Why are we so worried about Ebola?
Is Ebola–An Epidemic of Fear!
At this point, depending on your age, the fact that I am even asking that question may have many of you shaking your heads and saying, “Because Ebola is killing thousands and thousands of people and it could become the world’s worst pandemic and the contracted death rate is 90%! Not to mention it’s now in the US! Worried isn’t the word—TERRIFIED is more like it.” All right, I’ll give you all that. But before you get your genes in a knot Consider this:
- 1.2 million people die annually from malaria. (Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation)
- 1.5 million people die of diarrhea! (WHO)
- Nearly 1.3 million people die in road crashes each year, on average 3,287 deaths a day.
And, as of today… 3500 people have died from Ebola. truth be told: So far the death rate in the US is one, a man from Dallas.
Please note: I am not saying Ebola isn’t real, or that there is no threat, but rather that we need to keep our fear proportional!
So I ask again, why are you so worried about Ebola? I am going to suggest that the real reason Ebola is causing such a panic isn’t because it is the world’s deadliest disease. No, the real (undercurrent) reason for Ebola panic is lack of trust in leadership.
Ebola–An Epidemic of Fear!
We face a double-edged sword and it’s generational.
On one side are those who say things like “It must be true; I heard it on the news.” On the other side, are those who don’t believe anything they see or hear on mainstream media, preferring to get their information via “alternative” sources. Among those who don’t believe anything the mainstream media says are a subgroup of young people who don’t just think the media is full of lies; they simply no longer believe anything that the government or those in authority tell us.
Therefore, when Tom Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), says, “The bottom line here is we know how to stop it,” the immediate reaction isn’t relief, but the outcry “YOU’RE LYING!!!” When Anthony Fauci, infectious disease chief at the National Institutes of Health, says “Because of our healthcare system and our ability to do contact tracing and isolation we won’t have an outbreak,” again, we don’t really trust it, and even if we don’t say so, many just think “YOU’RE LYING!!!” In fact, for this group, pretty much the reaction to anything anyone in authority says about Ebola is “What a load of BS!”
At this point you may be thinking; who care what this subgroup says? As I talk about in my upcoming book Fiercely Loyal, there’s a creeping crisis facing companies (and the world at large). We are in the grips of wide-spread distrust of big business, big government and leadership in general that is spreading faster than Ebola ever could. This distrust sets the stage for panic. For this group Ebola is just the latest incarnation of mainstream media-induced fear. When this disease is contained, and I believe it will be contained, another reason to panic will crop up. Not because there is reason to panic, but because panic itself is the reason.
All of this stems from the very real epidemic of distrust, which is most deeply felt in the Millennial generation, (those born after 1980 and up to 2004). Millennials are the most electronically connected generation in history, which means that everything that happens in the world is immediately in front of them. However, they often lack the personal connections that create reassurance. They get their information about Ebola, not from their caring family doctor but from the NEXT FEAR DRIVING HORRIBLE HEADLINE, and they do not trust mainstream media news.
Millenials exist in a world where anything that comes from anyone in authority is irrelevant—even when the authority is telling indisputable truth. So how can we combat both this epidemic of panic and distrust? The answer is that Generation X and Baby Boomer government, media and leadership in general must become far more transparent.
Why? News flash folks: The cat is out of the bag, the Internet makes fact checking both quick and easy. However, mainstream media in its present form relies on the fact that many baby boomers still seriously lag behind on being Internet savvy. (Half of Fox News’ Viewers Are 68 and Older)
Mainstream media has to face facts: The idea that “It’s True Because It Was On The News” is being wiped out by natural causes far faster than any African rooted disease. And what’s left?… Distrust and Fear! If we want to combat, not just Ebola, (ISIS, or whatever’s next) but all the fear that is running rampant today, those in leadership have to change—they have to become open, transparent and vulnerable enough so that the general public can begin to trust them once again.
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Dov Baron Speaks internationally and is The Leading Authority on Authentic Leadership on leadership in the new economy.
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