In the summer before 9/11, I recall very cleary that the news was full of shark attacks.
It was a slow news summer, the last one in history. You would have thought that sharks were organizing and moving against us finally, but no. It was actually a slow year for shark attacks, it was just a slow year for news as well, so we saw more shark attacks on our televisions.
And so when you went to the beach that summer, people were freaked out about it. The shark attacks after all were in that ocean right there, or at least one of the oceans touching it – the mean sharks from the next ocean could just swim over, right?
We’d better stay out of the water so we don’t get attacked by sharks.
In reality, of course, every individual’s chances of getting attacked by a shark – pretty slim. But since everyone had shark attacks on the brain, everyone acted as if a shark attack was about as likely as a Central Park mugging. Better start thinking defensively, right?
9/11 happened and the shark attacks kept going, but no way were you going to see it on the news. What you had to worry about now was terrorist attacks, even though of course, your odds of getting attacked by terrorists were similar to your odds of being attacked by a shark.
Not a very fair comparison right after 9/11 – I remember very clearly that none of us knew if more attacks were coming or not. Sometimes the television tells you to be afraid, and you already are, for good reason.
Remember the anthrax scare? I remember a political cartoon that year on Halloween, a guy opens his front door and the trick-or-treater is dressed as an envelope – because we were scared of the mail for a while, remember?
We saw that some people had received anthrax in the mail, and so we worried about anthrax in our own mail, too.
Maybe a year after the Iraq War began, I recall the instant that the television decided we should be afraid of illegal immigrants. A big push, one day, showing maps of the Mexican-American border and a recursive video feed of – literally – people in panchos scurrying past cacti carrying knapsacks.
I expected cartoon banditos from Speedy Gonzales next. But the television had spoken, and here we are. Many of us can’t think of a single thing worse than an illegal immigrant.
Our televisions have spoken, and it is so.
It’s true. Our television tells us when to be afraid and what we should fear, and we listen to it. Sure, it’s right sometimes, but think back.
Did the fear do us any good after 9/11? Does it ever do us any good? Does it protect us from terrorists or anthrax or shark attacks?
I don’t think it did us any good, and no – I don’t think it protects us.
I think that the Patriot Act was rammed through by fear – the same crowd that was outraged by health care reform, happily blasted through a bill of similar length with no time to read it, no time for debate. We whacked our flippers together and applauded, terrified of sharks.
Now the television says eggs. Eggs are scary. Watch out for them.
We’re talking about shark attack odds. The recall affects one percent of the eggs produced, and that’s still millions of eggs. A couple thousand illnesses out of those millions, factor in that you only have a one percent chance of encountering that particular batch of millions of eggs in the first place, and it’s shark attack odds.
You can eat eggs, it’s no problem. I still cook mine over easy, and I don’t care what you think, or the television. They’re yummy. I sop them up with toast.
Plus, mine are organic, which means they came from healthier birds. Your television doesn’t want to tell you that organic eggs are safer because factory farms have lobbyists, and lobbyists affect what’s on television.
But check it out, every single time you read or watch a story about the question of organic eggs – are they safer – pay attention to the wording. They will instantly answer a different question – there is no way to guarantee safety.
They’ll suddenly pretend that you asked if organic eggs were some kind of super egg in which no bacteria could survive, Krypton eggs from a planet with a red sun.
Not the question. Are they less likely to be infected?
They are. Even Dr. Sanjay Gupta buys organic eggs. He admits he doesn’t have a study to prove they are safer, but he buys them. Why would he do that?
Anyway, I don’t care if you buy organic eggs or not. You can go to McDonalds or Bob Evans and get the most factory farmed egg you want – we’re talking about shark attack odds. Lottery ticket odds. You’re going to be fine.
Your television is like a counselor – what it thinks you should do is keep getting counseling. Maybe ramp it up – you should really have sessions three or four times a week. Best thing for you, just ask your counselor.
And our televisions like to frighten us because we then keep watching television, looking for a way to save ourselves from the scary thing it’s telling us. This is a box run by billionaire marketing tycoons, and we trust it like it’s a burning bush.
As you can see, sometimes that depresses me, you know?