What are you afraid of? We are all afraid of something, ghosts, demons, being alone, heights, confetti, or perhaps dragons. Some of the things that are the most terrifying are the things we don’t understand, the unknown.
Why do we fear what we don’t understand? What is so terrifying about things that cannot be explained? Are we as a species so in need of control that we cannot simply let things be without explanation? Or is it something more primal?
I imagine that throughout the history of man there were many points where we came upon new things that caused us great harm for no reason we could explain. This fear of new things and change was passed down through the generations. Today leaving the comfort of what you have always know to venture out into a world that can be cold and uncaring seems like a terrifying prospect. Being forced into a new situation would be even more terrifying. We are all creatures of habit, and disrupting our routine is always stressful and can be scary.
In America fear is marketed on a large scale every day as if it is a major product. Changes that are very unlikely or impossible are marketed as being something that is certain to come in the very near future. Local news programs report on crime, murder, robbery, and then there is the truly terrifying reports of the weather. This can lead us to fear others and the decisions that they make. Those decisions are never going to be under our control, but could have a major impact on our lives, or deaths. We are primed for anything to startle us. Is the bump in the night the cat, or is it some monster hiding under our bed waiting for us to close our eyes? The doubt is what keeps night light makers in business.
This also makes Sci Fi and Fantasy such a natural match for horror stories as well. For everything we know there are a lot of things that we don’t understand. There are so many ways in which scientific experiments could go horribly wrong. Fantasy takes this several steps further into a fictional world where the physical laws are different. They allow for things like magic to exist. It could also allow for unimaginable horrors like Deadpool’s unicorn.
Life is special, but you have a better chance to win the lottery than the Earth does at being the only planet in existence to have life. Not knowing the form that life takes can make them terrifying. What if they are all sentient boogers? Can you imagine trying to talk with them? The same can be said of supernatural beings. Having some entity that is not visible speak or move objects is super creepy.
The unknown also pushes us to achieve great things. We strive to answer the questions we have and stamp out this fear of the unknown. Our curiosity can also lead to our doom. Just ask Marie Curie.
Sign up to have these blog posts sent directly to your email!