‘We get off on the fear’

“Though our economy may not be what it was, we’re actually safer and less susceptible to crime or war than at any time in our history,” Matt Taibbi writes. “But in the same way retailers want us buying on Christmas, others want us scared to death and addicted to news of threats at home and from abroad.” More:

It’s not that there aren’t real threats. The problem is that no one in popular culture is incentivized to mitigate our fears of those threats, or place them in context. Fox News is not going to sell many ads running stories called “Mexicans Are Basically Nice People Just Like Us.” CNN isn’t going to grab eyeballs showing videos of Muslim immigrants in New Jersey just hanging out watching soccer.

Moreover, any savvy Beltway operative will tell politicians that nuanced solutions and appeals for calm don’t fly with voters geeked up on fear. Barack Obama was panned a few weeks ago after the San Bernardino massacre, when he offered an oddly un-alarmist four-point plan to combat ISIS-inspired terrorism in a speech that might as well have been entitled “It’s Complicated.”

That doesn’t work with our generation. If you’re going to sell us on the contagion, you’ve got to give us the simple antidote in the same breath. Tell us we’ve got terrorists in our hairline, fine, but where do we buy the Head & Shoulders to get rid of them? We get off on the fear, but the easy solution is also part of the addiction ritual. Now, when it’s denied, we go crazy.

So scared is Taibbi that he used “incentivized” in a sentence. Merry Christmas.

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