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Posted on 05-18-2017

Summer is coming up and if there is one thing you can count on, it is that videos of sharks in the ocean will take over your social media pages quicker than high tide.

A recent study confirmed that 51% of people in America report having a serious fear of sharks, more officially known as galeophobia (fun fact for your day). For such a high percentage of fear in America, we have to be at a pretty high risk, right?

Actually, the odds of being killed from a shark are 1 in 3,748,067 in one lifetime. This means that on average, one person every 2 years is killed by a shark in America. That is an astronomically small probability, yet it is a very real fear in every other person in this country…so I started looking at things that we probably should be afraid of.

According to an article published in the JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association) something far more dangerous is amongst us, costing us the lives of 106,000 Americans per year. Compare that 106,000 to the 4 people sharks killed and it makes you wonder what creature in the deep blue we should really be sharing on social media.

So what is it? Stingrays? Barracudas? Alligator that escaped from Lake Placid? Negative. Our red-handed culprit doesn’t live in the ocean at all. It lives in the homes of over 70% of the population.

106,000 Americans die every year from proper use of prescription drugs according to the study published in JAMA. This means that the negative side effects of medications ended the lives of approximately 290 people every single day. This does NOT include any deaths from misuse such as overdose, reaction to drugs not given to the patient from their doctor, or reactions from an unintended user taking the medications.

So why is it that people haven’t flooded your newsfeed with warning label side effects of medications?

Why are we so inclined to share a live video of a shark attack but would never even think about sharing a video of a young woman having a stroke from being on birth control? Have we accepted that fatal side effects of medications are so normal that they don’t deserve a “check out the crazy video”?

Now, this is in no way me saying that sharing shark videos isn’t wildly entertaining. I plead guilty to the crimes of social media sharing for shock value. This is merely me using the shock value of shark attacks to point out a real problem we have as a society, our dependence on medications. This dependency is what has allowed this yearly death toll to reach the hundred thousand mark.

Sharks play a huge role in the ocean’s food chain. They can also kill humans. Medications can save lives. They can also end them. Why do you think it is that the rarity of one is more disturbing than the frequency of the latter? Why is one a shared video, and one a secret?

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