Tag! You’re it: The consequences of easy labeling
It’s like being showered with post-it notes. Persistent conversations about ill health, reminders of seasonal allergies on TV, and snippets from friends’ reviews of their aches and pains can make us question our own health. The suggestions keep coming at you. Often, they stick.
“Don’t rely too much on labels, for too often they are fables.” That’s sage advice from 19th century preacher Charles Spurgeon. It’s fair warning in today’s culture of tagging every ailment or pain with a name. There is a way of defending ourselves from this barrage of label making.
A titanic drift is occurring toward self-diagnosis as it relates to health concerns. This impulse is due in part to internet usage and social media. A Pew Research Center study reports 1 in 5 adult internet users going online “to find others with health concerns similar to their own.” The study concludes, “online resources, including advice from peers, are a significant source of health information in the U.S.”
With easy access to all this information comes the complexity of knowing what to do with it. Psychology Today reports “Spend enough time searching the internet for any given symptom and you’ll eventually end up with a grave prognosis.” Dr. Srini Pillay points out many dangers of self-diagnosis, among them thinking “there is more wrong with you than there actually is.” This can contribute to more worrying which makes matters worse.