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Fear Words

Monday, December 05, 2005
Today's message is brought to you by my morning commute and NPR. I've been noticing more and more that I keep hearing the word pandemic over and over in the news.

The flu is a pretty terrible virus. In 1918 and 1919, it killed over 50 million people worldwide. Apparently that strain was pretty close the the H5N1 bird flu strain we're seeing emerge now.

What I'm seeing right now, however, is the usage of the phrase "pandemic" in the media almost as much as I was seeing the word "terrorism" four years ago. I'm not trying to say that this isn't something the prepare for; far from it. But the hype surrounding this is disproportionate - I believe - to the amount of worry the average human being should have to put into it.

Take, for instance, terrorism. Terrorism affect thousands or millions of people every day around the world. But is it something that needs to make the news every day? Is it something that we need to live in fear of? Is it something else we need to concern ourselves with?

To some, this may sound like I advocate sticking one's head in the sand.

I contend that there's little benefit to the alarmist language that accompanies every announcement. I contend that the average person can't care about everything that could kill them. I contend that the world is a very dangerous place and people die a lot. We make our world as safe as possible, but should we as individuals spend time worrying about every last thing?

Things I don't personally worry about:
1) Terrorism
2) Meteor strikes
3) Alien abduction
4) Dying in a traffic accident
5) Plane crashes

Things I DO think about on a regualar basis:
1) Dying from my own stupidity.
2) Nuclear proliferation
3) Pandemics (seriously)
4) Injuring myself in a motorcycle accident.

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