I have been thinking a lot lately about what it means to be an advocate. A group of people recently traveled to Washington DC to advocate for diabetes among our Congressmen.
Another group of people were invited to California to advocate for the causes of people with diabetes to interested parties at Medtronic.
There was a press release for an episode of True Life on MTV that was reworded in response to contact from the diabetes community.
Even Readers Digest my source for quality jokes when I was a kid was recently targeted in social media forums by people with diabetes who were upset about an upcoming special edition.
Two years ago, a group of people touched by diabetes traveled to Indiana to meet with a pharmaceutical company and share their thoughts and opinions on how best to work with people with diabetes. Last year, I joined the group in Orlando and together we spoke with the American Diabetes Association and the American Association of Diabetes Educators about how to navigate the world of social media without alienating their audience. This summer I will be with the group again as we meet in San Diego.
There is a Twitter chat on Sunday night on healthcare communications in social media and another one on Wednesday nights about diabetes and social media advocacy. You can even listen to blogtalk radio shows on the same topics the next day.
There are countless blogs, vlogs, tweets, forums, message boards, and even books all about diabetes. I even am a member of a group called Diabetes Advocates – you can see the badge in the bottom corner of my page on my other blog.
So, what does all that mean? What is an advocate?
First of all, a definition is important, so lets consult the dictionary.
An advocate has several related meanings
- To speak or write in favor of; support or urge by argument; recommend publicly.
- A person who speaks or writes in support or defense of a person, cause, etc.
- A person who pleads for or in behalf of another; intercessor.
I find it interesting that there is even evidence of the usage of the word advocate in the New Testament of the Bible. When Jesus is explaining the Holy Spirit that will come to the people after he returns to heaven, He describes the Spirit as an advocate and the word in Greek particularly means
one who pleads another’s cause, who helps another by defending or comforting him. (John 14:16; 15:26; 16:7, Easton’s 1897 Bible Dictionary)
As a Christian, it is encouraging to me to find that the idea of being an advocate is not a new concept, but even more so, that being an advocate is not always about fighting on behalf of someone but can mean actually being a comfort.
If you look through my archive you wont find a copy of the e-mails I sent to Readers Digest or MTV. If you search through my tweets you wont find more than one or two with comments to share with the people at Medtronic and not an @readersdigest in the bunch. The controversy about MTV barely hit my radar except for reading the expertly written post by someone whose name rhymes with shmabby shmayer.
I usually participate in my local JDRF walks and had a meeting (that went nowhere) with the local representatives about increasing the adult Type 1 involvement, but that is the extent of my connection with them.
I am an advocate.
I advocate by sharing my life. Not just my life with diabetes. I used to feel guilty about that. Not anymore. This is my life.
I advocate by sharing about all the aspect of my life.
You may think that someone with diabetes cant go skydiving. I have.
What about traveling to countries where the temperature reaches over 100 degrees, or those described as third world by some)? Done that too. Since diagnosis Ive been to Mexico, Israel, Jordan, and Haiti.
Do people with diabetes heal slower and should avoid piercings and body art? Better not tell the ear I got pierced this weekend about that.
Are you an advocate?