Our Greatest Fears Are Not What You'd Think

Illustrated by Julia Sadler.
Sure, there's an unfortunate amount of Ebola hysteria out there, plus we've got a truly terrifying "puppy-sized" spider to worry about. But, according to the results of a new nationwide poll, neither is what's keeping Americans up at night.
Chapman University's survey of 1,500 Americans reveals that top fears are: walking alone at night, identity theft, breaches of safety on the Internet, mass/random shootings, and public speaking. In the not-quite-fear category, the top five things Americans are "worried" or "concerned" about are: getting sick, running out of money in the future, government surveillance of Internet activity, corporate surveillance of Internet activity, and Internet identity theft. (Okay, that last one has some overlap with the "fear" category).
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To come up with these lists, researchers asked participants a series of questions to assess how worried or scared they were by various scenarios — from U.S. drone use to natural disasters to sexual assault. But, it's important to note that this survey wasn't specifically measuring phobias, which are their own thing and have their own rankings.
So, it turns out we're pretty freaked out by who's watching us watch things on the Internet. Which certainly makes sense considering the recent NSA scandals and the increased public scrutiny that's followed. If you're one of the (apparently) many who's worried about online safety, don't fret; we've got your back.
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