On the Sky is Falling

The only thing more expensive than education is ignorance.

Benjamin Franklin

I’ve been watching the sky fall for a few weeks since the news of a novel coronavirus was announced. Since then, there have been daily updates of its spread and statistics about its mortality and morbidity. This week the stock market has dived, attributed to the imminent fears of a global pandemic. The CDC has stepped up the tone of its communications, advising people to be on alert for disruptions in daily routines should the virus spread locally. All this is of concern, certainly. And everyone should avail themselves of the knowledge being disseminated and act accordingly to protect themselves and loved ones.

While all this is troubling, what’s been more troubling to me is seeing the responses of those in my community. As a member of social media, it’s been a bit disheartening to see information turned into misinformation and what I see as hysteria take hold. Interpretation of a few pieces of disjointed “facts” can quickly turn into mob mentality when fear overtakes rational thought. Throw in leadership that isn’t particularly inspiring, and you have an environment ripe for talk of forced quarantines, singling out of particular groups of individuals, and bullying. In a locale that supposedly promotes inclusion, diversity, and a zero tolerance to bullying, it’s a sad series of events that are unfurling.

I get it. Fear is a powerful motivator. And no one, certainly not myself, has a crystal ball to predict what may happen. But rational thought, common sense, dissemination and clear interpretation of facts and data, and weighing of the risks as they are known should be what we all strive to realize when faced with a common threat. But in a world where we still have questions surrounding the validity of technological advances (vaccines, I’m looking at you), eroding trust in elected officials and governments, conspiracy theories starring greedy corporations and governments, it’s difficult to see how we can come together. And in an age when disinformation as well as information can be conveyed to thousands if not millions almost instantaneously, it can be a very scary thing. At no time can I see a greater need for critical thinking and judgement to be employed. All I can do is try to be a medium to promote accurate information, educate those who ask, keep an eye on what’s happening in the world, and hope that this time is not the time where it’s the “one.” Because to be honest, I have little faith we can come together to do what would need to be done to survive.

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