I’m sick again. It started late Saturday when I was fine right up until I wasn’t. My throat was normal and then, within fifteen minutes it went from starting to hurt to on fire.

That is how my Christmas illness started. I had a very sore throat for about 36 hours and then I didn’t but my nose was runny. Then I tried to cough my lungs up and was just lucky to keep breathing. It finally went away – I thought. But it seems to be back and following the same course as last time. I thought my immune system was supposed to recognize that this was a nasty thing and politely kill it off.

I was asked if I had gotten a flu shot and of course, I had not. Why? Well, I can only point to the child’s tale of The Boy Who Cried Wolf.

In our society of constant communication, we all want to be heard. We have a voice (I’m posting this to a blog that is, theoretically, available worldwide) and we all want to be heard, regardless of the importance of the message.

In order to be heard above the background din of billions of voices screaming in the wilderness, we catastrophize.  Everything is bigger, better, bolder or worse to the point of planet wide destruction. A couple years ago, the Bird Flu which had to be renamed so the birds didn’t feel bullied, was going to kill us all. There would be a pandemic and it would be horrible. H1N1 was just the flu, not worse than any other flu and certainly nothing like the Spanish Flu (which didn’t even start in Spain, so take that birds) at the end of World War I.

So, when this was supposed to be the worst flu season since the beginning of time or at least recorded time, I didn’t listen. Every year it is the worst since the beginning of the universe and the big bang had nothing on the upcoming chaos. I don’t know if this is worse than any other flu season, but it is the first time I’ve been sick with this nonsense in over a decade.

This is the same reason people didn’t leave New Orleans or New York City as storms approached with power to wipe out coastal regions. Every storm is the Storm of the Century. Every problem is the Catastrophe to End the World. No one listens.

The boy who cried “wolf” over and over was not heeded when the wolf actually came and attacked the herd of sheep. He had played that trick too many times.

So I’m looking at you CDC. You have predicted catastrophe each winter since I can remember. This is not even catastrophic. The Spanish flu was a catastrophe and most of that was the result of the end of a world war weakening the response system.

And I’m looking at you weather.com, each storm is not a potential disaster. If you keep hyping the Cat 3 hurricanes (says someone who has lived through a couple Cat 3 hurricanes that did nothing even though landfall was within 25 miles of the house), no one listens when a Cat 5 stops by.

With the cacophony that is the Internet, we need to remember that our words may get lost in the avalanche of letters posted, but that doesn’t mean we can take license and increase the weight of the words by inflating the message. It is up to us, as writers, to keep it honest, but it is also up to us as consumers to demand that the hype be dropped and the truth be told. Even if that truth isn’t nearly as exciting as mayhem.

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