Fear is good: a safeguard hardwired into the BIOS, warning of potential threats. I don’t know about you, but I kind of like having an internal mechanism that stops me from driving off cliffs, poking sharks in their eyes, and telling random people that they should lick my bottom.
The shortcoming of having this system so baked in, is that it leaves us susceptible. There are those ready to prey on this instinct, and how acutely we react to its alerts. It’s also more difficult than we realize to stave off these assaults.
The fact is, you make for a good dog when you’re frightened. You become obedient, open to suggestion, and more likely to fall in line than challenge perceived threats.
This might sound overly heady, but you know it to be true. With age we find ourselves less apt to embrace adventure, as the risks seem higher. In college, you’ll travel to unfamiliar places because the desire to explore outweighs any associated risk. Things change, later in life. With kids, a mortgage, and the need to bring home a pay check, you’re much more likely to just stay put in your little bungalow and watch benign-seeming sitcoms.
Advertisers know this, and are happy to send up false threats in order to keep you in place—and spending. Life insurance, “guaranteed” investments, “safe” SUVs, cell phones ready for those ever-present roadside emergency situations… there are countless ways to profit from those of us who put too much credence into those “what if?” questions.
To live a full life, we must wrestle these fears into submission. We need to find ways to silence/ignore the propaganda that aims to keep us docile and complacent. Our real apprehension should be of reaching the finish line and realizing that our fear kept us from having actually lived at all.