Nearly three decades ago I was sitting in the break room of a regional department store, enjoying my 15-minute break from sharing my social security number with hundreds of customers1. There were several of us on break. A television sat in the corner; we were excited because cable had just been added to the mix. Headlines were being discussed on CNN, the topic at hand was the growing AIDS epidemic. One of my co-workers spoke up. Her name was Kelly.
“I think we should gather up all the AIDS patients, put them on a rocket and blast them off to Mars.”
I found this to be rather harsh. After all, at the time we didn’t really know a lot about the disease and though it seemed rather scary, we should probably still keep our wits about ourselves and not overreact. I don’t remember what I said in response, probably something non-committal, because I was still navigating as to who I was and honestly I was worried about becoming a statistic. I needed to know more before speaking on the subject with confidence.
Fastforward to present day and CNN and many other flavors of a similar brew are all vying for advertising money. In that quest to increase revenue, conjecture, opinions and claims are all spun in a certain direction so to yank in the viewer, and subsequently, boost ratings. Pundits are calling to block air travel to and from Africa, where Ebola is most prevalent. People are showing up at the airport in homemade hazmat suits. In short, many are just losing their minds amongst the hype (and I bet the woman in the hazmat suit REALLY wanted her photo to go viral).
Like the day I sat in that break room at the department store, I don’t feel confident enough in my assessment of the facts to make a broad statement as to ban flights to and from an entire continent. I mentioned on Twitter that since folks are calling for a ban for air travel to and from Africa, we might as well do the same with Texas, since that’s where Ebola patients are being treated in the States. This horrified some and I understand why it would do just that. It’s crazy talk.
I believe that a lot of the hysteria around the Ebola situation is media driven. That grab for ad clicks and viewerships and all that stuff prompts for outrageous headlines and bombastic statements from folks that are just trying to get attention. Instead of spending time how to figuring out how to help fellow human beings, folks are spending time screeching about sealing ourselves off from the perceived threat. Calls for locking door our border in this manner is nothing but grandstanding.
Folks forget that it’s one Big Blue Marble that we all share together. Borders are man made and locking down a border is not going to stop anyone from getting anywhere they want to go on this Big Blue Marble. If you’re that concerned that you’re going to contract Ebola on a flight then here is a simple answer: don’t fly. Just keep it all here in the States and don’t step foot on an airplane. And if you choose to fly, don’t lick the vomit or blood of another passenger, because after all, Ebola is transmitted through contact with bodily fluids.
The hysteria around all of this would not be this crazy if we weren’t only three weeks from the midterm elections2. You know it and I know it, that is, if you knew that the midterm elections are three weeks away to begin with.
Calm down and think rationally.
1 I was a cashier at said department store. The first bit of information on the cash register receipts from back then, aside from the logo at the top, was the cashier ID number, which was our social security number. My social security number was shared with thousands of people.
2 Please remember to vote on Tuesday, November 4. Honestly, I don’t care how you vote, but I do care that you remember to vote. You have the right to share your voice through the voting process and if you don’t vote, you’re not being a good citizen of this democracy.