I recognized many of the attendees, who are indeed influential. But by no means all. In fact there were seven "influential" bloggers I had never before heard of including a recently diagnosed person with Type 2 who according to Google Reader has a whopping 38 subscribers.
Roche stated that they intend to publish materials for the newly diagnosed that will point them to these chosen people's blogs, which makes it more than an issue of wounded pride to me that this blog and its associated Blood Sugar 101 blog were ignored.
I have a lot more than 38 subscribers on Google News, folks. My latest Google Analytics report says that over the past month some 65,000 people visited my pages of whom almost 10,000 are returning visitors. Google makes these statistics available to advertisers. They aren't kept secret. I know for a fact that quite a few of the "influential bloggers" are not drawing anywhere near that kind of traffic and, in the case of the diabetes community sites invited, their retention levels--returning visitors month by month--are far lower than my 10,000.
So it does not take advanced paranoia to wonder if the reason I was excluded was that I blogged several times about the egregiously poor performance of Roche's Aviva meter. I have had three of them and all three were dangerously inaccurate, not matching lab results, and more importantly, not matching the meter's own results on closely repeated tests with the same blood draw.
Since the influential diabetes bloggers who were invited report that Roche's reps made it clear that opening a discussion about problems with their meters and strips were offensive, the reasons for my exclusion are clear.
Unfortunately, though, my exclusion means that Roche will finance the production of materials that doctors will give to the newly diagnosed pointing them to blogs full of feel-good posts about living with diabetes, enthusiastic endorsements of products the blogger has gotten for free, and no pointers to the vital information that could keep them from developing diabetic complications.
Because folks, whatever else you read on these pages, the central mission of this blog and the Blood Sugar 101 web site, is to let people know the truth about what blood sugar levels destroy their bodies and what the safe and effective strategies are that they can use to avoid this damage.
This message works. I hear on a regular basis from people who tell me they followed the advice given on the page about How To Get Your Blood Sugar Under Control and brought their A1cs down into the 5% range, even when they started with A1cs as high as 15%. And it isn't just the newly diagnosed. I heard recently heard from someone who brought a 15% A1c down into the normal range with these techniques who was a decade past diagnosis.
So Roche's decision to choose "feel good" diabetes bloggers as representatives of the "online diabetes community" and omit these pages from its list of recommended sites intended to be distributed to all newly diagnosed people with diabetes is not trivial.
It will also mean more people with Type 2 who blame themselves for causing their diabetes will not learn the truth about the real causes of Type 2 Diabetes. Blaming people for causing their Type 2 diabetes is a tragic trend, promoted by the media and all too many doctors.
Why is it tragic? Because guilt and self-hatred leads to denial. I cannot tell you how many people I have heard from who told me that until they learned that they did NOT cause their Type 2 diabetes by reckless overeating they could not bear to do the research it would take to conquer it. I have even heard a truly devastating story--from a local acquaintance--about a woman in her early 50s who refused a kidney transplant because she believed she had caused her diabetes and decided she didn't deserve the kidney.
Beyond that, Roche's move to define and support their choice of "influential diabetes bloggers" and to promote their selection of these bloggesr to the media should be a warning to all of us.
It illuminates the strategies used to control discourse that are employed by the commercial interests that profit mightily by exploiting those of us with diabetes of every type.
If they can't silence the bloggers who tell the truths that don't support their profits they can anoint other, less threatening bloggers, give them a high profile, and hope that by doing so they can herd the newly diagnosed people to bloggers who won't keep them from buying their inaccurate overpriced meters, expensive dangerous drugs, and deceptively promoted high carb "healthy" foods marketed by greedy corporations.
Because it's a simple fact, known to everyone in marketing, that if you give people free air fare, free premium hotel rooms, and expensive meals, they will think twice about attacking your products. That is why drug companies wine and and dine doctors. Because it works. It is why Roche flew in all these influential diabetes bloggers and laid out the high price spread for them.
Keep an eye on these "influential bloggers" over the next month and track how many mention the FDA's attempt to demand accountability from meter manufacturers. Track how many report research about the dangers of the drugs being forced on people with diabetes. Compare the ratio of feel good/cat blogging on their pages to information that might prevent one person from coming down with an unnecessary diabetic complication.
And if telling the truth will keep me from being "influential" as defined by meter companies, drug companies and the ADA, I'm just going to have to live with it. And console myself with the rate my blog traffic is growing at, which is currently a healthy 50% a year.