“If it bleeds, it leads” raises ratings for T.V. and radio shows. Sensational coverage of the latest “pandemic” strikes fear in our hearts and creates financial windfalls for government departments and drug companies. Isolated violent incidents are inflated into national threats. We are encouraged to fear whole segments of our fellow humans.
Fear causes the fight-or-flight response and increased heart rate, blood pressure, breathing, muscle tension, glucose levels and white blood cells, and affects sleep. It’s a natural strategy for survival, except when it is constant.
Apart from some of the timeless fears—fear of heights, the dark, flying, spiders and snakes—many Americans now fear government, terrorists and intrusive technologies. We’re anxious about personal and global economic collapse, climate change and our children’s future. These are constant fears. Anxiety-induced stress is now a serious health threat for the most coddled humans ever to walk the earth.
Fear of the “other” is a powerful political motivator. As we become more anxious about everyday issues, we might look for someone to blame. It is the politicians and businesses we should fear that stoke the fires of xenophobia to their own ends. I suggest that we be more discerning about facts, more involved in finding solutions and thereby less prone to fear-mongering.