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Published:June 2nd, 2011 22:38 EST
The Sick Social Networks

The Sick Social Networks

By Donna Cavanagh

Do you shout out a litany of complaints when someone foolishly asks "How are you?"  Are you a person who loves to share your every ache and pain with the world?  Do you consider a visit to the doctor the social highlight of your week?  If you answered "yes"  to any of these questions, then there is a good chance that you are not the most popular person at a party. Honestly, there is even a better chance you might not be invited to the party.  But do not despair because, believe it or not, you are about to meet other miserable people who share your love of making life unbearable for those around you.

There is a new social network for those who suffer from various maladies and want to get the word out so that others might commiserate pity or know to avoid them.  Yes, Sickweather invites those with contagious ailments to tell the world about their symptoms be it a stuffed nose and sore throat or a bout of gastric distress that would make most people cringe in disgust. Now you have a place in cyberspace to bitch and no one in this social network will roll their eyes or reach for a drink to drown out the details of your suffering.

To be fair to Sickweather, the site was not set up as a support group for illnesses--be they real or imagined.  It was set up as a place where people could track illnesses within one`s circle of friends and family to allow a healthy person to avoid or predict sickness outbreaks.  The premise is that subscribers will go on the network and see who is sick and where they are sick before heading out to a certain geographical region. 

Does anyone else think this is over the top?  This is like the Weather Channel on steroids. Not only will we know where a "sinus infection" storm will hit, but we will be able to isolate ourselves from that location, and if we have to head into that "zone of germs ", we know to bring a carton of hand sanitizers to minimize the unhealthy effects.  I may be exaggerating, but this sounds like an internet leper colony.

Those who see the "sickness field" on the sick social network will undoubtedly post it on Facebook and Twitter and before you know it, everyone will know to avoid certain homes, neighborhoods or even cities.  And if you are unable to check a "Sick Zone"  from your home or work computer, do not despair. You can get the app that will allow you to circle in on the germ infestation so you can change your destination.

Sickweather and similar sites believe a social network for sickness will be especially useful to parents who don`t want to expose their kids to bad germs at events such as birthday parties or soccer games or any place where germs live.  I have a question:  Do we have freaking immune systems anymore?  How do we expect our immune systems to fight any kind of illness or disease if we shut them down before they have the chance to work?  Okay, hand sanitizer is one thing, but cyberstalking people with colds and flu goes beyond the parameters of normal behavior.  If you are a parent who is so afraid to have your kid out there in the world where germs live, don`t have kids or if you insist on procreating, put them in one of those hazmat suits before school, the park, the ball game, the swimming pool, etc.  You can`t live in a bubble and here`s another thought:  If your kid is sick, don`t bring him or her to a birthday party or soccer game or the swimming pool.  There, problem solved without the need for a new social network!

Okay, I`m calm now--well, I will be after I say this:  When you voluntarily write on the internet that you or your loved ones were sick and taking medication for anything, you have now provided a lot of people with some of your health history. No big deal? Well, think who would be looking for information like this. Does the term insurance company ring a bell?  Many companies and individuals use social networks to mine for information. So, before you join a "sick"social network, think about what information you want to put out there. If you are really concerned over the germs your child will be exposed to at a birthday party, call ahead and see if any of the guests were sick.

Finally, for a social network to work, you have to have friends on that network. What kind of friends will you make on a sick social network?  Your new pals will either be overcautious germ freaks or those who are looking for someone to pity them and their suffering. Yeah, this sounds like a lot of fun, but to be honest, it`s probably more fun than LinkedIn.