Friday, May 20, 2011

Zombie apocalypse - where the CDC went wrong

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) jumped the shark this week when it allowed an employee to blog about preparing for the zombie apocalypse.

I posted an article about the CDC blog in my Amarillo Zombie Examiner column. It was an overview, limited in terms of content and space. I want to take this opportunity to develop some of my article points.

It is not the responsibility of an agency like the CDC to be trendy. Efforts by such an agency to ride the wave of pop culture minutiae accomplishes nothing beyond a loss of credibility.

People are talking about how cool the CDC is, because the agency acknowledges the possibility of a zombie apocalypse. The CDC isn't supposed to be cool. It's supposed to control diseases. This is like a mother wearing a bunch of colored rubber bands as bracelets to fit in with her daughter's friends. When the mother tries to give her daughter advice later on, the daughter won't listen. The mother has lost her standing as an authority figure. She appears ridiculous in her daughter's eyes.

If there's an outbreak of some serious disease tomorrow, the average person won't rush to the CDC for advice. They'll listen to the crackpot down the street first, and try to heal themselves with bizarre home remedies passed down to the crackpot from great-grand pappy, who had half a mouth of teeth on a good day. Why will people listen to the crackpot instead of the CDC? Because the crackpot has always been a crackpot, while the CDC is trying to morph from school nerd into Miss Popularity. Consistency is the foundation of credibility. By changing it's image, the CDC loses credibility. It's becoming a joke.

The argument against my thesis (the argument in favor of the CDC's tango with the undead) runs thusly: it was so clever, because it got people's attention and those that wouldn't normally think about disaster preparedness are now educated.

Are they really? How many people that read the blog post can recall anything the CDC wrote about disaster preparedness? HOW MANY PEOPLE EVEN READ THE POST? I have friends on facebook who posted the link yesterday and admitted to me later that they never read the article; they just shared the link because it was cool.

People get excited when lines are crossed, and the gap is closed between truth and fantasy. But life isn't all about excitement. There will come a time when people need cold, hard facts from trained professionals.

Don't expect to learn anything useful from the CDC. They can't even take themselves seriously.


- M. M. Wells