The Culture of Fear: Why Americans Are Afraid of the Wrong Things: Crime, Drugs, Minorities, Teen Moms, Killer Kids, Muta Kindle Edition
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His political views seem basically "left-wing" (though that is quite a blanket term, and often not very descriptive), while I am more or less Libertarian. Despite the fact that his somewhat socialist ideals did come out in this exposition, I still enjoyed the book. I liked how he was honest about his political views, but they didn't bias the work so much as to rob it of its intellectual merit. (Which is, sadly, not true of many other writers, both on the left and right.)
I give it only 4 stars simply because I have a very high standard for 5 stars--I reserve that for works that are simply phenomenal.
First, he argues, we are afraid of things that are mostly harmless. Road rage, delinquent kids, single moms, black men, hard drugs, strange illnesses seemingly from breast implants and desert wars, plane crashes, and Martians invading New Jersey ("The War of the Worlds"); all these are of little danger to most anyone. These fears often follow general rules that we can use to ferret them out (page 206-8), but regardless, they inspire worry in many people. The danger of fearing too much, Glassner argues, is that it "knocks the optimism out of us by stuffing us full of negative presumptions about our fellow citizens and social institutions" (page 208). This makes us believe that we cannot solve our real problems, which adds even more to our fear in a self-perpetuating cycle.
Second, and worse, fearing the harmless keeps us from seeing and solving the real problems that plague our society. Often the hyped-up fears are successful, in fact, because they are a stopgap solution, giving us a smaller battle to fight while we ignore the greater war because it has gotten "too big". Glassner puts it this way: "The success of a scare depends not only on how well it is expressed but also, as I have tried to suggest, on how well it expresses deeper cultural anxieties." For instance, the War of the Worlds was successful because it tapped into people's current fears of the Nazis and World War II, which America had so far done nothing about.
This is a good read, if only for the reassurance in the validity of statistics. Everyone's heard that "you're more likely to die driving home from the airport than in a plane crash"--but we haven't heard the other comforting facts as much, like the better odds that children and single mothers have today, and the drop in crime despite increased media coverage of what's left. And it's always nice to hear good news again--it's news of a dying breed.
Glassner will provide you in his book with truthful material that will encourage the average person to cogitate, instead of simply absorb what the venomous media imbues in our minds.
Media 101 teaches that fear works and gets ratings. "instill fear in them and they shall follow."
The airwaves belong to the public and we should claim it back. We should contact our FCC and demand unbiased, honest, and decent programming.
Fear is the driving force and the major psychological component of terror. Fear incapacitates people and renders them impotent. Fear is conducive to regressive behaviors by responsible adults. Fears justifies our willingness to relinquish our most intimate and sacred rights in order to feel safe. Fear is primal. It brings out the primitive and reptilian part of our humanity.
It is tragic that the media outlets dictate our lives, educate our children, and shape our daily opinions.
We are treated as frightened, dependent, and ignorant children that will follow their parents anywhere to
survive. Walter Lippmann (a media Guru) has called us (the people) the perfect name "the bewildered herd." Or are we? The culture of fear makes a great reading that would help us dispel the myth behind our glamorous media !
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