When I lived in Arkansas, locals would proudly proclaim “Don’t like the weather? Wait 10 minutes!”
They did the same in Wisconsin.
The do the same here in Boston.
We are obsessed with weather. It has to be one, if not the most talked about subject on facebook. Perhaps it’s because everyone experiences it…or because we have so little control over it. Regardless, we complain about it constantly.
Here in the city, weather must be checked because I need know what shoes to wear as I tromp around between bus and train. And we Bostonians, like much of the US, have been reduced to whimpering pleas for spring, begging to maybe, someday, maybe, please-oh-please start to make it’s presence felt.
So usually, in the morning, I hop on weather.com and look hopefully at the next few days. And every single day, I’m greeted with sensationalist banners screaming at me in red and orange (or occasionally blue and green, because they can make any color sensational, apparently):
TITAN THREATENS MILLIONS! ARE YOU NEXT?
ULYSSESS SLAMMING SOUTH!
FIDO FREAKING OUT FLORDIA!
Ok, I made that last one up, but I admit I enjoy the idea of a storm named after a dog.
But anyway, blech. Sensationalist headlines are one of the most annoying parts of our media-saturated culture. That they are backed up with sensationalist reporting makes it worse. I routinely get worried emails and phone calls from my father in Florida, who has seen on the “news” that I’m about to get buried in the next weather-related apocalypse, in spite of the fact “the Northeast” is a large place with varying weather patterns and generally I’m not getting anything near what the Weather Channel says I’m experiencing right this very second.
And THEN! Look below the fold and you see “news” stories about the next germ that will kill entire countries, freakish YouTube videos, or reports on basically the worst thing ever that they can find to put up there.
And don’t get me started on naming winter storms…I start to twitch.
But like most suckers for modern technology, I put up with it, because I like my 5-day and 10-day forecasts and I like to see the general conditions in places I care about.
But today, I went to weather.com and saw this feature:
See FRIENDS AT RISK? As in, go to facebook, give us all your info, and we’ll show you the people in your virtual life who are talking about/in the middle of some kind of “news”-worthy weather? I didn’t do this, but I assume that’s the general gist.
And just like that, I was done. I remembered Weather Underground, and went there, and decided I won’t return to weather.com unless forced.
Listen, I’m in marketing. I get it. Weather.com is a business. They need to sell ads, and they probably have one of the most trafficked sites out there. Fear sells. FOX “News” has proved that. More subtly, fear breeds drama, and despite our claims that we don’t want drama, we love it. We are actually still wired to defend our lives against constant threat like our cavemen brothers, even though we aren’t in actual danger, so it’s not hard for us to let fear do it’s work. Fear makes us feel like our lives aren’t boring, comfortable and otherwise unworthy of complaint.
And sometimes, an ice storm really is coming, and we should get ready for it.
But here’s the thing, folks. Most of us who go to sites like weather.com have warm houses, jobs, all the layers we need to stay warm, and city services to clean up for us after a real storm. We don’t need the fear. We don’t need the hysteria. We should just calm the heck down and stop shouting about the world ending every time there’s a snowstorm.
And here’s the other thing, folks. Fear is killing our country. It’s not liberals or communists. It’s not business people or politicians. Fear is at the heart of what is driving us apart when we really, really don’t have much that separates us from each other. Fear keeps us from reaching out to those who are different, it keeps us from learning new things, it keeps us from viewing each other as allies rather than enemies. And because we are so afraid of everything that isn’t worthy of fear, I worry that when we face something that really requires fear, we might not understand it until it’s too late.
All that from a simple website widget? Yep, that’s how I roll. So, no more weather.com for me. I’m sure they are devastated, especially since I always clicked on the sensationalist and oh-so-truthful ads they pushed at me.
If you’ve got any other recommendations on where I can get daily dose of footwear insight and my 5- and 10-day forecasts, without the side of hysteria, let me know in the comments.