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Wednesday, May 17, 2006

WEEKLY Q: Why are we afraid of nature?

Time for the weekly question.

Why are we afraid of nature?

OK, look, I have a secret. Many years ago I got freaked out camping in the forest. It was dark and it was spooky. Twigs were snapping and the snapping was getting closer and frankly, I just wanted my mum. Those damn noises were freaking me out. In my mind huge sheep with massive teeth loitered just outside the tent waiting to pounce when nature ironically called. In the end I was so freaked out by the experience I slept in the car. Nowadays I am ok in similar situations - I know those fanged sheep do not bite ;)

I imagine (please let it not just be me) that many urban folks have found themselves terrified in similar situations. Why does a dark forest freak us out? Why do we go nuts when a wasp is nearby? Why does a little mosquito bother us? Why does my wife have a problem with moths (she is much better nowadays though and can capture and release them herself without needing me). She does still get freaked out by winged animals in general. We see cute ducks by a pond...she sees evil winged beasties created solely to freak her out. Seriously.

This cannot be down purely to a bad experience as a kid, can it?

Why? What are we afraid of? What genuine predators lurk behind every tree to produce disproportionate terror when we find ourselves alone in the dark with nature? Are moths really that terrifying? Or is this a genetic predisposition based purely on our evolutionary past? Is it a 'fear of the unknown' thing?

Are you afraid of animals or nature? Tell us your stories and lets try and understand what is going on here.

Look forward to your thoughts.



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At 5:32 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think it's mostly our culture. We grow up in the ultra-sanitized, urbanized West and become disjointed from nature. Different cultures view nature and its inhabitants in different ways, and to us (or at least Americans, who I can speak for), bugs and critters are outdoor things. We live so much of our lives away from them that, all-too-often, they are a creepy mystery to us. i'd wager that if you venture outside "Western civilization" and spend time with indigenous peoples who spend the majority of their life much closer to the earth, you would see a much different attitude.


At 10:02 PM, Anonymous Mongoosefred said...

This is a little difficult for me to understand, growing up in the Hampshire countryside. Since moving to London some 15 years ago I have got to know alot of people who grew up in the city. I think alot of it comes down to what gino said above, alot of us grew up disconnected from nature.

When I was a kid, we had cows in the fields across the road and behind, we kept chickens and grew almost all our own vegtables, we had forests just 10 minutes walk away and a number of my friends came from farms. In fact some of my first summer jobs where working on farms. This is the kind of lifestyle few people have these days when grewing up.

People fear that which they don't know or understand, if you grow up disconnected with the reality of nature then you will fear it.

That said of course, I still believe sheep have large fangs and are all plotting to take over the world...

At 11:19 PM, Blogger City Hippy said...

Good points from both of is a conditioning thang really...

Thanks folks



At 8:15 AM, Anonymous Tracy Stokes said...

It's just what you're used to (to echo what's already been said). I grew up in Africa and have always been rather gung-ho about critters of the night, except one night I spent on the banks of the Zambezi (in a tent/halfmoon enclosure) when the sound of a croc coming out of the river woke me up and I spent 3 hours crouched on top of the enclosure wall shining a torch into the crocodile's eyes and waiting for morning. Even growing up in a place where we regularly found 2-metre long leguaan's (iguanas), jackals, baboons and snakes in our garden didn't prepare me for that one.

At 12:38 PM, Anonymous Mongoosefred said...

Ok, I think Tracy wins the "most scarey thing to find in you local vacinity when the lights come on" compition. Sure beats the odd cow, sheep or chicken.

At 2:39 PM, Anonymous Dan Bachmann said...

I think a large part of it comes down to the people and animals we grew up with. If we grow up around others that freak out, we aquire the same response. I knew of a family where the mother was affraid of thunder. The kids and even the dog "learned" to become afraid of thunder!

At 3:20 PM, Blogger City Hippy said...

Tracey: Crocodile....blimey...will look at mosquitoes in a different light in future...sheesh!

Amen mongoosefred, she wins hands down, or up, as they case may be...

Hey Dan, I hear that...also with a young son we are aware that if we show fear he will pick up on we are much more brave these days...




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