I am all for a clever joke. Smart puns have me smiling wryly – and feeling a little envious, generally because I’m not intelligent enough to come up with them. Clever satirists and humourists are wonderful because they make us laugh and think at the same time.
But I am not for lazy, insensitive humour that adds to the stigma of diabetes (or any health condition for that matter).
A link to this showed up in my inbox yesterday:
I’ve removed the name of the café, because, quite frankly, I don’t want to give them any publicity. I left a polite comment on their Facebook page suggesting that they help stop diabetes stigma rather than contribute to it and change the name of the (rather yummy-looking) dessert.
When I left my post, there were a few little comments suggesting that perhaps the name was a little insensitive. At that time (about mid-afternoon), there were 33 comments after the photo of the dessert – most of them saying how delicious it looked with a couple of detractors asking the name of the dessert be changed. There was nothing abusive – nothing rude at that point. I then tweeted the café, pointing to the offensive name of the dessert, and shared the photo on my Facebook page, suggesting that people leave a polite comment on the café’s page. By 9.00 last night, there were over 180 comments after the photo as well as many ratings and stand-alone comments – all negative.
Here’s the thing. The post was stupid. It wasn’t funny.
But neither were a lot of the comments that followed. Threatening legal action (really? For what? Bad humour?) or using abusive language does us no favours at all. Being rude does not get our point across at all. Also, I couldn’t help thinking ‘pot, kettle, black’ at several commenters who were claiming the café was stigmatising diabetes – only to then add further misinformation with a ‘type 2s cause it themselves….’ type remark.
Yesterday was Social Media Day and this exercise was an outstanding example of just how effective social platforms can be at getting messages across. It wasn’t a great day for the café – they received a lot of negative comments on their page. But they have dealt with it correctly.
This morning, the café issued an apology and have renamed the dessert. Their apology was short, to the point and generally fair. Even more endearing would be making a donation to a diabetes organisation, but it’s a start. (Even MORE endearing would be finding a way to send me one of those desserts, because, yes, I can eat that!)
The café’s Facebook page looks significantly different today. All comments from yesterday have been deleted, and the stand-alone comment/post by anyone function, along with the ratings function have been disabled. Should they have removed the negative comments and stopped allowing people to comment on their page? Social media 101 would say no, but that is up to them to decide.
So what do we, the diabetes community, do now? Acknowledging and being grateful for the apology is important here. I’m kinda disappointed that many people have said ‘not enough’ and continued to be angry and abusive. But actually, I think it is enough. I don’t believe for a moment that naming a dessert ‘diabetes’ was done with any malice at all. It was stupid and careless. But there is no way that it was a personal attack on those of us living with diabetes
Here is where we should be gracious and simply move on. Our point has been made; the café listened to our request that the name of the dessert be changed. Walk away; there’s nothing to see here any more.
Just after this blog was posted, I was interviewed by Fairfax Media journalist, Rose Powell. Read her article.
Following on from this post, which I believe is quite gracious in its treatment of the cafe, I was disappointed to see that all comments that were in any way negative were removed from the cafe’s Facebook page. The site was then flooded with positive comments – many of them incredibly offensive to people living with diabetes. The cafe has, in my opinion, undone its good work by allowing these comments to remain on their Facebook page.
Renza Scibilia is the Manager of Type 1 Diabetes and Community Programs at DA–Vic. She has lived with type 1 diabetes since 1998. The opinions and thoughts expressed in her occasional blogs are her own.
Renza blogs regularly at Diabetogenic about real life with type 1 diabetes and you can also follow her on Twitter @RenzaS
This post first appeared at Diabetogenic and has been published here with the writer’s consent.