What about Bob? Has he seen this joke on his Facebook feed? Has he felt guilty? Felt Blame?
This ‘joke’ recently popped up in my news feed on Face Book. I made a comment about how I hate this joke & gave some diabetes facts. Others commented ‘it’s just a joke,’ ‘I had pre-diabetes and lost weight and everything is fine..it was just a joke,’ and my friend posted ‘I didn’t mean to offend you’ –which I LOVE this friend even more for this reply. I know it was posted as humor–I just want to understand why a disease that is the 7th leading cause of death in the U.S. is funny.
So I considered the comments…am I Over Sensitive Sally? I did some unscientific research…went on Pinterest. If you type in the word Diabetes in search –some choices come up–one of them being ‘diabetes jokes’ –click on it–and this joke, and others like it pop up. So I typed in Cancer–no jokes–just encouraging pins, awareness pins, and the like. I typed in M.S., Lupus, M.D., arthritis, C.P.–not one joke to be found. So I went to Google and tried the same experiment and had the same results.
This particular ‘BOB’ joke was referred to in a comment to Frankie a few weeks out of the gate from being diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. An adult said to him “to many candy bars like Bob.” This was said without malice, without bad intent–but the result was a 6 year old boy, trying to come to grips with having this disease and all it entails, now feeling guilty–feeling like he caused it. Frankie believed that because he went trick or treating, and ate some of the candy–he caused his diabetes. Tears, and talks, several conversations with his endocrinologist, and 4 years later–I am still not sure he is convinced getting this disease was not his fault.
That is why I hate this joke. I hate that it is acceptable to make jokes about a disease that can kill. I hate that the Diabetes community gets messages of ‘it’s just a joke’ that make us question if we are overly sensitive. I hate how common these jokes are, and how people living with diabetes are made to feel guilty about a disease they didn’t ask for, don’t want, and strive everyday to LIVE with.
After considering the constructive criticism of ‘it’s just a joke’ I have concluded that I am not ‘Over Sensitive Sally.’
This is why…
This disease has tried to take my son from me…even though we are diligent with his care, administering his meds, and even though he doesn’t eat too many candy bars.
So next time you see this ‘joke’ think of kids (and adults) with this disease–who may be picked on because of it, miss a lot of school/work and social activities because of it, are depressed and sad because of it, have died because of it. Think of the 26 million American’s who have diabetes–not because of the food they ate–but because their pancreas doesn’t work like yours.
Next time you see this ‘joke’ and think it’s funny…ask yourself…
What about Bob?