For those of us who live in the United States, we have it pretty good. Most of us have enough food to eat and roofs over our heads. Lots of us have phones in our pockets and plenty of fun things to keep us occupied. You wouldn’t think we’d be very scared of very much. Think again.
We Americans are pretty fearful, according to Chapman University’s Survey of American Fears. Many of those fears are fairly predictable. Our biggest fear is government corruption, according to the survey: Nearly six of every 10 of us is scared of that.
Cyber-terrorism is our second-biggest fear, with nearly 45 percent of Americans terrified of that eventuality. That’s followed by businesses tracking our data (44.6%), terrorist attacks (44.4%) government data tracking (41.4%) and bio-warfare (40.9%). Those are all fears that show up on the nightly news and our Internet feeds all the time.
Yet we’re scared of more personal things, too. About 28.4 percent of us are terrified of public speaking. Another 27.4 percent are scared of heights. About a quarter of us can’t stand insects. About 22 percent of us are scared of loneliness, slightly more than actually are scared of dying.
By comparison, the stuff that makes up Halloween horror movies don’t measure up. Sure, nearly 24 percent of us are scared of robots, but a mere 9.7 percent are terrified of ghosts. Zombies, despite their popularity, really only frighten 8.5 percent of us, and clowns are considerably less creepy, scaring the stuffing out of a mere 7 percent of us. More people are afraid of the dark (9.3%) than zombies or clowns.
While we’re all scared of different things, there’s one scary truth we all do share: We’re all frightened of something—although we sometimes pretend we’re not.
Talk About It
What scares you? What scared you the most as a little kid? When you’re walking through your home late at night and you’re alone, do you become irrationally scared? Of what?
As Chapman University’s study suggests, we’re not just scared of a lot of different things, but we have lots of different types of fears: A fear of cyber-terrorism, for instance, feels far different than a fear of zombies. It’s a more real-world fear. What are your real-world fears? What scares you about them? Are there things that many other people worry about that doesn’t scare you?
How do you deal with your fear? What do you do to calm your anxieties when you’re getting a little freaked out by an empty house or a scary movie? How do you handle your real-world fears? Do you have little tricks that help keep your worries and fears in check? What are they? Do they help?
What the Bible Says
“I sought the Lord, and He answered me and delivered me from all my fears” (Ps. 34:4).
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God” (Phil. 4:6).
“When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can flesh do to me?” (Ps. 56:3-4).
“For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 8:38-39).
Paul Asay has written for Time, The Washington Post and Christianity Today. He writes about culture for Plugged In and has published several books, including his newest, Burning Bush 2.0 (Abingdon), available now. He lives in Colorado Springs. Check out his entertainment blog at Patheos.com/Blogs/WatchingGod or follow him on Twitter @AsayPaul.