With swine flu sweeping the globe, we’ve been encouraged to take reasonable precautions to make sure that we are not infected and to minimize the likelihood of spreading the disease if we are. My employer today sent out a document detailing the “Process to Prevent the Spread of Swine Flu.” Among the useful tips from my employer was one particularly sobering piece of advice (I am not making this up):

“Consider practicing social distancing with those who appear sick/are sick. Avoid handshaking, hugging, but rather smile, wave, or give the ‘V’ sign to acknowledge ‘Virus’ while still being friendly.”

I was struck by how often I’ve been flashed the virus sign in my lifetime and not even known it. Furthermore, I was shocked to realize how many famous individuals in recent history have been trying to, ahem, acknowledge “virus” while still being friendly. Here are a few notable examples:

Clay Aiken acknowledges it (though he denied it at first).

Ringo Starr had to acknowledge it twice, just to be sure.

Mordechai Vanunu acknowledged it to the press, and he went to prison for it.

Former President Bush acknowledged it just a tad prematurely.

Churchill famously acknowledged it…to thousands of cheering Britons!

And Metallica may be acknowledging it, but it sure doesn’t look friendly.

So as you take steps to protect yourself from airborne disease in the coming weeks, remember to practice the critical discipline of social distancing. If your friends, relatives, or neighbors appear sick/are sick, well, you know what to do.