are on the inside…which is on the list of objectives for the President’s social media campaigns.

obama's re election countdown on instagram9. Have an agenda.

Have something to say…and try to make sure your pictures tell that story.

Your “story” doesn’t have to be as grandiose as running for President of the United States of America.  Perhaps your story is simply “I am a wonderful woman that likes to knit.”  In which case when you see a big ball of knitting yarn and needles sitting next to your arm chair (I know NOTHING about knitting…do you use yarn? are they called needles?) you might feel inspired to snap a photo.

I feel like my Instagram agenda is to show how diabetes affects my life.  Therefore I find myself taking a lot of photos on Instagram of my glucometer and posting videos of diabetes paraphernalia.  Don’t let this “agenda” limit what you share, just allow it to inspire you.  As my friend Kerri said about diabetes, “Diabetes doesn’t define me, but it helps explain me.”

Hat trick: Sunny, Stanley, and Bo. #GoHawks stanley cup dogs10. Do not stop taking pictures of dogs.


This is the one that explains what your Instagram choices say about you.

A hand drawn version of the Instagram LogoWhen I saw this infographic from Jason Miller over at Marketo’s blog, I was skeptical.  I’m used to seeing marketing blogs exploiting the use of infographics or top ten lists to make no point.  But this one actually contains some useful info.

For starters, the stats about the number of images uploaded per second and per day to Instagram are interesting.  Jason says, “…the filter you choose says more about you than the picture you take.  The infographic below explains the psychology behind the top 10 Instagram filters, and profiles the personalities of the photographers who use them.”

An infographic about Instagram filers and what they say about your personality.

This is the one where I describe the “Instagramification Of Dinner.”

Cartoon of a restaurant people trying to order food that looks good on instagram.I’m an obsessive Instagram user (@mrmikelawson).  It’s sometimes embarrassing how I will drop everything that I’m doing to grab my iPhone and snap a photo.  And I sometimes get so obsessed with finding something to Instagram that I stop really appreciating all of my other senses…smell, sounds, danger intuition.

Caprese Sandwich

The Caprese Sandwich from SLOW in Berkeley, CA.

I talk with people (formally and informally) about my love for social media and how we’ve started communicating differently in the past five years.  Haters gonna hate, and many times skeptical people say something like, “why do I care what you ate for lunch.”  It’s a fairly common opinion that Instagram users just wasting their time by documenting the inane with photographs.  I’ve been told directly that social media services like Twitter and Instagram are making the world a worse place to live.

I would actually argue that the exact opposite is happening. People that take photographs of food and share them on the internet are saving the world.

Traditionally, “breaking bread” has brought people together.  I don’t think that I need to explain the value of sharing a meal with friends or family.  When I was growing up we had mandatory dinners and although it may have not been intentional, these meals grounded me and helped me to realize that I wasn’t alone.  “I” wasn’t eating dinner.  “We” were.

Kale salad

The Kale Salad with edamame beans from Trader Joe’s

In the past 30 years it’s become more normal to “grab something quick” instead of setting the table and planning ahead of time.  The valuable “let’s do lunch” has been replaced with emails pounded out between bites.  And many of the conversations that we absorb over meals are fictional ones between characters on the TV.  And this is undoubtedly unhealthy.  Quick and easy is rarely nutritious and wholesome.

Social media has created a shift in the way that we communicate.  It’s no longer necessary to have hour-long telephone calls with your friends across the country to catch up, because we now keep current with everything that is happening via their Facebook pages.  And it’s true that we are no longer sitting down and stuffing our faces with friends…or at least less frequently.  We are, however, re-creating the valuable conversations that revolved around food and our food choices with the Instagramification of dinner.

More than 60 photos per second are uploaded to Instagram.  Of course not all of them are food…there are a few cat pictures thrown in too.  There are, however, millions of food snapshots uploaded per day.  Food is social.  Eating doesn’t just keep us alive, but it also allows us to connect with others.  The ancient greek philosopher Epicurus said, “We should look for someone to eat and drink with before looking for something to eat and drink.”  We take pictures of our food (and shamelessly slap on a vintage filter to make them look hipster) and post them on Instagram and Twitter because we want to share.  We want to share our meals, even if we are eating alone.

Food is social, but as the world changes and the word “social” is getting a new look, so will the way that we share.

Don’t let the Instagram food-haters bring you down.  If the first thing you think after the waiter drops off your plate is, “what filter am I going to use?” – you’re doing it right.