Friday, April 30, 2010

What's a crisis? Just about everything, apparently

How do you define the word "crisis"?

To read the news, that word covers just about everything. Here's a short, top-line summary of news topics from the last 24 hours featuring the word, "crisis."
financial crisis
debt crisis
Catholic abuse crisis
Madagascar crisis
oil spill crisis
energy crisis
Korean military crisis
Boy Scout abuse crisis
Asian financial crisis
Stephen Baldwin's cash crisis
Niger food crisis
Thailand's political crisis
MGM's financial crisis
school budget crisis
mortgage crisis
California budget crisis
Iraq election crisis
health care crisis
Iceland volcanic crisis
Canadian political crisis
student debt crisis
Toyota sudden acceleration crisis
Vermont dairy crisis
food crisis
Florida avocado crisis
Latino youth crisis
illegal immigration crisis
global warming crisis
Indian radiation crisis
obesity crisis
Now I'm sure that Stephen Baldwin considers his cash flow a serious issue. Even a crisis. But for me, it doesn't even come close to that definition.

How about something bigger? The Iceland volcano crisis. It shut down European air travel for days and cost the industry hundreds of millions of dollars in lost revenue. A true crisis? I'm sure it was to the stranded passengers, or to any airline employee who lost a job as a result. To me? No, not really.

Surely the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico counts as a crisis. That will cost billions in cleanup and damage wildlife, tourism and fishing/shrimping in the Gulf states. It will probably even increase the cost to fill up my tank. Yes, paying that extra $0.20/gallon will suck. But to me--it's not a crisis.

The economy? Okay, I'll go with that one. The effect of the mortgage meltdown and recession have without a doubt affected my economic well-being, and I surely would be living a much more comfortable life if certain economic opportunities hadn't evaporated. So yes, by that sort of estimation, the state of the economy is a crisis.

My point? "Crisis" is entirely subjective. It's a cheap word used to push news stories. If it's a crisis, it must be important. Sure, it's important. But usually only important to someone else.

The biggest crisis in my life right now is a loved one undergoing surgery and treatment for cancer. This crisis eclipses every other issue that concerns me or even holds my interest.

When a news story tells me something is a crisis, it's telling me what should be important to me. It may be preaching something that I happen to agree with, or that I am truly concerned about. But please: Stop cheapening the word, "crisis."

I'll decide on my own if it's important to me.

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