Sometime in April, a big uproar over swine flu or H1N1, as it has now become known, spread through the media like wildfire.
The media’s way of informing the public of this flu’s second appearance, however, has been by way of overly sensationalized reports.
Since then, a letter has been sent home from my high school principal, debates of this perceived pandemic have circulated through my classes and on a national scale, schools have been shut down temporarily and many are nervous about the situation.
I am beginning to think the hyped up stories of this flu are getting everyone sick from stress more than the actual flu.
The letter sent home from my school stated precautionary measures to be taken to prevent getting the flu: Wash your hands, cover your nose and mouth and avoid close contact that can spread the virus.
But with so few cases in the United States – and that death has come only to those whose immune systems are weak – it seems unlikely this flu will make it very far.
I also know many friends who, when not feeling well, have decided not to take a trip to the nurse’s office due to the fear of being thought to have swine flu.
My only coherent thought after learning this was “wow.”
And this has not been the first time the media have overplayed a sickness.
Take the mad cow disease, for example. The uproar about this ailment was particularly big.
About 4.4 million cows were slaughtered during the eradication program, yet mad cow proved fatal to fewer than 50 people in the United States.
Let’s take a trip down memory lane to the time in each of our lives when we were told the story of Chicken Little.
This was the fable of a chicken that vehemently believed the sky was falling because an acorn had landed on its head.
Through this story, Chicken Little is on an adventure to find the king and tell him about his discovery and fear.
On this adventure, he meets many gullible animals who also begin to believe the sky is falling. The moral presented by this story is: Do not believe everything you are told.
So should we believe everything the media feed us when they have proved on more than one occasion that they have the tendency to create the news rather than just report it?
Or should we take it upon ourselves to gather the facts? The choice is up to you.
Ashlee Maez is a junior at Tucson High Magnet School. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org