Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Assessing Fear

The exploitation of fear has become a powerful tool used by politicians and advertisers alike. This culture of fear has consumed our society. There's an excellent article about it over at spiked by Frank Furedi - long, but worth a read.

A final section sums it up:
"Twenty-first century fear culture is increasingly being normalised as a force in its own right. In such circumstances, fear is a means through which people respond to and make sense of the world.
This stands in sharp contrast to the approach taken by US President Franklin D Roosevelt in his inaugural address in 1933, when he stated that the ‘only thing we have to fear is fear itself’. Roosevelt was trying to assure the public that it is both possible and necessary to minimise the impact of fear. His was a positive vision of a future where fear would be put in its place by a society that believed in itself."

Sadly, in post 9/11 America, we have become a culture driven by terror and not composure. We'll see more of this as the next election approaches. The fear card is a powerful tool that is not always rooted in reality and often fueled by the media.

From Furedi's article:
"According to Stefanie Grupp, in her paper on the ‘Political implications of a discourse of fear’, individual fears are cultivated through the media and are less and less the outcome of direct experience. ‘Fear is decreasingly experienced first-hand and increasingly experienced on a discursive and abstract level’, concludes Grupp. She also suggestively notes that ‘there has been a general shift from a fearsome life towards a life with fearsome media."

It's interesting stuff that affects us all and worth a read. Think about it next time a candidate tells you there's a terrorist following you home or when you see a toothpaste commercial with gruesome animated germs attached to someone's teeth.