After scanning recent headlines about COVID-19, I’ve concluded that the media is as responsible for making us sick (at least mentally, and spiritually) as the virus itself. Look at these headlines:
“Chile has one of the world’s best vaccination rates. COVID is surging there anyway.”
“Texas COVID cases drop to record low nearly three weeks after mask mandate lifted.”
“The people who plan on wearing masks forever.”
“Is herd immunity to COVID-19 possible? Experts increasingly say no.”
While the articles weren’t any more informative or any less contradictory, the gist from this sampling is that COVID-19 is basically with us forever no matter what we do, except in Texas where cases are dropping but there’s no way we’ll ever reach herd immunity so wear masks for the rest of your life.
These types of stories are designed to cause anxiety and outrage, symptoms that’ve been with us since the days of yellow journalism. For the past four years, networks kept their ratings high during the Trump years promoting the same negativity and fearmongering for fun and profit. But Trump’s no longer in the public eye and Biden is mostly out of sight. Thankfully, the virus is still with us.
It’s fitting that the best Trump replacement topic to feed the 24-hour news cycle is a virus that seemingly has no end in sight, even with a vaccine. A virus so powerful it’ll not only knock you off your feet if you catch it but causes paranoia, and outrage even if you don’t. Easily replaceable soundbites are one more symptom we’ve seen over the past year.
We only need 15 days to slow the spread. Stay six feet apart. Stay home and save lives. And the most devout of all COVID mantras: trust the science. Chris Cuomo and his ilk aren’t newscasters so much as televangelists spewing fire and brimstone sermons nightly. Sermons that the congregation is never allowed to question despite conflicting data that changes almost daily. As if the whole point of science wasn’t to question everything
The media virus is incredibly effective at spreading antagonism. During a conversation about the vaccine, a friend called me an anti-vaxxer (which I’m not) when I dared question his rote explanation that the COVID vaccine works just fine if you catch COVID afterward because “That’s how vaccines work,” and why won’t I just “trust the science?”
In response, I asked him if we’re supposed to trust the science do we account for the FDA pulling the diet drug Fen-Phen from the market. I also wondered if he had any thoughts on why most of the world hasn’t come down with milder cases of smallpox since millions of us have gotten the vaccine. Or measles. Or polio. Why don’t I recall a doctor ever telling me if I develop polio after getting the vaccine it’ll only be a slight limp that lasts for a few days and then I’ll be set because that’s how vaccines work? I also questioned why he wants to shut down any discourse about the efficacy of a vaccine that FDA has only approved for emergency use?
My friend’s response reached Keith Olbermann levels of hysteria. His outburst and name-calling didn’t make me trust the science so much as question when he lost his critical thinking abilities. Not to mention the ability to have a rational discussion regarding a novel disease and even more novel vaccine.
While we’re getting everyone vaccinated against COVID at warp speed, I’m wondering if Pfizer, J&J et al could start developing a vaccine against corporate media. Because it sure seems like a lot of people have caught this easily transmutable and communicable disease. The sooner we reach herd immunity, the better.