The Lure of Fear Porn

How many of you thought that something might happen on the anniversary of 9/11? And yet, the day came and went without much fanfare, and the media was focused on their latest mob lynching - this time, football player Ray Rice. (While I don't condone violence against women, I don't condone violence, period, and Ray Rice's transgression pales in comparison to the beheadings and religious genocide going on in the Middle East right now.)

Prior to 9/11, conspiracy forums and websites were warning of some sort of attack, false flag or otherwise. I listened to one radio show where for three hours the hosts and guests breathlessly warned people to get right with God before the hammer came down, because supposedly "within two hours" the entire country would get shut down and all trucks to grocery stores would be stopped - among other disasters, including EMP attack and Ebola.

I don't mean to poke undue fun at these folks, most of whom are sincere and many who may be right about the dangers ahead but wrong about the timing. However, I think some folks might do well to take a good hard look at themselves and whether or not they actually want the country to be destroyed on some level.

I'm thinking of a well-known "conspiracy" guy whom I'll call John Johnson. I don't want to call him out personally, as he's representative of a lot of men in this field. He's a good example of someone whom I consider to be well-meaning but perhaps unconsciously gunning for the big disaster to happen. He says there's no hope for America. He likes to go on and on about God's judgment. He spends a lot of his radio time ranting about how people need to prepare and very little time actually talking about the facts or sources behind his warnings.

My feeling is that he's put himself out there so much on this topic, that his ego now needs a collapse to happen, so he can feel justified in being "right." Does he consciously want people to hurt and starve? No. But his entire credibility would break into little pieces if America actually managed a turnaround. He's too invested in the fall to invest in hope. And that's sad.

But what about us? What about us folks who read these articles, and listen to these doom reports, and who feed off this constant barrage of bad news? Why do we like it so much?

Psychologists might say that we're simply addicted to an adrenaline rush - and it's this same rush that makes people like horror movies and scary rollercoaster rides.

I also think on some level, we want disaster to happen. We don't genuinely want people to die and suffer, but there's a shadow side in every human that perhaps does. This is why people joke about California falling into the sea.

Perhaps it's not so much about wanting to see more suffering, but less suffering...but in a macabre way. The left often gets hammered for this, because they want population control due to fears of overpopulation. But the right engages in this thinking too. I'll bet apples to oranges that a lot of Americans, regardless of political party, are simultaneously scared to death of Ebola, and at the same time wondering if it might not be better, in the long run, if the overpopulation in Africa is culled to a certain extent. Maybe the end result would be that something better could be built on the ashes.

This is the same shadow sentiment that I believe runs through the attraction to "fear porn." We know thing are messed up, and feel helpless to fix them. So our shadow side thinks maybe it's just better if we take the chess game and just throw the board up into the air and start over.

Consider the following brilliant video mocking college students who are focused on "microaggression":

Andrew Klavan on the Newest Threat on College Campuses: Microaggression

(You can read some of these microaggression reports here.)

A natural reaction to watching that video would be to consider that maybe our young people have too much time on their hands; maybe they might benefit from a little bit of suffering. When we see how ridiculous and decadent our culture has become - when "ghost sex" starts becoming a hot thing - it's hard not to want to to see some of these ridiculous whiny narcissists "get theirs."

Are we just cruel for thinking that? Would it be better if the college student - whining about a small facial gesture - was forced to experience the very real violence being perpetrated right now by ISIS? Of course not, but we wouldn't mind if that student had to clean a few extra toilets or go to boot camp for a few months.

Hmmm..perhaps the focus on "microaggression" is the college student's version of fear porn. Maybe they need to have something negative to focus on, and, being oblivious to real problems, have to go create some. You'd think they could maybe funnel that energy into going to Africa and helping people first-hand, but that's not in their wheelhouse. They want some challenge, but not too much.

Is the price of prosperity always an increase in ungratefulness and a penchant for manufacturing negativity where none exists or is needed? While at the same time ignoring or downplaying real problems?

Does our shadow side crave the dark? Worse - does it want just enough darkness so we can complain and bitch about it, but not so much that we need to actually do something?

Now, don't get me wrong. I do think that part of the reason why we are attracted to "fear porn" is that we know something is terribly wrong, and we want and need validation for our feelings of unease. It would be wrong to write off all warnings of doom as just "fear-mongering."

At the same time, a healthier approach would be to look for solutions, rather than just accepting the worst or even reveling in it - or creating problems where none exist. (Or focusing on problems that aren't our problem, like Ray Rice's relationship with his wife.) We have enough real problems that need tending to.

We'd like to hear your voice. Join Freeople for free.

About the Author

Subscribe or login to read all comments.

Support TFMR

Donate Buy Silver

Access Subscriber Benefits

Listen to TFMR on the go in your favorite podcast app, and join our member-only forum discussions!

Key Economic Events Week of 1/30

1/31 8:30 ET Employment Costs
1/31 9:00 ET Case-Shiller Home Prices
1/31 10:00 ET Consumer Confidence
2/1 8:15 ET ADP jobs report
2/1 9:45 ET S&P Manu PMI
2/1 10:00 ET ISM Manu PMI
2/1 10:00 ET JOLTS
2/1 2:00 ET FOMC Fedlines
2/1 2:30 ET Chief Goon Powell
2/2 8:15 ET ECB rate decision
2/2 8:30 ET Productivity & Labor Costs
2/2 10:00 ET Factory Orders
2/3 8:30 ET BLSBS
2/3 9:45 ET S&P Services PMI
2/3 10:00 ET ISM Services PMI

Forum Discussion

by argentus maximus, 2 hours 25 min ago
by argentus maximus, 2 hours 44 min ago
by argentus maximus, Jan 31, 2023 - 1:14pm
by argentus maximus, Jan 27, 2023 - 6:13am
randomness