‘Fear is at its most fearsome when it is diffused, scattered, unclear, unattached, unanchored, free floating, with no clear address or cause; when it haunts us with no visible rhyme or reason, when the menace we should be afraid of can be glimpsed everywhere but is nowhere to be seen. ‘Fear’ is the name we give to our uncertainty: to our ignorance of the threat and what is to be done to stop it in its tracks’ . (Zygmunt Bauman)
Modern life, modern love, modern fears and modern liquidity, the concept that binds all of them together, and which defines through, the characteristics of a liquid substance, the core of the nowadays world: mobility, their particles are not fixed and rigid and can move freely past each other, lack of shape, and the power to erode. Old institutions turned into new ones, old concepts were exchanged for new values, old forms of power reinvented themselves and became the power of constant fear. It was shown throughout history that with fear comes caution and obedience, but fear always had a form, be it Gods, a tyrannic dictator, or a horde of possible invaders. It had a face or a name. But today it’s the feeling itself that cripples the human kind and is embedded in the functioning mechanism of a capitalist and globalised society. The constant fear, the constant feeling that something’s always there, waiting to happen, and not in the dark, but in the broad daylight.
The Western world is continually haunted by the fears of those living the nightmare on the other side of the globe. The western fear has no tangible object. Of course, governments give us terrorists, new diseases or maybe a meteorite that might hit the Earth at some point, but a new president or prime minister will surely save us from that too. If it’s not Al Quida, then it’s Isis, if it’s not Isis then it just might be Goldstein, any name is a good enough reason for war. Because war isn’t it, became, just as George Orwell predicted in his political novel, 1984, not a way of conquering new territories or protecting the borders, but the most profitable and prompt ally of power. The war in Vietnam, Iraq or Afganistan was not for territory, the war in Siria is not to maintain our borders safe, is to maintain the western power over the western world, and the ones who rule over the western world, rule over the whole world. If there’s a war then there’s a reason for our most beloved governments to keep us safe, to assure us a propitious ground for us to attain and live a good life, and it also gives something to distract us from the true great fear of the 21st century, The Fear of Failure, and from the rotten inside of the juicy red apple that the western society is so eager to hide. The only thing that is asked of the western individual is to live a good life, in a world that provides everything that is needed for living a good life… or does it? So, if our life is not good enough, doesn’t fit the standards, is our own fault, we failed.
It’s the pressure of the good life that suffocates the western world, just like hunger and war destroy its counterpart. War might never get to us, but it’s the war within ourselves that erode our souls. The war between what is expected, of what we have been taught to expect from ourselves and our futures: a degree, a job, a career, a house with a beautiful garden, a lovely family, a fairytale love story, happiness, and what we really want. If you don’t get a degree, you’re not smart enough, and why aren’t you smart enough when society had provided you such a great education? If you have a degree, but no job, then it’s your own fault for not being able to harness the seeds that society gave you in the form of your diploma. If you have a job, but no friends, is your own inability of bonding with people, as your company surely organised at least twice a year some sort of team building activity. And if you have no friends how would you expect to have a lover, but if you have friends, then how comes you don’t have a partner when all you’re friends are getting married or waiting for their firstborn? Yes, something is wrong with you, but don’t worry there is therapy for that, and online dating, and ordering a bride over the mail, so even though you don’t meet the standards, society still comes to your rescue. If you have a job, and a partner and no house, then the moment to make a huge loan to buy one, was yesterday. If you have all of these and still are unhappy, then you’re depressed so take a pill, or two. And if you have all of these, then you’re terrified at the thought of losing them because they are all you’ve dreamed all your life, and you can’t live your dream, because just one tiny mistake might cost you your job, and with no job, you won’t be able to pay the house mortgage. Of course, mistakes are human, you’re allowed to make them, that’s what all the media says, what it doesn’t say is that you are allowed to make them, but in another life maybe. But what if the mistake that might ruin your good life is not even yours but your partner’s or your boss’? Oh, the worries never end, the fear is just increasing with every single thing you add to improve your life, and this fear is the fear of the unknown, of failure, of everything and of nothing, is the curse of cruel optimism.