Humans are built to worry. It’s in our DNA. It’s why we became the dominant species on this planet — and not lunch. When you’re the slowest, skinniest, weakest predator in the food chain, you need to develop some skills. One of the most important is anticipating danger. It’s looking into the nice, warm cave and imagining the badass beastie who might be in there, just waiting for an unsuspecting Cro-Magnon Happy Meal to come along. To be wary of the unknown is to be human. So when an invisible little bug comes wheelin’ out of (dare I say it?) China and starts killing people, our natural tendency is to say “OMG! Is it going to get me?” Good question, but remember: as terrible as Covid is, it’s a temporary pain in the ass. There are other things in this world that are a lot more permanent — and a lot scarier. And if we don’t watch out, they WILL get us. Here are just a few examples.
1 — Record Keeping – Back in the day, when anyone wanted to preserve knowledge, they carved it into a stone. We literally have tons of examples that are thousands of years old: Hammurabi’s Code, the Rosetta Stone, the Pyramids. They are all still there for anyone to see. These days, however, when we want to keep important stuff safe, we rely on digital dots that head off into … I don’t know where. However, I do know (wherever they go) some adolescent hacker with a grievance can go get them. Not only that, but if he’s pissed off enough, he can do terrible things to them – with his telephone. Personally, I’m scared stupid that my medical records, criminal records, bank history, driving history, Amazon account, credit cards, PIN number and library card are all at the mercy of a teenager with a grudge. Swear at some kid on the subway and you could end up a bankrupt sex offender with a scheduled colonoscopy, outstanding warrants and overdue books.
2 — Lawyers – I can’t even write anything here because I’m scared some bloodsucking lawyer will take offence and sue the pants off me. (Disclaimer: This is a general comment and not directed at any particular bloodsucking lawyer, living or dead.)
3 — Fraidy-cat Feminism – Nope, I’m not going to go there, either.
4 — The Cyber Mob – There’s a social media lynch mob out there just waiting for somebody – anybody — to step out of line, and there’s no law against them coming after me.
5 — University Students – Young people are supposed to be outrageous. They’re supposed to say and do things that rankle the rest of us. They’re supposed to talk about stuff that stodgy old buggers like me shy away from. It’s their job because that’s where new ideas come from. So, it scares the hell out of me when I hear undergrads demanding “trigger warnings” to alert them to the imminent danger of — words. That’s right: we’ve raised an entire generation who are afraid of words. “Careful, kids — or the nouns’ll get ya!” It’s impossible to overestimate how dangerous this is. University students should be on the frontline of our war against ignorance. They’re supposed to take intellectual risks, not cower in a “safe space,” clutching their “anxiety puppies.” These are the folks who are destined to deal with the problems of the 21st century. How? They can’t even hear the names without getting PTSD. And BTW, calling them “snowflakes” is demeaning to the survival skills of snow.
And finally, the root of all anxiety in the world:
6 — Politically Correct – This new religion of the intellectually lazy has evangelized the entire world, and those who refused to convert have been slapped into silence. (See item #4.) It has created so many sacred cows that our conversations are starving to death. Think about it! How many topics do you avoid just because it’s easier that way? How many subjects are verboten? How many times have you thought twice about expressing an opinion? It’s getting to the point where we can’t even talk about the weather without some “woke warrior” lecturing us on the evils of climate change. And the scariest thing about it is there’s never going to be a vaccine available to kill this viral stupidity.
Now, that’s frightening!