Crawl Across the Ocean

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

You Didn't Make me Scared, You Didn't Do What You Set Out to Do

So I watched 30 seconds of TV 'news' just now (yes, I should have known better, too late), and the 'story' was on the risks of shopping cart injuries (to the children, of course).

Anchor #1 (alarmed): "The incidence of shopping cart injuries is up 30% over the last twenty years!"
Anchor #2 (more alarmed): "Yes, the rise in shopping cart injuries is definitely alarming!!!"

and off they went.

Later in the story, they pulled out the usual alarmist trick, quoting some figure for total shopping cart injuries in North America every year and then telling us that that works out to one every (however often it was), taking advantage of the fact that people just can't mentally grasp the magnitude of just how many shopping carts there are on a continent of 500+ million people.

And I'm sure you know what comes next. The movement for safer shopping carts. Built lower to the ground for a lower center of gravity less likely to tip. Seatbelts. Helmets for kids in shopping carts (ok, they stopped just short of this one, butyou get the idea).

So I came back over to my computer, to blog about this idiocy, with the demented voice of Ian Curtis singing "Where will it end, where will it end?" in my head, and what do I see on the yahoo homepage? The headline, "Is your laptop a fire hazard?" complete with dramatic photo of burning laptop.

So here's my message for all media outlets of all kinds: I'm not scared. You're not going to make me scared. I know that life expectancies are continuing their decades long climb, and yes I am well aware that bad things can happen, laptops catch fire, kids fall out of the shopping cart while reaching for the Coco-Crisps, a truck could lose control and crash into your living room, exploding toothpaste could blow your plane out of the sky, toboggans occasionally run into trees, etc. etc. etc., but whatever. Give it a rest. Try to find some way to convey news that doesn't involve alarmist bs (or telling us the colour of Paris Hilton's underwear, for that matter).

Update: Et tu Globe and Mail?

"The experts suggest leaving children at home, shopping on-line, or using other means, such as a stroller, to ferry a child around a store."


  • Paris Hilton wears underwear??

    By Blogger Simon, at 10:58 PM  

  • Tune in at 6 and find out.

    By Blogger Declan, at 11:17 PM  

  • Does this make Bubbles from Trailer Park Boys a terrorist?

    By Blogger Daz, at 1:49 AM  

  • Well, it would, but I exempt anything which is explicitly labelled as fiction. If they did that for the news broadcasts they wouldn't bother me as much :)

    By Blogger Declan, at 7:52 AM  

  • YEAH!

    By Blogger KevinG, at 10:05 AM  

  • I'm wondering when our Canadian government is finally going to get tough on shopping carts.

    Most of these carts get a slap on the wrist, then they're back in the Mall, bumping into people!

    By Anonymous Famousringo, at 3:41 PM  

  • This reminds me of a time I caught a few minutes of 20/20 when they were talking about the threat that loose bedsheets pose to babies in their cribs. They demonstrated how a baby could get tangled up and suffocate, interviewed a bunch of scared consumer advocates, a mother that had lost her baby that way, etc, etc. Then they gave us the stat: (something like) several dozen American babies had died from loose bedsheets...over the previous 30 or 40 years (I can't remember the exact numbers but it was something like that).

    Another time there was an upcoming 20/20 story being advertised all week long about how apple juice producers may be killing american children, but I didn't tune it to that one.

    By Blogger Simon, at 4:29 PM  

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