What’s with everyone? Why do we need this fear? Why must we be fueled by fear? I read Barry Glassner’s The Culture of fear: The assault on optimism in America when I was a freshman in high school. It was quite interesting, though nothing of a great read. Very few books of research or essays are great reads. But, it has shaped some of my views. Just as reading about the media and wanting to be a part of the media has shaped my view of news reporting. It’s sad when The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, a “fake” and satirical news program, is your best media outlet.
The Swine Flu has everyone scrambling for facemasks, which won’t protect them – as viruses are generally small enough to fit through the fibers of the facemasks. Doctors will tell you that the new strain is treatable with current pharmaceuticals, such as Tamiflu, Ralenza, and other antivirals. Infants, the elderly, and the sickly are at the most risk of possible fatality. This is the same with all strains of influenza, or Flu.
I think we should understand the terms epidemic and pandemic. During the Avian Influenza (Avian Flu or Bird Flu) outbreak, the country (United States) was sent into a frenzy as citizens received mail inserts about the Pandemic level (Level 6) of the flu. Now, it’s just old news. I should also go ahead and state that this is in no way meant to be disrespectful to anyone who has had someone pass away due to these, or any other, strains of influenza. It’s horrible any time a person passes due to any illness, treatable or untreatable.
An epidemic is merely the affecting a large number of individuals within a given population, community, or region at the same time. So, this could relate to nearly any virus outbreak. So should we be concerned when it reaches a pandemic level? Well, pandemic simply means that an infection is occurring over a wide geographic area and affecting an exceptionally high proportion of the population. (Merriam-Webster). The rise of threat is due merely by geographical data, not fatality rates. This seems to be skewed by the media and by the government.
It’s not ridiculous to choose to receive an immunization; we do this all the time. What is ridiculous is stirring mass hysteria in the general public, who are generally laypersons or commoners. Scaring people into believing something is of greater threat than it actually is. Now, don’t get me wrong. I understand that it is serious; outbreaks of any kind are often serious. But, constant news coverage seems a little overbearing.
Stock your shelves with perishable items, get your immunizations, lock yourself indoors until it goes away. Do what you wish; just don’t forget how to drive when you decide to enter back into civilization.
Speaking of which, you would think that less people would be on the streets, what with all this fear dripping from everyone’s foreheads. Sure, I’ll take my precautions, I’ll clean my hands slightly more than regularly, I’ll avoid areas of confirmed outbreaks, and I’ll even avoid those who are coughing or showing signs of sickness. But I refuse to be scared into trusting false, skewed, or underdeveloped information.
Image citation: Bakar, Ridzwan M.D. “swinefluvirus.” Swine Flu Virus. Swine Flu – A Misnomer 26 Apr. 2009. 5 May 2009 Doctor2008’s Weblog .