Whenever I felt frightened about a new venture, my mother would share her favorite quote by Franklin Roosevelt “ The only thing we have to fear is fear itself”. That has stayed with me through many a scary time. It made so much sense but unfortunately I think the times have created a new metaphor around fear. Essentially, we are now in the midst of a culture that seems to love to dole out fear as if it were candy for the masses.
Not a day goes by without some news that informs us that we must avoid something that might be detrimental to our well being. If you watch any of the 24 hour news channels, you’re more than likely to discover something frightening every few minutes. Even if the anchor person is discussing a subject that is somewhat tepid, you can rest assured that they’ll be a scroll underneath them reporting on a murder or a new salmonella scare. Our bodies are programmed to help us to “fight or flee” if we are under siege. This mechanism is at the ready whether it is real or imagined.
If our perceptions are such that we feel under attack many times during the day, the constant flooding of cortisol throughout our systems will eventually damage our bodies ability to keep its’ immune system intact. It will also make us anxious and or depressed. In today’s world the media seems focused on scaring the living hell out of us as a form of entertainment. This segue ways into every nook and cranny of our lives. Eating a meal with friends or family has become riddled with dialogue about whether the ingredients are healthy or harmful. One day we hear blueberries could lead us to the promised land the next we are on the road to damnation.
Children are so protected that the days of seeing them running around outdoors is becoming practically extinct. It could make the national news if someone sights a group of kids playing kickball in the streets without helmets, kneepads and an emergency medical kit close at hand. Talking to a stranger in a line at the grocery store might kill you if they have the slightest sniffle and you had better reflect on your behavior if you talk too much, flush the toilet too many times or have a need to call your mother too often. Maybe it’s time to stop feeding the piranhas of fear. Information can be useful or useless. It’s up to you to sort it out. Use it wisely and don’t become its’ slave.