Metapanikk! - Om svineinfluensautbruddets retoriske forviklinger
- Side: 109-121
- Publisert på Idunn: 2015-06-10
- Publisert: 2015-06-10
Da Verdens helseorganisasjon (WHO) i april 2009 erklærte at en ny influensatype hadde brutt ut i Mexico, brøt det samtidig ut panikk. Eller gjorde det egentlig det? Spørsmålet er ikke så enkelt å svare på som man kanskje kan tro, ikke minst fordi man må legge til grunn én av flere mulige oppfatninger om hva som kvalifiserer til betegnelsen «panikk». For eksempel: Kan frykt for panikk anses som panikk det også? Eller hva hvis man først og fremst finner en hel masse snakk om panikk – har fenomenet da på sett og vis inntruffet?
Meta-Panic. On the Rhetorical Entanglements of the 2009 Swine Flu Outbreak
A popular narrative about the 2009 outbreak of swine flu holds that the media overdramatized the situation, to a point where it caused the population to panic. In this article, I challenge this story and the simplistic notion of rhetorical effects on which it seemingly rests. First, it is not at all clear that one can blame the media for any panic that might have taken place, both because the media did much else besides overdramatize, and because other actors (including the health authorities) contributed to the drama. Second, if one looks more closely at what happened, one finds a substantial amount of talk about panic, but no indications that this sentiment actually descended on more than a very few. Hence, the swine flu outbreak appears more like a case of second order panic – people did not so much fear the disease, as they feared other people’s fear of the disease. Not even this summary is necessarily accurate, however, since the talk of panic went far beyond this “meta-panic” – including numerous calls not to panic. The conclusion is thus that the outbreak was first and foremost the object of a panic discourse, which was kept alive not just by the media, but also by its readers and viewers. I reflect on how – if this level of complexity offers a more accurate retelling of the episode – we can evaluate the communication surrounding the swine flu outbreak.