America’s Top 10 Fears Are Really Scary

Turns out we do have more to fear than just fear itself.

Scream-Ghostface

There is something seriously wrong with me.

I was just perusing this year’s report on Chapman University’s annual survey of the things Americans fear most, and I am totally out of step with the rest of you. Do you want to know what America is most afraid of now, right now, at this moment in 2015? The terror that most torments you, that keeps you up at night tossing and turning? Is it the existential question of what happens after we die? Losing a child? Trump winning? Public speaking?

Nah. According to the crack research team at Chapman University, the number one fear in the nation is corrupt public officials.

Ooooooh, I’m quaking in my shoes.

Corrupt public officials? What the hell is there to be afraid of in that? I’m afraid of things I can’t control, like Ebola and the Schuylkill Expressway, not of things that have existed since the days of Adam and Eve and will never change. Corrupt public officials who are doing what, for God’s sake? Using a private server for their government emails? Sending each other porny jokes? Trying to grope Senate pages? I don’t get it. Where’s the terror in that?

The same goes for the rest of your Top 10 list, America. After government corruption, you people are scared most of cyber-terrorism. Come on, now! What about spiders? What about snakes? Know what’s next most fearsome? “Corporate tracking of personal information.” I can’t think of the last time I lay in bed and fretted over what Walmart learned about me from that bra I bought online, other than that I’m cheap and flat. My kids’ happiness keeps me awake at night. Whether that meth-y looking couple will buy the house across the street keeps me awake at night. Corporate tracking of my personal information does not. Nor do terrorist attacks, government tracking of said personal information, bio-warfare or identity theft, which are numbers four, five, six and seven on the nation’s Top Fears list.

You know what your problem is, America? You pay way too much attention to radio and TV and pop-up ads that are trying to gin up hysteria so they can sell you crap like LifeLock and Credit Shield and McAfee Anti-Virus Protection Software, the every-five-seconds “your protection has expired” alert for which my beloved son-in-law just uninstalled on my new computer, bless his soul. You guys go for the squishy fears, the nebulous fears, the Wall Street Journal/Fox News stuff—look, there’s “economic collapse” on there at number eight. Thirty-nine percent of you are “afraid” or “very afraid” of economic collapse. Why? What’s the point of worrying about that? Quit watching Walking Dead reruns before bed, for chrissake.

Chapman divides its index into handy-dandy “Domains of Fear” (eek!) like Technology, Natural Disasters, Government and Crime. There’s a category for “Judgment of Others” that covers being scared of what other people think about your hair or your gender identity. There’s even a category for “Personal Anxieties,” like clowns and vaccines. The full list of stuff the survey asks about—a sort of ICD 10 of our nation’s neuroses—makes for breathtaking reading. Romantic rejection! Drones! Ridicule! Zombies! Whites no longer the majority! Are you more scared of ghosts or gangs? Floods or flying? Needles or loneliness?

The big takeaway I get from this year’s list of America’s Top Fears is that I’m pretty fearless, and the rest of you are a bunch of wimps. Bring on your blizzards and property damage, your reptiles and illegal immigration! Hell, I’m Superman compared to you people. In fact, the only thing that really scares me is that according to this survey, my fellow Americans are more afraid of gun control than of death.

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