Some people condemn the emerging American sissy culture that cultivates fear of plane crashes, road rage, terrorism, the disease-of-the-week and more. Fueled by a shrill media, alarmist marketing and canny politicians, our society is “reeling from one scare to another, and usually for no reason,” says University of Southern California sociologist Barry Glassner.
“Are we living in exceptionally dangerous times? It is our perception of danger that has increased, not the actual level of risk,” he says. “People and organizations manipulate our perceptions and profit from our fears, including advocacy groups that raise money by exaggerating the prevalence of particular diseases and politicians who win elections by heightening concerns about crime, drug use and terrorism.”
Mr. Glassner authored “Climate of Fear: Why Americans are Afraid of the Wrong Things” in the 1990s to cover the era’s assorted bogeymen, and has since updated it for a new century, he says, to show the price of “social panic.” The book will be published Jan. 4.