Posted by: mesabimisadventures | October 12, 2010

Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?

Fear is sexy. 

It sells newspapers, magazines and it always leads you to watch that news show that you otherwise would have passed on.  Every day it’s something new, something dangerous, something lurking around the corner. ” This is toxic, that is deadly,” to the point where I become numb.

I’m losing my patience with fear.  Unfortunately, too many Americans are losing (or have already lost) their ability to listen to a full story, process both sides of a discussion and recognize what is fact and what is speculation.  We devour the headlines and the front page story but can’t be bothered to read the corrections printed on page 7 in the lower right hand corner three days later, if there are any printed at all.

We gasp! and fill with rage at this chemical or that company or that, that, that PERSON who supposedly did this or that, but perhaps never did, but we can’t be troubled into finding out the truth of the matter.

We’re simply lazy.  And the modern means of communication aren’t helping us.

Instead of developed stories, we read hot-off-the-press-releases poorly disguised as well-researched news articles.  We can’t be disturbed in our busy busy lives to stop and question the tone of the article, the obvious slant, the pervasive lack of balance.

Fear is sexy.  And sexy sells.

We don’t want the truth.  We can’t handle the truth.  We don’t have enough patience for the truth.  We want soundbites and scary pictures and for our own preconceptions to be true.  We want to be told that all corporations are evil, that dogs like to bite and that you’ll inevitably die from something super rare yet super common enough for YOU to get. 

Let’s face it.  We’re suckers for fear.

So where do we go from here?

We question all, not just the stuff with which we disagree.  We take those lessons taught to us in Freshman Composition about judging the quality of a resource.  We recognize that the voices that remain silent may be silent for several reasons, including, but most definitely not limited to 1) because they recognize the limited attention span of us the readers, viewers, googlers or 2) they know the first story out is the one that’s usually believed, no matter what follows.

We need to challenge, critically think,  admit when we’re wrong or when we simply just don’t know something for sure.  It’s okay to wonder, it’s okay to not know, it’s okay to ask someone who may.

What’s not okay is allowing others to profit from your fear.  The slightest risks make the most terrifying headlines.  Let’s all take a collective deep breath and not get caught up in hype.

The truth is out there and it’s usually somewhere in between.

Let’s find the truth and let’s believe that.



  1. Okay, I bite.

    We are a fear based society.

    However, why then when people do real research, think ethically, and make conscience chooses do we judge them as being odd or over the top?

    • Interesting question… To which I have no good answer 🙂 I think sometimes, if what the researchers say is inconvenient for us, we dismiss them. I’m standing here laughing though because you’re so right about it. We run around crazy about somethings but not all… Why is that?!

  2. Yes, people are driven by fear and leave it at that, they just react negatively. I also wonder how much the current political climate is a reflection on poor education. Are people not being taught and encouraged to think, reflect, and look for other opinions? Maybe there is more and more data-in, data-out teaching.

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