People at schools in various parts of the US are freaking out about Ebola because of a very flawed knowledge of geography, basic geography, as in, Africa is bigger than Rhode Island.
For instance, at a school in New Burlington, New Jersey, two Rwandan students are staying at home due to other parents’ fear that they will infect other children with Ebola. Rwanda is as close to the Ebola outbreak as New York City is to Seattle.
In Hazlehurst, Mississippi, a school principal’s recent visit to Zambia has led to a lot of parents choosing to keep their kids at home. But Zambia is in Southern Africa, over 3,000 miles away from the Ebola outbreak — the same distance between New Hampshire and Los Angeles.
I think people think distance shrinks internal distances – not from the perspective of the beholder, but literally. Africa is Far from Here so therefore it’s just a small thing like a magazine cover so therefore the virus can hop from one side to the other without even trying hard.
But in reality, Africa is a very big continent.
Africa is the world’s second largest continent. But it’s not unusual for Americans to classify it as a single entity, ignoring the many cultural, economic and geographic differences between its 47 countries. If three countries in Africa are going through an Ebola epidemic, the other 44 must be too, right?
Yeah, see, that’s what I mean. We don’t know much about it so we shrink it in our heads.