Richard Florida’s observation, in M GEN: “The Harsh Future of American Cities”:

Much of our current aversion to crowds will dissipate with time.

… after the 1918–1919 flu pandemic, it took five or six years until people got comfortable taking trains again but that ultimately they did. “There was short-term adaptation and then no long-term change,” Florida said.

This American Experience episode on the 1918 Influenza pandemic takes that observation about trains to its global conclusion: humanity pretty much forgot about the pandemic altogether.  At least it dropped from the storyline of our 20th-century experience, very much secondary to wars, depressions and social changes.  We know dates like 1914, 1929, 1939, 1967 …  but 1918 not so much.

So which kind of date will 2020 be?

 

Comments

  1. That was before TV, internet and social media. Today’s coronavirus would also be much less of an issue with technologies from 100 years ago. Today every minor incident gets magnified, even a 0.01% death rate increase due to a bad flu. Have you see TV images of empty hospitals in Canada, US or UK – or even Italy lately. No, of course not as only the one hospital with an overflow of ICU cases gets hyped up 24×7.

    A total non-issue (or a very minor one) vs other diseases but due to CNN, internet, anything to smear Trump and social media we are scared into spending trillions utterly recklessly ! Utterly !!!

  2. That was before TV, internet and social media. Today’s coronavirus would also be much less of an issue with technologies from 100 years ago. Today every minor incident gets magnified, even a 0.01% death rate increase due to a bad flu. Have you see TV images of empty hospitals in Canada, US or UK – or even Italy lately. No, of course not as only the one hospital with an overflow of ICU cases gets hyped up 24×7.

    A total non-issue (or a very minor one) vs other diseases but due to CNN, internet, anything to smear Trump and social media we are scared into spending trillions utterly recklessly ! Utterly !!!

    So yes we will remember 2020: of course as we do have internet, TV and “social” media today !

  3. Thanks for the Doc. There was this strange phenomenon amongst my elders. They would talk at length about the wars. However, I discovered the history of the 1918 pandemic when I was 9 or 10. The response from my elders was a total lack of recall. As the documentary says, it was like the pandemic disappeared from the collective unconscious. This was a nice info piece, but I would rather know how this affected my family. My grandfather was a doctor in 1920 and died in ’25, but there were no recollections in my family about the pandemic.

    P.S. US reached 100k deaths today after 2 months of pandemic. This thing is supposed to last minimum 12 – 18 months. The US may hit 500k deaths yet. Sadly, despite our comparatively enlightened leadership, Canada is also rising in deaths per million in this pandemic compared to other countries. So not as bad as US, much worse than the rest of the OECD. Story of our country’s healthcare.

    1. Wars have manly heroes. Pandemics have women doing grunt work in the contagioius trenches. The influenza epidemic did not enough masculine glamour aka death and destruction to make it into the history books in the long term I think.

      FWIW, a look back at the newspapers of the day shows that once the pandemic was in full swing it was headline news. Without Headline News. Or CNN, or any of the supposed ‘fake news’ that points out the stupidity of the big idiot to the South.

      I would be very hesitant to put much stock in the perspectives of posters who have a track record of erroneous claims.

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