Fear Factor

On July 4, I wrote a blog post about fear-based culture. It’s an exhausting way to live, and it creates a circle of anger, resentment, control, and giving up.

Because I work with words, and words are an easy weapon, I looked around to find titles and situations in our popular culture that ignite the fuse on the anger circle. The words we use casually become part of our lives.

“War”  We now have a war on women, a war on religion, and yes, Craft Wars on TV.  It’s offensive to use the devastation of war to describe a disagreement and a competitive TV show. Remember when “awesome”  meant extremely impressive or daunting? Now it’s used as a filler word, used to mean “I heard what you just said.”  Soon “war” will be another shrug-off word. We’ll be mildly interested in the collateral damage, but it won’t shock us.

Every successful TV show spins off a competitive one, where one team has to demolish the other. The winning team gets to lord it over the losers. Apprentice, American Pickers (the competitive version), Cajun Justice, Fear Factor,  all the competitive cooking shows, all the race-from-one-place-to-another shows–it’s not just about winning, it’s about making the other team lose. The leftover resentment, anger, ridicule is now part of the American Dream. If you are on the winning side.

From the New York Times Hardcover Bestseller List: 50 Shades of Gray (a trilogy on sadomasochism), Wicked Business, Wild, Cowards, Killing Lincoln. Don’t forget the softcover selections: Explosive Eighteen, Afraid to Die, In the Garden of Beasts.

Best Selling Video Games:  Total War, Bioshock, Mortal Kombat.

Words are important. In the movie Iron LadyMargaret Thatcher ‘s attributed this wisdom to her father:

Watch your thoughts, for they become words.Watch your words, for they become actions. Watch your actions, for they become habits. Watch your habits, for they become your character. And watch your character, for it becomes your destiny. What we think, we become.

I know that violence is more interesting than compassion, drama has more frisson than contemplation, and reading about tragedy is more exciting that reading about self-awareness. It does us no good to avoid gluten if we are stuffing our minds with gore.

Do the hard thing and give up your anger, your control, and your threats. Fill your time with creativity. It soothes, heals, inspires and makes you feel like you have achieved something worthwhile. Because you have.

Quinn McDonald is a creativity coach who is giving up control, one day at a time.