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You're not alone: The DOC has your back

With the advent of the Internet, a community known as the DOC was formed. Starting out with technologies such as online bulletin boards, email lists, and newsgroups (just to name a few), the Diabetes Online Community has evolved as new media channels have developed, such as Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr.

In the past five years or so we have seen an incredible increase in the number of people talking about diabetes online. Why? I think it has a lot to do with the evolving communication tools making it easy for people to share more, and with more people. I also think that people living with diabetes are getting a lot more value out of the time they invest online. In a world of isolation, connecting with others who truly understand what you are going through is pretty moving.

In fact, those connections have saved peoples lives. Literally.

How can I connect to the DOC?

It is important to know up-front that you have to invest time in exploring what is out there in order to find what brings value back to you. It may feel intimidating because there is so much to choose from, but what a great problem to have!

First, start with the various media channels. Do you like to read? Blogs might be a good fit for you. Do you like to watch videos? YouTube might be fun. Do you like shorter material? Facebook or Tumblr might be perfect. Super-quick bursts of dialogue? Twitter is your best bet. Do you listen to a lot of spoken audio? There are a bunch of diabetes-related podcasts.

If there are people communicating online, using any method out there, you can find people talking about diabetes. It just might take some work and some time, just like anything else in life. You may even know about channels of communication that I don't.

One of the things you may notice, once you find the channel(s) you like best, is that it becomes easier to connect with even more people once you go down the rabbit hole. For example, one of the best ways to connect with other blogs is to find a blog that resonates with you, then check out the people who comment there and review the blogs listed in the blogroll. It's like a beautiful spiderweb of people who are often doing similar things with their online channels.

Where to start?

Indeed, there are hundreds of voices in the DOC, all doing great work, all sharing their stories and supporting one another. To start, you may want to begin with some of the well-known individuals in the DOC such as Kerri Sparling (Six Until Me), George Simmons (Ninjabetic), and Kim Vlasnik (Texting My Pancreas)--just to name a few.

If you enjoy forum-based communities, head over to the well-populated TuDiabetes or Diabetes Daily. For videos, check out 1 Happy Diabetic and if you like podcasts, you may want to visit Just Talking or Blogging Diabetes.

Obviously, this isn't an exhaustive list by any means. Use Google to search for diabetes blogs and videos. Go to Twitter and search for people sharing about diabetes. You may be amazed at what you find.

Don't be shy or afraid to ask for help from the DOC

Don't be afraid to ask for help. Don't feel bad about ignoring things you don't find value in. This is all about being beneficial to you. Jump in, check some stuff out, and have fun. That is the most important part! It's about getting value from the time and energy you invest and developing relationships with other people.

Who knows, maybe you'll be inspired to contribute something somewhere too.

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