Boring newsflash: I’m totally fine, Brendan is fine, Charlie is fine. Being in the middle of the swine flu epidemic is surreal, depressing and not exactly fun, but it’s not panic, it’s not pandemonium, it’s not chaos, it’s not scary. I love Mexico, and this latest drama won’t help it’s already tarnished public image. (For the record, I nor anyone I know was ever affected by the drug violence.)
In spite of how crazy the situation may seem according to American journalists (and bloggers), things here are pretty tranquilo, like when I’m out walking my dog, or picking up a panini with my friend Lesley.
However, let me backtrack: when Lesley got to my house today, I was stressed, anxious, scared, wild-eyed, near panic. I opened the door to my apartment building, and said something like “oh my god!” She took one look at me and asked what’s wrong (as any normal sane person would do).
Nothing specific was wrong, so I didn’t have a good answer for her. “You know!” I stuttered, referring the world around us.
But later, it dawned on me: I had been online.
I should know better, since this whole thing began, I noticed right away that as soon as I break my self-imposed rule of avoiding information overload, it spirals into an anxiety-fueled clicking session, and before I know it, I’ve clicked my way through dozens of articles and blog posts and videos and panicky Facebook updates ….and I feel way worse than I did before. I feel terrible.
So, word to the wise: If this thing starts to spread to where you are, don’t make yourself miserable following every tiny internet update. In reality, you’ll probably be fine, even if you DO get sick. Yes, you may get sick. I might get sick. Someone you know may get sick. It’s always a possibility, flu outbreak or no flu outbreak. Not to mention the myriad other ways of getting sick, hurt or dead. In fact, when I read the cold hard facts about swine flu — the symptoms, the diagnosis, the treatment — I find it calming. It’s objective, useful; I feel better prepared if I do get any weird signs of disease.
As a sidenote, I’m so tired of the “should you panic?” journalism/blog headline. How — in any way, shape or form — would panicking be a useful thing, for anyone, at anytime? To me, the word panic, by definition, implies a useless human response that serves no real purpose. But that’s just me. Still, I can’t help but wonder if people want to freak out? That they enjoy the drama?