In days gone by, when surveys were carried out to gauge people’s fears, the results often included spiders, clowns, trips to the dentist and flying. Today, it’s a very different story. While many of us still feel apprehensive when we see an eight-legged creature making its way towards us, we have much more pressing concerns on our mind. A recent survey conducted by researchers at Chapman University, California, revealed an even more terrifying set of fears, which are much more relevant to the modern world.
What’s keeping you awake at night?
Many of us don’t like spiders or snakes, but it’s rare for thoughts of these creatures to keep us awake at night. Phobias are irrational fears, and the reality of the situation is that most of us are never going to encounter a scenario when we have to run for our lives with a snake in hot pursuit or try and avert a deadly spider. What’s worrying about the most recent poll from US researchers is that people are facing fears and phobias that affect them on a daily basis. Irrational fears have turned into rational fears, and it’s easy to understand why people feel scared. You only have to switch on the news or grab a paper and read the headlines to see just how relevant our new set of phobias has become.
Politics and corruption
Almost 75 percent of people involved in the Chapman University study said that they were afraid of corrupt world leaders. Although centered on the US, this is not a national issue, and there’s a great deal of anxiety concerning other heads of state. Whatever your political views and however you voted, there’s no getting away from the fact that the world seems increasingly divided, and the threat of war seems omnipresent. There’s tension in most governments in addition to underlying currents between old and new enemies. Even if you don’t take much of an interest in politics, watching news broadcasts is likely to make you feel uneasy in this day and age.
Pollution, climate change, and global warming
If you watch documentaries, you read the newspapers, or you read blogs about the environment, it’s hard to escape the doom and gloom. Even those who have long disputed climate change are now struggling to make an argument in the face of statistics and scientific reports that suggest that we are damaging the planet. Water levels are rising, the weather is increasingly unpredictable, and the future is uncertain. Even if you do your bit at home, you may still feel helpless, such is the scale of the problem. Almost 50 percent of people said that they were fearful of climate change while 53 percent said that they were worried about pollution.
Terrorism and war
Almost half of those surveyed said that they were anxious about the prospect of the USA getting involved in another global conflict. With tensions bubbling with North Korea and ongoing combat with terrorist groups all over the world, there’s a real risk of war breaking out, and people are worried. Weapons of mass destruction under trial in North Korea are a concern, but it’s impossible to overlook threats closer to home. There have been major terror attacks in Europe and the US, and recent statistics show that Americans are more worried about terrorism now than they were after 9/11. According to the latest figures from Pew, more than 40 percent of Americans believe that their country is more vulnerable to attack than it was after 9/11. This is the highest figure recorded since the twin towers fell.
As the world reacts to yet another mass shooting in the US, it’s impossible not to ask questions about gun crime in America and what is being done to protect people. Many people believe that it is their right to possess a gun, but the statistics are difficult to ignore. America is home to less than 5% of the global population, yet you’ll find almost half of the world’s civilian-owned guns here. According to the Boston Globe, there have already been 307 mass shootings in 2017. Gun ownership is a subject of eternal debate, and every time there is a shooting, fresh calls are made to tighten gun control. In October, more than 500 people were injured, and 59 lives were lost in America’s deadliest shooting in Las Vegas and on November 5th, multiple lives were lost in a gun attack at a church in San Antonio, Texas. According to the Associated Press, more than two-thirds of Americans now support tougher gun control regulations, but there’s still a great deal of support for gun ownership. From the outside, it seems irrational to enable people to own arms, but for American citizens, this is something many view as a constitutional right.
More than 55 percent of people are worried about the future of healthcare in the US. President Trump has very different ideas to his predecessor, and many are anxious about being able to access affordable healthcare. There is uncertainty about what will change, who will benefit and what can be done to make healthcare accessible to more people and this makes many uneasy.
Money is the number one cause of stress for American adults beating relationship issues, pressure at work and health issues to take the unenviable title. Economic downturns have left many people trying to survive on lower incomes, unemployment is an issue many have to contend with, and living costs are rising. Being unable to keep up with bills and trying to get from one month to the next are scenarios that are familiar to a growing number of people. Almost 70 percent of adults said that they were stressed about money.
Having a fear of spiders or clowns is bad enough, but what happens when phobias that you could actually encounter on a daily basis keep you awake at night? Our fears have changed, and many of us suffer from sleepless nights as a result of threats that have a very real possibility of affecting our daily lives. We may never come into contact with a tarantula or a python, but sadly, money worries, global warming, gun crime and political unrest are problems none of us can avoid.