If you’re anything like me, the news of the latest norovirus outbreak will have had you sweating and shaking into your keyboard as you repeatedly google ‘nauseous but have eaten 27 celebrations winter vom bug?’. The internet is a great source of advice for a lot of things, and I’m sure is helpful in some regards. But for those of us who are neurotic to the point of madness, it only helps to encourage frantic webmd searches of medication side effects. Paracetamol? You’re going to get numbness, seizures, and then DIE. The other problem is that there are a million people out there, ready to chuck in their (unfounded, usually wrong) opinions. In particular, it seems stay at home mums are really into shitting each other up unnecessarily- mumsnet is a veritable hive of panicking hypochondriacs. I can understand why though- I worked in childcare for several years and most of the time you swing between being consumed with worry and head-mushingly bored. Therefore the perfect antidote to this is to troll the internet and tell people they’ve probably got cancer.
On forums such as mumsnet and sites like yahoo answers, no question is too stupid or banal. Recent topics on mumsnet include ‘weird red mark in my nose’, ‘verruca’, ‘paper cut’ ‘banged my arm and now it’s sore’. They all get really sympathetic replies like ‘aww bbz thats crappy hunny 😦 go to the docs jus to be safe u neva know xoxxx’. I feel no sympathy for these people. Due to having the grace of Bambi on ice and the constitution of Colin in The Secret Garden, I am always ill or injured in some way, so I reserve my virtual *huuugz* for the real deal: by that I mean operations, diseases, bleeding, vomit and death. This is in part due to my mother, who doesn’t believe in illness. It isn’t real unless you can see someones bone or their temperature has gone over 110. When I was a kid, if we were ill in any way it would be brushed off with ‘oh dear, I’m sorry, but I can’t do anything about it. Try having a poo and a drink of water’. If that failed the only other options were a lie down and a paracetamol, and you were banished to your bedroom to sweat it out while she poked her nose in every 12 hours like some Victorian doctor. TV, soup in bed, strepsils (‘THEY’RE JUST BLOODY SWEETS’ apparently)- any kind of luxuries, were banned. Illness was to be a miserable affair. I think it’s because she went to boarding school where they aim to churn out robust rosy cheeked robots ready for a life of country living and labradors. Anyway, for her, the reckless indulgence that comes with health forums is to be sternly discouraged, and I do think she has a point. Back in the day, you’d get gangrene and have to scream into a box before pulling yourself together and getting back down t’pit for a solid 15 hour day, then go home to cry and sleep on some straw with rats in it.
Plus when it comes to illness, there isn’t really a substitute for a doctor. Yes their rooms smell like damp bumholes and they judge you more with each chlamydia test, but they go to school for like A MILLION YEARS! There’s always some dickhead online saying ‘I reckon you don’t need any drugs, jack them in and try smoking rosemary instead’. The other day I came across one who had said she’d worked out all the statistics and decided that she wanted to opt out of cervical screening. She said there was no point because she probably wasn’t going to get cancer- apparently it was definitely going to happen to some other unlucky bastard and not her. Telling other (possibly impressionable) women that their smears are unnecessary is actually quite evil. It was hard to resist the urge to throw in my 10 cents; maybe because my smear test may have saved my life. For god’s sake don’t listen to tossers like that or you’re all going to peg it.
Along with health woes, anything remotely private is now public properly on these sites. Boyfriends nob too big? Too small? Can’t get a boyfriend, or the one you have is cheating on you? Why not ask a load of strangers to judge you! Some of the confessions are so brutally honest that it’s horrible reading them- that kind of internal twisting embarrassment you get when you see your ex. Followed by the delicious thrill that you’re seeing right into someones secrets (and when you realise that a) he looks a bit fat and b) Movember does NOTHING for him). I can kind of understand asking for advice if you’re desperate and have no one to talk to, or have just had a break up. Those things are dead hard and it helps to hear that someone else has got through them. But why, WHY, would you need to post a thread entitled ‘am I being selfish because I don’t want him to go to the pub?’. This thread obviously got a ton of replies going ‘no hun not at all, all men are bastards, HE’S the selfish one he should want to be with you and support you always xxx’. A more honest reply would have been ‘You have turned into everything you hated about women when you were young and single and normal. You are adults and he is allowed to go to the pub. Since you got fat after the second baby you have gone mad.’ Earlier this year I got obsessed with the iPhone app ‘Thumb’, which lets you vote and comment on pictures and questions and give advice. My answers didn’t go well:
Trolls are so prevalent that sometimes real people who are desperate for help may get lost amongst all the cunts asking if Gandalf is real. And sometimes people really DO help- you’re a liar if you say you’ve never searched the phrase ‘had protected sex once 6 months ago feel bit tired am I pregnant?’ and felt reassured when you realised you were being a dick and unless you’re the virgin Mary no baby is hunkering down in your uterus. Personally I’m going to try and stay away from the forums; I don’t need to read anything else with the prefix ‘TMI’ regarding someones bowels. Plus, the internet is not as anonymous as we think it is. Someone sent me a link to a fetish social networking site recently, thinking it might be good for my blog (more on that to come) and who should be on there but an ex-boyfriend! Advertising himself for casual sex, even though I happen to know he has a lovely girlfriend. It’s only a matter of time before someone figures it out, but it’s his own fault for making his private life public internet properly. So one day your partner might find your post about the sight of his ballsack making you feel sick and how you cheated on him at the Christmas party and now you’ve got crabs. But hey, at least you’ll get loads of ‘u ok hun’ messages when he dumps you. And bbz- I think crabs can give you cancer ;( xxx