Fear Can Be Contagious

February 7th, 2008 by Potato

Speaking as a visitor from another planet, contagious human behaviours can be really interesting to watch. Everyone already knows that yawns can spread, but I was surprised to see how contagious fear can be.

I can be a little high-strung sometimes. I can also zone out and go into complete introspection (or a visit to my nothing box). I can be both at once, and then someone can come up and snap me out of it, and I won’t expect in the slightest. To me, it’s like they snuck up on me out of nowhere, and I startle. Now, my startle response is towards the “extremely surprised” end of the spectrum. This isn’t a little hand on my chest, an intake of breath and a hushed “oh my, you startled me.” No, this is a hands in the air, jump halfway off the ground “BWAAAAAAA!!!!” In fact, I can startle people who sneak up on me with my startle response.

It was funny at curling the other night. I was watching the rock go down the ice, lost in my own thoughts, and our lead comes up from behind to stand beside me, hitting my broom as she did. I think it was the combination of popping up from behind into my peripheral vision along with the unexpected tactile feedback of someone hitting my broom that made my startle particularly bad. “BWAAA!!” I yelped. “Ah!!” She exclaimed, startled by my startle. Then she hit me. “What are you doing that for? You are surprised when you’re in an arena full of people and someone comes up beside you? What’s wrong with you?!”

I could get deep at this point and draw parallels to stock market psychology and sell-offs, but I think I’ll get some sleep instead and let the obvious remarks write themselves in your minds.

One Response to “Fear Can Be Contagious”

  1. Wayfare Says:

    LOL – “BWAAAAAA!!!!” is exactly the sound you make *every time*.