Is fear dominating our conversation?

I was driving to a family holiday party (yes, we gathered with family in larger than accepted numbers), and from the back seat, my nephew exclaimed, “Oh no! The virus mutated and now it’s even more contagious!”

He was reading a headline from a news story that was posted on someone’s Facebook feed.

I read a similar article early that very same morning in my local New York newspaper.

And, throughout the days that followed, more and more articles were unleashed into the world with headlines like this:

Discovery of Virus Variant in Colorado and California Alarms Scientists

And this:

The Virus is Still Winning

If you were to simply read the headlines, chronic fear of the virus, and the fear that has been driving most people’s reactions and overreactions to this virus (and to other human beings), will be intensified.

Thankfully, for me, I studied media in college and it has served me well.

I know better than to simply read a headline. I also know that news stories are not considered objective news, they are biased to slant in one direction or another.

That’s not really news, but we have accepted it as news.

With my discerning media-savvy eye, I read beyond each of the worrisome headlines and dove deeper into the content.

In each of the articles, it wasn’t until the very last paragraph, or second to last paragraph that I got access to this valuable piece of news:

“So far, at least, the variant does not seem to make people any sicker or lead to more deaths…. It’s possible that the variant blooms in an infected person’s nose and throat, but not in the lungs, for example — which may explain why patients spread it more easily but do not develop illnesses more severe than those caused by earlier versions of the virus. Some influenza viruses behave similarly, experts noted.[1] 

And, this scientific study:

“The variant, called B.1.1.7, is not thought to be more deadly than other versions of the virus, nor does it seem to cause more severe illness.”[2] 

It’s clear that many news outlets are promoting fear of this virus every chance they can get.

That makes sense.

It sells news, it brings eyes to their advertisers, and more importantly, it directs our conversations with each other.

Wouldn’t it be great to see headlines that said something like this:

A New Variant of the Virus is NOT More Deadly!

Or this:

The New Variant Does NOT Make People Sicker or Lead to More Deaths!

Those types of headlines would clearly lessen the fear that has permeated our society for the past year, and it could create a completely different type of energy throughout the world.

  • People would be able to breathe a little easier.
  • People would probably be less fearful of each other.
  • People would possibly celebrate this news.
  • People would gather together and sing songs.

A different media narrative might create something similar to what I saw and heard in this fun 4-minute anti-lockdown video and snarky song sung by thousands of people of all ages and races that gathered together at a peaceful protest in Britain:

Uh oh! Looks like THAT video was removed from Youtube.

Here’s another version. Let’s see how long it takes for this one to be removed:

And, if that one above gets removed… try this one:

So, as we move forward in 2021, I have only one thing to say to the fearmongers, and I can thank my fellow humans across the pond for inspiring me with their lightheartedness…

“You can stick your fearmongering up your arse!”