Image via Mashable
I want you to think back to a time when someone ridiculed you because of a fear you had, (or still have.) Perhaps it was a fear of flying. A fear of spiders. A fear of heights. A fear of small spaces. A fear that something might happen to your children. How did it make you feel, to have someone minimize what you felt was a legitimate fear? Not too great, I’d imagine.
I’m sure Facebook has made you aware of the number of shark attacks that have happened off the coast of North Carolina this summer. Last year, there was a reported total of 4 shark attacks in North Carolina in 2014. This summer, seven 8* occurred in less than a month. The first two were explained away, but as the attacks began trending southward and more violent, I began to get worried. (Even scientists are all WTF!?!) You see, we’re getting ready to head down to Emerald Isle, in the Southern Outer Banks, soon. The 7th and most recent attack at Ocracoke is only about two hours away, and that is when I declared that there would be no swimming in the ocean this year. While that will make our vacation a little less fun, (and peeing in the ocean inifinitely more difficult**) I feel that a shark taking a chomp out of me or my family would really put a damper on things.
Apparently, I’m a ridiculous human being.
Once news of the shark attacks began circulating on social media, several people fought to stem the tide of panic in the only way social media could: infographics. Although I don’t typically frolic with cows, I have been informed that I’m statistically more likely to have death by cow. And, honestly, the next person who says I’m more likely to be struck by lightning is going to get punched in the throat. I’m pretty sure that the last gentleman to be attacked stood out past the breakers, saying to himself, I’m more likely to be struck by liiiiiiiaaaauuuuuuugh argh bargh thrash splash haaaaaaaaaaaalp! That’s the thing about statistics- statistically unlikely doesn’t mean there’s a 0% chance. And people are paranoid, only until it happens to them. I don’t need to get in the ocean that badly; I don’t need to take that risk.
We then turn to the newest infographic in circulation, which treats fear of shark attack/unwillingness to swim in the ocean as a character issue.
While I understand that it is using the shark attacks to draw attention to violence against women, it’s also creating a straw man which trivializes fear of a shark attack. Believe me, this ball of anxiety is perfectly capable of multi-tasking. I can focus on more than one fear at a time.
Getting to the Point
Ultimately, what I’m trying to say is that those of you who say that my fear is irrational, (which was said to me at a wedding two weeks ago) and post these infographic responses, (because apparently being irrational also means I’m dumb and need to see a pretty picture to understand?) are kind of being assholes. If you feel comfortable swimming in the ocean this summer, then go for it! I’m certainly not going to judge you for deciding that the risk is low and reasonable. May the wind be ever at your back, may sharks prefer bait fish to you, and live every week like it’s Shark Week.
But, please, let the rest of us have our fear and respect for these great and creepy creatures.
Side note: Don’t tell me those motherfuckers aren’t creepy. You know when you’re looking at them swim in aquariums, those cold, dead eyes are looking at you, thinking, I own you, motherfucker! in their creepy Vincent Price voices.
If you’ll allow me, sharks don’t swim in my kitchen so, this year, I’m going to stay out of theirs. I know that sharks are wild animals who are mostly peaceful and usually bite out of curiosity. And, sometimes, some sharks behave like assholes.
*Mike just told me an 8th attack occurred Saturday in Surf City, which is even closer to Emerald Isle.
**Anyone going, Ewwwww! You pee in the ocean?– You’ve done it too and you know it! And if you deny it, you’re a lying liar.