by Greg Schwem

Here we are just a few weeks into a new year and the flu epidemic has hit our country unusually hard. So hard, in fact, that Boston health officials now greet visitors at the airport and immediately hand them a return ticket and a stern warning to "Go away. Everybody here is sick."

While I remain healthy for now, I have been reading enough about the influenza virus to know the symptoms:

Runny nose


Body aches

The overwhelming desire to post explicit information of your illness on Facebook.

One recommendation for flu sufferers is to get plenty of rest. However, that hasn't stopped many of my Facebook friends from dragging themselves out of bed, firing up their computers and informing the entire cyber community, in graphic and often disgusting details, how their bodies currently feel. I won't embarrass any by quoting them by name -- after all they are "friends" -- but will include their geographic locations to illustrate how widespread the virus is.

"Nose is still stuffy and now I'm coughing up phlegm." (California)

"Did somebody turn my skin inside out? It hurts to type." (Connecticut)

"Fever is currently 102.3. It's gone up a degree since yesterday. Maybe it's time to call a doctor?" (Florida)

Yes, by all means call the doctor. Better yet, VISIT the doctor. Just do something, anything, to keep you from taking photos of your current medications and posting them on your Facebook wall, as one of my New York City friends recently did. Not knowing how to respond, I did what any concerned individual would do when learning about someone's flu diagnosis on Facebook: I snapped a photo of chicken soup and emailed it to her.

Don't get me wrong. I'm sympathetic to those suffering from flu, as I've had the bug before and know that, as a frequent business traveler, I'm probably one airline passenger, hotel room or subway pole away from catching the disease. But other than my immediate family or my physician, does anybody really need to know the severity of my night sweats or the side effects I endured when I took Nyquil? For the record, the latter could make you feel "really, really dizzy, like I'm flying through a tunnel with no way out." Thanks for that post, Arizona!

I do have several Facebook friends who have suffered from serious conditions -- breast cancer and a brain tumor just to name two -- and have read with interest the blogs, posts and updates about their health battles. However, with rare exceptions, the flu is not a serious illness. Rather, it's a nuisance that eventually goes away and will probably disappear faster if its victims take naps instead of spending hours attempting to change their Facebook status from "married" to "feel like dog crap."

During election season, I actually unfriended several people from my Facebook community, for I had grown weary of reading their constant, vicious political rants about both presidential candidates. Other friends I kept but blocked their posts from my wall until all the votes were tallied. I have contemplated doing the same with my flu-ridden friends, but that seems a bit harsh. It's not nice to kick people when they're down, particularly when they have a sore throat that "feels like I swallowed a case of razor blades. " (Oregon)

So , even though I do not have a medical degree, I am prescribing the following to all my friends suffering from flu:

Drink plenty of liquids

Get lots of rest

Wash your hands frequently

Don't let those hands anywhere near an Internet-enabled device

Now it's time to pack my bags for a trip to San Jose. Wait, I just sneezed. Ewwww, you're not going to believe what just came out of my nose. It looks like, like...

On second thought, never mind.

(Greg Schwem is a stand-up comedian and author of "Text Me If You're Breathing: Observations, Frustrations and Life Lessons From a Low-Tech Dad"


Humor & Satire






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