When the Threat of a Bio-Attack
Stops Short of the Unthinkable

Our human, social and psychological connection to the world at large has never been greater or more intense. The ability to reach one another at a moment’s notice or let someone know where you are, even when it’s completely unnecessary seems to have carved out a place in our everyday lives. With this kind of phenomenon also comes a new set of consequences should we accept to believe them. Universities have private alert systems that notify students of important events in real time, while the rest of us are updated on just about everything through Facebook and Twitter. For those who would rather hear it on the news, the 24 hour cycle is alive and well. With all of this significant information making its perpetual rounds, how does all this knowledge affect our fears?

Some popular TV shows like Body of Proof, Hawaii Five-O, NCIS Los Angeles and Blue Bloods have taken their bow for the season, but not without leaving us with a final thought; how would society handle a biological threat and will our thirst for information help or hinder our safety at the time of such an event? My hope is that we’ll never have to find out; however, catastrophic events such as New York’s plummeting Twin Towers to what is now Ground Zero have made us doubt the simple safety of the everyday.

The cross over between detectives on Hawaii Five-O and NCIS Los Angeles took us on a chase for an extremely contagious small pox virus. Originally used in a clinical trial for depression, when discovered missing the race was on to keep the virus from reaching the main land. Body of Proof propelled us through the streets of Philly to hunt down patient zero who was purposely spreading a deadly virus through blood contact, infecting hundreds of unsuspecting citizens in the downtown metro area. Blue Bloods, led by Tom Selleck’s character Frank Reagan, sent us on a race against time to stop the release of a biological flu virus with no known vaccine in New York City. In each show, the threat was prevented before any major damage occurred. The danger never reached the public’s eyes and ears, therefore creating more uncertainty as to how our intricate social network would handle such critical information.

Television, with all its bold moves stops short of delivering the frightening storyline it posed from the start. What would happen if these terror plans were carried out? What would we as a society do, and how would be react? It seems like the unidentified is as questionable to the chiefs of broadcasting as they are to the general public, but why tell the story and stop just before the plot thickens? There is no right answer since they simply don’t know how to develop the complete narrative. While the threat exists, it’s realistic to think that our defenses would stop it before it can take effect, which is how the writers are depicting the plots.

I have to wonder if these storylines are plausible or simply playing on our fears of the possibility and the general unknown. What impact would social media have in the event of such a frightening act; and how would we handle learning of a threat on our Facebook page? Ideally our new formed social platform can be a vehicle for a kinder society on a global scale, allowing our shared knowledge to lead us out of peril to safety; or at least it’s what I like to believe.

Television and movie ideas come from the minds of people who are just like us, sharing a corner of the planet somewhere. As we navigate through our post 9/11 world, and our natural fears persist, it’s how we cope with the unthinkable that will dictate what we do with the overwhelming levels of information surrounding us.