Its in the air… everywhere…
And its destructive. Evil even. Seriously…
Last night on our local community Facebook site a woman posted a disturbing message about how the previous evening she had felt like someone was watching her in her home and how she didn’t sleep well. The next day at Woolies a man walked close to her and appeared to be watching her and her children as well. He followed her out to the bakery and stood behind her… At that moment she had an apparition of a dead relative walk down the mall towards her and she took this as a warning that she was in danger from this man…The man bought a pie sat down and ate it, but she ‘knew’ he was watching her…
You don’t come across too many posts quite so paranoid, neurotic and nonsensical as that one, but what was even more disturbing were the responses that followed.
‘We’re not safe anywhere these days…’
‘Oh dear Hun so glad you’re safe…’
‘Take care – our little community isn’t what it used it to be’
‘Report it to the police’
My favourite was from the bloke who commented: ‘Maybe the bloke was doing his grocery shopping, was hungry and felt like a pie.’
Because that is in all likelihood the reality of the situation. A bloke walked around the supermarket on the same day as you, happened to leave at the same time and stood in line at the bakery. That you see his behaviour as suspicious likely communicates much more about you than about him. That you ‘felt’ someone watching you the previous evening and were ‘warned’ by a dead relative doesn’t add to the credibility of your story.
So now its not just the guy giving your kids a push on the swings that we need to be concerned about, but its anyone who happens to be near you on a day when your paranoia is in overdrive?
But this is what we can expect while our media continues to narrate world events in the way it does. Fear and depravity is more likely to draw more viewers than good news and the ‘national security’ story is yet to reach a climax. Its a great story for drawing a crowd, but the escalation in the current ‘terror alert’ is inevitably going to spin off in all sorts of fear around the place.
When we tell a story of fear we will create a sense of fear. When we tell many stories of fear we can expect to create a culture of fear. So last night’s Facebook post is an expected outcome in this world we now live.
As I listen to the news and the stories that get told I find myself concerned at two levels. The first is for what is happening in the world as Muslim extremists terrorise innocent people. This is a real concern and I fully understand the anger this generates. It is barbaric and nonsensical and needs opposing.
The second is for the authenticity and tone of what is reported. Propaganda is endemic when nations are at war because we need to demonise the enemy (otherwise its harder to kill them). But the narrative around terror seems to be escalating in tone and the language is becoming less peace-focused and much more of the view that we have no alternative, but to fight.
The ‘war on terror’ motif is loud and clear and the need to ‘be vigilant’ is equally loud and clear. But what’s ironic is that if anything were going to spawn even more terrorists then its the kind of rhetoric being generated.
Its also the way to spread fear and legitimise our own innate prejudices.
So don’t be surprised if someone in the shops happens to grab their children, turn and run from you next time you stop and thoughtfully ponder which brand of toothpaste to buy. That moment of contemplation could be the difference between life and death for those standing nearby.