While Twitter can often be a productive platform for conversation and discussion on different topics, it also runs the risk of perpetuating negative sentiment or stigma surrounding certain ideas. This was a prominent issue within social discussions of diabetes until recently.
Often associated with obesity or unhealthy eating, diabetes carries a certain stigma with it that can be hard to shake. Many people are uninformed about the disease, and miss the fact that while it can be a result of these negative lifestyles, its causes can be related to many other factors. There are a number of people that are born with a type of diabetes and cannot prevent it.
Armed with misinformation, between the years of 2012 and 2013 many people stigmatized and joked about diabetes on Twitter, heavily retweeting or reposting jokes that originated from “humor” accounts. While there were many different types of jokes being reposted, the vast majority followed the same structure, and all looked quite similar to this:
John has 40 chocolate bars. He eat 35. What does John has now? Diabetes. Lol John has diabetes
— Almighty (@DB_Folarin) December 29, 2012
Compared to other time periods, this stretch between 2012 and 2013 had a greatly increased conversation share that stigmatized or joked about diabetes. The stigmatizing conversation actually increased by 2% over the time period, peaking at about 15% of the total conversation discussing diabetes.
The trend of stigmatizing diabetes started to dwindle at the end of 2013, as can be seen in the graph above. An increase in volume of positive topics discussing diabetes helped to further the decay of stigmatized conversation, as did celebrity recognition. Joe and Nick Jonas speaking positively on Twitter about recognizing the fight that people with diabetes go through is just one factor in a wave of positivity that helped put the squash on negative posting about diabetes.
Also.. @nickjonas has been such a great person to look up to for those who deal with Diabetes everyday. Love you bro.
— J O E J O N A S (@joejonas) August 12, 2013
More recently, posts stigmatizing diabetes have fallen drastically, only making up about 5% of the current conversation and continuing to fall each year.
This significant drop in negative and stigmatizing conversation shows just how much the conversation about diabetes has evolved. People on social media have become much more aware of the disease and its struggles, and those discussing the disease have become much more apt to provide others with encouragement, information, and tips. The people discussing diabetes in the past five years have matured into an informative and supportive community that is very large.
The stigma involved in the topics of conversation about diabetes isn’t the only trend that can be analyzed from the massive amount of Tweets about the disease. Nearly 13 million posts tell a multitude of stories that give immense insight into the audience, sentiment, and affinities of those posting about diabetes, many of which we have delved deeper into in our use case Diabetes – Part 1: Uncovering Trends in Conversation 2010-2015. Check it out to learn more!