Raise your hand if the national epidemic of complete and utter stupidity around the “threat” of swine flu is making you shake your head. Yeah, me too.
Is “swine flu” real? Yes.
Do I want to get it? No.
Will I take precautions to try and steer clear of the virus as much as possible? Of course.
But will I hide in a basement for the next three months? No.
Why? Because with all the talk and hype of pandemics, “swine flu” is still just… well, the flu.
That’s it, people: The flu.
It isn’t the zombie flu, okay? I know watching “Twelve Monkeys” sends a chill down a lot of people’s spines, and we’ve all had nightmares about the zombie virus from “28 Days Later” or Zack Snyder’s “Dawn of The Dead” taking us down… But this is just THE FLU. That’s it.
Yet here we are, in a state of complete and utter panic, shutting down entire school systems, buying surgical face masks by the box-loads, walking around with boxes of sterile wipes, and avoiding handshakes and people altogether. Last week, China considered a ban on all pork imports from Mexico. In Egypt, pigs are being slaughtered en masse… even though this strain of “swine flu” is a human-to-human virus. (You cannot get this strain of swine flu from eating pork.)
This kind of mass hysteria is embarrassing for the human race. Seriously. Stop it.
Everyone settle down for a second, take a step back, and take a deep breath: Every year in the united States, over 35,000 people die of the flu. Really. 35,000+. That is A LOT of people. Way too many, in my book. That number is tragic. And most of the victims of the flu tend to be small children and the elderly.
Yet, as tragic as this may be, no one freaks out. No one panics. CNN, MSNBC and Fox News don’t report on every single new death. The CDC doesn’t hold press conferences to keep people abreast of the spread of the flu. People don’t walk around wearing face masks and carrying sterile wipes everywhere they go. Countries don’t impose travel bans or mass livestock slaughter. School systems don’t shut down and send every kid home for weeks just as a “precaution”.
From November to March, when “flu season” is in full swing in the US, are we supposed to shut everything down and hide in our basements now?
Now that we’ve gotten a bit of perspective on the flu, doesn’t the panic over swine flu seem a little ridiculous? Worse than our overreaction to previous “threats” like African killer bees, West Nile mosquitoes, Avian flu andthe anthrax mailer?
As it turns out, the current strain of “swine flu” doesn’t seem to be all that virulent or particularly easy to pass on. It is no more contagious than any other flu strain, and doesn’t seem to be as potent as other strains that you or I have had the displeasure to run into at some point in our lives.
This is not the bubonic plague, people. It is just the friggin’ flu.
And it has absolutely nothing to do with bacon either, so stop freaking out about the pigs. Maybe we should have called this “CNN flu” instead of “swine flu”. I think that we would all be much better off. Surely, pig farmers and the grain producers who depend on their success to stay afloat would have had a much better week.
So in protest of this complete and utter nonsensical panic over the flu (as if we didn’t have better things to worry about, like… the pirate problem and injuries on “Dancing With The Stars”), some of us have decided to start a little protest of stupidity movement on Twitter. And just to be on the safe side (in case Swine Flu goes viral on the web) we have added face masks to our avatars, effectively turning them into “maskvatars” or “maskatars” (depending on whom you ask) – a term which I think was coined by Columbia, SC’s Mandi Engram – @mandiengram on Twitter (below, bottom right).
Note: As far as I can tell, either @ManFmNantucket (below, bottom center) or @SWoodruff (below, bottom left) were the first Twitterati to done maskvatars. Ther rest of us are just proud copycats.
Fellow blogger Kristi Colvin (@kriscolvin on Twitter, top right, above) gave our little movement its own clever little hashtag/thread: #swinefluwknd on Twitter. (Implying that the maskvatars will disappear on Monday… though they may not. We’ll see.) If you are on Twitter, please consider joining us. 🙂 (And yes, we will be playing with this until the swine flu terror goes away.)
As for the term “Hamthrax“, I am not sure who came up with it first, but I have Kristi Colvin and Mandi Engram to thank for introducing me to it. It gave me a good laugh last night. Thanks to them, I will no longer be referring to Swine Flu as “swine flu” starting today. Hamthrax seems a whole lot more appropriate.
Oh, and if you need me for anything, I’ll be hiding out in my underground African killer-bee and zombie-proof fallout shelter until CNN tells me it’s safe to go outside again.
(Oh and yes, there will be a part 2 to this post.)