5 Things Everyone Fears vs. What They Should Actually Be Afraid Of
It’s been a banner couple of years for fear. Those of us who are predisposed with the kind of inconvenient brain that desperately yearns for a reason we might be in danger at any time have had no shortage of fuel for our anxieties. Fear isn’t always the most convenient emotion, but people who describe themselves as “fearless” seem to end up with a dramatically decreased lifespan, so chalk one up for the trembling nerds, baby!
It’s also a much more complicated emotion than it might have been in our deep past. Spot a saber-toothed tiger licking its lips and staring you down, it’s a pretty straightforward reason for your brain to unleash a torrent of uh-oh juice. These days, though, fears and anxieties are rarely that simple. It’s a lot more abstract of a job to process “the generalized concern that we may fall ill of a terminal disease” than “you are going to be attacked by a ferocious creature in 15 seconds.” With all this complication, we can end up scared of the wrong things, instead of the very real things that should terrify us.
To that end, here are five things people are scared of and what they should really be scared of…
Car Crashes vs. Changing a Tire
Driving in general is horrifically unsafe, but it’s something that most of the country has had to turn off the mental worry of in order to manage in the modern day-to-day world. It’s no surprise that when you give the general public a couple thousand pounds of metal and a way to make it go 80 miles an hour, there’s a whole lot of injury and death that results. Worst of all, even if you drive perfectly, you’re at the mercy of everybody else out there. This is why highway pileups can be such a big fear.
For that reason, if you blow a tire or get a flat, but manage to safely pull off to the side of the road, you might think you’ve narrowly escaped the worst. In reality, you’re far from out of the woods — especially if you decide to change the tire yourself. Being able to change a tire is a classic mark of self-sufficiency and a weird macho test, but if you’re on any sort of highway, most local authorities urge you to call for help. Not because they don’t trust your tire-swapping savvy, but because people being hit by inattentive drivers while attempting to change a tire is an extremely commonplace one-way trip to the Big Highway in the Sky.
Hospital Visits vs. Medical Errors
Distrust of the medical community has obviously been on the rise. There are some reasons to be apprehensive about medical care, but as usual, it’s almost for none of the reasons the skeptics talk about. We’re stuck with nutjobs who are talking about nanomachines and parading around questionable knowledge they picked up from a half-hour of googling “vaccines really work?” If they really wanted to sow factual distrust of medicine, they’d be quoting medical error statistics.
Based on a 2016 analysis, medical error was the third leading cause of death in the U.S. The estimated number of deaths from medical error that year was more than 250,000, stemming from things like incorrect medication administration to good old fashioned misdiagnosis. Now, am I arguing that if you’re sick, you shouldn’t seek medical treatment? Of course not. I just wanted to make sure that while receiving medical care, you’ll be at least a little more terrified.
Random Violence vs. Crimes of Passion
Random, senseless violence is a constant fear of those walking down any poorly lit city street. Videos of unexpected attacks on the New York City subway or other public places are paraded around on news networks and shoved in our face by guys with goatees and Punisher T-shirts. And every couple years it seems like somebody decides to trot out the myth of the knockout game.
In reality, if you’re so unlucky as to be murdered or otherwise violently attacked, it’s likely going to be someone you know, especially if they’re romantically involved with the same person as you. Only about 1 in 10 homicides are committed by someone unknown to the victim. So sure, remain wary of that unsavory silhouette that seems to be following you, but also be terrified of everyone you know!
Bears, Sharks, Etc. vs. Deer
You’d have to ask a ton of different people what animal they’re most afraid of before you’re going to hear “deer.” Weirdly enough, though, deer are responsible for more deaths in the country than any other animal. They might not present the razor-sharp claws or potential for disembowelment that a grizzly bear or shark would, but the chances that your last breath will be taken staring into the dead eyes of a deer is more likely than either.
It’s not through violence or hoof-to-head direct attacks, though. The most dangerous bit of deer behavior is their absolute passion for being pancaked by speeding cars. Living in blissful ignorance of American car culture, they’re all too happy to prance out onto one of those weird hard black bits running through their habitat (read: roads) before sending car and driver alike to an early grave. America’s bear population only catches about a single body a year. Meanwhile, deer are stacking up hundreds of confirmed kills.
Diseases vs. Sleep Deprivation
We’ve all got an intrinsic fear of sitting in a doctor’s office, being handed a diagnosis that means our timeline has suddenly developed a clear end. The lengths people go to to avoid possible diseases are varied and basically keep an entire industry of Instagram ads afloat. One weird omission remains, however. People are happy to choke down activated charcoal or chug drinks that look like pond scum in order to stay healthy, but those same people often seem to be the ones who don’t get enough sleep because of their “grindset.”
Sleep deprivation is a serious health issue that does a whole lot more than make it hard to get through a movie. It’s been linked to diabetes, heart disease and Alzheimer’s. Yet, for some reason, you rarely see health-hack shillers yelling at you on Instagram Stories to make sure to get between seven and nine hours of sleep a night.