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H1N-EVERY-1 PANIC!

By Abi Oshins
Published: May 2009

“In Guinard, Palace, and Difford, plague. In the kingdoms of Wessex, Sussex, Essex and Kent, plague. In Mercia and the two Anglias, plague, with a 50% chance of pestilence and famine coming out of the Northeast at twelve miles per hour.

This quotation from Monty Python’s Spamalot describes Medieval England at the time of the Black Death, one of the deadliest pandemics in history. Now just replace “plague with “swine flu, add a few flashing lights, and it would almost be equivalent to the dramatics with which the modern media is covering the H1N1 pandemic.
They’ve actually put coverage of Lindsay Lohan’s hair on hold for a week and are warning the public about H1N1¦ incessantly. Every other word on the news is about the flu, flu victims, or pigs.

This freak-out in the media, however, is not necessarily a bad thing. Because swine flu reports are so frequent, people like us teenagers who wouldn’t normally look at a newspaper or switch on the news have become aware of the pandemic.

The numerous news reports also emphasize that if people are feeling sick, they might actually want to do something about it, as opposed to brushing it off as a symptom of seasonal allergies or just another annoying common cold.

But just because the media has outrageously overexposed the swine flu does not by any means suggest that we should join in on the hysteria.

Let me reiterate that: WE DO NOT NEED TO ADD TO THE SWINE FLU HYSTERIA.

For some reason, the Newton South community has been buzzing about the illness to infinity and beyond. There have been rumors of teachers, students, and cousins of friends of uncles of ex-roommates who have been infected.
Sophomore Linnea Miller heard from five different classmates in one day that her old history teacher caught the infamous swine flu. That same day she saw the teacher, who was completely fine. The teacher then affirmed that she was indeed in good health.

First of all, if anyone at South did catch the flu, the administration wouldn’t just sweep it under the rug. The whole school would be officially informed, if not shut down.

Second of all, that’s just crazy. There is no need to make up rumors pertaining to the H1N1 virus, especially if it’s because you have nothing better to talk about. If you like making up stories join an improv troupe or write a great American novel.

Now that we’ve determined that calming down is the best course of action, how might we actually go about it? Here are some suggestions:

1) Stop making up rumors about the flu. If you haven’t made up any, don’t start. Even if it’s just a joke, someone might think you’re serious.

2) If it really makes you feel better, carry around a bottle of hand sanitizer.

3) When the reporter on the daily news talks about H1N1 for the fourth time this week, remember that it’s probably because there’s nothing better to talk about.

4) When the reporter on the daily news talks about H1N1 for the fifth time this week, turn off the television¦ do you have nothing better to do?

5) Drink tea. (It doesn’t protect against the swine flu. It’s just calming.)

These helpful hints are bound to help you retain some measure of rational thought. They work for me.

Some might argue that this rather passive and admittedly slightly apathetic attitude is downplaying the seriousness of the disease. For clarification’s sake, I don’t think we should ignore the swine flu or those affected; I just feel that we should maintain our grasp on reality. Making our own lives unbearable with paranoia is just not constructive.
We got through SARS (which was much worse, may I remind you), and we’ll get through this, too. So relax, squirt on some hand sanitizer, and remember: the H1N1 pandemic isn’t as bad as the Black Plague¦ we’re not dead yet!

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