Wednesday, October 6, 1999
boys who cried Floyd: Overreacting to nature's events
The Boys Who Cried Floyd.
I was hoping that my days of panic mongering were over. Since I made the big move south, I was dreaming of serene hours parked in front of the television, uninterrupted by weathermen.
Every winter in Ohio, weathermen broke into regular programming with weather emergencies. White death, or snow, to you Southerners, was imminent in our area. They would advise people to stay home, stock up on supplies and to make sure that they were profoundly frightened. As we all barricaded ourselves in our houses, the snow lightly dusted the ground and the next day the weathermen would giggle and say they were sorry for the miscalculation.
We got lucky. Again. I was never scared of snow, but these emergencies would scare old people into an abnormal frenzy. Imagine a television network reporting an imminent nuclear attack, how could they convey a message of true importance when they have already wasted all of their drama on an inch of snow.
This brings me to our current emergency. I was watching a football game, when one of the kids accidentally turned the channel looking for MTV. During the ensuing channel surfing, we stumbled upon the Weather Channel. Our attention was grabbed suddenly, a man on a beach wearing disaster clothes, talking and acting like he had just seen the Space Shuttle just blow up.
What is going on, Dad? my son exclaimed. Did the President drown? I was as perplexed as my youngster, but my best guess was that Miss Lewinsky had been arrested by the fashion police for having way too much posterior and even entertaining the thought of wearing a thong.
Meanwhile, we were glued to the screen, attempting to find out what all of the commotion was all about. Floyd was coming. Floyd was coming. These modern day Paul Reveres were sounding the alarm that the greatest storm in the history of the world was bearing down on the Southeastern United States. Bigger than Hugo, more powerful than Andrew and more destructive than my 20-month-old son, Montana.
Now don't get me wrong, I have great respect for Mother Nature and the destructive abilities of hurricanes. However, the intensity and panic with which these newspeople spoke momentarily made me think of evacuating Peachtree City for the safety of Newnan.
Again, people need to be informed about an oncoming storm; however, this was overkill. Every 15 minutes in Atlanta we had updates, color pictures and interviews with the weather-geeks at the National Hurricane Center. I found it laughable that during all of the roving reports from the beach there were always people frolicking all over the beach. Are these people just idiots playing volleyball and sunbathing or are they the levelheaded people not convinced that the sky was falling?
Warning is good. Scaring is bad. Our friends in North Carolina are feeling the effects of this storm and people should be prepared for emergencies. However, with every alarm that doesn't pan out, people become a little less likely to heed future warnings.
The television networks, in their quest for ratings, abandon all rational thought and magnify every event out of proportion. Let's hope when a real emergency occurs we all haven't become numb to warnings. However, with the media's overkill of daily events, that's just what we run the risk of doing.