Friday Fright Fest | Are You Afraid of the Dark?

Survey Says…Probably not.

Less than 10% percent of Americans interviewed in The Chapman University Survey of American Fears 1 2015 admitted they’re afraid of the dark.   The California university study found that adults have traded in the childhood phobia for fears of political corruption and technology.

In fact, if you find yourself on the game show, “Family Feud” – here are the top three answers to what Americans say they fear.

  1. 58% fear of corruption of government officials
  2. 8 % are afraid of Cyber-terrorism
  3. 6% fear corporate tracking personal information.

So while we’re no longer afraid of the dark itself, we still fear what might be “done in the dark.”

Contrary to conventional wisdom, however, good things happen in the dark.  A fetus forms into a human in the dark then emerges into the light to take its first breath of life. Before the cork is popped on a bottle of fine wine, it must first undergo the aging process in a cool, dry, and dark place. A dazzling array of celestial bodies are visible to the eye as they dance across the darkened skies.  Darkness is the cornerstone of any successful metamorphosis.

The dark isn’t just a catalyst for big productions either.  It also plays a role in our recommended daily requirements.   In fact, 7 years ago, in 2009, American Medical Association members voted to keep us in the dark after researching and observing the effects of artificial light.2

The AMA indicated that without darkness,

  • humans lose the ability to use their vision’s natural low-light function.
  • Our circadian rhythms which regulate a host of biological activities including the sleep pattern are thrown out of whack.
  • The production of melatonin, the miracle hormone, and antioxidant, from the pineal gland, doesn’t occur.

The AMA voted they would support any efforts to curtail artificial light pollution. They said it would not only save the environment but help earth-dwelling species who need the natural darkness to survive and thrive.

Since our physical well-being relies on the darkness; could it be possible our mental well-being might be dependent on the dark, as well?

Just as artificial light is weakening our natural abilities; hiding from our fears is causing many of us to become time bombs.

There is an old saying, “what is done in the dark will come to light.”   This aphorism may conjure up a caveat to exposing evil deeds.  Looking at this old saying with new eyes, however, may provide an invitation to present the impetus of our fears before it reveals us in the most unflattering way possible.

Fear is the master of disguise. It may appear to some as butterflies in the stomach; or metallic taste in the back of the throat. It resides in darkness, yet has far-reaching effects.  Unchecked; however, fear controls its host with an invisible hand as a ventriloquist would control and speak for her/his “dummy.”

Except, fear isn’t seeking to control us; it works for us. Fear reminds us:

  • what is important to us, but tucked away
  • of our creative abilities
  • of our descent into uncharted territory
  • we’re about to enter into a danger zone

Fear beckons us to the dark side so we can regain intimacy with our self. In doing so, we remember our agreements we made with ourselves a long time ago or just yesterday.   When we confront our fears, we gain control of our actions. We can decide whether we should honor our covenant or write a new one.

For example, you arrive at the airport two hours ahead of your flight’s scheduled departure. Today is your day to meet with the executive panel of your prospective employer. You and another candidate have made it to the final round of interviews.  It is Thursday morning, May 12, 2016. Hundreds, if not thousands, of travelers, are queued up from Chicago Transit Authority ‘s Orange Line train station – to Midway Airport’s TSA security checkpoint. You are at the end of this line.


What would you do?

  1. Bum rush the security line and run through the airport to catch your flight?
  2. Jump in front of all the waiting passengers?
  3. Believe it is a conspiracy as one visitor stated on the video’s page. “Take heart sheeple, they will soon offer you a 666 chip which catapults you to the front of the lines.”

News media reports of Transportation Security Administration under-staffing at the nation’s airports has littered the airwaves.  Together, you and the other travelers can quickly overtake the few TSA agents on duty.

But you don’t.

“F-E-A-R,” a small four-letter word, is keeping you and the others in line, literally. It’s not that you fear being arrested.  You, along with the rest of the obedient travelers, have silently acknowledged the fear of terrorism and anarchy.  The possibility of insurgency, coupled with another 9/11 attack is the architect of this fear.

According to the Survey of American Fears, man-made disasters such as Terrorist Attacks, (44.4%) Civil Unrest (32.0%), Economic Collapse (39.2%) rank the highest in the domain of fear.   When a group experiences collective fear, they are willing to endure a host of inconveniences to protect against those who we believe have refused to abide by a social agreement or rules of engagement.

As individuals, we tend not to be as submissive when it concerns our personal fears. Ranking at the bottom of the domain of terror, on this survey, are those that are personal in nature.

The individual plays host to a fear that remains hidden behind some agreement that no longer serves her. But as long as her personal fears go unchecked, it stands to reason, that she’d be willing to stand on a too-long line to go through a security checkpoint.    She knows she’s hiding something and that means others may be hiding something too.

No one’s afraid of the dark because we have artificial light to hide it. But if by some chance, we really no longer fear the dark; then turn off the lights and enter the darkness.

Our fear is calling, and it’s ready to have a long talk.