Unless you live in a bunker with no internet or television, you know that Swine Flu is the hot topic and disease of the moment. And in this constant barrage of updates and headlines touting “pandemic” I’m struck again by America’s #1 creation. We used to lead the world cars, computers, electronics, and freedom, but now we lead in one area: Panic and Fear.
Ever since 9/11 and 24hour news channels with scrolling text, we as Americans are constantly being told the latest thing to fear. And ideally, we shouldn’t fear it, but dread it in a way that consumes our every thought and conversation. Keep the news on in the background. Track the source of your fear.
Which brings me back to Swine flu, which is doing a great job of proving the point. It has not and will not (by the looks of current reports) reach “pandemic” levels. When there’s Seven-Billion people in the world you’ve got to wipe out millions to be a full blown global crisis. Keep in mind that means 7 Million people is only .1%! Swine flu hasn’t even infected 1,000 people yet – worldwide! If Swine Flu is a pandemic, then what is real flu? Or Cancer? Or the common cold? Uber-pandemic?
But Swine-Flu-Fear… that has reached pandemic levels. Especially in this country, the fear is paralyzing people and undermining lives. While speaking to a friend this week he described his wife as “obsessed with Swine Flu”. Here in their nice neighborhood in Los Angeles… And she’s not alone as LA Emergency Rooms have been so overrun with frightened people that they’ve had to set up Triage tents.
Traige tents – The kind of thing you find in war-zones and disaster areas. But here in Sunny LA they’ve been filled with people who coughed some time this morning, or ate pork last week. I wish I was kidding.
And in the ultimate confluence of technology and paranoia – the iTunes store will soon offer a “Swine Flu Tracker” App for your iPhone.
That is if you don’t want to follow the Flu via Twitter. How does that work exactly? Does the Flu itself own an iPhone? Are the airborne particles forming into thumbs and typing “now floating toward an unsuspecting spring-breaker!”.
It’s more likely you’ll die this year from driving while using your cell phone than be infected with Swine Flu. And yet, there are people who are going to want that iPhone app, and freak when the Flu “tweets” about an infection change.
Now, if someone died in a car wreck while checking their iPhone for a Swine Flu update – that would be something.
Swine Flu is just a headline. The mortality rate is very low, and yet it’s the number one news story.
Consider the fact that regular, good-old-fashion, “human flu” has killed thousands this year. Complications from flu generally kill more than 35,000 people in the US each year. If Swine-Flu is Pandemic – then the normal flu is a planet killer!!! If you survived flu season you should get a T-Shirt and the chance to tell your gripping story of survival.
But yes,… but all means, let’s panic. It’s now what America does best and Swine Flu is our latest fixation…
… oh, wait… I can’t call it Swine Flu, can I? Because the pork industry is afraid that people will stop eating pork. Did you catch that? They fear for their business. Even though you can’t catch flu from eating pork any more than you could catch normal flu from eating person.
(This blog does not endorse the eating of person. Don’t be ridiculous. – But it must be stated to undermine America’s #2 biggest pastime – Calling Lawyers. We do however heartily endorse the eating of pig. Especially in BBQ sauce.)
So now the Federal Government refers to this disease as “H1N1”, cause that rolls off the tongue and no one will possibly assume it has anything to do with pigs.
And we’re exporting our absurdity. Israel has declared they don’t want to call it Swine flu because the name is offensive to Jews and Muslims. That’s like saying small-pox is offensive to little people.
But we better change it, cause we’re afraid someone will get offended.
Come back after the commercial break and we’ll tell you ten more reasons to be terrified.
Here’s an idea:
Turn off the TV. Take a deep breath. Sit quietly if you have to. And if you really want to mix things up… go outside!
Fear never accomplished anything. Fear makes us cower in the corner too paralyzed to move and survive. Fear stops our thinking. Fear is a death all it’s own. Where’s the warning for that?