It happens every year, typically starting in late fall. You’re reading the news and suddenly there it is, the annual ‘Uh-oh, it’s flu season’ news item. It is as sure to appear each year as the sun is to rise in the morning, as the robin is to eat the worm, as Christmas stuff is to appear in Costco in July.
It is the media’s gentle reminder for you to get your flu shot, because without it, you must surely die.
Each article in each publication in every country in the world gives the details that the clueless public needs to know about the flu, because apparently the public was totally unaware that:
- It is flu season.
- The flu is a respiratory infection.
- You will probably get the flu.
- However, the flu shot may lessen that chance.
- If you don’t get the shot you will die but not before infecting hundreds of innocent children and old people.
- You should wash your hands.
- But not with antibacterial soap.
- Which is a whole other annual-event story.
Now, because you are unlikely to have any understanding of what happens when you get a flu shot, the article helpfully provides a picture of someone with a needle stuck out of their arm.
Every. Single. Year.
Every. Single. Article.
In the entire history of mankind, no article about the flu has ever been run without a photo containing an arm with a needle sticking out of it.
Yes, the article could instead use a picture of a kindly looking doctor with a prescription pad, or someone on their deathbed, or maybe just someone looking as though they should be on their deathbed, but no, it has to be the arm with a needle stuck in it.
There’s the standard Classic needle-in-arm image
...along with variations on the theme:
- Old person getting flu shot while having massive heart attack.
- Child getting flu shot while thinking “OMG” and planning aprés-shot 125-dB tantrum.
- Smiling woman getting flu shot while placing hex on nurse.
- Eerie Hitchcockian camera angle of boy saying, “Yeah . . . no” while mother gets flu shot.
- Man with polyester tie getting flu shot.
- Victim being savagely stabbed with flu shot.
- Person attempting to flee area while getting flu shot.
- Extra stabby view of hapless soul getting flu shot.
- Woman in yellow top getting flu shot, gets flu anyway, sells yellow top, house, moves to New Mexico to sell tacos for living, blames flu shot.
Here’s the thing, I get it about the flu shot without seeing the arm-with-a-needle-stuck-in-it photo. Everybody in the entire world gets it without seeing the arm-with-a-needle-stuck-in-it photo.
In fact, I can look at any headline which contains the word ‘flu’ and know word for word what it says without reading it. So can everybody else. Yes, we’ve sure got that one in the bag.
Nothing will stop the flu or annual flu story, but if a picture absolutely must accompany it, at least go with one that adds a more tasteful and simple message:
Get your flu shot, or the Chihuahua will get YOU.