Wednesday, October 7, 2009

I'll Take My Swine Flu With a Grain of Salt, Please

I should preface the following paragraphs with a sort of a disclaimer - I am not, nor do I ever claim to be an expert on anything. If there are holes in my theories, flaws in my logic then get in touch because I would LOVE to hear what other people think about this stuff.

Influenza is a big deal, I wouldn't wish it upon anyone. And I mean a knock-down, drag-out, butt-kicking, three-miserable-weeks-in-bed INFLUENZA, not "the flu" which has somehow come to mean a day or two of gastroenteritis; it's not the same thing. If I constructed a "Top Ten Pet Peeves" list, that one would fall somewhere between extra-over-privileged girls who don't understand sidewalk etiquitte and people who don't like to repeat themselves yet don't speak clearly.

Now that I've gotten that off my chest, chew on this: "In the U.S., an estimated 25–50 million cases of the flu are currently reported each year — leading to 150,000 hospitalizations and 30,000–40,000 deaths yearly (via). Okay - so that's just influenza. I would venture to guess these numbers were compiled long before an H1N1 outbreak scare made it onto the radar. And here is the kicker: the total number of reported swine flu/H1N1 cases reported in the U.S. has been a whopping 33,902 with 170 deaths (via). Not to mention it's only such an issue at all because of how easily it spreads, but that's only a problem if you don't wash your hands or you go around licking things or whatever you people who are always sick do.

But I didn't log in to Blogger today to complain about my pet peeves or post inadequately checked facts. No, no, no, I wanted to throw my two cents in about the hysteria. Actually, hysteria is a really misogynistic term, so I'm going to call it PANIC. And please don't.

I just want to point out that the media, be it radio, tv or print runs on ad revenue. If your content is NEWS, then there is great incentive to gain viewers. More viewers means more ad exposure. So now every company wants to have a commercial during YOUR show, and that drives the price up (basic economics, people). ERGO a larger audience = more money in media outlets' pockets. Of course, news outlets really don't have the same kind of creative liberty as a sitcom so they have go figure out other ways to generate viewership. They DO have the ability to exaggerate and/or selectively withhold information. So then information becomes a commodity of sorts and if you don't "watch at 10" you are made to feel as though you are missing out and if you DO watch, you're likely to hear a startling statistic out of context that just might not be so startling IN its proper context. They do this all the time (via).

The whole H1N1/Swine Flu pandemic is a veritable GOLD MINE for news outlets looking to increase viewership to inflate ad prices and make more money. And PLEASE don't get me wrong - WASH YOUR HANDS, wash them ALL the time, and keep that habit long after flu threat subsides. DON'T GO TO WORK SICK! What did the rest of us ever do to you? My fourth grade teacher said that all rules/principles to live by fall into two categories: respect and responsibility. So be responsible for keeping good hygeine habits year-round, and respect your peers by not exposing them to your illness. Can we all just agree on this and let the media go on to their next apocalyptic prediction?

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