Paranoia As a Mass Communicable Disease

I’m not the bravest person out there–the few times I’ve displayed any sort of bravery, it has been due to a combination of serendipity and stupidity. But this is just bonkers (boldface mine):

Wendy Malloy, 49, who lives in Tampa, Fla., said she now worried about being caught in an attack on a daily basis, just doing what anyone does. “When my son gets out of the car in the morning and walks into his high school,” she said. “When I drop him at his part-time job at a supermarket. When we go to the movies, concerts and festivals. When I walk into my office. It is a constant, grinding anxiety. And it gets louder every single day.”

…People spoke of being spooked by gestures once ignored as utterly unremarkable. As one young woman from Massachusetts put it: “The guy in the corner always looking at his watch or the woman reaching into her bag too quickly.”

…Any number of people said that gunmen cross their mind when someone gets up or walks in late to a crowded movie theater. Is he the one? A 64-year-old man in Charlottesville, Va., said he now watched movies exclusively at home. For him, he said, the idea that “it can’t happen here” is gone…

A 32-year-old woman in Green Bay, Wis., said that she and her husband discussed a plan whenever they were heading to a place that could be a target. Now, she feels that is everywhere.

Judith Mitchell, 62, who lives in Austin, Tex., and works for the state, has four grandchildren and is exasperated that her country cannot solve this. She does not see why she must live how she does.

“If I’m in a shopping mall,” she said, “I’m always aware of what’s around me and where I can hide, the closest exit, where to go, especially if I have a grandchild with me.”

Kevin Bloxom, 50, who lives in Louisiana, wrote: “I think where I would hide my kids from shooters every time I am in public. No matter where. Not just movies or public events. I was in the grocery store last weekend with my four year old. I found myself scouting places I could hide my little boy. It’s sad.”

And this (boldface mine):

To think about such things — especially for a living — is to view nearly everywhere as a would-be target. Each time he enters a building, Worth looks for the exits. When he walks into a restaurant, he surveys the diners. When he goes to church, he lingers in the foyer watching who else comes in.

“It’s invigorating and it makes me stronger,” he says. “Because there are bad people in the world. They want to hurt you, they want to hurt me. I pray it’ll never, ever happen. But I don’t want to be unprepared for it.”

This is paranoid. Uncharacteristically, I don’t mean that as invective. I really do mean this: these people need to seek professional help.

This is the kind of reaction returning combat veterans have. It’s not normal or healthy–and, importantly, it’s unnecessary–to behave like this. After all, you’re far more likely to get killed in the drive to church or the movie theater than you are by a gunman storming it.

I can’t help but think these attitudes are correlated with the amount of TV ‘news’ one watches, but that’s just speculation on my part. It does, however, remind me of the reaction some people had to the Boston Marathon Bombings–the farther away people were, the more traumatized they were by them.

This is also affecting gun control proposals: the greatest threat is a handgun, not a long-barrel weapon, especially if you live in an urban area (personally, I’m far more concerned about some chucklehead(s) with a handgun than the MUSLIMANIANIST TERRARIST with the assault rifle).

It’s time to take a deep breath America. And, seriously, find some professional help, if you need it.

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1 Response to Paranoia As a Mass Communicable Disease

  1. jrkrideau says:

    I can’t help but think these attitudes are correlated with the amount of TV ‘news’ one watches
    Hard to be sure but it sounds likely. I read about a study done perhaps 20 years ago about “fear of crime” in Canada. English-speaking Canadians reported more fear of crime than did their French-speaking counterparts who did not listen to as much American news —it often was news back then– with it’s standard “shoot out at XXX” details at Six reporting. The news link was only hypothesized IIRC but seems very likely.

    On the other hand, I can see why people from many other countries would be pardonably nervous in the USA.

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