Wednesday, May 13, 2009

"Swine Flu" - Definitely Worth the Fuss!!!

As of now, what is the global (non-Mexico) death toll from H1N1?


Yes - five whole people, and the latter two fatalities had "underlying health issues." There's a lot one could say here - the obvious complete freakout spurred by the media not being worth 10 seconds of the attention it got being the most obvious one, but also the characterizations of Mexico and Mexicans in the wake of the disease's spread, or the bizarre faux-sensitivity of some orthodox Jews who felt that they were being prejudiced against by calling it swine flu and felt that it would be totally acceptable to slander Mexico rather than Israel by calling it "Mexico flu."

Instead of spending time on that, though, and snarking away, it's worth being serious. While I have no doubt that a decent percentage of people will eternally be spooked out by these stories, one can't help but think we're being set up for some instance down the road where it really is a serious and threatening disease that spreads quickly, and yet when the media says "wash your hands, protect yourselves, etc. etc.," a lot of people will just say, "yeah, yeah, I've heard it before - bird flu, swine flu, whatever." I know I'm asking for the impossible, but it would be nice if, at least on health issues, media took a calm, rational, informed approach, instead of the "OH MY GOD WE'RE GONNA DIE!!!" narrative that just ends up leading to another instance of the media crying "wolf!"