I knew of the Bloggess, but I’m pretty sure I’d never been to her blog. I can’t even keep up with the blogs of all my friends here in the DOC, so I simply don’t have time, energy or interest to track down other blogs that I won’t have time to read. I know she’s got a popular, well-read, reportedly entertaining blog, and people think she’s all that and a bag of black pepper kettle chips, but I had no opinion of her. Yesterday, I saw a few people had posted a link to her blog on Facebook, prefacing the link with comments that led me to the conclusion that Bloggess had raised the ire of quite a few people with diabetes. Curiosity is a natural character flaw of mine, one that has gotten me in more than a random pickle, so I clicked to find out for myself what this otherwise well-regarded blogger lady had done.
It seems that one of the big sugar companies had promoted a contest to bloggers, asking them to write and post a limerick about their company and product for the opportunity to win an ipad. I’m not an igirl, but I know lots of people are icrazy, so I can only guess that this contest elicited a fair number of limericks from people looking to start or expand their respective igizmo collections.
Just because I’m not susceptible to the guerrilla marketing strategies of sugar companies recruiting bloggers into the icult doesn’t mean I’m totally impervious to other bribes though. If Ben & Jerry offered a lifetime supply of ice cream in exchange for a snappy limerick, I could see myself generating a new blog about something not related to health – reptiles and puppies that fart too much, crap that annoys me, the virtues of cardigans – for the sake of having a place to post a limerick so I could potentially win some Fair Goodness Cake or Clusterfluff, which is the best ice cream flavor name ever by the way. Virtually everyone can be gotten for a price, and in my world ice cream trumps icrap.
Since I have no incentive to get in on the hardcore product testing and company-sponsored contest action, I’m content to let the mommybloggers and whoever else jump through the marketers’ hoops. I generally don’t pay any attention to that sort of thing, but this time, I was drawn in by the connection to diabetes. Apparently, Bloggess got a form letter inviting her to submit a limerick for the sugar company’s ipad contest. My cursory impression is that the Bloggess’s thing is bitterly snarky humor about her life, people, things, stuff, whatnot, etc., and dropping f-bombs. My blog is much less about those things than her blog, but get to know me offline, and you’ll see she and I have a few things in common. Bloggess accepted the sugar company’s invitation, although more as a joke than anything, and being true to form, her limerick was snarky, used the most obvious thing that rhymes with Nantucket, and relayed the story of a girl who ate too much sugar, got diabetes, and lost her legs.
On the one hand, I know the internet is to be taken with a grain of salt, and her blog is specifically meant to be funny. As I thought about it though, since there’s a correlation between diet and increased risk for cancer, would it have been just as funny and defended just as adamantly by her readers if the poem had been about someone with cancer? My adapted version of her limerick:
There once was a girl from Nantucket,
Who bought KFC by the bucket.
Chicken and biscuits weren’t the answer
So she ultimately got cancer
Then she lost both her breasts and said, “Fuck it”.
My version seems equivalent to her diabetes joke, so is it equally funny? If the cancer joke crosses a line, does the diabetes joke also cross a line? If the cancer joke is more offensive, can someone explain why?
It shouldn’t be terribly surprising that I really appreciate un-PC diabetes humor. Jason and I cope with this stupid disease by relying on jokes about how I make him eat fruits and vegetables because I plan to harvest his organs, how he doesn’t know whether to give me glucagon or shoot me in the head when I’m having a seizure because I act like a zombie, and other comparable nonsense that is actually a reflection of a long list of worries, fears, and in some cases, harsh realities of life with type 1 diabetes. I think it’s one thing for a joke to be a coping mechanism used by an “insider”, and it’s another for it to be used by an “outsider” who likely doesn’t understand the implications of the joke, like the potential to unwittingly perpetuate a myth about sugar causing diabetes.
To her credit, she responded to the comments that were critical of the poem very diplomatically, expressing that she understood why a few commenters were unhappy with the limerick. She’s actually no stranger to chronic illness, and admitted getting tired of explaining to people that being elderly isn’t a prerequisite for having arthritis. Not to discount her frustration combating misconceptions about her condition, because as an outsider, I won’t pretend to “get it”, but at least she isn’t being perpetually, explicitly and implicitly, sometimes hostilely blamed by the media, absolute strangers, marginal acquaintances, friends and even family for her medical issues, as many of us in the DOC have experienced. I remember being accused by a kid in my 1st grade class of having diabetes because I ate too much sugar, and I’ve spent 33 years trying to explain to people that sugar doesn’t cause diabetes, defending the way my mom fed me when I was a kid, defending myself, and trying to educate people. I don’t drop blog f-bombs like Bloggess, but I find it fucking exhausting to forever be explaining that eating too much sugar doesn’t cause diabetes. While I can appreciate a good joke, in this case, I’d be much more appreciative of her readers’ sensitivity, of which they showed little, to the psychological and social challenges that are inherent to living with diabetes, and I like a good laugh, but not at the expense of easing the frustration of diabetes, for the sake of entertaining people who don’t know or care how incessantly tiresome their misconceptions are.
There was a girl who got type 1 diabetes
Because her immune system was depleted
She didn’t cause her disease
By eating candies
But was pissed for being blamed and mistreated