Thursday, 23 July 2009

Scary pigs

Aren't you totally terrified of swine flu? According to the media, it might kill tens of thousands, devastate businesses and trigger countless miscarriages and birth defects. We should all be quaking in our boots.

Thank God for one intrepid soul ignoring the screaming headlines and asking what the fuss is all about. It's only flu, says columnist Simon Jenkins. If you get it, just take an aspirin and wait for it to go away again.

It's not even as debilitating as other types of flu, he reminds us. We'll hardly know we've got it. A sore throat, runny nose, aching muscles - hardly the end of the world. The only people dead so far are those with underlying medical conditions that make it hard to fight the infection. So why the panic?

But the tabloids are conjuring up lines of coffins and ravaged families, the government are diverting cash and staff from elsewhere in the health service, two thousand phone advisers have been recruited and reams of advice have been issued (much of it contradictory and confusing).

Pregnant women are scared they might lose their baby, but the risk is no greater than for any other flu. The woman who died after giving birth had used a wheelchair for 15 years and had serious medical problems.

We should all take a deep breath, turn our bullshit-detectors up a few notches and just laugh heartily at all the lurid headlines. Haven't these journalists got anything better to do, like asking why poverty and illiteracy are still so common in a highly developed country?

I sometimes think journalists get a sort of sadistic thrill from frightening us out of our wits and creating doomsday scenarios out of remote possibilities. Still, why let the truth stand in the way of a good story?

PS: Of course swine flu is child's play compared with the horrors of man flu....

PPS: Drug companies and retailers are making a killing out of swine flu hysteria, selling a gullible public everything from anti-bacterial hand wipes to thermometers and face masks. It's reported that internet sales of bogus Tamiflu are now higher than bogus Viagra....

23 comments:

Thriftcriminal said...

Very important point that PS! :-)

Fear is a very effective mechanism for manufacturing consent, and given the state of modern life at the moment they seem to require quite a lot of it. Take it all with a pinch of salt. No, wait, salt's bad for you if you have to much, it can lead to high blood pressure, heart problems and blindness in really high quantities! Arrrrrggh

Nick said...

Thrifty - Indeed, it's partly the fear that stops people saying, hang on a minute, do we really need all these elaborate precautions? Fear confuses the mind and blocks rational thought.

Funny thing, I ate lorryloads of salt when I was a kid but it seems to have done me no harm....

Suburbia said...

Hee hee, love your PS!

You are right of course, it is all hype, but I do have to keep reminding myself of that fact, it is easy to get caught up in the drama created by the media.

As you say, there are more pressing things that get no space at all, but then that wouldn't sell news papers would it?!

Nick said...

Suburbia - It's very easy to get caught up in the hysteria, I find it happening to me too. They make it sound like MRSA at the very least, if not bubonic plague. But I bet it sells plenty of papers.

Hullaballoo said...

Nick, one Scottish tabloid was likening it to the black death. What are they on? Good blogpost and well worth reminding me of the facts when I feel anxious during the night. Thank you.

Nick said...

Hulla - Nothing to worry about. Journalists are a bit like naughty children, they just get more and more outrageous until someone tells them to stop.

Liz said...

Our newspaper headline was 'No need to panic.'

Man flu, as you say, is far more of an epidemic.

Nick said...

Liz - Goodness, a sensible headline! Whoever's responsible will surely be sacked, or at least demoted to the weather forecast.

Brighid said...

Where did common sense go? Would that we could start a movement that would address the true challenges of the day.

Nick said...

Brighid - It's called socialism. But the politicians keep promising it and then giving us more elitism and nepotism instead.

Wisewebwoman said...

And of course none of them are addressing the real causes of these and other pandemics (remember birdflu) which is the horrific practices of agri-business and their government- backed licence to brutalize the animals and feed them antibiotics from birth to death....
Don't get me started.
Good post.
XO
WWW

Nick said...

www - Indeed, where exactly did this flu strain come from in the first place? We'll probably never know the truth but suspicious fingers are being pointed at big business and dodgy research labs.

Leah said...

I have a weird theory that it makes people feel sort of cozy to get excited about these things, you know what I mean? Like, it's sort of fun to feel a little scared. I'd actually forgotten about H1N1 while away on vacay and away from the television...

heartinsanfrancisco said...

The media terrorists are simply running with the ball they've caught, no pun intended. Their existence depends upon keeping our attention so they are wont to hype up everything to ensure that we are still looking to them for information.

Nick said...

Leah - I think you're right. It's a bit like the way kids enjoy horror movies together.

Heart - That's it, they have to keep our attention, so the more extreme and shocking the headline the better.

rummuser said...

http://www.fiercepharma.com/story/swine-flu-presents-4-9b-opportunity-gsk/2009-07-23

Need I say more?

Leah said...

p.s. I have tagged you here!

Nick said...

Ramana - The drug companies must be rubbing their hands in glee over the huge demand for anti-flu medicines. But everyone is playing down the side-effects of Tamiflu, which can be quite severe in some cases.

Leah - You little scallywag. I will investigate straightaway....

Grannymar said...

Have they no pill for Man Flu? :roll: I better get mixing!

Baino said...

I posted about this some time ago and how the drug companies are having a field day trying to prevent what is a fast mutating virus. It's bullshit. We've had about 19 deaths here, all people with health complications to start with. It's unfortunate but 'normal' flu would have killed them anyway. Now Man Flu . .that's a real problem and a serious reason to introduce euthanasia!

Nick said...

Grannymar - There's no pill that can handle such a catastrophic, crippling illness. Scientists are working round the clock to find one but so far they're stumped.

Baino - The only thing unusual about this strain of flu is that there's a lot of it about. Er, that's it. You're right, euthanasia is the only answer to the appalling suffering of man flu.

Quickroute said...

70% of the locals here are wearing face masks which as we know does feck all to stop anything airborne

Nick said...

Quicky - I agree, a total waste of time. They may as well wear a lucky charm or wave some garlic.