It seems as though the last few weeks have graciously gifted us with our latest disease du jour, Swine Flu. This new and improved strain of influenza has caused quite a stir throughout world affairs and the majority of our media is certainly having a field day by providing us with all the “information” we need to know about the disease and protect ourselves from this latest threat to human existence. Here we go again.

Just like SARS and Bird Flu, this latest mutation is likely nothing to be highly concerned about. Sure we should take all the necessary precautions, but if my knowledge about the disease is correct, it can more or less be treated with the same drugs and medicines as one would use to treat just regular old flu. My concern is less about the disease and more about the way in which the majority of our media reacts.

The truth is that while we need the media to stay on top of the story and provide us with up-to-date information, I fear that in the rush for ratings and sales, far too many news outlets simply become more concerned with stirring up our primal fears than providing us with the critical information we need.

I was briefly watching the evening news Sunday night and the lead story was (of course) about Swine Flu and all the gory little details. In one last vestige of social responsibility, the segment concluded with a few important tips about how to avoid contracting the virus. Secrets like washing your hands, taking frequent showers, and avoiding contact with anyone who may be infected. Gee, thanks, ABC! Even the methods of prevention underscore the overreaction of so many.

I’m not saying that we shouldn’t be concerned. Heck, even though the media riles us up far too much, maybe our fear of getting sick helps us contain the spread. What I am saying is that I wish the media had a little more faith in people like you and me to look objectively at the situation and comprehend its importance ourselves, rather than being scared into thinking about it.

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