It was really hard saying goodbye to everyone. It didn’t really hit me until I was driving home from the airport late Thursday night (after I made sure to not get hit by the Light Rail Train). I was so very emotional, and didn’t fight back tears, but rather let them roll. I let loose because it felt like the right thing to do. It was almost like a tribute to just how incredible and great everybody was.
I needed to get it out so that I could see things from the other side of the pain. It was painful to say goodbye to everyone. But seeing it from the other side I could see that the pain was SO WORTH IT! The pain was nothing compared to the joy, love, support, and happiness that I got to experience! A steep price for a ticket, but one that I would buy again and again, without question.
Of course I was very excited to get home and see my wife and kids, and to sleep in my own bed. But there was also this very tangible missing of everybody that I met and visited with over the couple of days. How can I NOT feel alone with my diabetes after being surrounded by kindred spirits?
The Exercise I Misunderstood
Early in the day we broke into groups for an exercise. I forget exactly how Manny phrased it in his instructions, but it was something about listing a couple ways to expand our audience and measurable tasks that we could do towards that.
I really struggled with this, because as you all (hopefully) know, my blog has never been about cranking out impressive visitor counts or anything like that. I’m just a guy trying to figure out this damn diabetes thing, going through ups and downs, and using this space for free therapy (thank you!). It is so healthy for me to be able to put words to many of these vague feelings I have, and the feedback you so graciously offer me is priceless. I learn a lot from all of you.
I was with an awesome group for this exercise. It was Chris Bishop, G-Money, Bernard, and myself. But as the timed exercise started, we all just kind of looked at each other waiting for one of us to “get it”. In terms of blogging, I think that many of us are in the same boat. I don’t know a single blogger that does it for anything other than what I mentioned.
But we also recognize that we have all gotten comments or e-mails from people that identify with the same stuff we are fighting with, and feel less isolated because of what we wrote. That is powerful stuff, and knowing that we have helped someone, somewhere, feel less isolated is full of all kinds of warm fuzzy feelings.
We struggled with the exercise. I thought I would lose some of my authenticity if I started pushing for blog traffic instead of just being me. My thoughts were “why does it have to be bigger than it already is?”, and “what’s the rush? why can’t things just continue to evolve as they are?”.
But when my dear friend Christel (who was the spokesperson for her group) talked about how there are SO MANY more people out there who need help, and how we are collectively reaching only a tiny percent of those people, I started to understand the goal of the exercise.
You see – the people reading blogs and participating anywhere in the online community are ALREADY motivated and interested in helping themselves (even if you don’t feel it, the fact that you are reading this means you are).
For every one of you there are maybe ten more people out there struggling! They might not even know about any of the great resources available to them.
I don’t know about you, but I know my life has been much different and more positive since the online community has hit the scene. We need to get that support out to as many people as possible.
Besides, you never know, someone out there might have something to share that will change your life.
For me? I just want to write more. And brag about all of you in the community as often as I can.
Good Examples and Bad Examples
The next exercise was all about examples of how companies can get involved with social media and either hurt themselves and their reputation real bad, or do it “right” and earn a little slice of trust. I think that many of us, as patients, are very skeptical of these companies trying to “budge” into “our” space (as if we have some claim to it or something). I will leave the details on that exercise to the many other great bloggers out there who attended. Mostly that is because I don’t feel I can do as good a job as others have already.
And with that we had to wrap things up!
The Fallout/Life Goes On?
I don’t think that any of us that attended have been able to just step right back into our regular lives without longing for the connection and love that was so plentiful at the summit. To be sure, that comes with any meeting of fellow people with diabetes. But maybe that connection was a little amplified here because many of us have been friends for years and finally got to meet in real life.
I’ve experienced similar things with my local “D-Buddies” around here that I had never met OR talked to online before our Diabetes Daily Coffee meets. There are some great tools we have here on Diabetes Daily, or TuDiabetes, or any of the social networking sites, that can help get a group of nearby folks to meet. Even taking it to the next level, we have played around with Skype and Tokbox.com, which has some real potential (more on that soon, I promise!) to get people connected that don’t know anyone near them.
At the end of the day, I really miss everyone I was around, and will do everything I can to meet up with anyone and everyone that I can, as often as I can.