The Profusion of Fear

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Introduction

I think it’s obvious to say that the news only conceives of the worst possible scenarios as a way to fuel our society’s ever-growing paranoia. But without our consent, news networks would cease to find the feedback they wholesomely desire. Therefore, I question why we perpetuate ourselves into the darkest of places within our society. And I don’t feel cautious when proclaiming that we enjoy this perpetuation beyond our own control.

Every day, millions are eating up the worst possible information as if they’re at the buffet. And for what reason? As a means to keep ourselves knowledgeable of current events? Or is there more substance that’s being ignored?

My explanation is simple but has much room for expansion. I believe we watch the news as a way to sedate ourselves with certain emotions. And the people controlling these news networks continue to feed us these emotions as a way of manipulation. An influence in which the end result is always the two substances running our society; money and power.

Living Within the Safest of Eras

In 2015, Lewis & Clark College’s president, Barry Glassner proclaimed, “Most of Americans are living in the safest places at the safest time in human history.” Glassner is one of our country’s leading sociologist. He asserts that there truly is little to fear even within an era where uncertainty is so prominent.

According to his research, all around the world, household wealth, longevity, and education are all on a steady rise. Similarly, violent crime and extreme poverty are declining.

In terms of the United States, life expectancy is at an all-time high, the air is cleaner than it was a decade ago, and crime has been going down for over twenty years.

It’s fair to say that people might not be aware of these statistics. However, I think it’s rather obvious that living in America is one of safest situations we can find ourselves in. Yet, also granted by Glassner, we are living in a time that’s preserving the most fear ever in history. His explanation, “…there’s a lot of power and money available to individuals and organizations who can perpetuate these fears.”

Andrew Huberman, a Stanford neurobiology professor backs up this explanation by claiming the brain to have one primary function. That is survival. Therefore, it reacts to stress at a much less demanding rate than it does to other emotions such as happiness. In his words, “[The brain’s] primary job is to keep us alive, which is why it’s so easy to flip people into fear all the time.”

With this in mind, we can decipher two reasons as to the news’ consistent popularity.

  1. Our instincts cling to fear for the sake of survival.
  2. The rich and powerful are keenly aware of this and manipulating it as their source of income.

A Deeper Explanation

Even with the knowledge above, people will find their excuses for continuing to turn on the news. Admittedly, there’s a certain fascination that lies within the disdain and disgust. It has been said that humans have been scaring themselves simply for the thrill of it since the dawn of our species.

However, this thrill has gone much beyond horror stories and Halloween. We as a society are living, breathing, and seeking something to frighten us every day.

Part of the explanation to this lies within a question I brought up in my introduction. Is this behavior really just a means to keep ourselves knowledgeable of current events? In some regards, we can use this excuse as a method to continue perpetuating ourselves with fear. People thrive off awareness of their surroundings for a few reasons; it’s a topic of conversation, it makes us feel more intelligent, and – most importantly – it gives us a sense of the era in which we exist.

Yet, I prepare to take this reasoning one step further. With the day-after-day tragedies the news informs us of, I believe there’s a sense of satisfaction in witnessing other people’s miseries. For one, it gives us the opportunity to reflect upon our own grateful lives. Making us – for the quickest of moments – feel certain relief in the sense that we have yet to be thrown into such catastrophes.

Secondly, we allow sympathy to pour out of us for those in said catastrophes. When sympathy is collected by the masses, it creates a whirlpool of empathy. One of which the receiver will take with open arms. And one of which we ourselves would desire if we were to ever end up in said catastrophes.

Lastly, the news gives us another validation to our own criticism. Pointing our fingers at all that’s bad in this world and giving ourselves the notion that we have every right to do so. For none other than the sake of the fact that everyone else agrees.

Conclusion

This sort of behavior allows us to ignore any criticism that could be placed upon ourselves. It allows us to sustain our right to exist because we aren’t as bad as those guys over there. In fact, we morally fear those guys. It causes us to bottle up our own wrongdoings for the sake of what everyone else is truly concerned with. And it’s pushing our society into the belief that we are the most disgraceful era within human history.

Why would we want to send ourselves in such a direction? Because it’s more forgiving for an individual to criticize the fire than to fuel it.

Personally, I don’t believe society is going downhill. If anything, I think we’re advancing into the type of species we were inevitable to become. The only reason we fear our society is because we don’t know how to act upon such big events as individuals. And even if we decide not to act, we find it difficult to ignore.

“You don’t lead by pointing and telling people what to do. You lead by going to that place and making a case.” – Ken Kesey

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