The Gift of the Crowd
This is the second of three blogs exploring the gifts we receive as members of our TUDiabetes community. In this season when we give and receive gifts, I want to explore the gifts we receive because of membership in this community. The second gift I want to discuss is the gift of the crowd.
A crowd is defined in part as:
“1. Any large number of persons,
2. Any group or set of persons with something in common,
3. To gather in large numbers; throng; swarm.” ("Crowd," 2014)
I do not know of a better way to describe our community. For instance let’s take a large number of persons. I checked on some other groups on the web who are organized around the issue of diabetes. Of course the largest US
group is the American Diabetes Association (ADA). The ADA quotes its membership as “more than 441,000 people with diabetes, their families and caregivers, a professional society of nearly 16,500 health care professionals, as well as more than 800 staff members” (American Diabetes Association, 2014). That number certainly dwarfs TUDiabetes, but then of course it is the most heavily promoted association among health care providers in the United States. In fact chances are if you have gone to a diabetic education class at a hospital that was an ADA sponsored or sanctioned event. Thus there is a built in avenue of recruitment.
So how are we different? First, our mission is different. We are organized in order to provide a place where diabetics never have to feel alone. The ADA is designed as an education and advocacy site, TUDiabetes is a support and advocacy site. So yes our mission’s overlap, but what we do, how we do it, and why we do it is patient driven. We follow the crowd’s lead, our crowd.
Since we are crowd driven we are responsive, our efforts to support are strictly patient driven. On any given day, you can log in and find a completely different focus based on the discussion issues posted. Just like a crowd we are responsive.
Is TUDiabetes a crowd? We are certainly a large group of people. We have over 35,000 members and it grows every day. On any given day hundreds of people sign in, make comments, and change the direction of the community. This blog however short lived, will add to the voice of the community and while I am not writing this to alter the course of the community, it will if only for a second change the direction of our community. Whatever you, the reader does today on this site will also alter the course of our site. It is exciting that you get this opportunity and it is one of the main blessings of the community.
Do we have something in common? This site is built on one single issue, diabetes. Yes other information is available. I sometimes write about other diseases and issues. But out focus has bevor once changed. We are organized around the issue of diabetes. We are surely blessed to have such a site.
Do we gather in a large swarm? I have to laugh about that part of the definition. But yes we do gather in a digit swarm when one of our members is hurting, an issue needs support, or a pressing issue needs to be talked out. We can and do generate letters to congressional offices, support for a product, and condemnation of poor practices. I am proud to be part of a community that has the ability to generate a swarm. We can and do swarm issues, problems, ideas, and hopes.
So yes we do have the gift of the crowd as members of TUDiabetes. I am proud to be part of this crowd. We do good, work, we have good fun, we are informed and we act outside ourselves. Thank you for allowing me to be part this crowd. I hope you are also happy to be part of our crowd. In this season when we give thanks, I hope you also give thanks for being part of an influential, active, fun crowd. We have been given the gift of the crowd.
American Diabetes Association. (2014). Who We Are. Retrieved December 18, 2014, from http://www.diabetes.org/about-us/who-we-are/?loc=superfooter
Crowd. (2014). Dictionary.com. Retrieved December 18, 2014, from http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/crowd