Viral Fear in American Culture

The Next Osama Syndrome: Viral Fear

“I am concerned with what we are not seeing.” Robert Mueller, Director, FBI

This is where I hope to begin a dialogue with you about viral fear, its impact on us as a culture, and its very personal effects on all of us. I plan on sharing my own stories and ideas about this phenomenon in this website’s blog and I sincerely hope to hear yours.

One way to understand a culture is to see what it values. One way to know what that culture values is by what it is willing to pay or give up in order to have or obtain it. The “it” can be anything from a TV to a state of being. From the statistics available (*1), our culture places very little value on children, health, and education and a monumental value on a few people who actually do very little. It places far less on safety than it claims even though the media would have us believe otherwise and would inspire us to mortal viral fear in order to get us to keep buying.

Here’s an unbiased view of our values based on average national salaries:

Home Health Aides 19,198

Counselors & Social Services 26,906 – 48,820

Teachers 47,681

Firefighters 50,986

Police Officers 51,192

Registered Nurses 58,483

Conservation Scientists 53,544

Health & Safety Industrial Engineers 73,893

Those professionals listed above are the people we entrust with the education of our children, the emotional well-being of our families, the care of our elderly, the health of our entire country, our futures and our safety. We put their value at anywhere between 19,000 and 74,000 a year. Do we value them? We say we do.

But the following is a list of those whose values are made clear by their earnings rather than their occupations and our proclamations.

Professional NFL Player 770,000/year

Celebrity Athlete (Michael Jordan) 170,000/day or $160.97/second

Movie Stars (Tom Cruise) 25,000,000/year

Exxon CEO (Rex W. Tillerson) 32,211,079/year (an increase of 19% from 2007)

The reason I began thinking about this is because of an email I received from a friend in which athletes who made millions of dollars a year were quoted revealing their true worth:
While Chinese and Indian kids excel in math, science and languages, we invest $MILLIONS in athletic scholarships. Below is a brief list showing the fruits of these

1. Chicago Cubs outfielder Andre Dawson on being a role model:
“I wan’ all dem kids to do what I do, to look up to me. I wan’ all the kids to copulate me.”

2. Senior basketball player at the University of Pittsburgh :
“I’m going to graduate on time, no matter how long it takes.”

3. Chuck Nevitt , North Carolina State basketball player, explaining to Coach Jim Valvano why he appeared nervous at practice: “My sister’s expecting a baby, and I don’t know if I’m going to be an uncle or an aunt.”

Those were just a sample.

I imagine you can make your own assessment. I made mine.

To join in the discussion, please go to The Blog page.

*1. The information was taken from, Bureau of Labor Statistics at, and