I don’t understand why viruses and bacteria and diseases always have to make us sick. Best case scenario, they lay dormant in your system for years not doing anything, just waiting for you to spread them to someone else, another more susceptible host body with a weaker immune system, one where they might get to do some actual damage. Worst case scenario, it’s Ebola, and an hour after you get infected, your intestines start swelling up and bleeding and then they start trying to escape from you’re your body all while the rest of your organs start to fail at the same time. Or, even worse worst case scenario, it’s that disease from that M. Night Shyamalan movie where everyone starts killing themselves, and then you realized that you just wasted fifteen dollars on the worst movie that you’ve ever seen in your life, and so you feel the same suicidal urges that the people feel in the movie, and you really can’t shake it for a while.
Wouldn’t it be awesome if, instead of getting sick, diseases could make us even stronger? Wouldn’t it be cool if, instead of like a SARS pandemic or an avian flu that threatened to wipe out half the population, we could have a disease where you gained the ability to run really fast for a while? Or maybe a little super strength? Maybe a fever where instead of running a temperature, you just got really happy for a while and food tasted even better?
If that were the case I’d say, please, let me get sick. Can’t we make these types of diseases a reality? Don’t we have the technology to bioengineer whatever type of simple-celled organism that we can imagine? I’m thinking up a microscopic worm populating my insides and, whenever I drink alcohol, they clean up all the nasty parts of the booze so that way I never get a hangover.
But then if getting sick turned into a good thing, we would lose our ability to take sick days, which would kind of suck, unless you could get some sort of flu that made going to work a really enjoyable experience. Or, if these types of good bugs start going around with enough regularity, then we could all be sick for a majority of our lives, and instead of taking sick days, we could just call out from work on the rare occasion where we’d be completely healthy, and we’d call those regular days, or healthy days, and your boss would give you five or six of them a year, and if you got to the end of the year, you might pretend like you’re not sick, even though you would be, but the regular days don’t carry over and, you might as well use them up, right? I mean, you’re getting paid for them whether you use them or not.
From a single-celled organism’s point of view, I don’t really understand the whole concept of infecting a host body and making him or her sick. You make enough people sick and all of the sudden doctors and scientists have to get involved. The next thing you know, there’s new medicines, public health awareness campaigns, and eventual eradication. Look at smallpox. You get enough people really, really sick, and some genius scientists goes ahead and discovers the vaccine. And now it’s gone. I’ve got to tell you smallpox, from an evolutionary point of view, you picked the wrong species to piss off. Maybe that whole oozing, bleeding, covered in deadly sores thing works on a bunch of gorillas, but humans are way too smart to let that kind of stuff go unnoticed. Or we used to be, anyway. Polio, smallpox, measles … all gone. But we haven’t made any new vaccine in a while. I’m looking at you, malaria, dengue, and AIDS.
Isn’t the whole point of any species or microorganism to be fruitful and multiply? How fruitful can you be if you just make everyone sick? Everyone’s just going to get annoyed and then they’ll take medicines and wipe it out. And what’s the end game? If you make something sick enough, eventually it’s going to die, and then, as a disease, you’re going to die too. The whole point of disease should be to make things better, a mutually advantageous situation.
It’s like if somebody comes over your house and just starts spitting on the floor, you’re going to ask them to stop. If they don’t stop, if they listen to your request and then, not only do they not stop spitting, but then they start going through your kitchen cabinets and breaking all the plates, and not even just the regular plates, but like the fine china and your grandma’s collection of antique teacups, you’re probably going to ask them to leave. But if you have a houseguest that doesn’t talk much and stays out of the way and also starts cleaning the bathroom and painting the walls with a fresh color that you wouldn’t have thought of by yourself but it really works, it really just makes the room pop, well then you might be less inclined to say anything if you happen to see them unroll a sleeping bag and start living in the basement, waiting for you to finish your dinner and then eating all of the scraps. If I were a disease, I would want the host body in which I live in to not only not mind my presence, I’d want it to be glad that I was there.
Also, if germs were good for you, then I wouldn’t have to worry about not washing my hands after I go to the bathroom, or not licking the poles on the subway, which, I always see these moms telling their little kids not to do, but it’s really hard to stop a two-year-old from doing something he or she doesn’t want to do, and so the mom’s either got to physically restrain the little kid, which might result in a crying screaming mess, or, she’ll just have to tell the kid to knock it off every once in a while, to give the appearance to everyone else that she’s doing her job, that she’s on top of the licking, but she’ll really just be ignoring it for most of the time because, honestly, this kid is way too much work, and if the kid wants to lick the subway pole, whatever, because if he’s not licking the subway pole he’s just got his hands all the way in his mouth, and then he grabs the pole and then puts his slimy, wet hands right back into his mouth anyway, and so, whatever, just ten minutes of peace, please, just five minutes of no screaming, please.