Recently, the real-life Centers for Disease Control and Prevention decided to get in on the zombie fever that was spreading through the nation (and devouring its brains) by throwing up a goofy, official CDC-approved "Zombie Preparedness Kit" that, according to the CDC's site, will tell you exactly how to "prepare for a zombie apocalypse."
It's a joke (obviously).The kit is just a general disaster-preparedness kit -- the kind that anyone expecting an incoming disaster should have. [Sidebar.] There's nothing specific to zombies in the kit, they're just being cute. The CDC is dressing up helpful information so that it spreads around the Internet and builds buzz or whatever it is that things do. And it worked. That link was everywhere. I wrote a video about zombies and worked on a book with "Zombie" in the title, which means everyone I've ever met in the world sent me this link. Someone on the CDC's marketing or PR team is kind of clever; for the first time in a long time, the Internet was talking about the Center. With this little stunt, the CDC had gone viral.
But here's my question: Why the shit should the Centers for freaking Disease Control and Prevention care about going viral? I get that the Internet is a big huge thing, and a lot of people spend a lot of time online -- but that doesn't mean every business and organization needs to try to connect with the Internet on its level, especially an organization that's genuinely important. Look, T-Mobile is going to try to appeal to the online crowd, and Old Spice is going to hire Tim and Eric to make ads that go viral, because these are companies for which being cool, staying hip and connecting with a younger crowd is important. That should not be on the CDC's list of priorities. The CDC exists to help idiots, not impress them with cheeky, viral, publicity stunts. If I get bitten by a poisonous snake, I don't want to check the CDC's website and find a bunch of tongue-in-cheek Internet bullshit jokes tied into Snakes on a Plane, I want a step-by-step guide to getting snake poison out of my favorite body.