H1N1 in Perspective


EDITOR’S NOTE: Matt, this isn’t funny at all and overly preachy at the end. You fail at comedy and at life in general
Matt’s NOTE: Yeah, but I’m also the editor, so this is a completely fake conflict here. Goddamn editors

The media. It’s like heroin to me. I’m a media junkie. I read the news from several news corporations around the world, several times a day. And like any addiction, I both love and hate it. While I love the free exchange of ideas and information, I believe the media will be the death of us. Why? The loss of perspective that comes with entertainment based coverage, that’s why.

While it would be tempting and comically easy to talk about Michael Jackson and how his untimely death made news corporations into tabloids, I’m going to steer clear of that. This time, I’m actually going to write on something of substance: the H1N1 Virus.

The H1N1 flu virus (“Pandemic” since June 2009) has just claimed its 700th casualty. No doubt this is tragic, as any death is. But the World Health Organization now says the virus is “unstoppable”. Hold on, are we talking about flu or the T-1000?

Pictured: H1N1

The point is a little perspective is required here. The H1N1 broke out four months ago, claiming 700 people in that time period. It is on pace to kill 2800 this year. For the sake of argument I’ll even decuple (thanks dictionary!) that number to 28,000/year to account for additional spread. Perhaps the WHO is right about ‘unstoppable’, except for the fact that the WHO reports that the regular flu kills 250,000 to 500,000 a year. Wait, what?

H1N1

700 (fact)

2800 (on pace)

28,000 (for the sake of argument)

Regular Flu

250,000 to 500,000 (fact)

Hmm, alright, but H1N1 kills healthy people, not just the kids and the elderly. This is true. Only about 10% of regular flu deaths are healthy people. But that’s still 25,000 to 50,000 healthy people a year.

So, news corporations, begin the freakout! It’s unstoppable alright. Lock up your daughters, cancel school, close hospitals, avoid public interaction with anyone! Maybe if they reported the regular flu as much as the H1N1, I would be worried. But, since it’s a yearly thing, kind of like Christmas or Chinese government massacres, meh, no one bats an eye. H1N1 is new, fresh, and dangerous. It’s perfect for the news.

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