On Friday, Rebecca Makkai tweeted a 1918 advertisement that suggested readers could “escape the flu by spending the evenings in your own home” with a phonograph. (Turns out social distancing to prevent illness isn’t exactly a new idea.) Interested, I hunted around to find more vintage advertisements that used the flu to sell their products, as well as some public health posters from years past that encourage social distancing and personal hygiene as a way of combating the spread of disease. (While of course Covid-19 is not the flu, or tuberculosis, or WW2, the principles of staying safe are similar.) As ridiculous as some of these images are, information is power, after all—and in fact, we’re just starting to see public awareness campaigns popping up again in the face of the current pandemic.
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September 23, 2021