Events in Brussels are terrible but, what is happening now is the media feeding frenzy that has become almost a statutory requirement after every terrorist attack in the West.
And people do let themselves get wound up by the media-generated panic.
The airlines are just as prone to panic, cancelling flights into Belgium as if the country had suddenly become a seriously dangerous place.
This story will dominate the Belgian media for weeks, and the rest of the Western media. Even non-Western media will play it for a day or two.
Almost nothing new or useful will be said, and then the frenzy will die down – until next time.
The first thing, after every terrorist attack, is to stress that the media coverage of the attack is its primary purpose – indeed, almost its only purpose.
It’s obvious and it’s trite, but if you don’t actually say it people forget it. Like the health warning on cigarette packets, it should be part of every story on terrorism.
Secondly, we have to put the alleged “threat” of such terrorist attacks into perspective.
People rarely do this for themselves, because once events are beyond the range of their daily experience most people cannot distinguish between what is truly dangerous and what is only dramatic and frightening.
It really does help to remind people that terrorism is a statistically insignificant risk – that they are in much greater danger of dying from a fall in the bath than of dying in a terrorist attack – even if that approach conflicts with the journalists’ natural urge to emphasise the importance of whatever they are writing about.