This Post Will Not Go Viral

Considering two objective truths of life, that we don’t know what’s going to happen next and death lurks around every corner, it’s funny how we freak out.

I remember during the AIDS crisis (which isn’t actually over, BTW) teaching Poe’s “The Mask of the Red Death.” My students thought (they were international students) it was a story about AIDs. It was the 80s and my students blamed my generation (free love, disco, all that) for the whole thing. “Strangers in the night, AIDS in the morning,” they said.

It was a heated discussion.

Nobody wants to die until they’re ready to die and then? Our society doesn’t make it easy. Still, fear of death isn’t the number 1 fear; apparently people are more afraid of loneliness than death. After death comes the fear of public speaking.

So here we have a new virus. While I think Offal is an idiot, and not handling it well, there’s something to the idea that most people who contract it won’t know it. Like any other virus it will do its thing, run its course, and move on. If it were otherwise, there would have been a different kind of panic in the PRC.

The last one of these things I remember was the very virulent flu in, what, 2009? The H1N1 which came sweeping through the world and the flu shot for that season hadn’t planned on it. I caught it from a student who refused to follow the instructions in my syllabus and stay home when she was sick. It led to two weeks of hell for me and 30% absenteeism in my class. I had a hard time grading her objectively.

Graphic from the CDC showing deaths from H1N!

SO… as far as I can see the best we can do is practice good hygiene, avoid close quarters, stay home if we’re sick and wait it out, hoping for the best which is, I think, about all we can ever do. I don’t think freaking out or panicking is ever useful.