I grew up in a suburban, middle-class home. There was nothing extraordinary about my life. My parents were married to one another. I was the youngest of four kids. We always had a dog. We owned our home. We always had at least two cars. My father had a college degree from Case Institute of Technology, and he’d debate anyone who insulted him by merging Western Reserve with Case. Nearly every Sunday morning we went to Church. We often walked to Church in our itchy wool suits. My dad went to work every weekday morning in his suit and hard leather briefcase. I don’t believe I ever saw the contents it contained. It had a Pulp Fiction allure.
Despite a seemingly innocuous upbringing, our home was led by fear. To this day, I have no idea what my dad did for a living. He worked at Eaton before it started its world domination. He had an office with a view into a corner of the Stadium. Rows of high cubicles dominated the bullpen outside of his office. I visited him occasionally. When I did, I had to look presentable and be very quiet. Every executive was addressed as “Mr.” He was an executive but called his boss “Mr. Such and Such.” Women in the executive workplace weren’t around in the 70’s and 80’s. At least, none that I saw. There were few peers. Everyone was clearly above or below someone else and I got the feeling there wasn’t job security. The operated by spreading fear.
This was carried on at our house. “Wait till dad gets home” was the scariest thing I heard all day. That meant I did something, and some amount of corporal punishment was imminent. Timeouts were only used in sports. Creative parenting options didn’t exist. I wouldn’t even know how to dial 696-kids on a rotary phone. Action = Consequence.
Spreading fear and anxiety didn’t stop at home. It ended there. Fear sells. Plain and simple. Here’s the messaging I understood as a child from political ads. Ronald Reagan loved wars and was going to do everything he could to start them. Jimmy Carter was going to raise taxes. Now I didn’t know what taxes were, but I knew that wasn’t good. More taxes meant that we had to skip Christmas that year. We sided with more wars.
Fear didn’t stop with governmental propaganda. Plaque was the next killer. McDonalds put dead rat in their burgers. Teddy Ruxpin was just plain scary. My first real pandemic was AIDS. AIDS is an immune disorder transmitted through sex and blood. This was the real first time I experienced a governmental narrative that was misleading. I heard the message on television and in schools that AIDS is a gay disease. The best way to not get AIDS is to not be gay. This has spun 30 years later into more hatred and fear.
Can you think of a political ad that doesn’t attack? Last night, I saw an ad from some Trump loving candidate running for something. The ad, showing the worst pictures you can find, claimed the following: He’s going to stop Biden from raising our gas prices, crippling the moral fabric of our country, and leading us toward a downward spiral to damnation. When the next democrat candidate starts campaigning, the narrative will be the same themes with a different enemy.
Fear is sexy. Fear sells. Offering real solutions to our problems is very hard. Taking a hard look in mirror is the toughest thing to do. The selling of fear is simple. Companies need to sell products. To sell said product, something must be wrong. They create PACS and pay legislators to help them reach the masses. Pfizer and other anxiety-based manufacturers reap these benefits because we are all now afraid of everything.
With the creation of social media, many believe this trend is irreversible. I disagree. Tomorrow, I am going to delve into steps to reverse this trend. The paradigm shift is coming one step at time. It better.
Tomorrow: Cultivating Positivity
Leave a Reply