Fear in America

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Harvey Harvey
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Fear in America

I've been thinking about Fear in America.

10 years ago we got hit in the skies above NY, DC and PA.  Nothing like that had ever happened, in America.

Understandably, we became afraid.

In the last decade, we lived through ten years of planes as missiles, anthrax, a huge stock market drop, Osama bin Laden, the mortgage crisis, another market drop, and a long on-going recession.

In countries like Israel people live their life in a environment where incoming missiles from neighboring countries are part of life.  And those people just keep on keepin' on.

What I'm seeing, after ten years of frightening events, is that we are becoming less fearful.  I am imagining this? I'm sensing less fear in America. Today the stock market dropped 300 points, and it didn't even make the news.

I'm wondering if anyone else is seeing what I am seeing. Less fear. We've got customers who are investing in the future in a way I haven't seen since 9/11.  It's not like the news is good and creating optimism.  Maybe people are just tired of being afraid?

What are you seeing?
"You just need to go at that shit wide open, hang on, and own it." —Camp
riverc0il riverc0il
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Re: Fear in America

Are you are suggesting courage despite the fear? It could be argued that it is because of fear. Or as the saying goes, if I don't laugh, I'll cry. It is human nature to marginalize risk that is omnipresent. It is why the Threat Level meter became such a joke due to it always being set at one level... that becomes the standard level of acceptance rather than what it actually means. Much research suggests we are on average safer now than at most other times in our nations' history.

Some of us got back to normal pretty much immediately after the 9/11 attacks. I went clubbing the Friday immediately following the attacks and I was dismayed at the sharp drop off in fellow club goers that stayed home for whatever reason. It was almost a civic and personal duty at that point to resume life as normal as soon as possible, otherwise the terrorists got an even bigger victory and we suffered personal loss at avoiding our lives to cower at home when we are as safe as we ever have been (on average).

I am sure many people took longer than others to get back to business as usual. Same thing happened with the stock market crash. The best time to invest was immediately after the worst of the retraction. I didn't alter my investing strategy at all. Those jumping on board now after having laid off for a while are buying high and are fools for not having stayed on board through the times of uncertainty.

I don't see courage at all. I see a wide spectrum of behaviors that have always been there and always will. If there are certain patterns emerging, I would wager those patterns are more a result of forgetfulness of the fearful rather than new found courage. Threats change a lot less than perception, especially when distance from the last occurrence keeps extending. It is the same principle that had me skiing full out 110% last year but being tentative the year after I broke my elbow.
JasonWx JasonWx
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Re: Fear in America

only fear i see is the fear generated by the media..

weather fear
stock market fear
terrorist fear
all of the the above are fanned by the media..
"Peace and Love"
Face4Me Face4Me
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Re: Fear in America

In reply to this post by Harvey
On the whole, I don't think we're any more, or any less, courageous than we've ever been.

For the most part, I think that Americans' initial response to the 9/11 attacks were primarily based on a profound sense of loss and sorrow, whether we were "directly" affected by the attacks or not, due to the very large number of people who were killed. I think that if the loss of life had been considerably less, we may not have been as deeply affected. Overall, I don't think it was fear that gripped the country.

I think most Americans recognize the reality that the likelihood of any of us being directly affected by a terrorist attack is actually very small. Even in Israel as you mention, where attacks are a much more common occurrence, I think that the people there also recognize that it's unlikely that they personally could be a victim of an attack.

On the other hand, when we have good reason to be fearful, most of us are. For example, would you go for a walk after dark with your wife through Ciudad Juarez, Mexico? I doubt it, because you know that if you did so, there's a strong chance that you could be attacked. Back in the '70's and '80's, did people venture into Central Park in New York City after dark? For the most part, no, because there was a real danger in doing so.

If subway trains started blowing up on a weekly basis, I think a lot of people would probably stop riding the subway, not out of "fear", but because they would recognize that there is a REAL threat as opposed to a PERCEIVED or potential threat.

Occasional terrorist attacks create perceived threats, not real ones. I think most people are able to distinguish between real and perceived danger, and react accordingly. Of course, there are some people who fear even perceived danger, but I think they are a minority of the overall population.

After the 9/11 attacks, I continued to fly when I had to, I continued to go to football games at Giants Stadium, and all the other things I had done before the attacks, as did most Americans. Did I pause to consider a terrorist attack when I did these things ... sure, but mainly due to the increased security presence associated with these things that brought back the memories of 9/11 and the sadness of that day, not due to fear.

It's easy to be against something ... It's hard to be for something!
MC2 5678F589 MC2 5678F589
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Re: Fear in America

Face4Me wrote
Occasional terrorist attacks create perceived threats, not real ones. I think most people are able to distinguish between real and perceived danger, and react accordingly. Of course, there are some people who fear even perceived danger, but I think they are a minority of the overall population.
Ehhh, I think there's a lot more people in this country who have an overdeveloped sense of fear than you think.  There's people in small towns in the middle of the country thinking that they're going to get attacked by terrorists (all sorts of money went to things like the police department in Topeka, Kansas after the Homeland Security department was created).  Whereas the people that live in the actual terrorist targets (NYC, DC) have more or less returned to the "normal" level of fear.

I think that this article asks a good question.  Most people ask whether we're safer than we were in 2001.  The better question is, is it worth it? The odds of being killed in a terrorist attack is 1 in 3,500,000.  And if you live in Sioux City, Iowa, I'd wager that it's pretty close to 0.  Unfortunately, there's probably a lot of people in Sioux City that fear those Ay-Rabs.

The stock market is a little different.  The odds of losing 30% of your money in the stock market must be pretty good. It's happened twice in the last 10 years.  I can see why people (especially people close to retirement with a lot of money in the market) would have a fear that another crash is coming.  From listening to people around my office, you would think that their entire lives depend on a few hundred points in the market (these are people who have already amassed a lot of money, and are now trying to time the market by jumping in and out - Dumb, dumb, dumb in my opinion).  I'm with Rivercoil, I just stick with my long term strategy no matter what happens, so the daily (or even yearly) fluctuations don't really affect me.
Face4Me Face4Me
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Re: Fear in America

mattchuck2 wrote
Ehhh, I think there's a lot more people in this country who have an overdeveloped sense of fear than you think.  There's people in small towns in the middle of the country thinking that they're going to get attacked by terrorists (all sorts of money went to things like the police department in Topeka, Kansas after the Homeland Security department was created).  Whereas the people that live in the actual terrorist targets (NYC, DC) have more or less returned to the "normal" level of fear.
You're probably right about people and fear, though the point regarding money spent in places that are very unlikely to be terrorist targets is more about politics than fear. That was Congressmen fighting for money for their districts out of the Homeland Security pie to make points with the voters back home. The same kind of thing happened after the BP oil spill. All kinds of money was spent by police departments and fire departments on things that had absolutely nothing to do with spill response, clean-up, readiness, etc. It was just an opportunity to "buy some new toys".

I also equate "fear" with a more intense and/or debilitating response as opposed to anxiety, which is a less severe emotion, like worrying. I think there's still a lot of anxiety out there regarding terrorist attacks, but I don't think there are too many people who are truly fearful, and have altered their lives in response to the fear of terrorism. Maybe it's just semantics!

It's easy to be against something ... It's hard to be for something!
riverc0il riverc0il
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Re: Fear in America

In reply to this post by MC2 5678F589
I agree with MC2 for the most part.

mattchuck2 wrote
The odds of being killed in a terrorist attack is 1 in 3,500,000.  And if you live in Sioux City, Iowa, I'd wager that it's pretty close to 0.  Unfortunately, there's probably a lot of people in Sioux City that fear those Ay-Rabs.
While many people in Sioux City probably do fear Islamist based terrorism, it is not fair to marginalize mid-west terrorism. Perhaps Al Quida won't target that region, but as Oklahoma City showed, terrorism can happen any where that there is a target. And school shootings seem to happen all over the place. We often forget that foreign based Islamic terrorists are the rare minority even though they took the most life in a single incident.
Harvey Harvey
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Re: Fear in America

In reply to this post by riverc0il
riverc0il wrote
It is human nature to marginalize risk that is omnipresent. It is why the Threat Level meter became such a joke due to it always being set at one level... that becomes the standard level of acceptance rather than what it actually means.
I think that is exactly what I'm saying.
"You just need to go at that shit wide open, hang on, and own it." —Camp
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