A culture of (residential) fear

posted by Jeff | Wednesday, September 19, 2018, 7:24 PM | comments: 0

I've written countless times about how fear is everything in politics now. The right wants you to fear brown people and education, the left wants you to fear rich people and corporations. TV is filled with crime porn both in "news drama" and fiction. If these are the lenses with which you view life, then you undoubtedly feel the world is a scary place.

Social media of course amplifies this. If you live in a community that uses a Facebook group or Nextdoor, you likely have seen neighbors who believe that everything is so bad, and everyone suspect, that there's little to do but barricade yourself in your house and never come out. At our last house, we had a neighbor who said the development had turned into a third-world country (shocking news I'm sure for the people living there that actually immigrated from a third-world country). In the current place, a neighbor suggested you shouldn't answer the door when strangers are there, because they might push their way in, take your children and everything you own. I'm not exaggerating.

How did we get like this culturally? Maybe it's because I grew up in a rough neighborhood (though I never knew it at the time), but life in the suburbs is relatively safe and easy going. There are certainly crimes of opportunity, as there are anywhere, but I can't imagine operating as if I'm inevitably going to be a victim of something heinous. Statistically, it's extremely improbable that some stranger is going to kidnap your children. And we know that being out and about in your neighborhood and knowing people is a huge deterrent against those crimes of opportunity.

What's particularly frustrating is that you can't reason with people with... reason. Crime in our county is down year over year. Nationally it has been trending down for decades, some regional exceptions aside. Immigrants (legal or not) are less likely to commit crimes than natives. You're more likely to be struck by lightning than be a victim of terrorism. Kids are rarely abducted by strangers. These aren't my opinions, they're facts. So much of the fear is irrational.

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