I’m Fine in Mexico City — But Avoiding Information Overload Syndrome

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?

3 thoughts on “I’m Fine in Mexico City — But Avoiding Information Overload Syndrome

  1. Lucy says:

    Yup, amazing how reality shifts as soon as I pay attention to the news. The only thing we know is that this is another blow to Mexico. Interestingly, about the time most people think I should be jumping ship (crime, drug violence, and now the flu), I feel more committed to Mexico than ever before. It reminds me of how I felt as a New Yorker after 9/11 – except the enemy here is mostly perception.

  2. Uncle John says:

    I do think people want to feel freaked out, but only about something remote. then it’s a distraction from the things they aren’t doing/dealing with in their own lives (i.e., the things that freak them out that aren’t remote). It’s freak-out as distraction & entertainment & i think the mainstream news network understands its marketing value and is tragically all too focused on that in their efforts to survive the internet revolution.
    In any case, it’s wonderful to hear that you & Bren are ok and that things are not as catastrophic in Mexico City as we were hearing.
    Get plenty of sleep, exercise & wholesome food! There is no charge for this advice. 😉

  3. Nancy says:

    I’m with you on the information overload deal. And it is hard to avoid, really. We seldom watch the TV news but the internet is such an integral part of our lives that, well, we can’t help it. I was doing all right until yesterday when we went shopping and every other person had a mask, they even had a gal wiping down the carts at Mega.

    I just don’t know how DF is going to manage without being able to sit down at a restaurant. It is probably the most restaurant heavy city I have ever known. Many people probably don’t even own plates or silverware or know how to cook for themselves…

    Take care!

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