What would you say?

As I’ve mentioned before, I tend to keep my personal Facebook page, well, personal. Everyone that I call a “friend” on the social networking site is someone that I trust and would truly call a friend in real life. I don’t fill it up with casual acquaintances — there are plenty of grade-school and high-school classmates (even the bullying type) whose friend-requests have gone unacknowledged.

Some, I will admit, are “second-degree” friends. People that I’ve met through my wife or other friends, and gotten along with well.

Yesterday evening, in my newsfeed, I saw that she had posted a joke about a boy eating cookies and getting diabetes, preceded by “Here’s a joke one of my 3rd grade students told me today.” You’ve probably heard the whole thing before. I won’t repeat it here.

I’m conflicted.

On on hand, I didn’t find the joke funny. On the other hand, judging by the comments and “likes”, many people did.

On one hand, there are a ton of misconceptions out there, and accusations that go along with them. On the other hand, I’ve never been a target of those accusations.

On one hand, I could be oversensitive. On the other hand, I’m sure I’m guilty of telling an inappropriate joke or two myself over the years.

The person who posted this is a really sweet, fun, bubbly-personality kind of girl. Someone who’s always smiling and sees the bright side of everything, and the kind of person who makes other people around her better. Unfriending (or de-friending, or whatever those young whippersnappers are calling it these days) is not even a remote consideration.

So I stepped in with a comment of my own, saying non-confrontationally, that “It is my moral obligation to assure everyone that eating cookies does NOT cause diabetes. This is a misconception that doesn’t need to be reinforced. Now, down from my soapbox.”

The comment that followed, from someone who I do not know, was “Childhood diabetes is no joke…what does a young boy know.”

Followed by another comment from the original poster “Sorry Scott! I knew this might strike a nerve.”  That one was awkward.

I left one more response to the post and then left it alone.

Honestly, I’m not sure what to do or what to think. I don’t want to be “that person” who complains all the time. The “token diabetic” that makes people stop laughing and having fun when I walk in the room.

Yet it warrants complaining. And though these comments and misconceptions haven’t really affected me personally, I know that others have felt guilt or shame because of them — and I felt the need to speak up.

I’m also not sure which upsets me more — that the joke was told by my friend or by a third-grade student. Perhaps the third-grader didn’t know better. Perhaps the kid just didn’t know any better. Perhaps there isn’t anyone in his school with diabetes. Or if there is, the student may just know about it.

Or maybe there is, and maybe he does. Many people, myself included, are diagnose prior to entering grade number three. I assure you it had nothing to do with eating cookies.

How would you respond

Posted on October 8, 2013, in Diabetes. Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.

  1. I can honestly say I’ve never personally been offended, people say idiotic things sometimes, but I too know of other diabetics who have been hurt by the comments/remarks. So I’ll usually say something. Nothing confrontational, just something to get the person thinking.

    I’ve written about this topic before. A friend of mine suffers from all sorts of ailments and jumps on anyone who mocks them. When she made a comment about her Starbucks giving her diabetes I spoke up for fairness. Which she didn’t understand for some reason. Go figure.

    Truth is, it’s tough. At the end of the day I’ll always say something.


  2. Does this mean that since I already have diabetes I can eat as many cookies as I want?!!?!? Woo hoo!

    But seriously you did what you could and “lightheartedly” informed them that they are offending others. If you didn’t drop it from there they would probably just find you annoying.


  3. Taking the time to educate in a friendly way is never a bad idea (in my opinion 🙂 ) There will always be oversensitive people, and there will always be people who never get it. But I’m with you on the Facebook-friending thing. I’m cool with people “liking” my blog page and keeping track there, but it is only in rare cases that I will become “friends” on FB with someone I’ve never met in person.


  4. I think you got the tone just right!

    Jon Stewart made a joke in this vein earlier this year, but I was cheering inside because he specified (whoever the butt of the joke was) would get TYPE TWO diabetes. I was so happy that he bothered to differentiate. I thought someone on his staff must have type 1, and that they probably rewrote the joke. Because it threw the cadence off a little bit. So it was obviously important to someone on the staff.

    But I’m slowly getting it: how about we don’t point and laugh and blame anyone for their disease? Brilliant plan.

    Always happy to offer myself up as an example of wrong thinking,
    your friend,
    but not Facebook friend,


  5. I think that everyone has decided that it is totally non-PC to do fat jokes anymore. So diabetes jokes have taken their place. Somehow it is still OK, although equally ignorant, to laugh at diabetes. Given the statistics on the incredible increase of both Type 1 and Type 2 diagnoses, many of those laughing now will soon understand why we don’t laugh now.


  6. it’s hard.
    I feel this is one of the most difficult things I’ve encountered since diabetes came into my life. I don’t know how to handle jokes. Like… sometimes there are below-the-belt jokes about other things that I laugh at and perhaps 12 years ago I would have laughed at a diabetes joke. I didn’t know the first thing about diabetes. Just like I don’t know much about other diseases so who am I to judge what is funny and what isn’t?
    I tend to not say or do anything most of the time when I hear stuff like that. I will, on occasion, do a small rant like you but only if it’s close friends just for education purposes. but the real question always exists with me, who am I to judge? Maybe that IS funny to those “not in the know.” I mean, I’ve got a pretty twisted sense of humor.


  7. I get jokes directly. (I.E. – don’t eat that cake, Jen, your CGM will explode!) But that’s the consequence of opening up my blog to a select group of friends. I usually just smile and nod beyond that. How else can I respond? However, there appears to be enough friends on my news feed that understand the condition (or know someone with it, or have T2) that they don’t go down this road. But when they do, I usually say something if I see them regularly.


    • If they know what a CGM is, I’d say that they’re more informed than most and that they’re joke is made in fun, not ignorance. I’d let it slide.

      With that said, I’ve been tempted to light a firecracker under my CGM every now and then. (Guess that’s a benefit of separate pump and CGM devices).


  1. Pingback: Much ado about nothing | Rolling in the D


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