Five (completely rational) fears

I used to be afraid of spiders and sharks and talking to girls. No longer. My fears are completely rational now.

1. The apocalypse

Popular culture has been preparing us for an apocalypse for quite some time now, all the way back to the Bible. Zombies, plagues, nuclear holocaust, alien invasion – yes the chance of most of these happening is minuscule, but just because something is a slim chance doesn’t mean it’s impossible.

And then there are the effects of global warming and climate destabilisation. We are seriously f-cking the planet up and world leaders appear more interested in making money and securing personal power than doing anything serious about it. Every day they delay increases the probability of environmental catastrophes.

Every now and then I get it in my head that I should stockpile some supplies and do a survivalist course and learn how to shoot a gun. But then I can’t really be arsed and so I play a video game about trying to survive in a viral apocalypse instead.

I’m not fooling myself by thinking that playing these games, watching these films and reading these books (John Wyndham is a particular fave) is preparing me for living in a post-society society. I will die in the first few weeks in a fight with a former cross-fit junkie over a can of chickpeas.

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2. Blindness

Even though my eyes are a little bit weird (see yesterday’s post) I love them and am scared of what my life would mean without them. Sure, I’d still be able to listen to music, but how would I navigate through my music collection to find the album I wanted to play?

How would I read? Yes, there are audiobooks, but I want to be the narrator and do the voices, not some random person chosen by the publishing company. Not even Stephen Fry, unless it’s one of his books I guess.

Not being able to effectively visit art galleries or watch movies would also be extremely disappointing. And writing would be become terribly difficult. I would have to finally teach myself to touch-type or get one of those dictation programs. Or be like John Milton and have a bunch of helpers to dictate to.

I am in awe of anyone who functions with a serious impairment to one of their senses, but especially the blind. Sight is the sense I can do without the least. I would rather become mute and deaf and lose my sense of taste than have my sight go. Not like I’d be able to bargain like that of course.

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3. Senility

I’m quite happy to get old and lose mobility and energy and all sorts of things, but if I lose my mind, I’d like to be (gently) put down thank you very much. My mind is so much a part of who I am, and I am very scared indeed of it going absent and never coming back.

My grandfather’s mind deteriorated over a number of years and by the end he was barely conscious of anyone around him for more than a few minutes a day. Besides how horrible and terrifying something like that would be for me, I would also hate to put friends or family through the ordeal of having to care for my shell.

Or worse yet, become a drooling vegetable in a public aged care facility being fed through a tube and having someone wipe my arse three times or more a day. Voluntary euthanasia all the way, thanks, with a big party with all my friends beforehand.

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4. Losing my home

Like a growing number of people my age and younger, I do not own my own home, and I won’t in the foreseeable future. Unlike many though, I’m not currently living in ‘housing stress’ – the rent that I pay is less than 30 per cent of my total income.

That could easily change though. The amount of work I get could dry up, or my landlord could decide to start increasing the rent drastically, like has happened to some of my friends living in Newtown, and then very quickly I’d have to start either tightening my literal and figurative belts or looking for somewhere else to live.

This would be really shit. I love living in Marrickville. I’ve been in the area for nearly six years now and I feel part of the local community. I know the people in the local shops and bars and cafes.

At the same time, property prices have gone nuts in this area. A place around the corner $1.5 million last week. Absolutely ridiculous. It’s only a matter of time before I can’t afford to live here anymore and I have to go start again somewhere else.

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5. There is no persuadable middle

I was at an event on the weekend chatting to a Scottish woman and she said her theory was that 20 per cent of people were good and the rest were bad. My response is that I liked to think that 20 per cent of people were good, 20 per cent were bad and the remaining 60 per cent are indifferent.

I don’t have a lot of evidence to base this on – although it lines up with some recent research about the language we use to talk about people seeking asylum, where there was a persuadable middle of around 60 per cent. Mainly it’s just based on a hunch and my thinking over the past decade or so about politics and change.

My theory is that in any given situation you don’t actually need (or want) to get the majority of people onboard with whatever it is you want to do. Instead you only need to convince the right people – let’s say around twenty percent to keep it clean – and this acts as a tipping point, after which the majority will just go along with it.

That’s not very well teased out or explained (and there isn’t space to do that now properly) but it kind of relies on the presumption that around 80 per cent of the world’s population are either active forces for good or quite willing for ‘good’ things to happen as long as someone else is organising it.

If the world were constituted the way my Scottish companion proposed, that would be truly terrifying.

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