How to React When Family Members Joke About Diabetes

Colleen Mitchell
Aug 29, 2018 · 3 min read
Photo by dfkt on Unsplash

To be honest, my first reaction is disbelief and indignation.

Like, seriously?

Have I not had this disease for over twenty years and are you not somehow related to me, thus you should have known this going into your joke?

Fo ‘realz, yo!

This actually happened back in 2012.

A family member posted several of those diabetes memes on Facebook. You know, the ones of heaping portions of chocolate cake, lots of sprinkles, and basically a sugar-fest?


And then said she’d probably get diabetes from eating that.

Full disclosure here — my sister noticed before I did and unintentionally started a Facebook argument over it before reeling me in and pretty much plopping me down in front of the Facebook Horde.

You know about the Facebook Horde, right?

That friend of yours whose friends basically become a flock of harpies at any indication of disagreement or disapproval?

There’s an acronym that the Reddit /r/JUSTNOMIL sub uses to describe what you shouldn’t do with unresaonable people.

Justify, Argue, Defend, or Explain.

I JADED that Facebook Horde so hard.

And pretty much lost.

My first instinct whenever I hear misinformation about diabetes or a diabetes joke is to speak up and correct the speaker.

I love talking about diabetes. Sometimes, I love complaining about it. But I wanted that moment on Facebook to be teachable to that Horde of her friends, because it was clear most of them had no idea what actually happens when diabetes pops up.

Recently I heard someone say that Diabetes Type 2 is not a disease, but rather a symptom of too much sugar in the body. While not entirely wrong, it also makes it seem like anybody who eats cake for breakfast will inevitably give themselves diabetes.

Which is wrong.

The problem is that too many people don’t realize that there’s a difference between type 1 and type 2.

I wrote a story on a few Type 1 Truth Bombs, for more clarity on the difference.

Usually, I react with grace (under pressure). I try to make it a teachable moment, and I try to respect that whoever made the joke is probably just ignorant about the whole idea of diabetes, especially if they were never around me as a kid despite being a family member.

But you can’t win at everything.

One of the Facebook Horde blocked me for my involvement on that comment thread.

All it did was amuse me.

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