Fears and concern for ebola are sweeping our nation. According to ABC’s timeline of ebola in America, it first reached our country in late July. Since then, Thomas Duncan, the first person to be diagnosed with the virus in the States, passed away.
He was cared for at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas, just 15 minutes south of my childhood home. Two nurses that were aiding him in the hospital have also contracted the virus and are being treated.
Last week, a story emerged about a family of five testing positive for ebola in a tiny, unknown city just north of Dallas. Fortunately, the story was false. Unfortunately, the rumor’s circulation fed the fear that is already plaguing the nation.
I am a journalism PR major who will work closely with the media, or possibly for the media. With utter respect for journalists and their line of duty as storytellers, and with experience working for my highschool yearbook, newspaper, and The Dallas Morning News, I know firsthand the beauty of desiminating information.
There is an art to finding stories, conducting interviews, writing content, producing photos or video, completing the package and going to print — or often times hitting a “publish” button on a screen.
The digital age we live in allows anyone to share anything at any time. We live in a fast paced world and the media is adapting to it, trying to keep up and be the first to own a story and share its message. This urgency can cause published errors to spread rampantly.
We simply cannot trust every single article, interview, quote, or newscast. We must be skeptical and think critically for ourselves. Is this a reliable news source? Does the story itself seem plausible? Do the facts logically line up?
We can and should do a little research before developing a stance. The saying is, “You won’t know until we try.” Likewise, we won’t know until we try to know.
We can’t jump to conclusions about ebola — like claiming it is airborne — if we do not have the scientific and medical proof to back it up.
We don’t need to enhance the concern and obsession over ebola.
We can be cautious and aware, but ask questions and find answers with the abundant resources at our fingertips. This afternoon, I am going to the Texas State Fair in Dallas, my beloved hometown.
I am going to have a wonderful time. I am also going to use hand sanitizer and avoid standing next to people who are coughing. It’s flu season. I don’t want to get sick.
I’m hoping for the best and preparing for the worst. I’m not focusing on the negative, unlikely chance of getting ebola. There are many common diseases like strep throat and flu capable of overtaking our bodies. There are mosquitos carrying obscure viruses and germ-infested objects people have sneezed on.
We can be safe and cautious, we can do our best to protect ourselves.
But we can’t live in plastic bubbles — or hazmat suits — shutting out anything harboring the potential to harm us in the big, bad world.
- Ebola virus disease fact sheet, World Health Organization
- Ebola (Ebola Virus Disease), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- Fight fear of Ebola with the facts, The Washington Post (opinion by Richard E. Besser)