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March 19, 2020

Apocalypse Fatigue: Why Won't At-Risk Boomers Panic About the Wuhan Virus?
[Buck Throckmorton]

In the past week, a story that keeps getting written and re-written by young journalists is the stubborn refusal of older Americans to panic about the Wuhan Virus. Pretty much every story reads: “Why is it that a healthy young American like me - in the demographic most likely to survive Coronavirus – is panicking right now, while my Boomer parents/grandparents, who are highly vulnerable to death by Coronavirus, refuse to panic or radically change their lifestyle?”

Here are just three examples. No need to click – they all read the same.

BUSINESS INSIDER: “Frustrated Millenials Say They Can’t Get Their Aging Parents to Cancel Their Cruises, Stop Going To Church, And Take Coronavirus Seriously”

VOGUE: “Why Are So Many Baby Boomers in Denial Over the Coronavirus?”

BUZZFEED NEWS: “How Millennials Are Talking To Their Boomer Relatives About The Coronavirus”

Although I’m a little too young to be considered a Boomer, I am over 50, and I’d be glad to explain why the over-50 demographic is not panicking in the fashion that our young, know-it-all journalists would like. It’s simple. We’ve been through a lifetime of media-hyped hysterias and apocalyptic predictions. If not complete hoaxes, they were falsely reported or over-hyped. Here are a few:


Overpopulation and Global Famine: This was promised not just globally, but domestically too. We were supposed to have run out of food and descended into global starvation a long time ago. All the experts agreed.

Day Care Center Child Molestations: This hysteria sent many innocent people to jail. Local and national media fanned the flames with accounts of “numbers growing daily” and videos of anguished parents. It was a fraud perpetrated by highly credentialed “experts” who believed that pretty much every child exposed to an adult had been molested. The children just needed help remembering it. Those of us who saw through the hysteria were muzzled, because to question the veracity of the hysteria invited accusations that you too were a child molester. It was like Salem in 1693. The bravest journalist I’ve ever read is the WSJ’s Dorothy Rabinowitz, for daring to unravel the terror and how it spread.

Killer Bees: We treat it as a joke now, but we were promised an invasion of swarming “Africanized” bees that would kill livestock and children. It was soon going to be unsafe to even go outside in the southern US without thick layers of protective clothing. All the experts agreed.

Killer Mold: Toxic mold in the ‘90s was kind of like radioactive waste, only deadlier. Or at least that’s what the media had us believing. The terror of discovering mold in schools was met with media alerts, school shutdowns, and local TV stations filming panicked parents as they picked up their crying children, just moments before the tikes were engulfed by the attacking mold.

Global Cooling: A “consensus of scientists” assured me this was real, and that its impact on agriculture would probably lead to my death by starvation.

Global Warming: According to “scientific” predictions from yet another “consensus of scientists,” the Arctic should now be ice free, snowfalls a thing of the past, and New York’s West Side Highway under water.

It goes on and on. Acid Rain. Peak Oil. Ozone. Alar Apples. Y2K.

Maybe the Wuhan Virus is finally “The Big One.” But after decades of the media fraudulently screaming “APOCALYPSE IS IMMINENT!!!” it is not irrational for Boomers to dismiss the latest hysteria. In Aesop’s fable about “The Boy Who Cried Wolf,” the moral of the story isn’t that the townsfolk should have believed the boy, the moral is that the boy shouldn’t have destroyed his credibility by falsely screaming wolf time and again.

Thirty years from now, the millennials who are currently aghast at their parents for not panicking, will themselves be jaded by decades of hysteria, and they too will be just as skeptical of “Apocalypse 2050!!!.”

Should seniors – and everyone - be super vigilant about hygiene and sanitizing right now? Absolutely. But should they engage in hair-pulling hysteria as demanded by young know-it-alls? Of course not.

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posted by Open Blogger at 05:21 PM

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