In Mark Twain’s essay The Danger of Lying in Bed, Twain took to task the people of his time who saw danger where relatively no danger existed. In his day, many people were afraid of traveling by train because of some train wrecks. Using extreme extrapolation, these people concluded that everyone who rode a train was putting themselves in grave danger.
To combat this overactive imagine and logic, Twain simply pointed out that more people died in their beds than by any other method. Therefore, according to Twain, beds were putting more people in danger than anything else in the world, and if everyone wanted to avoid dying, simply stay out of beds.
Naturally, that was a ridiculous prescription, but he made his point.
We need to take his point today as well.
Social media has had an abundance of well-meaning but rather ridiculous things posted regularly. People want to warn their friends and neighbors to avoid doing something commonplace because there is a dangerous dark side to that event. You might want to get up-to-date on the following:
Don’t use file folders. Some unnamed man in Folemont, Pennsylvania, got a paper cut when using a file folder. He later got an infection and lost a hand.
Beware of fruit-based juices. Everybody loves fruit juices, right? A woman in South Dakota poured orange juice in a glass. Apparently, there was a live venomous spider that had survived for months in the lid of the bottle of orange juice. She did not know she was drinking it, and it bit her. She nearly died.
Never let your child jump rope. The repetitive action of jumping in a single place made a 6-year-old girl blow out both her knees. Do not let this happen to your child.
Remember the hand sanitizer scare? Children will ingest it and become inebriated because it has a high alcohol content. Keep that stuff under lock and key. Supervise hand sanitizer use with children.
The list goes on and on. You will probably see a warning on social media this week. A friend is looking out for you.
Are people simply that gullible? Sadly, it appears so.
In non-dangerous stuff, how many times have you read on social media that a famous person, such as Morgan Freeman, has died?
How old are John F. Kennedy, Elvis Presley, and Adolf Hitler now that we have been told they are still living? You know, they have really been in hiding from the world.
Miracle foods and drinks, magic hair restorers, all the products of overnight infomercials. The pitchmen guarantee they all work, and they do even better than what we were originally told.
A television show of the 1970s titled Fernwood 2 Night had a segment once about the dangers of wearing leisure suits. On the show, a local college professor dressed hundreds of lab rats in leisure suits, and many or most of these rats developed cancer. Of course, this was farce, but poignant nonetheless. Nor was it mentioned that as part of the project the lab rats smoked multiple packs of cigarettes per day. But the leisure suit was the problem.
What is on the cancer list today? Bacon again? Nearly all food not vegetable in content? Cellphones, wireless devices, wearing clothes that are too tightly fitting?
The mine for coming up with new dangers has barely been explored. There will be something soon, though. Very soon.
There are some things in life we should have a healthy fear of. We should pull our hands away from the hot stove. We should never play with a gun, even if we know “the safety is on and it’s not even loaded.” Things like this are common sense.
Increasingly becoming more afraid to live our lives because of incessant (and often unverified and ridiculous) warnings is mindless. A worse consequence is that we become desensitized to actual, verifiable red flags. We stop heeding good advice. We increase our chances of becoming a victim of something we genuinely could have prevented.
I think I will continue sleeping in bed, even though most people still die there. My father died in bed, as did his brothers, my grandmothers, a grandfather, and 3 aunts.