As a CDC junkie (and a regular reader of Morbidity and Mortality weekly) , I would love to get into the nitty gritty of this disease–how and when it will most likely kill you, for starters–but before i do, i feel it only responsible to explain why the cyber-driven hysteria it’s touched off is likely to kill you first.
About a week ago, I first noticed swineflu about halfway down my biweekly troll of Google Zeitgeist. At that time, i thought little of it. After all, half of the stuff on google analytics is from reality tv anyway. Then, a few days later, I logged onto twitter and noticed it in trends. At the top. Within seconds, i had the most terrifying picture possible of a truly terrifying pandemic.
Imagine, if you will, that this disease really starts spreading in the U.S. G-d forbid. Imagine that you are standing on the subway platform at Union Square when suddenly someone gets a Tweet on their iPhone that someone on the incoming L train is exhibiting flu like symptoms and coughing everywhere. Imagine how quickly panic would spread. In a climate like that, don’t our major media outlets have a duty to not only keep us abreast of the situation as it develops, but to temper the overwhelming, hysterical fear?
I’m not one to heap praise on the old guard, but there’s something to be said for an institution (in this case the old media) that actually believed it served a public service. I fear taht this is just the first taste of what’s to come. Go back tomorrow and i almost guarantee you a bigger, more terrifying, more sensational headline. And if things really get that bad? Who will reach out to calm the storm we have stirred.