Yesterday I watched a short clip of football journalists trying to pretend they knew something more than the ability to endlessly speculate about who is going to do what with which club. Or to put it another way which groundless rumour they have been spun by the agent/PR company/Club etc . Time and time again they have proven themselves totally incapable of predicting anything to do with the simple strange world of professional football. So this time they decided to pass their forensic eye over the latest British government efforts to ameliorate the effects of the Coronavirus. It wasn’t a pretty sight. This collective of talking heads with a I guess a biology O level between them seemed to know everything about the nuanced decisions that are being made and felt able to dismiss this or that with the same disdain as whether Wayne Rooney can still pass the ball.
Now it is very easy to point to the faults of journalists at this time but I think they really should stop and think about what they are saying and considered the audience before spouting off. Of course it isn’t just the journalists but also the experts who don’t agree with whatever action is or isn’t being taken. It is very easy to take to twitter and say something provocative and sit back and enjoy all the hits you get but again to what end? Everything I have heard from the government experts is that this is not a straightforward set of variables and that all decisions have their own costs which might make the whole situation worse in the long term. Let us just examine one of these options: Closing all schools.
Many other countries have taken this option and that may well work for their country but it is not without costs. There is little evidence to date that school age children are affected by the virus in fact the evidence would suggest just the opposite so what would closure of all schools achieve? Well the one thing it will certainly do is add strains to the health system. Here in the UK many of the health staff are mothers who also may well be single parents. Now how do they look after their children when they are not at school? They can’t fall back on their parents as they may well be self isolating and so the only answer would be to take time off work to try and look after the kids. How is that going to increase the capacity of the health system to cope at a time of high demand? I have no idea how other countries have addressed this situation but I can’t believe that the UK is unique in the proportion of young women, let’s not be coy about this, who are the primary parent when it comes to their children.
I guess that that is my biggest complaint about all these screaming headlines. They don’t really seem to have any perspective at all. Their viewpoint is right and if you don’t agree with that then you are a heartless uncaring beast. Don’t believe me then look at the all heat and craziness flying around the concept of herd immunity. Now I am not qualified to pass judgement on the nusanced arguments about this concept as I don’t have a PhD nor medical qualifications nor anything else that would say that I know what I am talking about. However, these caveats don’t seem to have stopped people and the media spouting on about this in ever carzier terms as though this is something from World War Z rather than an accepted medical approach to preventing diseases. Don’t believe me? Well just look what happened to measles, a much more deadly virus, when the antivaz protesters started to spread their, how can one put this politely? Less than well thought through approach? Suddenly herd immunity matters and without it people get very ill and and can die.
Now I don’t know whether the British approach is better than others nor whether it is just more nuanced than just shutting down the country, whatever that might means? What is clear is that none of these decisions are cost nor risk free. (We won’t know which was the best way forward for months perhaps years.) The one thing I do know is that we all have to be careful in this heightened state about exactly what we say and where we say it. Social media is not the safest place to be at the moment if you want to keep a more rounded perspective on things. Perhaps as part of any self isolating regime we should also switch off our social media accounts – I doubt that will happen anytime soon! Responsible news outlets should stop throwing out a constant barrage of opinion pieces and news alerts (I have switched off my New York Times news feed for just this reason. They are no alone.) We are no longer in a world where hits means prizes. It is far more serious than that.
Seeing as we are here in Britain are now entering our Second World War comfort zone then perhaps one of the most famous propaganda messages from that period should once more come to the fore: