Mass-Media Nonsense! – Swine Flu

Beware! The swine flu is coming! Yes, it’s out to get you! People have died already, you know, and will continue to die! Maybe even someone you know will die! MAYBE YOU WILL DIE!

Or, possibly, it’s a bunch over-hyped, over-inflated, mass-media nonsense.

Like bird flu and SARS, this is a virus that has seemingly come out of nowhere and people are understandably concerned. I have no problem with folks paying attention or with the media informing us of what’s going on with the disease. I don’t even have any problem with the CDC issuing a warning.

The swine flu's gonna get ya!

The swine flu's gonna get ya!

What I do have a problem with is the media hyping this to death and doing wall-to-wall coverage. All that does is scare the public and, of course, increase ratings, which is the real reason they cover it endlessly. If the news says “watch our program or you will die!” you will watch it.

Keep in mind that swine flu isn’t much of much so far. Yes, as of this writing 149 people have died out of a total of 2150 or so cases. That’s about 7%. That’s kind of high, but we also have to remember that all 149 of those have been in Mexico. Now Mexico is a fine place with many good things to recommend it I am sure, but I rather strongly doubt that a quality medical system is one of those things.

Meantime we also need to keep in mind that according to the CDC, about 36,000 people a year die from the “regular” flu. That’s just under 100 people a day each year or, to think of a different way, about one 9/11 attack every month. The 149 who are dead so far aren’t close to that number. Hell, that’s only a day-and-a-half of normal flu deaths.

It’s good to be aware of disease and it’s good to practice basic hygiene, like washing your hands a lot. But please have some perspective!

Oh, and one last thing. Every time something like this happens, including now, we get pictures of people wandering around wearing medical masks. To anyone out there who might have medical knowledge: does this do any good?