T Minus Two Type Two Diabetes and Other Passions


Two Ears, One Mouth

You may have run into a proverb to the effect that the good Lord gave us two ears and one mouth for a reason. I'm not sure that the saying is good theology OR good biology, but the point of listening being more important than talking is sound.

I enjoy using the social network called Twitter. If you're not familiar with it, one aspect is that you 'follow' someone you want to connect with so that you see their contributions without specifically searching for them. People trying to gain followers as rapidly as possible frequently follow other mostly in hope of a follow in return. When I get notification that my account has a new follower, I take a quick look at their profile, which contains a brief statement of what they're about, to see if I want to follow their account as well.

Because I am a diabetes blogger, many of my followers also have some connection. It often happens that the profile of a new follower says something about wanting to 'help' diabetics. This has always bugged me without my knowing why, and I usually choose not to follow that account back.

I had that happen the other day, and this time it bothered me enough to make me really think about it. Doing so, I realized that such people are not seeking to be my friend; they're seeking to be my guru or my teacher.

Part of my resentment doubtless comes from the nature of health information these days - the number of people who claim to be experts VASTLY outnumbers the people who ARE experts. And, plenty of the people who claim to be experts are hoping to get wealthy from my money. So, a wise person is a little bit wary.

But, there's more than that. To me, the person who 'leads with their mouth' doesn't fit with the nature of social media and the Diabetes Online Community in particular. Very few diabetes have the presentation of factual information as a primary purpose. Instead we talk about our lives and what we think about things in hope that readers will find connection with our experiences or identification with our opinions. On Twitter, we're all pretty much a community of more or less equals. Sure, some people enjoy strong reputations, and some folks really are able to provide valuable on this or that, and there can alas be some cliquishness (though I haven't seen that myself), but it's sure not a few sages dispensing wisdom to the rest of us.

I have no doubt that I'm being unfair to many whose Twitter profiles express a desire to help - they can't all be selling herbs or diet secrets. Still, if you want to be my friend, don't start by telling me that you're my better.

Two ears, one mouth.

Comments (5) Trackbacks (0)
  1. I feel ya Bob. I too look at the profiles of those that follow me. Chances are if they have something that almost seems like a sales pitch in their profile I will ignore it, although sometimes I will click the view full profile link and read tweets they have shared. If most of the tweets are them talking with very little interaction with those they claim to want to help it is a definite no. If their tweets are pro-one sided (all paleo diet for instance) thats a no too. Now I mind sound like Grumpy cat here but I love the DOC and I love interacting with people. I also love learning and much of my learning is through interacting not reading sales pitches for vitamins or diets. Im with you on this one.
    There is another that I think about too – when someone follows me but has their twitter set to private with very little profile information available. When this happens I often block them. I find it creepy that someone would follow me, not explain who they are or offer a hint of who they are in their profile. For me it has never been about getting the most followers – its about connections and I don’t want my twitter feed cluttered with advertisements – I think thats fair. Thanks for brining it up.

  2. Love this, Bob.

    Sometimes it’s SO hard to know what they’re up to. Other times it’s SO easy to see what they’re up to. :-)

  3. A very interesting, thought-provoking post. Thanks. And now I have to check out my Twitter profile for a possible rewrite…

  4. What a great post, Bob. I completely agree with this. For me, it’s about the person and their story and not what they claim to be able to do for me (or other PWDs). Like you, when I see those profiles My mind goes to “snake oil salesman” first… But true, it can’t be them all. It’s tough with so many DOCers and everyone and their brother and sister jumping onto social media… Can be mind-numbingly too much at times.

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