It turns out that I have around twelve more days to live.
This was my final assessment after going online to research the symptoms that started plaguing me almost immediately after wading in some stagnant water.
Stiff neck, headache, fever.
It could have been just a cold, true. But no. After an exhaustive two minute search on Google it became clear that I had the deadly brain eating parasite Naegleria fowleri.
It didn’t matter that in ten years only 35 people in the United States had ever contracted this disease. It didn’t matter that technically I didn’t actually swim in the waters that might have contained the microscopic bug. Google was pretty clear and so was SymptomChecker.com. I was going to die.
I gently broke the news to my husband.
He took it well. After all, he is the king of Google Diagnoses. Leg cramp? Must be a blood clot. Eye twitch? Check for a worm living behind your cornea. Freckle? It’s a melanoma. End stage, by the looks of it.
If anything, the ease of access to information on the Internet has made everyone experts in the medical field. Doctors are no longer the enlightened healers who know everything. Just a click away is the diagnoses I need to justify a skydiving trip and going off my diet.
I imagine that this information is crippling to hypochondriacs and worst-case-scenario junkies. There must be whole groups of people harassing their doctors, convinced they have the latest rare disease. It’s probably what’s driving my insurance premiums up each year.
It isn’t just medicine, though. Virtually every profession has a corresponding website that can make anyone an expert in the field with virtually no training. With a simple search I can dole out accounting information like a pro. I can find all the symbols and themes of The Scarlet Letter without ever cracking open the book. I can argue about the dangers of the Common Core Curriculum and why Teach For America is destroying our schools. And don’t even get me started on the Zimmerman case. I’m practically a lawyer.
You know what they say about a little knowledge.
I can’t really say if it’s all bad. It just changes the worldwide playing field a bit. Now it isn’t about what you know, it’s about what you choose to filter. The knee-jerk reaction people have when they read about some new Facebook privacy violation and post it blindly as their statuses because it sounds true is the same thing that happens when medical morons search up their symptoms on Google. Because if it’s in print, it MUST be true.
Of course, I never do that. I even have Snopes saved as a favorite.
Except for this.
Because, my neck hurts. And I was in stagnant water. And clearly, I have some brain-eating parasite.