Are we a nation of paranoid fraidy cats?

Summary:Paranoia and fear drive a lot of people mad. For those who don't go so far, the paranoia and fear can be nearly debilitating. A bit of healthy fear and a small amount of paranoia is good but how much is too much?

Sometimes I wonder how some people make it out of bed in the morning when I consider how paranoid and afraid they are. It's crazy. I just don't get some of it. For example, when I write an article, I post it on Twitter, LinkedIn, and a few other places around for visibility. The onslaught of extraordinarily paranoid commentary still always surprises me. It's shocking to note how many presumably intelligent people are so gripped with fear and paranoia that they can barely make it through a day. I'm not sure what has caused this level of crippling paranoia but I think it's time to investigate it. I think we've become a nation of "fraidy cats" and that worries me.

Over the next few weeks, I'm going to investigate this phenomenon by interviewing some Psychologists, security professionals, and just regular folks to bring you a broad view of this new paranoia.

What I'm most afraid of is the people who are afraid.

The last gun show I went to a few years ago here in Tulsa really scared me. It wasn't the guns, ammo, Ninja weapons, or the fact that someone crazy could buy a gun and some ammo and then shoot the place up—that I can deal with. Instead, it's the weird paranoia that exists there. I remember going to one particular show ten or so years ago and seeing all the "survivalists" promoting their survival kits and home protection apparati. But their dialog was very troubling.

They feared the government, the police, and even regular citizens. It was weird. I blew it off and just assumed it is kind of a local thing. But after posting on LinkedIn, I realize that paranoia and this weird fear of the government is everywhere.

I told one guy that I was totally prepared with my 55 gallon drum full of dehydrated water. I've never had to use it but I still have it. I hope there's no expiration date on dehydrated water.

I don't want to launch this as a political discussion but this is America, after all. You know, "We the People," democracy, freedom, liberty and justice for all—you know, all the stuff we believed as children. And now we've evolved into this weird, empassioned, fervent nation of eccentrics who fear that "the government" is going to kick down our doors at 3am demanding our guns, your money, and our first born.

Get real folks. It ain't happening.

For one, there are too many of us who would never let it happen. Second, our government is made up of people we elect. We can get rid of them or we can choose to re-elect them at will. Heck, we can even recall them and elect someone new if we want to.

The latest paranoid dialog, especially from certain LinkedIn groups, was sparked by my recent, " Through a glass starkly: PRISM and BLARNEY are good things ." You'd think I'd sworn allegiance to the Taliban or something from some of the reactions I got.

My point there was that it rains on the just as well as on the unjust. In other words, if my privacy (whatever that means in Internet browsing history terms) is compromised so that criminals may be caught or terrorism deflected, then so be it. I don't care.

I'm not paranoid enough to think that someone from "the government" is going to break down my door because I've looked up how to cook Methamphetamine or how to build a Diesel/Fertilizer bomb*. But there are patterns that I want someone to watch for to help protect me, my wife, and my children from would-be terrorists—both domestic and foreign.

I'm sorry if that disturbs you but it's necessary. It's almost like saying, "OK, police, I want you to catch criminals but you can't fly your helicopter over my house, chase a criminal through my yard, or fire your weapon within the city limits." And yes, it's the same thing.

Do I believe that there are bad cops? Yes. Do I believe that there are bad people in government? Yes. But I don't believe that it is a majority of either. There are many people in government who are just as paranoid as you and me. Maybe even more so.

So, please allay your extreme fears and paranoia and replace them with something more constructive like a hobby. A little healthy suspicion is good but don't let it control your life. Don't get carried away on it. It's good to cover your hand when entering a PIN at the bank or at the gas pump but buying 10,000 rounds of ammo in case of an invasion or government attack is, well,...kind of crazy.

I don't want to live in a nation of fraidy cats. I want to live in a safe, secure nation where people are pursuing life, liberty, and happiness. Be a little paranoid about your passwords. Be wary of racial profiling. Be cautious about your surroundings. Be vigilant with your government. Be discerning with your votes and your voices. And live long and prosper.

What do you think? Have we become a nation of paranoids? Do we fear too much or not enough? Talk back and let me know.

*I have never looked up those things.

Topics: Security, Government, Tech Industry

About

Kenneth 'Ken' Hess is a full-time Windows and Linux system administrator with 20 years of experience with Mac, Linux, UNIX, and Windows systems in large multi-data center environments.

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