Enough About the Starbucks Cup Already!

A call to pick our battles more wisely when it comes to ignorance about Type 1 diabetes.



Commentary

A Starbucks cup became the center of a viral news story that was passed around among the diabetes community. Apparently, a Florida man with two sisters with Type 1 ordered a Grande White Mocha and it came with the message “DIABETES HERE I COME” on it. He posted it on Facebook and then talked to local media about the offending cup. What followed was a very, very earnest story in which a Jacksonville reporter asked somber questions to the Facebook poster and confronted a store manager about the cup. Many rage-filled posts followed in diabetes forums.

Rarely have I seen such a shining example of misplaced community activism.

Of course it’s not okay to find this on your cup. The comment was indeed jerky, and was made even more so in that it was written in all caps and with no punctuation (shudder). And if I were the man who received this cup, I would have had a word with the store manager, too.

(I say “the man” because the news reporter decided to keep the source of this important scandal anonymous, like Deep Throat, the source who helped break the Watergate scandal. That situation might have warranted this special treatment, but I don’t think the cup meets the same journalistic standard. But I digress.)

No, I don’t fault the man in question – I fault that we as a diabetes community have chosen to spend energy worrying about this dumb comment when there’s more important work to do.

I spent a recent cab ride chatting about Type 1 with a cabbie. He was a nice guy, one who knew absolutely nothing about how Type 1 diabetes works. He would sheepishly bring up a diabetes myth, I would gently dispel it, and then we’d lapse into silence until he got over his embarrassment to ask another question. I also misdirected him about where to turn to avoid traffic.

Here’s the thing: a barista or a cabbie isn’t in charge of screening my daughter for Type 1, or deciding whether continuous glucose monitors should be covered by Medicare, or choosing to raise the price of insulin yet again. There is plenty to get angry about and plenty we need to work to change when it comes to how the world handles Type 1, but a coffee cup doesn’t even crack my Top 50.

I propose we stop passing around examples of petty ignorance about Type 1, and direct that energy into supporting diabetes activism that can save lives.

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Craig Idlebrook is a past editor for Insulin Nation, Type 2 Nation, and Información Sobre Diabetes. He is now the community engagement and content manager for T1D Exchange.