The Fear Factor

The documentary Bowling for Columbine was a satirical, and even sarcastic look at the USA’s gun laws and the country’s fascination with being able to lawfully carry a weapon.

But the hidden theme in this classic piece of television journalism, was its veiled conclusion that there is a daily fear factor in most people’s lives in the 21st century, which is unheralded in our history.

This fear is driven daily by all forms of media and is now becoming even more accentuated by what it seems is almost the entire western world’s fascination with all formats of social media.

In the blink of eye, all of us can find on the internet an entire video library of death and destruction, fear and loathing, hate and bigotry, racism and radicalism, sickness and abject poverty, depression and social disorder, extremism and terrorism, and every other type of activity which is known to make mankind feel less secure and less safe in their own environment.

And just in case we dared to try and be happy one day, that nights news bulletins, and the next days’ newspapers, will try and bring us all back to the previous levels of insecurity with the bad news stories of the day.

This stuff is the stuff which sells newspapers, and gets news programs ratings. Its good stuff for media moguls. Its bad news for humanity’s state of mind.

And it is the thing which the world of terrorism thrives upon. We all seem to accept that on any given day, somebody will die on our roads in Australia.  Many of us don’t even blink an eye, even when we pass a serious accident scene. Most of us certainly don’t even bother reading newspaper articles about serious car crashes – we just accept that they are an inevitability.

But when one of these car crashes is a deliberate action of a terrorist, it takes our breath away, and dominates our thought processes for days.  It seems that the reason for this is more than likely the ‘fear factor’ that this could happen to anybody in the world, if you happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

The same logic goes for the recent US elections, where Trump targeted and got the ‘fear’ vote, by targeting terrorism, as one of his major policies – it was a telling aspect of his election.

Yet the actual statistics are that, including the 4000 approximate deaths from the 9/11 terrorist attack in New York, deaths in the USA from gunshot wounds, from 2001 until 2017, outnumber deaths from terrorism, by the ratio of 1117 to 1. In other words, the average US citizen is in excess of a thousand times more likely to die from an indiscriminate gunshot wound in the USA, inflicted by a fellow countryman, than they are to die from a terrorist act.

But are people in the US sacred of guns? Yes, maybe a little, but nothing in comparison to how scared they are of Terrorism!!!!!

The illogicity of this is staggering, but probably no more illogical than the average Aussie’s ambivalence to road trauma and death.

Or dare I say to deaths in Australia from domestic violence. Here in WA, a big part of the population are terrified of dying from a shark attack, but as detailed above, the chances of a woman dying in Australia from domestic violence is several hundred times more likely than dying from a shark attack.

The oxford dictionary defines fear as “an unpleasant feeling or emotion caused by the awareness or thought that danger is present or imminent”.

So is the wrong sort of fear being propagated by the media and in the process creating unrealistically insecurity – absolutely!

That’s my opinion.

Muzza from Perth
Fear