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readers' submissions


SARS - don't believe the hype!

by Soppy

You can't buy this kind of publicity. A disease kills a few people in a few months and suddenly airlines are cancelling flights, people aren't travelling, bods put on surgical masks to prevent them from...what?

The media is having a feeding frenzy which leads to a panicked public which leads to a downturn in the economy and all because of a few dozen deaths? Is anyone out there stopping to have a think about this, to put some context to it? Is there bollox! Mention one doubt and all the bleeding hearts will come out with the usual old tripe about how you cannot put a price on a single human life blah blah blah

But in the same period of time, how many people have died in car accidents? Do we see a clamour for banning cars? How many people die because of the shitty air they inhale daily of the polluted streets of Bangkok, Jakarta or Manila? The answer will be out there somewhere but it sure as hell hasn't led to people donning face masks to go shopping. How many people die because of smoke related diseases? How many people die in the kitchen? How many people die in swimming accidents? How many people die of old age? How many...oh sod it. That's enough.

The point is people still go swimming, still drive cars, still smoke, still go in the kitchen (well, not Soppy) still reach old age, still go on living while taking all sensible precautions. There is absolutely no reason to panic and suddenly shut yourself off from the outside world yet that is what's happening. They read the papers, watch the news and hey presto, the collective mind of the ignorant majority decides that a face mask and staying at home will keep them from harm.

Last week I went to one of our offices in my day job and was astounded to see the staff and customers wearing these bloody stoopid face masks. Apparently it made the customers feel better but my point that it gave out the wrong signal was pointedly ignored. And you know what? When I returned a couple of days later the masks had gone. I asked loudly if the sars thing had been cleared up and got only the blank smile in return. I bleated and left.

And yesterday I was at the airport and there were many people wearing these bloody things inside the terminal building. Walk out side into the beautiful clear fresh Jakarta air and they were removed!!! Go figure. It's beyond me.

I asked someone who was smoking why they were wearing a mask and they said they were scared of the disease, seemingly ignorant of the effect his kretek cigarettes had on those around. Thing is the people wearing them look embarrassed at standing round like an extra in a Carry On movie, as if to say, don't look at me, I'm with stoopid here.

Maybe they're gonna become fashion accessories. You know, designer label face masks. Maybe we'll get Timberland for the rugged outdoor type, Mont Blanc for the sophisticated white shirt sort and a Soppy for the discerning drinker who thinks everyone else is a tosser...

But where is the dissent? Where are the questioning voices? Who is asking what's going on? Try gun control and a few rednecks chuck their dummy out the pram and are on the streets. Increase the cost of fuel and you get a strongly worded letter to the Times but get a cold and ruin economies and everyone turns a blind eye to it all...And that's worrying. Without anyone to organise the dissent people seem happy to be spoon-fed shit and not worry about the consequences. Why let the truth ruin a good story eh? There was a quote in Men in Black by Tommy Lee Jones to the effect that the individual is not stoopid but when the individual joins the herd then the mob mentality takes over and people go with the flow and that's fairly spot on.

I blame TV. People have access to ready information at all times that the images beamed into the idiot box are great opinion-formers and unless contrary views are given parity in coverage then there is no real alternative. There is little need for the viewer to source alternate opinions because nearly everything is there for them in living glorious technicolour. There is little need for the viewer to assimilate, to analyse what's going on, all the experts are doing that on TV.

The idiot box has the effect of reducing the viewers need to think. When you read a book you have to use your own imagination to create an image. How many times have you read a book and seen the movie later only to be disappointed by the latter? Reading gives full reign to people's imagination and encourages the questioning process. TV removes all that. The result is panic...

This story was offered by pissedupasia.com, the lifestyle website for the discerning drinker... in other words, your guide to drinking yourself silly across Asia.

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