What if we had just called it the flu all along?
Words have meaning. Words have power. Our choice of words determine how we process information. Recently President Trump got flack for calling Covid-19 the “China Flu”. One reporter asked him if that wasn’t racist. Well, no it isn’t. China isn’t a race, it’s a geographical location where Covid-19 originated. But “China” isn’t the important word here. Why?
“Virus” is a scary word. It invokes images from “The Andromeda Strain”, zombie movies and a host of apocalyptic shows on SyFy Network. We are terrified of an unstoppable mutant virus killing us all.
What about the word “flu”? What does that invoke? The cold and flu season? The one we have every year? Yes, the flu can be deadly. 20,000 to 30,000 people die of the flu every year. But would have people been more likely to have shrugged it off and not cause a panic? The kind of panic that made toilet paper a precious commodity. We have had more deadly flus, the Avian flu, the Swine flu and Sars, but we didn’t have anywhere near this kind of panic.
We could have still taken the necessary precautions; washed our hands, used sanitizer, stayed six feet apart and stayed at home as much as possible. But could we have stopped our economy from tanking? That’s the damage that’s going to stay around long after this flu season is over.
I’m reading the book “I Have Get To” by Alicia Dunams. It’s about training yourself to use positive words to think more positively. It ties into Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP), the study of how the brain works. How neural pathways are formed. In short, certain words can lead your brain to caution while other can lead (trigger) to panic.
If you’re a writer you know the power of words. Winston Churchill held a nation together just with words.
Choose your words wisely.
Take necessary precautions.
(in big, friendly letters)
And leave some toilet paper for the rest of us.