A Viral Diabetes Awareness Story Gets More Private?

UPDATE 8/11/2017 – 12:30 pm (EST) – Several readers are reporting seeing Ben’s post, still, but so far I have not been able to. I might have been blocked from seeing the post by Ben for some reason, or it may be a random glitch. I will keep you posted. The title, subtitle, and URL of this story have been updated to reflect that uncertainty.

A feel-good story about Type 1 diabetes awareness has ended with a question mark.

In late July, the Daily Mirror (UK) and several other UK publications wrote about a Facebook post by Ipswich (UK) resident Ben Lockwood, in which Lockwood described being accosted by a stranger for injecting insulin while waiting for a bus. The post was accompanied by a picture of a NovoRapid pen.

According to the post, Lockwood said that a man accused him of shooting up illegal drugs, and called him a “scum bag” (sic). Lockwood said he then educated the man about diabetes and why he needed insulin to survive. He said he would use the experience to spread more awareness of Type 1 diabetes. The post struck a chord with many readers, and it was shared more than 45,000 times, according to a subsequent Huffington Post United Kingdom report. Diabetes UK, a leading diabetes charity in the United Kingdom, also voiced its support for Lockwood.

I contacted Lockwood via Facebook about the possibility of an email interview to follow up on his post, and he seemed eager to participate, saying, “And yeah definitely man! Any awareness spread is great, thank you!”

I sent the questions to Lockwood via email the next day. The eight questions mainly focused on the incident and his reaction to his post going viral. I also asked about the fact that Type 1 diabetes wasn’t mentioned in his other numerous public posts on Facebook, and wondered if he had considered the chronic condition a private matter in the past. Finally, I asked about a news item that mentioned a Ben Lockwood of Ipswich who was cited for what seemed to be the UK equivalent of a misdemeanor in connection to a minor accident; I wanted to know if he was the same Lockwood and whether he had had any issues with transportation because of his Type 1 diabetes.

Life seemingly got in the way after that, and several days passed, but Lockwood still seemed eager to participate in Facebook messages. On August 11th, however, I tried to contact Lockwood via Facebook Messenger and received a message from the site that he was unavailable. I also emailed him again and received no response.

I then found that Lockwood’s Facebook account appears to have been deleted or deactivated. A search on Facebook did not turn up his profile, either. The post itself, which had been embedded into several articles, is no longer visible in those articles.

So what happened? I can hope that he was not the victim of online harassment or that Facebook didn’t suspend his account because an algorithm flagged his post as encouraging illicit drug use. If Lockwood will contact me to clear up this mystery, I will gratefully publish an update.

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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.

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