Of Course I’m Afraid of You
Why wouldn’t I be?
You spend most of your time, as far as I can
tell, saying and doing
everything you can think of to hurt me and the sort of people I care
about. You seem
lonely, confused, and
paranoid, and have sought out the exclusive company of similar people. All of these are obvious
warning signs that
someone – namely, you – is going to end up hurting people. And so it makes perfect
sense to be afraid.
I would also be afraid of
a curiously slow-moving raccoon
who is foaming at the mouth. It
dart forward and bite me, or someone I am with, and transmit a serious
disease. I would be
of a drunk blind man who is firing a gun down the street at random. One of his bullets might
hit me or another
person who also does not deserve to be shot.
There are many things it makes perfect sense
to be afraid of.
It is easy to be scary.
All it takes is to be witless and angry.
I think that many people,
both good and bad, place far too
high a premium on the idea of not being afraid.
Fear is your body telling you – often for a
perfectly logical reason –
that it would be better to avoid something, if possible. When you boast that people
are afraid of you,
you are boasting about how obvious it is to them that you should be
Being scary is not nearly
as impressive, or as difficult, as
you seem to believe it is. There
thousand ways in which you can seriously frighten a great number of
right now, if that is what’s really important to you.
You can strip yourself naked and run down a
busy street, ranting and raving and swinging a baseball bat. I guarantee that people
will be afraid of
you. And not just
children. Even men
who are bigger than
you are will be afraid, and move out of your way.
Even the police will be a little afraid, for
their own safety in addition to that of others, and they are trained
Go do it right now, if
you don’t believe me.
If you don’t want to, I
suppose that is understandable. It
would almost certainly end badly.
But if you were to do this, just
hypothetically speaking, do you think it would make you feel better
yourself? Would it
make you feel
powerful and special? Or
would it make
you feel foolish and ashamed?
It is very, very easy to
frighten and upset people. Anyone
can do it. Animals
do it all the time. Lightning
and falling objects do it, and they
are not even alive.
It is true that they are
average bolt of cloud-to-ground
lightning carries around 100 million volts, and a decent-sized grizzly
weighing in at well over 1,000 lbs. and nearing ten feet in height when
up, is unimaginably strong compared to any man.
Even water molecules, which, alone, are not only harmless but
invisible, can drown someone if there are enough of them in the same
These things are also,
however, fairly easily
avoided, and so I don't spend a lot of time thinking about them, and
neither does anyone else.
I suppose, if it were
important to me to prove to a grizzly
bear that I am not afraid of it, I could also do that fairly easily. I could buy a big gun, go
find a grizzly
bear, announce that I am not afraid of it, and then shoot it. But I don’t feel like
doing that. I can
think of an effectively limitless
number of things I’d rather do.
Honestly, I could probably spend the rest of
my life listing things I
would rather do than go tell a bear I’m not afraid of it and then shoot
still not be finished with the list by the time I died.
And absolutely none of
this means that I am less cool than
Bears are, though, now
that I think about it, still pretty
cool for completely unrelated reasons, so maybe they were a bad example. Did you know they can
partially recycle their
own feces during hibernation? That’s
awesome. I wish I
could do that.
You know what I don’t
wish I could do, though? Be
the kind of insufferable shithead who anonymously intimidates rape
am amazed that "expose" isn't in all-caps. Amazed.