Every once in a while I find myself in that Twilight Zone time of night where the only thing I want to do is sit and scroll through Facebook for a couple of hours. I’ll admit it, sometimes, if the subject matter is interesting enough, or I am just bored enough, I’ll click on my friend’s result from a Buzzfeed personality-type quiz and see where I stand on the topic…
Some of them are good time wasters, some of them are sloppily slapped together shallow questions that no more accurately predict your future than Zoltar. Sometimes however you strike upon the ability to look at your own answers, and determine something else about yourself entirely, Buzzfeed results be damned.
The Buzzfeed quiz I chose to postpone doing chores/living my life was something along the lines of “What is your Greatest Fear?”. I, being the horror fan that I am, thought it very fitting. Would they discover that I am claustrophobic? Would they somehow derive so much from this quiz that they can actual pinpoint my squeamish aversion to “fingernail stuff”? Only time would tell.
Upon beginning my quest to identify what my greatest fear was, I realized that the questions were a little goofy, relying more on shock value than actual psychology (what the hell was I expecting?) Which of these is the scariest image? Followed by a collage of photos; a scary faced ghost girl, a demon, a scary clown, a man holding a knife. I clicked the man holding the knife. The next question was more of the same, Which of these is the scariest image? A creature under a bed, another spooky clown (no accounting for originality here), a man peering in menacingly from a sliding glass door. I clicked on the man. After several of these questions I realized that in every circumstance, I was choosing the image most realistic. Instead of clicking on the frightening creatures, ghosts, ghouls, demonic clowns, and all other manner of beastie, I continued to choose humanity as my weakness.
That is when I realized something. I do have a “biggest fear” that has nothing to do with the need to wear gloves while washing dishes for fear of softening my fingernails to a bendable degree (although that struggle is REAL). My greatest fear is my fellow man. I can watch Jason Voorhees hack his way through a group of promiscuous campers but show me something like Sons of Anarchy and I sometimes look away from the screen. It is easier for me to stomach something outlandish and ultra-violent as a supernatural horror film (even though I fiercely believe in ghosts) than it is for me to watch a man get beaten up. The exception to this, or a blurring of the lines, is Rob Zombie’s HALLOWEEN(‘s). His films always focus on the dirty side of society, blowing up the image of hard times and brutality to a point where I know the film is “over the top” but the violence is sometimes too much for me to bear.
Call it compassion for my fellow (wo)man, but I truly do believe that my biggest fear in life is other people. I know that everyone is fighting their own battles, illnesses, mental illnesses, home struggles, and the combination of those things, mixed with outside influences, past experiences and expectations of the future make it impossible to predict how an individual will act in any given scenario. It’s what makes us all beautiful and unique, but it is also what makes “other people” terrifying.
You see and hear all the time about people committing murders over absolutely nothing. I watched an episode of Great Crimes and Trials about a doctor (married with adult children) who had killed at least 75 people in the course of his career just… because. He had no motive to kill these people, some of them he actually liked, his family had no idea that he had done these things, but he would kill them with legal doses of morphine, but sign their “cause of death” as heart attacks or strokes. He did it simply because he enjoyed it. That was more terrifying to me than any horror film I had ever seen, because it was real life. Some men and women are so unpredictable that a family doctor can go on killing 75 people and no one ever suspected him.
I settled after a moment and realized that all things considered, these people are few and far between. For every person with murder or brutality at the edge of their mind, there is a handful of wonderfully kind people ready to prove that people are inherently good.
After completing the quiz, waiting for the results to finish “calculating” on my screen, I contemplated my mini journey of self-discovery through the cold and automatic hands of this pre-programmed internet quiz. I marvelled at the fact that a fear can be something so big and complicated yet so simple as “other people” and truly how scary it is to realize that you never do know anyone as well as you think you do.
The “Calculating” screen suddenly stops, the screen refreshes. The verdict?
“Your Greatest Fear is Commitment!”
No wait, yeah, that’s definitely worse.
Stay Scared, Kiddies