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I’m Not Saying It Was Aliens… (Misadventures in Self-Diagnosis)

Self-diagnosis has become a pretty popular thing on the internet. Possibly because you can consult about problems that in all likelihood aren’t really problems without having to tell someone you’re actually worried about them. That’s why I do it anyway. What? Never seen a hypochondriac before? Anyway, if you ever needed one reason to justify why google is far inferior to your GP, then remind yourself that your GP would most likely not diagnosis a tiny mark as a sign of alien abduction.

So, I woke up last week with two punctures about an inch and a half apart on my foot. The first thought of my idiot brain was that it was a snake bite, which was idiotic because 1. I live in England, where snakes are pretty damn hard to come by, 2. I didn’t fall asleep in grassland, where you find snakes in England, and 3. a snake wouldn’t bite my foot, and if it did, I think I’d notice. In any case, I asked Dr. Google what it could have been, and the first result insisted that I had been abducted by aliens. I can’t for the life of me remember the specifics I put into the search engine that day, but I assure you that this is true.

Now, if I’d remember being bitten by a snake, I’d sure as hell remember being abducted by aliens. Well, you’d think. I don’t have any time unaccounted for, I feel pretty normal, and if aliens leave telltale signs of their involvement on your body while somehow managing to completely cloak their ships, hide their existence from humanity, and erase your memory of your abduction… well, either they have really shitty doctors and brilliant engineers and psychologists, or they’re a figment of our culture’s collective imagination.

I can’t deny that this in an extreme case of what happens when you use self-diagnosis, but to be honest, with this answer I actually feel a lot better about whatever the punctures were from. Usually when I search for something I’m concerned with, it tells me I have cancer of the x, where cancer of the x has every vague symptom associated with x you could think of. Now, I know that searching for ‘non-symptoms’ will inevitably yield vague results, but there’s something wrong with the way we deal out general medical advice when the first thing you come up with is cancer, rather than maybe drinking too much tea, or having a throat infection.

I’m not suggesting we regulate the internet just so that all the stupid gets cut away, but perhaps the stupid results should come lower in the search engine results, especially considering how easily concerned a lot of us are with our health. Not knowing anything at all about that field, I am left to wonder just how I got extraterrestrial conspiracy theories before a disclaimer page saying: ‘don’t worry, you probably just caught your foot on something, it’ll scab over pretty quickly’.

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Cat Strickson

Cat Strickson

Cat, or Elly, or Eddy, or whatever name they're going by these days, is a British palaeontologist and fantasy author. It's a pretty awesome skill set, but it doesn't pay much right now. They enjoy science, history, vidyagames and all things SFF.

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