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It’s so tempting, isn’t it? So tempting and so much easier than going to the GP.

I’m talking about Google medicine. Type in a few symptoms – headache, tiredness, and irritability – and a man can be surprised to find he has all the symptoms of pregnancy, or a young woman alarmed to see the signs of dementia are showing in her.

We all know internet medical diagnosis is a bad idea. We all inwardly roll our eyes when a hypochondriac friend says urgently of her latest ailment “But I Googled it and the news is really bad!” But do we still do it? Of course we do!

And it’s bad for everyone: bad for us – paranoia ensues, along with a mysterious heightening of symptoms almost as soon as we read the bad news. Bad for our partners – they are suddenly expected to be sympathetic to an almost-certainly life-threatening illness which they know will be gone in a matter of days.

And bad for business – once you start Googling, you can’t stop. You know you should really be working on that account, chasing up these phone calls, returning these emails – but how can you when you are finding out so much crazy information about your frighteningly fragile state of health?

I have weaned myself of self diagnosing on Google, I have to say, it was getting out of control. I have, instead, taken to Googling my own weaknesses to see how many articles or blogs have been written about them, so that I feel less alone. Example – I may type in “eaten a whole carton of ice cream” or “can’t be bothered to exercise” or “obsessed with gossip websites”. Voila! A million people are in the same boat as me, making me feel much better and continuing my slovenly lifestyle (relatively) guilt free.

A much more productive way of utilising the web, of course – and one less damaging to the business – is typing in questions, problems, or issues you are facing and seeing just how much support there is out there, how many people have been in the same boat, and how they figured out their problems.

It’s much healthier than making Google your stand-in GP, and just as addictive. Are you as guilty as I am?

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