I love pigs. I have always loved ham, pork chops, bacon and most other tasty swine-derived food. I’m almost 100 percent sure bologna has some ham in there, so let’s throw that in as a pork product too.
What I don’t love is the nearly yearlong uproar about swine flu. H1N1 flu hysteria has hit every state in every corner of the country. I can’t say for certain, but I’m guessing the only people in the country who aren’t afraid of this crap are the fine citizens of Hawaii and Alaska. I’d also wager that if they were any closer, they’d be just as hopped up as the rest of us. The point isn’t that we’re hysterical, but more why we’re hysterical.
We are no longer living in the time of our prehistoric ancestors, where we can just go gallivanting around in no clothing for all seasons. Instead, we live in a world where there’s a pill for everything from venereal disease to cancer. If we feel a tad bit sad, on comes some stupid commercial where every single person, including the dog, is smiling because they take Prozac.
When I was younger, my mom would tell me — regardless of what ailed me — that a little sleep and maybe some Advil would likely cure me. Well, not anymore. Now we are a nation of pill-popping, advertisement-watching, cola-slurping numbskulls.
Swine flu is just the latest in a series of diseases and outbreaks to take the nation by storm. If it’s not one thing, it’s another. In my lifetime, I have seen the outbreak of not just swine flu but also avian flu, SARS, anthrax, an outrageous fear of spinach and a fear of mad cow disease, which may be the only thing that actually puts us at real risk.
Each of these so-called “world-ending diseases” is just a fluke. We as a species have been through much worse. Does anyone remember the black plague? No one seems to be grounded in reality anymore.
Common sense is what we need. These diseases are bad if you catch them but with the exception of swine flu, these illnesses have proven unlikely to hit many young people anyway.
There really is nothing to be afraid of. Each day the news gives us some new figure in the death toll of swine flu. OK, so swine flu is killing people. What about cancer, AIDS, fetal alcohol syndrome, genocide or war? These medical and social illnesses are also life threatening for many people, but if we can find some disease to get riled up about, it immediately becomes an immanent threat.
We need to be willing to accept these kinds of things. There will always be bacteria. There will always be some kind of sickness. The issue is that we allow for the media to scare the bacon out of us. Yep, I might get swine flu. For all I know, the pigs will take me on as their ally in spreading this genius disease. Until that day comes, I’m going to keep sneezing and coughing and above all, getting down with the sickness.
Zachary Goater is a sophomore journalism student.