I’m going to have to turn off the TV soon. We’re having a snowstorm – a Nor’easter at that. But people are getting so crazy about the snow that you’d think we were in Baghdad, not central Massachusetts.
They had snow in Baghdad this week. And even though they get so really infrequently (snow storms are years apart, not days), they were going about business as usual. Ok, they weren’t getting a foot of snow. It wasn’t even building up. But they weren’t freaking out about it, either.
So how should those of us who live in areas where snow is a given react to the news of a storm? We should just go about our business as usual too. Wait – don’t get on my back for saying we shouldn’t fuss over a snowstorm. I don’t think we should be Stupid! If it’s snowing heavily, we should stay off the roads. Why ask for trouble?! But we don’t need to clear off the grocery store shelves every time they predict snow! And why should people have to go out and buy new shovels every snowstorm? What did they do – throw away the one they used after the last storm?
I’ve been thinking about how people react to snowstorms now as opposed to how they did over the past 50 years (I have been around that long, I’m entitled to comment on it!) This is what I remember.
When I was young (late 50’s, early 60’s), snow was just something that happened. You had weathermen on TV but they basically just told you that – a storm is coming. They didn’t get people excited about the projected accumulation totals, precise timing or 100’s of cancellations for the day. You listened to the local radio station to see if school was cancelled. People weren’t expected to drive to work in every case and they didn’t go out “just because” – they used their common sense!
Today, snowstorm panic sets in days before the actual storm. Meteorologists have significantly better tools to use and can tell us days ahead what the storm will be hour by hour. That’s good! People should be able to plan better! But they don’t – they drive the same way they do on a sunny day, they don’t respect the conditions. They are tense and stressed and driven – they have to get to work on time, they have to be ready to survive for 2 months if they get snowed in, they have to get out just because they want to.
I think part of the problem is the hype the media puts out every time it’s going to snow. We used to get the weather as part of the news, a few times a day. If you wanted more, you turned to local radio. And the weather was simply reported. Now we hear every ten minutes – “We bring you a weather alert.” They tell you “It’s still snowing hard.” Personally, I didn’t need the report to know that. I have one of those old-fashioned things called a window. I look outside and see snow falling. OK! But on television, they keep repeating and repeating the same information, giving it the appearance that it is more important than it is. It can’t be that important if it hasn’t changed over the past 2-3 hours!! Nowwe have a couple of reporters at the “anchor desk”, a minimum of 2 meteorologists, 5-6 reporters in the field doing the “Weather Channel” thing of standing in the midst of the nasty weather to tell us what we can see with our own eyes and interviews with fear mongerers who tell us tales of winter driving and snow clearing problems. And it’s all done with a note of tension, fear and excitement in the reporters voices. “Oh dear, woe is me ….” Please!!! They’d never interview me because I’d give them the same answer I gave the last waitress who thought we should be worried about the snow (that one over maybe 2 inches). She wanted to know if we were prepared for the storm and “freaking out about the snow storm coming.” I told her that it’s snowed every winter here in Central Massachusetts for the past 55 years that I personally have experienced, sometimes more or less, and it will probably continue to do so. So there’s no point in getting all worked up. We can’t stop it. It will be here whether we like it or not. So deal!
All the family history research I’ve been doing leads me to think about how they would have reacted to a snowstorm. Let’s face it, in 1790 or 1850 they didn’t have meteorologists to tell them snow was coming. They learned to read the signs around them. When the snow started falling, they hunkered in and did “indoor chores” that might have been put off with the better weather. Those who had to be out (farmers with cows to be milked, e.g.) just did it. They accepted it and worked with it instead of fighting it. They had no media hype to scare them!
So how am I going to spend this fine winter day? Let’s see . . . wash dishes, wash laundry, do a little family research, maybe paint a bit and make dinner later. That ought to be enough to fill the day.
The most important thing I’m going to do is shut off the TV and tune out the hype. Enough is enough – or as my grandmother used to say: Enough is enough is too much!