World Diabetes Day: a day like any other?

Vanessa Bolosier
Vanessa Bolosier

Let’s come together

Oftentimes you will hear marketers talk about community building as a goal. It looks like a beautiful goal especially when you’re trying to achieve social impact. As a marketer, you imagine a digital (and physical) crowd of amazing people, loving each other, supporting each other, a pool of advocates willing to push the “good” agenda forward.

Unfortunately, that vision doesn’t factor into people’s experiences, the offences they’ve endured, and how it stirs up their sense of self-righteousness.

Thinking about a community as a unicorn-filled, happy place of agreement and endless support is naive. There will always be conflicts. There will be visionaries and optimists. Overindulgence in egotistical views and rivalry. There will always be trolls too. People that disagree. Arguments. Because we are people and people are imperfect. That’s what make us beautiful and our communities rich.

What about World Diabetes Day?

When I asked our team about World Diabetes Day I heard crickets. I don’t necessarily think that’s because they’re uninterested, but to them World Diabetes Day is more of an everyday thing. Not all of us live with diabetes in the team, but most of our days march to the beat of trying to solve problems linked to the condition.

Initially to me, World Diabetes Day seemed like the type of day on which you make a big announcement. Big news like the NHS pledging — to give thousands of people living with type 1 diabetes — better access to glucose monitors and ending the postcode lottery.

World Diabetes Day is a marketer’s godsend. Everyone’s ear will be out for the message you have to share. It‘s a golden opportunity no one would really miss out on… So I initially wanted to do something and do something big.

Except I didn’t.

Where do you stand

There are always several schools of thoughts in the same community. I’m choosing to highlight two I’ve identified when speaking to people with diabetes ahead of World Diabetes Day.

The antis

These are the revolutionaries. To them, World Diabetes Day sucks.

Why do you want me to think about it even more? I already know? I live with it everyday.

From their perspective, it is just a reminder that a lot of people don’t know much about their condition. On that day they read the worst headlines in the press and see the worst commentary on social media.

It’s frustrating because we make a day of it but little progress is done.

They feel “marketed” to. It’s a day like any other and yes, it’s important to stop and think about it one day a year to remember those they lost to it, encourage those researching it and those fighting for the rights of those living with the condition. But tomorrow is the 15th of November and in their view, they will still live, work and do whatever they have to do while having diabetes.

So no, don’t ask me to put a cross on my finger to promote a piece of kit I can’t afford, and yes, let’s try to get access to insulin for all.

The pros

These are the hopefuls. Those that want to showcase a change and use the opportunity of having everyone’s attention on that day to spread a positive message, showcase the progress and advancement of research. They highlight people who are shaking things up and spin — the often negative — narrative around the condition.

It’s a good day because we celebrate the diabetes heroes, we raise awareness and are able to tell everyone about a condition we live with everyday that’s invisible. So today, just for one day, we are seen!

Where I stand

As I write this blog post I’m sitting in the middle. Everyday counts in solving this problem. We know. But today counts too because it also makes sense to take a day to press pause and acknowledge that there are too many people living with this condition for it to be ignored, swept under a rug and tackled quietly.

So no, today, we haven’t made a big announcement. We haven’t created a campaign. We definitely will not wish you a “happy” Word Diabetes Day.

But today, whether you decide that World Diabetes Day matters or not, we say be comfortable in your truth and be free to live your experience with diabetes the way only you know how. We think THAT is the best way (for you!).

Here’s to World Diabetes Day and all the other days we fight against it!

Vanessa Bolosier
Vanessa Bolosier