Taking The Bait : Our Current Global Pastime

Jeff Fox
11 min readApr 17, 2023

Feeling outraged feels more powerful than feeling afraid.

Silver fishing lure with many-pronged hook haning from a line with the ocean in the background.
Photo by Mael BALLAND on Unsplash

Provocateurs have always been able to capture attention and whip up emotional reactions. We are emotional creatures, governed by our base instinctive survival reactions. Hyper-alertness for any potential danger is hardwired into us at the genetic level. We don’t even have to be the ones to sense the danger directly. Being told there is a danger is all our fight or flight impulses need to spool up.

Being able to distinguish between a perceived danger and a genuine danger is an important evolutionary component. Without exploration, expansion, discovery, and learning there can be no progress. Learning there were less dangerous ways to interact with fire enabled us to progress beyond fleeing from its presence to harnessing it as a tool for the betterment of our lives.

Caution remains but the ability to move through and beyond the initial instinctive ‘flee from danger’ reflex is a fundamental ingredient in how we have arrived at the technological quality of life we currently enjoy as a species.

A trait we share globally as a species is that we would rather feel angry than afraid. Even though the anger may be generated entirely by the fear, an adrenaline rush designed to give us a burst of strength and speed to escape the danger confronting us, the anger feels better than the fear. It feels more powerful. It transforms us from the victim to the aggressor.

If the moment of fear is fleeting, if we are merely startled, a brief declaration of some choice language is often enough to release and disperse the sudden surge of energy. This dispersal mechanism is also why we so often burst out in laughter after being startled by something which proves to be a prank. Those energies are meant to function as sudden and brief bursts, much like nitrous in a racing engine.

They are meant to dissipate once the danger has been avoided. Our biological systems are not built to support or withstand that level of stress arousal for extended or sustained periods of time. The two most primary sources of the PTSD soldiers struggle with after deployments in combat zones are specific traumatic experiences and the physiological and psychological erosion of perpetually extreme levels of stress.

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Jeff Fox

A professional dancer, choreographer, theatre creator, and featured TEDx speaker with an honours degree in psychology, two black belts, and a lap-top.