A few posts ago, I said that traveling to visit family is ruining the country and making us dumb. And it keeps us from seeing the rest of the world.
Now, I present another reason: As a nation, we’re a bunch of chickens. Fear rules us, and we’re happy to let it happen.
The “Internet Fear Monger” is Exhibit A in my latest prosecution.
Everybody knows at least one – that person who forwards the Internet hoaxes and rumors that have been recycled since computers had vacuum tubes. No matter how many times you tell these usually well-meaning people to run every scare e-mail through a good Google search, they never get it.
“But this came from someone who was a cop/lawyer/priest/doctor,” they’ll say.
I don’t care. Investigate first and ask questions first, forward later if at all. And to the sheep that bleat “Snopes is just a website,” true – but it links to its sources, which makes it a great starting point. But I realize being discriminating requires thinking. And some people are averse to that.
The latest one I got in my box is some nonsense about a driver whizzing past what appeared to be an abandoned baby set on a rural roadway. The driver doesn’t stop, but calls 911 – a loquacious dispatcher tells the caller all about how it’s probably gangs looking to initiate members by luring women in with a baby seat so they can rob and sexually assault them in the woods.
Really? We believe this? That the rural woods are crawling with horny, greedy gangs equipped with infant car seats? Apparently, we do: Just check out the geniuses responding to this on Cafe Mom – to paraphrase the movie Parenthood, you need a license to have a dog, but any sack of protoplasm can have a kid. These are just the sort of parents who will keep their kids under lock and key to keep them from going to Peru, and think that crocodiles are waiting to snap up visitors right outside the airport in Sydney (that’s only true if you’re German). These are exactly the sort of parents who don’t want their kids to travel, explore and learn.
Vigilance. Awareness. These are great. This sort of fear-mongering is just pushing us past awareness and into paranoia.
(Bottom line: This is just another hoax. Here’s a news article: Hoax e-mail singles out Edmond officer. And here’s one in which the Canton Police Department denies this happened: Canton Police: Gang rumors ‘not true Really, putting an infant car seat on a “rural end of the roadway” on a Thursday morning hoping to lure someone into a robbery or a sexual assault is a very low-percentage strategy. Also, and maybe this is just me, if I ran into such a situation, I’d be a bit more specific about the location than “rural end of the roadway” to help the authorities and my neighbors in the area.)
It amazes me that a country that spans two oceans and is celebrated for its can-do spirit is filled with people who are so gullible – and so afraid.
Too many of us are willing consumers of the constant conveyor belt of fearful crap that slides past us. The person who sent this story my way is talking about the United States! I can only imagine how scary they’d find a foreign country. Holy cow – different languages and customs. And food! Don’t drink the water!
All this fear conditioning tethers us not just to this country, but to our couches and our televisions. Watch. Buy. Consume.
Don’t explore. Don’t think. It’s just not safe.
Here’s my challenge to you: Think before you hit “forward” or “share” (yes, even if you read it here … especially if you read it here!). Then, go someplace you haven’t been before – go where your entertainment doesn’t come from a DVD. Engage your brain. Your life will be better for it.