Last week, the CDC released data indicating that this season's flu vaccine is only about 23 percent effective, whereas "commonly, it's been closer to 60 percent." In fact, that success ratio is "the lowest the agency has seen during the decade or so since it began tracking annual vaccine effectiveness," which means that your chances of seeing annoying, depressing, or downright repulsive cold and flu-related parental status updates on Facebook this year just increased by at least 30 percent.
Twice in this space, I've warned of the dangers of cold and flu season on Facebook. Depending on your age and how many kids your friends have, you might even have a higher chance of catching something by scrolling through your Facebook newsfeed than you would by actually leaving the house. I feel sick just going through the submissions, so I'm guessing I'm not the only one who's vulnerable. Does anyone else remember Snot Boy? His runny nose haunts me. When will parents finally learn that no matter how sick their kids are, detailed descriptions and pictures serving as "proof" don't actually raise their friends' sympathy levels?
That may sound harsh, but we've all been sick before, and many of us have taken care of sick kids, so this is one of those subjects about which there's nothing to demystify. No snot rag has been left un-wrung, no toilet filled with barf left un-flushed. We've all been there and done that, and no one likes being reminded of the awfulness of cold and flu season when they're killing time on Facebook. Especially if it involves looking at Snot Boy or reading about his baby sister projectile vomiting alllll over the new living room rug. Also, it's time for parents to come to terms with the fact that no one is intentionally trying to get their children sick. There's not a big bad conspiracy behind thousands of kids getting the sniffles and gluing themselves to the couch for a few days each January. If anything, parents should blame the CDC for recommending a mostly ineffective flu shot this year since their kids are all going to infect each other. Wading through a plethora of disgusting sickness submissions all winter long, I sure know I will be.
Here's how NOT to talk about your kid's cold or flu on social media, part II:
1. Mini Doc
Jennifer's talking about her son as though she's the narrator of a National Geographic wildlife documentary. "The boy lies, sleeping, on a bed of soft blankets as his arms and legs twitch, feverish eyelids fluttering. He stirs, unfazed yet lethargic as he contemplates his next move. Will he fall asleep again? Will he procure a delicious snack from the pantry? Ah, yes -- the boy chooses to happily pet a snoozing cat. Typical for the ailing child, whose every move is chronicled by his watchful and extremely bored mother."
Parents, no one cares about this level of minutiae. Not even the child's grandparents.
2. Accusatory Bacterial Interrogation
The person who submitted this said:
"My friend Sara had someone post this on her wall after her wedding.
1. Yeah, the only possible way your daughter got sick was from someone at the wedding
2. Even if Sara remembered someone who was sick, who cares? Are you going to hunt them down and yell at them for getting your daughter sick?"
Excellent question, Submitter! My guess is yes, Melinda is prepared to tell someone -- anyone, even a potential stranger -- to go fuck themselves for presumably getting her daughter sick. Thankfully for everyone involved (specifically, Melinda and her dignity), Sara has no clue if one of her wedding guests showed up sick. All she knows is that she probably shouldn't have invited Melinda (and her daughter?) to her wedding.
3. Totes. Adorbs.
Jane's status update irks me not just because it's freaking gross, but because she seems so gosh darned tickled with herself and her snot-nosed mini me. How cute and funny is it that she and her baby son both have snot bubbles?!? They slept face-to-face and woke up and pressed their snot bubbles together because they're both sick with the flu and it's adooooorable. ADORBS, I SAY! If only Jane had a picture of this spectacular display of mommy-and-me twins status, then she could actually show everyone what she's talking about. It's kind of hard to describe, but it's definitely worth seeing.
If there's one type of cold and flu status update I wish parents would stop posting, it's the momrazzi shots taken of their poor, sick kids. These updates are not only unnecessary and unflattering for the kids, but they make the parents look like complete assholes. Why? Because they're trying to gain sympathy via photos of their sick children, and it's just plain nauseating.
Let the poor kid hunch over a bucket in peace, why don't ya?! I can't think of a single time I've ever wanted someone to snap a photo of me as I'm mid-barf, or even mid-dry heave, but I know for sure that of all people, my own mother wouldn't have done so herself. This leads me to question the judgment of documom mothers like Joy. Is there really any thought behind taking and posting this picture other than, "This will surely make my friends feel bad for me and my little one!!"? I'm all ears if there is.
That said, I think a full ban on pictures of people while they're sick is in order. Take for example, this gooey-faced kid:
Aside from being named "Kinsley," which is already enough of a burden to bear, this unfortunate child's snot should not be on Facebook. Simply posting about the ear infection would have been enough for Marah to gain the sympathy she craves from her friends, but juuuuust in case, she went ahead and posting this sad-looking photo, as well. Parenting pro-tip: Posting a photo of your child looking miserable does not elicit more sympathy. It just makes people wonder why you took a picture instead of wiping your child's face. Get better soon, Kinsley!
5. What In The Ever-Loving NOPE
How in the... What in the... WHY in the...
Technically this submission came from a member of a (non-exclusive) mom group, so I can't exactly fault Amber for sharing this information with fellow mothers. She sought out "her people" and for that, I'm sure the rest of her friends list is unknowingly forever grateful. I can, however, say with absolute certainty that not every member of this mom group wanted to read about Amber eating "a big clear snot ball" that her baby "coughed up." Seriously, not everything needs to be shared. What are we even talking about at this point?
Social media has reduced us to snot ball-scarfing mom reporters who can't make any sudden moves without journaling about them on Facebook. I understand that for most parents, sickness status updates are related to feeling helpless and wanting their kids to be well -- but the updates are making the rest of us sick in the process. Next time Amber eats her kid's banana-flavored snot bubble (or god knows what else), she should probably just keep it to herself.