THE MINISTRY OF DISINFORMATION

On September 14, 2013 by Kunle Barker

I love the Internet. I love the fact that at the flick of a laptop lid and the press of a few keys I can pretty much find anything I want. It certainly beats sifting through the Encyclopaedia Britannica, as I did many a time as a child trying to find out the distance between Dover and Calais. The Internet has also dramatically reduced the hours of drunken conjecture in pubs over pointless facts, such as which country has the largest Muslim population (it’s Indonesia, by the way). No doubt the Internet has also saved hundreds of friendships as these alcohol-fuelled debates often end in raised voices and insults.

It would seem that the Internet can do no wrong, but there is one word of warning, “With great power comes great responsibility.” Okay, I know I’ve stolen that line from Spiderman, but it fits here. This unlimited supply of information can create far more problems than it solves. It is part of the human condition to assume something is a fact if it’s seen in print, but, “Just cause it says it on Google, don’t make it so.”

Facts from the Internet should be treated with a particular level of scepticism, if not it would be easy for the plethora of half-truths, urban myths and downright lies to be anointed as truths and thus cheat their way into the world of fact. It seems that too much of a good thing can definitely be bad. Too much information is bad enough but when it comes to pregnancy it’s much worse than that.

 

 

HOW DO YOU LIKE YOUR EGGS IN THE MORNING?

Now, Mummy Bean is genetically predisposed to worry, not unnecessarily, but she does worry. I, on the other hand, have a slightly more cavalier attitude to life, which actually makes us a good team, as the perfect disposition is somewhere in the middle. However, when it comes to Kidney Bean, we are both of precisely the same disposition, a potent mix of nervousness and legitimate worry. Add to this the load of old claptrap you hear regarding what can hurt your baby and we are ready to spontaneously combust in the flames of first pregnancy panic.

Many blogs, forums and sites that purport to be factual are quite the opposite. Even if they don’t actually say they are factual they certainly don’t say, “The information on this site, blog, forum is basically made up and the people on this site probably should not be taken seriously. Whatever you do please don’t act on any of the advice and please speak to a person who is actually qualified and knows what the hell they are talking about.”

From the disinformation spread on the Internet and between friends in cafés, it would seem that in the last few thousand years, life has become particularly fragile. People would have you believe that pretty much everything that exists in the 21st century can cause a spontaneous miscarriage.

According to the Internet nail varnish, chocolate mousse, Parma ham, unpasteurised milk, and coffee are among some of the everyday things that are dangerous for your baby. God forbid you should have the misfortune to eat an undercooked egg; this it seems will cause your uterus to fall out on the spot.

It’s a worrying time, and not just for Mummy Bean, I’m worried too. The last thing I want is to take the chance that an albeit tasty soft boiled egg will end with a uterus on our tiled floor – I prefer my tiled floor without a uterus. Okay I’m being a little flippant but it just seems that if you ask enough people, if you look on enough forums, if you do enough Google searches then pretty much every single thing in your fridge is a mortal threat to the life of you baby. This just can’t be the case, can it?

I try to deal with the fear using reason. Reason tells me that I shouldn’t worry this much, that neither of us should worry this much. Reason tells me that life is incredibly robust, even young life and that in general statistics point to the fact that everything will be fine. To be fair my reason is doing a bloody good job of convincing me; however, it’s not working on Mummy Bean and I’m being accused of being cavalier.

 

 

THE LAW IS THE LAW

So what do we do? Well, we create a system that allows us to deal with the problem. It’s a simple yet effective system, which follows three simple rules – sorry did I say “rules”, I meant “laws”:

  1. Stay away from the obvious dangers – We ban all the foods that are generally accepted as being risky for pregnant women. Mummy Bean stays away from uncooked eggs, alcohol, raw fish and meat, smoked fish and meat, too much coffee, arsenic.
  2. Research – We ask questions about what is in a dish before we order it, and certainly before we eat it.  If unsure we consult a trusted website, normally the NHS site. If there is any doubt we simply don’t eat it.
  3. Head in the Sand – This is the most important rule: we never ever retrospectively research a dish that we have just eaten. Mummy Bean had the habit of midway through a meal whipping out her iPhone and then announcing that she could not eat what she had just consumed. A pointless exercise, which just resulted in arguments. Forensic investigation into the safety of foods just consumed is now outlawed. Although, I do secretly check when we get home and just suggest that maybe Mummy Bean orders something else next time.

This three-law system works and has resulted in less worrying and fewer arguments. We now make informed and rational decisions together and this makes for a much happier Bean family.

Although, I do have one confession. I am ashamed to admit that I have used the laws to my own advantage. Last week we were in a restaurant and Mummy Bean asked if she could eat crème brûlée. I thought about it for a moment and replied, “I’m not sure, perhaps you shouldn’t eat it, remember the second law.” She looked a little disappointed but knew that the law was there to protect her. I promptly ushered over the waiter and ordered a crème brûlée, safe in the knowledge that I could have it all to myself!

 

One Response to “THE MINISTRY OF DISINFORMATION”

  • Adam

    This is very funny. My partner said i should read it and really enjoyed it. Great to see a blog from the fathers view.

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