Merrill » SARS

My biggest ‘thanks for nothing’ moments

Posted May 5th, 2009
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Well, I knew there would eventually be something I would like about aging . Swine flu is it. The LAST theoretical swine flu epidemic (at the cusp of the eighties) was my first official recorded WTF? moment. It was  when  I started keeping a list because after the panic over nothing much died down, along with the echoes of my resounding WTF?,  I began to wonder,” Does life not provide us with enough really scary stuff on a day to day basis that we need to do this for its entertainment value? Is it because we all watched too many horror movies when we were kids?”  I don’t really know. But I am referring now to the way that everyone embraces all these  WTF? moments like a hypochondriac reading through the Merck’s Manual, before there is any actual reason to take them on. After having lived through decades of BS at this point, I have come to the conclusion that the safest days of the year are the ones on which Nostradamus bestowed a prediction.

duct-tapeRemember orange alerts?  It wasn’t that long ago when we were all supposed to stock up on duct tape and sheet plastic. I remember thinking, even at the time, about how the duct tape manufacturers and distributors must have woken up to the most amazingly  bright “pinch-me-I’m-dreaming” kind of a morning . “Let’s quadruple production!” they must have all said, giddy with delight. How exciting to watch reams of duct tape flying off the shelves, only to watch the tape warehouse begin to overflow when, a month later, no one cared about duct tape any more.

There have been many many notable WTF? moments in my adult life: Sky Lab, The Comet Kahoutek, El Nino and La Nina,and SARS are just a few big obvious ones I remember  without having to work too hard. And by the way,  I am still waiting for someone to apologize to me for Y2K. After all the tension and hysteria that Y2K hysterics created ,(to the extent that I even bought some emergency supplies) where was the person who stepped forward afterward, when nothing at all happened, to say “Oops. I guess planes didn’t fall out of the sky and the electric grid didn’t shut down for a month. Sorry. My bad.”

And it is with this kind of stuff that the internet is definitely not our friend. Because as hard as the media hysterics beat the drum about Y2K, and the last swine flu, and Kahoutek, they didn’t come close to the sheer power of yelling fire in a crowded theatre that the internet can provide with even one single whisper. Not just headlines but google maps! Photos of empty airports! Photos of full airports!  Even while at the same time,on the same page, there were articles that mentioned that a regular flu season causes thousands of deaths. And that this flu doesnt seem to be any worse than the regular kind.