A few weeks ago, nothing mattered more in America than Ebola.
Three people in Texas contracted the virus. One died. Then a New Yorker got it, and people really started panicking. Politicians were calling for extreme measures such as extended quarantines, the building of mega Ebola containment centers, and even banning air travel to and from West African nations, where an outbreak is raging on.
In New Jersey, two parents who had just moved from Rwanda decided to prevent their children from going to school after they faced pressure from other parents who feared the children may have Ebola. Of course, those parents completely disregarded the fact that Rwanda is 2,600 miles from any Ebola-afflicted nation, greater than the distance from New Jersey to Texas.
Weeks later, the two Dallas health care workers have since been cured. Both hugged President Obama. This week, the New York doctor was also declared Ebola-free.
Since there’s been no further cases, it’s pretty evident that America is about to stop caring.
What’s the biggest difference? We are on the opposite side of Election Day. That means politicians can drop the facade of concern and outrage that Obama hasn’t done enough to keep Americans save from the virus. They’ve since been re-elected, so who cares anymore?
The truth of the matter is that Ebola is still a major problem, of course. Almost 5,000 people have died in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, and more than 10,000 have the virus.
But we’re Americans. We have the privilege of not having to care about something if it’s not within our borders. And as of Wednesday, that is now the case. Zero Americans have Ebola. It’s no longer the top news story on the New York Times, and the media coverage was so excessively overdone that satirical news networks have become too tired to even make jokes about it anymore.
No one is better at overreacting than Americans. However, one can argue that it’s better to overreact initially, and then slowly regress to a more rational response, rather than underreact and face the consequences. But until another American gets Ebola, I don’t think we’ll be hearing much about it anymore. It’s time for the next hot topic.
My favorite graphic of this whole Ebola craze is a map created by a British chemist who wanted people to understand the actual geographical scope of the outbreak, which I pictured. It sums it up perfectly.
Seriously, though, I really did learn where Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia are in Africa because of this map.
And all it took for them to enter the breadth of my geographical knowledge was an Ebola outbreak.
I’d like to learn more about African geography, but I guess it’ll only happen if the virus continues to spread.
Or I could read a map.