There is a song I by Rush called The Weapon and some of the lyrics are particularly relevant:
“And the things that we fear are a weapon to be held against us”
The media thrive on it and also use it to make us (a) buy their paper (because they claim to tell us how it is) and (b) force their political agenda on to us.
Here are some headlines related to Brexit that came from The Daily Express - one of the worst papers on the entire planet:
“New EU Rules Wreck Pensions”
“Each Illegal Immigrant To Cost Us £1million”
“Britain 40% Surge In Ethnic Numbers”
“No Job Unless You’re Polish”
All of these headlines are meant to scare gullible people and persuade them to alter their thinking.
I don’t believe a single word of them. And if you read closely they are written by people with a deep political agenda. Of course, the same is true on the other side of the political spectrum too.
Moreover, fear is used as a means to sell us things that we don’t necessarily need. Salesmen use it all the time. Let me give you an example.
The first property I bought was a brand new three bedroomed semi-detached house that was just a lump of dirt when we actually reserved it from the house building company. We were so proud when we eventually moved in to this brand new estate with similar young people. I was 24 years old.
And then the vultures appeared.
We were swamped by door to door salesmen trying to acquire what little money we had left. One in particular sticks in my mind.
He arrived at 8pm and tried to sell us a burglar alarm. We stupidly let him in and allowed him to demonstrate his device to us. After an hour of his high pressure sales pitch he offered us a piece of paper to confirm the purchase.
“It’s too expensive,” I said. “We’re not interested.”
He was one of those middle-aged salesmen who refuse to take no for an answer. At first he offered us a package where we could pay in monthly instalments and when we refused that, he offered us a deal.
“I can get you 10% off the asking price,” he told us. “My boss will have my guts for garters but I’ll do it for you.”
“What part of “NO!” do you not understand?” said my (ex) wife.
He tried another tactic.
“Do you care about your family?” he asked me.
I was taken aback by this.
“Of course I do,” I replied.
“It doesn’t seem that way,” he replied. “If your wife came back and surprised a burglar, who knows what could happen? With this alarm, that will never happen because no burglar will get past you front door.”
I didn’t like this one little bit.
“Get out,” I said, now quite angry. “I’m not interested.”
That didn’t deter him. He then started talking about another scenario where my brand new house could be wrecked, my wife injured and my property destroyed.
He was trying to scare us both into giving him money so that our house would be protected. My ex-wife was also not taken in by this. She actually got up, opened the front door and said “Please leave!”
“Are you sure?” he asked me again.
“Yes,” she said, answering for me. “Now go before I call the police.”
She gave him a taste of his own medicine because he said “No need to be like that!” before leaving.
It taught me a lesson about dealing with salesmen, particularly those high pressure types who squat in your house until you sign the bit of paper just to get rid of them.
If you think about it, there are certain companies that use fear to con you into buying things you don’t need. As well as the home security example above, we have things like:
Products that make you look younger. Obviously there are a plethora of anti-ageing products for women that will get rid of those wrinkles but for men we have hair-dye that miraculously turns a decrepit grey-haired old man into an Adonis who has to beat off women with a shitty stick. Like this load of old bollocks:
Products that stop you catching a disease. We all know that if you catch a bad cold, you may need to take a day off work. But certain adverts imply that without their flu remedy you will have to take days off work and probably be sacked as a result. As a hypochondriac, I feel particularly vulnerable when it comes to disease prevention. These bastards are targetting me.
The media. Yes, I know. I feel that I am constantly moaning about the newspaper companies using lies and sensationalist headlines to make us buy their newspapers and even influencing the way people think as I mentioned above. I am certain that they invent stories to scare people and when you actually get down to the nitty gritty of them, there is no substance.
Insurance companies. Mrs PM and I were conned into buying pet insurance for our cats. And then, when I thought about it, and did all the maths, I realised that that I would only save money if the cats became very ill once a year and had to be dragged clawing and screaming to the vet. I am glad that I cancelled it because Jasper and Poppy are now fifteen years old and I shudder when I think about how much pet insurance would have cost in the meantime. There are some insurance policies that you need, for example home and car insurance (but even then home insurance is preying on your fears of being burgled). But do people really need to insure their body parts, for example?
Jennifer Lopez and Kylie Minogue have supposedly insured their arses; Julia Roberts has insured her teeth; Mariah Carey has insured her legs; Dolly Parton and Madonna have insured their boobs; Keith Richards has insured his hands.
I wonder what body part I should insure? Actually, there are no bits of my body worth insuring. At my age, most of it is defunct and drooping now anyway.