Paranoia. Fear’s illegitimate child. Or as celebrities call it, child.
We are afraid of the unknown so we begin to fill the emptiness with the worst possibilities. Knowing, however frightening the facts, gives us comfort. But in order to know, we have replaced real fears with imaginary certainties. Les Misérables.
On the outside, the paranoid looks like a pessimist. The pessimist though is not delusional. He believes something real will go wrong. A paranoid finds something – unreal – and feels worried inside that world. It’s like carrying nukes into the science lab that is your mind.
Fear screwed with us. It was the singular basal instinct that brought us this far and even after its primordial function wore off, it continued to assert the same dominance. In its lowest form, this becomes paranoia. Paranoia as a mental condition hampers some people’s functioning and justifies concern. And then there is what happens to everyone else.
We have transcended survival: We have nothing worthy to fear about: So we start inventing things to be afraid of.
Take the stereotypical paranoia: what other people think about you. All along, this feeling made sure your tribe survived. It’s how our Lucy ensured resources were shared, and harmony maintained. And now?
Not caring what people think is the prerequisite to being woke.
“Sheila thinks I am immature? I don’t care about what someone who has congealed mucous for a brain thinks about me. I regularly slyly find out what everyone else thinks about me and I think they think I am awesome. The next time I speak to Shiela I am going to make her feel low for thinking I am not awesome because that is what makes me awesome because like I said I don’t care what she thinks. I am sure she’s an illegitimate child.”
This paranoia is not about other people at all. It’s about you.
Put together the most narcissistic qualities you can amass, and what you have as a result is paranoia: Jealously, self-importance, moodiness, obsession, addiction: a preoccupation with your thoughts. Paranoia is the result of living your life based on these thoughts. You are both the people-pleaser and the manipulator who resists your people-pleasing tendencies. You are an ingenious inventor and a vengeful destroyer. Sounds familiar?
It’s called anxiety.
Our anxieties now are less the result of fear and more a result of paranoia. In our attempt to be fearless, we have turned paranoid. And anxiety helps you answer the one useful question for sustained paranoia: are you paranoid enough?
Fear is useful. Paranoia is lazy.
In paranoia, you are living through thought experiments rather than life experience. If fear is the result of not knowing, paranoia is the opposite: it’s the (often fabricated) consequences of knowing. It’s how you make up for your ordinariness.
For the longest time, humanity’s greatest fear was not having something to eat; like tomorrow. That’s what drove us to – and spot the irony, it’s in italics – risk our lives every day to bring us to a time where our greatest fear is: eating too much.
Bon Appétit. Live Appétit. Die full of shit.
Mortification keeps our memory in amazeballs shape just the way fears keep our morals in check. Paranoia makes a mockery of all this. You feel you are the miracle around which everything happens because the function of paranoia is to prevent you from seeing it is in fact the other way around. You abound around wonders and you prefer spiraling around your boss’s tone of voice. Seriously, screw you Sheila.
Paranoia paralyzes all search. It is rigor mortis of the soul.
Your mind is a great inventor of shit. Managing anxiety is being able to distinguish these inventions from real fears. If you are caught in paranoia, it is a signal that you need to be doing something more worthy. It means you aren’t even trying.
You feel fear because you put yourself out there. In reality. In truth.
And in your attempt to get rid of the higher, you fall to the lower.