A Smart Wildfire?

October 25, 2013  |  By Bogdan Zaharia, Romania


Photo : Paranoia - WikiCommons.jpg

What starts as a tingling sensation in the back of your head and ends with you fearing and questioning everything around you may be considered by many as paranoia. What is paranoia more exactly? It does not have taste, yet we are left with bitterness in our mouths; it does not have smell, yet we detect the odour on many; we cannot touch it, yet we feel its weight on us at times and we can’t hear it for it does not have only one voice. Paranoia is as old as humanity itself and is firmly rooted in our core, but never remains constant. As the world changes, so does paranoia. Like a virus, it mutates to something more resistant and more efficient. In the second half of the twentieth century people feared nuclear annihilation to the point where the state of play had to be changed and thus espionage had to be used in force. 9/11 ushered a new era of fear and suspicion and the cycle continues. Nowadays with television, press and internet it is easier to spread paranoia with the click of a button. This is what many consider to be the Age of Paranoia.

Many experts in the field did everything in their power to understand this growing threat by managing to figure out the causes of paranoia. Because paranoia changes along with society, so does the source of this problem. Social inequalities and crime, the increasing number of people living in cities and the environment in which we live are just a few of the byproducts of paranoia. How can a question be answered if the answer is always changing?

Being unable to work alone, paranoia’s friends, anxiety and fear, are never far behind. These agents make way for the desired side effects and that is scapegoating of others unlike us, a readiness for violence, and psychological distress. Add terrorism and war in the mix and the results are various and never good. Nevertheless this fallout is extremely severe and cases of people who experience this are spread far and thin. People like Lucacs Mihai, a recent Romanian graduate, think that “in this day and age, it is impossible to not get paranoid sometimes. With everything that is happening around us it would be stupid to just close your eyes”. Others, like college student Andrei Giurescu, are of the opinion that “there are more potent methods to induce fear or just hypnotize the masses. Music can be a good way for hiding the truth by throwing sounds and images our way’’. Paranoia can be spread through all kinds of means. People are getting colder and colder, parents are keeping their children inside the house because of strangers and security cameras are everywhere. In an age where coping is necessary in order to survive, paranoiacs do the exact opposite. The resulting feeling that the world is against you is an extremely unhappy one.

Paranoia comes in all shapes and sizes. From the world wide conspiracy to the “men in black are watching me walk my dog” story, it is ever changing and does not shy away from the bizarre and outright silly theories. Paranoia includes the idea that the bad things are due to a single, identifiable source. This force could be a religion, a person or a group of people, a political ideology, or an agency or organization. There are, however, persons who are not affected by conspiracies or paranoid delusions merely because they think that society has changed in a way in which they no longer can keep up. ”I worked hard back in the day and didn’t ask any questions. Maybe because of the times. Now, it is just too complicated”, says Rusu George, a Romanian senior citizen.

American novelist William S. Burroughs thought that “sometimes paranoia's just having all the facts”. If this were true then we would probably need this element in our lives in order to see through the cracks of society. Maybe paranoia is a crutch and if we use it smartly it could sharpen our senses and keep us steady on our toes. However accepting things that have no basis, conspiracy theories that have a far-fetched solution or merely saying yes to answers that give us comfort is not a good enough motive to keep us going on in this never ending crusade for the truth.

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