The U.S. is a freaked out nation of worriers. And every year the Chapman Survey of American Fears pins down exactly what makes us so jittery. A representative sampling of 1,500 respondents was presented with an alarming list of possibilities and asked to rate them on a four-point scale.
Corruption of government officials provoked the highest levels of fear. Followed by technology, with cyber terrorism and corporate tracking of personal data, and the like. Man-made disasters, terrorist attacks, et al, were way up there, too. Essentially, we’re afraid of everything from computer hacking to being judged on appearance.
It seems to boil down to this: we just don’t trust each other.
Well, we have good reasons not to. People are mean and greedy — present company excepted, of course. Plus, our lives are too cushy for our own good. Everything’s climate controlled and down-filled, automated and pre-cooked and motorized. We’ll, occasionally, lift a finger to text, but even then it’s a thumb.
People no longer battle for survival, we’re not the hunter-gatherers of old. We still hunt, but for bargains and all-you-can-eat specials. We gather, too, and call it collecting — stamps, doorknobs, beer cans, whatever.
This freedom from struggle has turned us into great big fraidy cats. Instead of relaxing, we see danger around every corner and in every sneeze. We’re scared of our own shadows. I did a quick inventory of stuff I’m afraid of and the list was distressingly long:
See? Mostly self-induced. Figments of an overactive imagination. The real threats, like insanity and helmet-less biking, meh. There’s something totally ass-backwards there. Or is it just me? It is, isn’t it? It’s just me. Aw, nuts.
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