In the midst of this COVID-19 pandemic, it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that the world, and our country, has survived other cases like this: The Spanish flu (1918), diphtheria (1921-1925), polio (peaked in 1952), most recent measles outbreak (1981-1991), and let’s not forget about mad cow in the early to mid 2000’s.
What do all these outbreaks have in common? Deaths that rose into the thousands, sure. But look a little closer. More specifically, what did all of these not do?
None of these outbreaks caused a global shutdown or a collapse of our economical structure.
What else do these all have in common?
With the exception of mad cow disease, all of these outbreaks took place prior to the rise of social media. Myspace and Facebook were still battling for the world wide internet’s center stage. And honestly, even as a child of the 80’s and 90’s, it was the first time I’d ever heard of, or was made aware of, a current outbreak, and that I was as much at risk as anyone else.
I wonder. If it weren’t for the social media frenzy, and the political bigwigs monitoring and studying the public’s opinion, would we be where we are today, locked up in our homes, remaining distant from one another, cancelling holidays, and looking for work?
I’m not saying all of this precaution is for naught. I’m in no place to judge that, and maybe no one without a crystal ball is. I’m not a scientist or a health professional, or Dustin Hoffman in Outbreak. But I do frequent social media and I’ve seen several sides of the COVID-19 debate.
And that’s just the thing. The fact that the debate itself is so accessible and inclusive is enough to make me wonder if so many businesses shut down not because of the virus, but because of the paranoia that spreads faster than the flu through Twitter and Facebook and memes.
Like I said. I’m not expert. Who am I, really, but a guy who’s caught up in the middle of all this madness just like you, and I’m trying to wipe the fog off the window so I can see what’s really going on on the outside.
I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on the matter. Would the coronavirus have caused planet earth to stop spinning if it weren’t for the internet and so many billions of people and ideologies and belief systems weighing in? Leave your opinion in the comments below, and keep washing your hands, virus or not.