Most of the cases highlighted in the documentaries I saw were from the 70’s and 80’s. Perhaps the shows I was watching had to use older cases for some reason unknown to me but that alone got me thinking, is the world any more unsafe now than it was back then? That is what these concerned people seem to think, are they right in making that assumption? Is that why kids don’t play outside like they did in the old days, running around free, all over the neighborhood? These thoughts hi-jacked my brain space for some time and led to more thoughts about what exactly people’s idea of safety is.
To be sure, there were “cop shows” back in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s but they were nothing like what’s on these days. If I start writing about the differences I could go on and on and that isn’t what I want to do. I’m more perplexed by people, people I see and deal with every day, people at the grocery store, people at the park, people walking down the street and people possibly picking me up when I’m hitch-hiking to work. How is it that people today have so much more fear than people did twenty or thirty years ago? I speculate that the media has much to do with it as does the fact that people these days spend far more time watching these shows as well as the news, which generally isn’t full of sunshine and roses. There isn’t necessarily any more violence in the world now than there was then, but there is definitively more exposure to it now than there was then.
So, how is this fear affecting our society? First and foremost it makes us all very distrusting of one another. And while we distrust people more and more we also have the contradiction of social networking such as Facebook. People are more paranoid than ever and those same people post on their Facebook page pictures of their homes, their kids, their cars and their valuables. They often follow all that with chit-chatty posts about their vacations, letting people, possibly even would be thieves, know when they will be away from their homes. It’s like an open invitation to break into their homes and take whatever they want.
Some families post everything they do on Facebook and would be kidnappers and rapists can get a grip on their schedule, when the teenage daughter will be home alone or when her little brother will be walking to the park for soccer practice. These are all things people actually have a reason to worry about but clearly don’t. Meanwhile, they watch true crime shows and worry about the more unrealistic scenarios such as serial killers and sociopaths making elaborate plans to commit unrealistic and atrocious crimes.
The end result is that the fear people have over would-be scenarios that in truth are as realistic as Santa Claus coming by for tea in June has reached unhealthy levels. This fear engenders a sense of distrust and while we don’t trust our own neighbors whom we see day to day we seem fine with total strangers on the internet. There is a certain level of irony in that and it brings up some interesting questions. Of course the questions that come up vary depending on the person who is pondering the fear. Each person has a different level of fear as well as different things that they are afraid of.
The bottom line in my opinion is that there is overall too much fear that is totally irrational. On the one hand it’s totally subjective, on the other there is that which is logical and that which is not. This piece is meant to remind folks that if you are going to spend the time and invest the energy in feeding fear, at least fear something that it makes sense to fear. I have seen how fear effects different people in different ways, from children to their parents and from teens to twenty something’s and so on and so forth. Overall, the effect that irrational fear is having on society in general isn’t a positive one. Irrational fear has created a society of people who are utterly paranoid and distrusting. I suppose I think about it as it is just one more thing that disconnects people from one another and that is what you might call a “hot-button” topic with me.
It is my feeling that the more disconnected from one another we become the more problems there will be in our society. There is a tendency for people to be extreme, and that is also problematic. What I mean by bringing that up is that there is a noticeable urge to take a “side” with things like this. Either you are something or you are not, no in-betweens, no grey area. Either you are totally fearful or totally fearless, at least when this issue comes up in conversation or friendly debate. Fear mongers believe that the fearless are naïve or just plain stupid while the fearless believe that the fear mongers are paranoid and just plain delusional.
It may appear that I am the one oversimplifying it, that isn't what's meant, it just facilitates explanation. I see it all the time with more than just this issue, in point of fact, I see it with most issues. Extreme points of view for one side or the other, a way to further disconnect from people. Sadly, it seems the goal of most folks to be as disconnected from others as they can be. I see a future of people staying locked in their homes, never speaking to their neighbors, hiding under a blanket red-eyed staring into the screen of a device that connects them to the internet, microwave meals and a gun under the pillow that they have a better chance of shooting an innocent person or themselves with than some would-be criminal. Yes, that IS over the top...isn't it?
I’m not suggesting that we all crap rainbows and awake each day to a neighborhood group hug. I am suggesting that people are way too disconnected from one another, even from members of their own families and there has to be a place of balance from where connection comes. It’s likely to be different depending upon who the person is, these are choices we make as we connect but as humans we are all each other has got and it just seems as though our experience here as we live our short lives on this giant super-ball of silly would be more colorful, more interesting and overall more rich and full if we spent more time connecting and less time creating distance. It won’t be easy, most people these days are trained from birth to connect only to devices, not people. Still, it might not be too late. Do yourself a favor today, get out there and say hello to a human, a real one, made of flesh and blood. ..unless, of course, you’re afraid.