As much as I love how the Internet has made it easier to find information, it's got a pretty heavy-duty downside, especially when you're dealing with a mysterious illness or, in my case, a blemish.
I admit that I'm one to Google health symptoms or ask my social media followers medical questions, only to discover that I've got either rheumatoid arthritis or a head cold.
But after what happened recently on my Facebook page, I will never ever EVER ask the Internet for health advice again.
I made the mistake of asking my Facebook friends what to do with this weird breakout on my face. I've had pretty clear skin my entire life, so I'm not skilled in dealing with pimples.
I figured someone would have some cream or spot treatment I didn't know about. Then I'd hop over to the drugstore and clear up my face in a matter of days, and all would be shiny and new again.
Cue angels singing.
Instead, I ended up with a bunch of comments ranging from helpful advice to suggestions that I had herpes. Or my favorite one, staph.
STAPH?! As in an infection caused by staphylococcus bacteria that usually manifests as just a minor skin problem -- but can turn deadly?!
Sure, I get that I didn't post a photo -- so people were making assumptions based on my terrible description of what turned out to be exactly what I thought it was: a zit and a little patch of eczema (in case you were wondering). But cripes! Talk about anxiety-provoking, especially for someone who's already a little anxious to begin with.
Also, why would anyone ever say something so serious like that publicly? If I were going to tell someone their condition sounded like it needed medical attention, I'd at least have the courtesy to send them a private message.
Look, on one hand, I love being able to type a few words into Google to get an instant answer about something, or ping a few of my online friends with questions about things like the coolest boots for fall. Or restaurant recommendations.
Or really anything else that doesn't involve a health situ, after my experience with "minor skin rash turns into horrible deadly disease."
I know that it's super convenient to Google your health symptoms and get medical advice from friends on Facebook and Yahoo and all that. It's a great idea in theory to try to diagnose yourself, your kids, your husband, your parents, and anyone else you care about online. Not to mention the fact that it can save you a lot of time and money by avoiding all those doctor's visits and bills. I'm a busy mom and it's hard for me to rationalize why I should spend the time and cash going to the dermatologist for a pimple on my face.
But what if the Internet is wrong?
Then yeah. That really saves you nothing -- not to mention the fact that it can be dangerous to your health. Never mind the potential it has for giving you a panic (or heart) attack in the process.
So my new rule: If it might require medicine, I'm giving up Drs. Google and Social Media and sticking to people who know what the heck they're talking about. Actual health professionals who went to school for these things and have real knowledge on how to treat them -- the right way.
Do you trust the Internet with health questions?