Many times, the fear of something can be even worse than the thing itself. A child, for example, can for years have a firm belief that there is a monster dwelling under the bed and even though the bed has no actual monster under it, the fear of the monster can lead to many sleepless nights. Considerably worse than the actual empty void under the bed, a lack of actual monster not making a difference to the child.
A little over a week ago, an Egyptian Cobra escaped from its cage at the Bronx zoo and was missing for a full four days. During that time period, daily newspapers had terrifying headlines about how the snake was venomous and deadly. A few days after his being found, we can look back and think about the way that the snake story was presented versus the reality of the situation.
Let us also giggle at the hilarity of the fact that some people were clever enough to not take the snake story too seriously and created a Twitter account for the snake — an account that even got the attention of some celebrity Twitter accounts. Since Twitter is basically a fluid stream of nonsense, however, we can’t be sure this really amounts to much.
Looking back at the articles about the snake before it was captured once again, I couldn’t help but notice a pattern. Up front, the article would talk about how deadly the snake was. A little later in the story, it would go further into detail about how the snake wouldn’t survive long in the cold spring weather, and that it was mostly in a confined, non-public area of the reptile house and not possibly just wandering the streets of New York.
Naturally, you can just imagine that many people like me who briefly skim newspapers on the train didn’t get that far in the article and so were going to work in a fear of encountering the snake and getting bitten and leaving our babies without fathers. Well, I certainly was. It was a tremendous relief when I found out that the snake had been recaptured but then I felt like a bit of a fool when I found out that the likelihood of being actually attacked by that very snake was not particularly high. Probably even lower considering that I commute from Queens to Brooklyn every day with not much time spent in the Bronx.
Perhaps in the future, when confronted by exploding headlines about impending doom, we can think back to the snake that turned out to be not so much of a threat at all.