Social Media Manipulation: The Zombie Apocalypse

With finals over and nothing to do but read my constantly updating Twitter, I was watching the trends in New York City. Among the usual crap about sports (I still don’t understand who Jason Giambi is) and random creepiness (#shemighthaveadick), I noticed that “Zombie Apocalypse” was also trending. Naturally, I clicked on the link, thinking it had something to do with Saturday’s earthquake/rapture that will kill everyone. I also had a feeling it might be one of those best quote from zombie movies or something trends. But after scrolling through the top tweets, I found one by my good friends at NPR:

Basically, the people at the Centers for Disease Control (also known as the CDC) decided that everyone is completely dumb and needs a fake reason (a zombie apocalypse) to prepare for normal, likely to occur, disasters (earthquakes, tornadoes, etc.). The CDC published a blog post,”Preparedness 101: Zombie Apocalypse,” that seems like a joke on the surface, but really there are some pretty good tips for regular disasters. After giving a brief history of zombies (which, really, was unnecessary. People have been preparing for that since “Night of the Living Dead“), the CDC Public Health Matters Blog writer Ali S. Khan explains,

The rise of zombies in pop culture has given credence to the idea that a zombie apocalypse could happen. In such a scenario zombies would take over entire countries, roaming city streets eating anything living that got in their way. The proliferation of this idea has led many people to wonder “How do I prepare for a zombie apocalypse?”

Well, we’re here to answer that question for you, and hopefully share a few tips about preparing for realemergencies too!

I gotta say, some of the tips were spot on.

I don't think an emergency kit will help this girl...(via CDC)

Like the emergency kit, which Khan explains should have (this will be a direct quote)

  • Water (1 gallon per person per day)
  • Food (stock up on non-perishable items that you eat regularly)
  • Medications (this includes prescription and non-prescription meds)
  • Tools and Supplies (utility knife, duct tape, battery powered radio, etc.)
  • Sanitation and Hygiene (household bleach, soap, towels, etc.)
  • Clothing and Bedding (a change of clothes for each family member and blankets)
  • Important documents (copies of your driver’s license, passport, and birth certificate to name a few)
  • First Aid supplies (although you’re a goner if a zombie bites you, you can use these supplies to treat basic cuts and lacerations that you might get during a tornado or hurricane)
Being the clever government health dude he is, Khan notes there should be an emergency plan, etc, and gives legitimate details about how to concoct one (I won’t bore you with that, it’s all here), but he also links to a legitimate page from the CDC website about emergency planning. While this is clearly manipulation to get people to actually think about emergency planning, I have to say I am mighty impressed.
Think about the last time you “thought” about what to do if, say, there was a flu outbreak or an earthquake. You can’t. Now, because the CDC brought popular culture and zombies into a discussion of safety, all you can think about is how to get a couple of gallons of water in your closet in case “Shawn of the Dead” happens. Proving my point further, the CDC website crashed because so many people were looking at it, according to ThirdAge.com:
“If you prepare for the zombie apocalypse, you’ll be prepared for all hazards,” CDC spokesman Dave Daigle told Reuters Thursday.
However, as Khan was trying to be informative, he left out several important items

The CDC used zombies and social media to (gasp!) teach you something about emergency preparedness. Jerks. (via CDC)

necessary in any zombie emergency kit (Note: I do not recommend actually gathering these items and am trying to be funny. Please don’t sue me.):

  • Shotgun and any other gun you can get your hands on (don’t forget the “double tap” from “Zombieland”…MAKE SURE THOSE SUCKERS ARE DEAD!)
  • Make-up (to pretend you’re a zombie too)
  • Condoms (I mean…if the movies are correct, there’s always gonna be an opportunity for sex during a zombie disease outbreak)
  • Dead bodies (duh, to feed to the zombies)
  • Drugs and alcohol (self-explanatory)
At the end of the article, Khan is pretty funny (kinda) and explains:
If zombies did start roaming the streets, CDC would conduct an investigation much like any other disease outbreak.
Okay, so it really wasn’t that funny, but you know all about safety during a legitimate disease outbreak now, don’t you?
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