I recently just plowed through a book that was excellent. The Culture of Fear is slightly outdated, (It was made before September 11th) but I think the problems Barry Glassner discusses are even more relevant today. As it says on the front cover, “Why Americans Are Afraid of the Wrong Things.” He talks about how the media, corporations, and politicians feed our anxieties by over-hyping and over-sensationalizing issues like plane crashes, road rage, Internet predators, strange diseases, and killer kids to the point that people think they are happening more than they really are. Statistics are misused and victims of these issues are mad to look like experts when these issues are splashed across the television and newspaper. Scientific data is thrown right out the window. In turn, we as Americans begin to fear things that we should not be scared of.
As Glassner points out, we are fed these fears because it makes money. Why else do we have life insurance, multiple air bags, warranties for every little gadget at Best Buy, ridiculous lawsuits, and unnecessary security guards? Fear sells. I can’t believe I’m going to quote Richard Nixon, but Glassner used a good quote from him.
People react to fear, not love. They don’t teach that in Sunday school, but it’s true.
I’m not tryin to be all “free love” with that quote, but it proves that if you tap into the anxieties of people, you are more likely to get them to listen. And then, you can make them buy.