I don’t like being scared. That’s why I watch horror. You see, many people deal with fear by running away from it. Embracing artificial fears, however, prepares you for the horrors life will inevitably throw at you. We humans have created an artificial environment for ourselves with many natural dangers removed. For example (and there are always exceptions) we’ve been able to seal ourselves up in our homes and wear masks in public to avoid a killing virus. For the most part we’ve destroyed our large predators. As a society we tend to avoid the things that make us afraid which, in turn, makes us fragile when we have to face truly frightening situations. I wouldn’t suggest becoming a fear junkie, but experiencing scary scenarios can diminish the overall fear factor.
People often make assumptions about those of us who watch horror, even though it is the majority of Americans. We’re seen as creepy people who lurk in dark places, unable to get along with our fellow human beings. Perhaps it’s true, or perhaps it’s a reasonable coping technique. I tend to think of it as a spiritual practice. Spirituality is often about feeling, but it’s not completely divorced from rationality. Often it has to do with that gut feeling that this is really real. This is something that my years on this weary old globe have taught me is true. Many times it’s this way in the face of evidence. Others have trouble believing it, although some bearded guy alone on a mountain top says it’s true. So life goes.
Spirituality is important. I have many humanist friends and they are often uncomfortable thinking about spirituality. It seems dangerous, a superstition that somehow survived enlightenment. Enlightenment, however, is itself a spiritual idea. There’s something inside of us that makes us who we are. Whether it’s something physical or something else, it requires nourishing in order that we might thrive. We expend a lot of energy arguing about the right (only right) way to do it. The way to be a more spiritual person. To me it seems that it’s about discovering what replenishes us. What makes us into better people. You find that and you feed it. Spirituality comes in many forms and shapes. Some of us have it fed by what others dismiss as mere horror. There’s more to it than meets the eye, however. I watch it to learn not to be afraid.