Monday, August 1, 2022

Fear the mundane

Years ago, reports started circulating throughout the Internet of a newly discovered venomous spider, which liked to live in dank places such as public restrooms and had bitten several people who subsequently died (the people, not the spiders).  Like many people who read those accounts, I began to feel leery of public restrooms, and started inspecting the underside of the seat whenever I used one.

But then it occurred to me: How many millions of people use public restrooms every single day?  Let's say six million, just for fun.  So two people out of six million had been bitten.  That meant the chances of me being victim of that spider were one in three million.  (This spider report turned out to have been a hoax.)

After picking raspberries recently (one of summer's greatest pleasures) I noticed an itchy little bump on my arm, which turned into a hard little blister.  Probably a bug bite.  Sweet Hubby saw it and told me to watch it carefully in case it turned out to be monkey pox. Monkey pox is a real disease and there are real cases of it, 5,189 to date in this country, which includes 120 in my home state of Washington.  That's 120 cases out of a state population of 7.512 million.  So my chances of getting it are one in sixty-two thousand six hundred.  Those odds don't seem worth worrying about, but because SH had been reading about monkey pox, it was on his mind and had become a concern.

This is one of the downsides of the Internet.  Stories, both fact and fiction, get passed around so quickly, become so thoroughly part of the social conversation and thinking, that they take on a size and weight completely out of balance with their size and weight in real life.  My chances of injury or death from driving, or from getting into and out of the shower, are much, much higher than from  monkey pox, but I drive my car and take my showers without a second thought, without a worry, while the thought of monkey pox gives me the shivers.  (Photos of pox victims are truly gross.)

I've decided to do my best to keep my thinking about the world's dangers on a realistic level, and to act sensibly in the face of real threats while ignoring the obscure (and sometimes completely imaginary) ones.  COVID is a true, and truly pervasive, threat, so I'll continue to wear a mask.  Monkey pox is an obscure threat, so I won't give it a moment of my precious time and thought.  There's too much in the world that deserves real thought and real worry - for example, will our democracy survive the insanity of the current GOP? - to waste a moment on the latest scare meme. 

1 comment:

  1. Terrific advice to keep the "threats" in perspective. xo Mask-wearing Annis