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The Sites that Cry “Wolf”

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The last month has been difficult.  Ever since Conflicker (a.k.a. April 1 Virus) shut down the internet, I’ve not been able to do much of anything.  (It’s unfortunate that sarcasm doesn’t come across in the written word.)  But I wonder if I’m the only one getting tired of the news …

I spent last week in Greece pondering the meaning of knowledge management in the birthplace of Western thought (more on that later) but I thought I might shine a light on something that’s been bugging me.

Oink Oink here …
Last week I made the unfortunate mistake of reading an email and falling into the trap.  For only a minute I thought, “am I going to die because of a pig?”  But I did something interesting, I did my own research.

I found out that every year 500,000 people DIE from the flu worldwide every year, 35,000 of those in the US.  That’s number came directly from the World Health Organization.  In fact, it was in the official announcement made by the WHO.  But that fact wasn’t share by the news organizations looking to sensationalize the sniffles.

Bah, Bah …
Didn’t they go to kindergarten?  My educator friends have a favorite poster.  It is based on Robert Fulghum’s “All I really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten.” In this case, the news needs to take re-read “The Boy Who Cried Wolf.”

For those that have not heard, you news journalists listen now, it’s a story of a little boy bored while watching the towns sheep.  Annoyed of not getting any attention, he decides to cry “wolf” (as in the sheep are all going to die) and in the process getting the townspeople all nervous.  Of course the townspeople look around the field and see nothing.  Going back to their daily lives, they get only a moments piece before the boy cries “wolf” again.  Again the people come out and again nothing.  Well ultimately a wolf does begin to attack the sheep but the townspeople aren’t listening to the little boys cries.

Well I didn’t pay to much attention to the latest news except how the paranoia it might effect my travel back.  Granted it must not have been too big of a deal as with two immigration checkpoints at my airport, they had the flights from Europe side by side with the flight from “patient zero” Mexico City.  And then of course, as I’m sure we’ve heard today it’s OVER.

Is it a Farm or a Circus?
So what’s bugging me?  It’s not the sensationalism of the news, I’ve gotten over that.  It’s not the fact that I’m being kept in a constant state of paranoia by the news, I’m actually taking wagers on the next big thing (my money is on aliens).  It’s the fact that news papers are wondering why they no longer matter.

No one thinks of what they’re writing and realizing that people have memories.  All this sensationalism around little things is going to wear thin on everyone.  Look at all the hype around hurricanes and can you wonder why by the end of a season no one cares.  To much hype and soon people stop listening.  And isn’t the real power of the internet that we can get instant access to facts?  Where’s the research?

I wonder if in the fable the towns people lived on a island devoid of wolves, would they would have fallen into the little boy’s mass hysteria.  On my own island a little bit of knoweldge kept me out of everyone else’s hysteria.

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